Your Next Family Mini-Break: Texel
As the largest island within the Dutch Wadden Sea Islands (and just a one-hour drive from Amsterdam), Texel offers everything from action-packed, non-stop fun to chillaxed, toes-in-the-sand, beach time.
Take the TESO Ferry from Den Helder and arrive to rolling hills dotted with fluffy sheep, picturesque towns, and spectacular ocean views. The island is very doable by bike if you want to ditch the car and most hotels provide rentals if you didn’t bring your own.
Once off the ferry, we suggest heading straight for the Texel Tourism office located in Den Burg. We found the staff friendly and full of great advice about how best to tackle the island.
Where to Stay
Each year, the island welcomes over one million guests – camping, bungalows, bed and breakfast and hotels are all easy options.
Being a larger family, the cosy and peaceful surroundings of Bungalowparc Prins Hendrik suited us to a tee. Our two-storey cottage easily housed the five of us, providing all the comforts of home including a fully stocked kitchen, living room and three comfortable bedrooms. If cooking isn’t your thing, the on-site hotel has a lovely restaurant and room service options.
Prins Hendrik is situated on the northeastern side of Texel and when you climb the stairs for a peak over the dike, you’ll understand why the Wadden Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage site. This dedicated area of conservation provides stunning views of the ocean during high tide. Low tide, however, gives you an insight into life under the sea. Bring your wellies and walk for muddy miles collecting snails, crabs and mussels – that’s if you can beat the seagulls.
Where to Eat
It doesn’t take very long to guess the local specialties of Texel. Fields of grazing sheep and several seaports make lamb and seafood plentiful.
Although there are plenty of great restaurant spots all across the island, there’s something special about enjoying a wonderful meal and delicious cocktails with the waves of the sea as your backdrop.
Beachcafé Paal 17, located at Paal 17 Beach offers a fun and lively atmosphere and plenty of tasty treats. With lamb burgers, fried calamari, seafood platters and lots of options for kids on the menu, it’s the perfect place to refuel before heading back outside to splash around.
Similarly, Beachcafé Kaap Noord located at Kaap Noord Beach, provides a fun but relaxed feel. As the sun set, we kicked back with a glass of chilled white wine, while the kids explored the sandy beaches just steps from our table. The service was exceptional and made our meal even more enjoyable.
Another one of our favourite eateries was the Fish Market in Oudeschild – perfect for casual bites, you simply grab a sampling plate and tuck in.
A must-do for foodies is Boy Schilling’s amazing restaurant, Restaurant ‘t Pakhuus. Located with fantastic views over the Oudeschild harbour, Chef Schilling’s creations make the most of fresh ingredients and even fresher seafood, especially from the North and Wadden Sea.
Each course is designed to tempt your sense of sight, smell and of course taste. We indulged in fresh oysters, octopus carpaccio and a dessert that was truly a work of art.
Restaurant ‘t Pakhuus is a five star experience yet so chilled that kids are welcomed and widely entertained thanks to the live lobster tank and our charming host…Thank you Chef Schilling for a memorable experience!
What to Do
Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Take one of many guided tours through the Wadden, an area of wild marshes, and learn about the different species of plants, insects and animals that live on the island.
Fishing for Fun: A boat trip in Texel is not to be missed – to be honest, it’s what attracted us to the island in the first place. There’s no better way to observe seals in their natural environment than with the TX20/ Walrus. This large fishing vessel sets out from the port of Oudeschild and explores the Waddenzee. There’s even the option to become a fisherman for a day, the TX20 lets you fill your nets with shrimp and other sea creatures, then fill your belly later.
See A Seal: Check out the seals up close at the Ecomare sanctuary. When these beautiful creatures get injured they are taken here for recovery. Watch them swim, slide and bask in the sun while they regain their strength to return to the wild. While you’re there, visit the museum, check out the aquarium and discover how the island was created in the Ice Age.
Cuddle a Lamb: Visit the sheep farm of Schapenboerderij Texel and cuddle lovable animals of all kinds. Pigs, sheep, goats, and chicks are all here waiting to say hi or baaah.
Take a pony ride, play hide and seek amongst the hay bales or check out Rasja, Skip, Bowie and Flügel (the resident sheep dogs) as they ensure no sheep gets left behind.
Find Some Treasure: The largest ship-wreck and beachcomber museum in the world, Juttersmuseum Flora, is located in Texel, filled with treasures from the sea.
Climb High: Conquer your fear of heights at Klimmen EnZO Climbing Park located at the Crimera Holiday Park. This outdoor adventure centre is filled with challenges and is suitable and safe for all ages. It’s so much fun, you might not want to come down.
Surf School Texel is located on beach Paal 17. Certified surf instructors teach surfing lessons to students at every age and level. This is where passions are formed and owners of the surf school love to see their clients get a taste for riding the big waves. All three of our boys stood up on their boards and I have a feeling we’ll be back.
Take a Spin
Go-carting, kids-carting, and mini golf-all can be found at Circuit Park Karting Texel. With a 500-metre track and single and double karts for younger kids, zooming around the circuit is a fun way to end the day.
If you think all that was a lot to do, you’re right but we did it in three days and enjoyed every minute of it. Easily spread out over a week or a month, a year is what you’ll wish you had on this welcoming, warm and charming island!