I went to Heligoland before, as a teenager with my field hockey team. I don’t remember too much from that trip so it was about time to boost my memory and go on a day trip to the island in the North Sea.
Heligoland is about 40 kilometres away from mainland Germany in the German Beigh and is part of the state of Schleswig-Holstein. Only some 1500 people live on the island but countless tourists are ferried over on many ships during the summer month
Our trip to Heligoland
Tourist steamers and catamarans leave daily for Heligoland from many different towns at the North Sea coast. Most of them during peak season but to a limited degree also during the winter months (October to March).
We were close to Büsum and decided to set off to Heligoland from there. We gathered some information on departure times, prices and the time one would actually get to spend on the island the day before. There are not too many providers that offer a tour to Heligoland. Differences in price or duration between them are also negligible.
We left Büsum at around 9.00 in the morning. It was still very overcast when we started making our way towards the island. On our way over I began to remember why I couldn’t recall my last trip. I thought it was boring! For a little while, the mainland is still visible but soon enough there is only water to see. After two hours we started looking for the island. And there on the horizon, it began to come into view. Finally!
However, it still took a little while until the “Lady of Büsum” reached its final mooring position. The ships don’t go into the harbour of Heligoland. They stop a little before the island and visitors are shuttled over on smaller boats. It was quite amusing to observe how the shoving at the exits began so that people could catch an earlier boat to the island. Luckily, the waves weren’t very high on that day. Many passengers, especially the older ones, had drastically overestimated their fitness levels and the crew went through quite some effort to safely get them from one boat onto the other.
Just under four hours on the island
Heligoland isn't that big. The main island is about 1km² in size, the neighbouring island Düne measures about 0.7 km². We only visited the main island. The smaller island is almost exclusively used as a public bathing beach.
The main island is divided into Oberland (upper land), Mittelland (middle land) and Unterland (lower land).
We started by going up to Oberland. Starting there, a well-frequented path leads around the entire island. One cannot really catch some alone time there. It seems like everyone came here first to stretch their legs after the journey.
The path led through meadows and meadows and meadows with that typical view of the red, steep coast of the island that the ocean.
The lighthouse of the Oberland is worth a visit as well as the rocky landmark of the island. Lange Anna (long Anna) is a free-standing rock, 47 meters high, in which many seagulls nest, as they do everywhere else on the cliffs.
Lange Anna consists of red sandstone. It used to be part of a natural arch until 1860. The arch came crashing down on the 16th of May 1860 and the now freestanding rock is protected from the constant waves by a wall. Lange Anna has been listed as a natural monument since 1969.
Next, we strolled past the colourfully painted lobster shacks of the Unterland and visited some of the small shops there. Many Heligoland visitors use the opportunity to do some heavy duty-free shopping and return to the mainland with big hauls.
After just under four hours and a truly lovely walk across the island, we took the ship back to Büsum.
It was a nice day on the island. I thoroughly enjoyed the weather, the landscape and the sea air.