The island of Borkum is the westernmost and largest of the East Frisian Islands on the German North Sea coast – a famous holiday destination in the middle of the unique Wadden Sea nature reserve. Sandy beaches, salt marches and dunes form an unspoiled nature that attracts a great deal of wildlife. A special spot for nature lovers and those searching for relaxation.
View of the promenade from the main beach.
When thinking about holidays at the German North Sea coast, many might consider going during the summer holidays when the weather is warm and the sea tame. But holidays at the island of Borkum have a special flair during the winter months: “Away from the crowds, people can find tranquillity and repose, they can enjoy the island’s gorgeous nature and the cold, clear breeze coming from the sea,” says Borkum’s director of tourism Christian Klamt. Of course, every local has his or her own favourite spot on the island, but there are some highlights none should miss. “I would recommend taking a hike to the ‘Sternklipp’ dune at the far end of the sea wall,” says Klamt. From the top of the dune one can not only see over the whole islands and the surrounding Wadden Sea. “When the weather is clear one can even spot the neighbouring islands Juist and Memmert.”
Whoever feels frozen right through after wandering along the sandy beaches or through the marches can afterwards huddle inside and for example enjoy a traditional Eastern Frisian tea ceremony. This includes black tea, rock sugar – locally called ‘Kluntje’ – and cream added with a tiny silver spoon so it forms creamy clouds inside the tea. The ceremony, for example, is celebrated in the old ‘Toornhuus’ behind the lighthouse. But there are many other small cafés serving ‘Ostfriesentee’, the strong black tea named after the region. Like the British, Eastern Frisians are keen on tea and even have their own local tea brands fabricated on the mainland. Whoever has a sweet tooth can enjoy another local speciality called ‘Windbeutel’, large profiteroles filled with rich cream and, for example, cherries or liqueur made from the locally grown seabuckthorn.
Healthy air and spa treatments inspired by coast and sea
Everyone knows that the fresh and clear air at the coast is healthy and for centuries people with breathing problems have visited spas in unspoiled nature to get well again. With its high waves crashing to the shore, the North Sea during winter is spectacular to view but also has an additional health aspect says Christian Klamt: “Because of the high waves during winter, the air contains even more iodine and aerosol.”
The island has put special focus on health and spas. The ‘Gezeitenland’ leisure centre and spa has something to offer for everyone, with swimming pools, various saunas and a huge wellness area. What is special here are the thalasso treatments. The word originates in the Greek term ‘thálassa’ which simply means ‘sea’ and so thalasso indeed uses what the sea has to offer for health and beauty treatments: sea water, salt, mud, algae, sand, aerosol and the climate found on the island.
The ‘Gezeitenland‘ leisure centre.
Take for example the sea silt found on the seabed when the North Sea retreats during low tide. It is rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium, contains salt and vitamins, clay and traces of sulphur as well as organic materials like algae; a healthy combination. The sea silt used here is sourced from the UNESCO nature reserve that protects the environment of the Wadden Sea coast. Since the ground is regularly flooded, the sea silt gains a great deal of oxygen and a high concentration of organic materials, especially during the summer months between May and August. The sourced silt is purified and can be used for a warm mud bath, for facials or mudpacks. This might sound strange, but actually feels really pleasant and – as a beauty treatment – stimulates and enriches the skin. But more important is the health factor: the equal level of warmth relaxes the muscles better than for example a traditional warm water baths and is therefore used to treat degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
Concerts and a versatile cultural programme
But nature and health are not all the island has to offer. Winter, like summer, has many high-class concerts around the island such as a night inspired by music from Cuba. Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the island’s Blues Night has become somewhat of a tradition in recent years. And, of course, there is the annual New Year’s Eve party at the island’s promenade.
TEXT: JESSICA HOLZHAUSE | PHOTOS: WIRTSCHAFTSBETRIEBE DER STADT BORKUM GMBH
Compass close to the beach.