The Razende Bol
Of course we know the large Wadden Islands. The uninhabited Noorderhaaks, also known as De Razende Bol, is the first of more than fifty of these islands. Actually, it is more of an oversized sandbar that has been allowed to call itself an island since 2003. It doesn’t have a real permanent place in the sea either: it is northwest of Den Helder and every year it moves a few meters to the northeast, until it eventually touches the southern tip of Texel. It is known as a breeding ground for gray seals and has an almost tropical-looking beach in some places, so pristine white is the sand.
Once – we are talking about the Middle Ages – Griend was inhabited by humans. The sandbank, once a larger island, is now mainly the domain of birds. For example, the sandwich tern (the largest colony in Western Europe) breeds annually on the overgrown sand southwest of Terschelling, as well as common terns, eider ducks, oystercatchers, various types of gulls, redshank, short-eared owls and wood mice. It is not open to the public, only bird watchers and naturalists are welcome. Just like De Razende Bol, this island is also cautiously changing place and is becoming increasingly easterly. Dams and dikes have to keep the land above water. In 2016, another 250,000 cubic meters of sand was poured in, increasing Griend by 18 hectares. Boat tourists who sail from Terschelling to Harlingen (or vice versa, of course) can see it with sharp focus.
Island of Dordrecht
The Eiland van Dordrecht says it all: in the middle of the rivers Beneden-Merwede, Nieuwe Merwede, Hollands Diep, Dordtse Kil and the Oude Maas lies the land with the South Holland Dordrecht. In the middle of the busiest navigable river area in Europe, with part of it occupied by both the Dordtse and the Sliedrechtse Biesbosch. The vast meadows and the flora and fauna of the Biesbosch have a great attraction for tourists. Moreover, the island also has the necessary historical value. Dordrecht, for example, was once the largest city in the Netherlands with 8,000 inhabitants. Until it was submerged in 1421 during the Saint Elisabeth flood, creating the eventual island.
Ⓒ Hollandse Heights / ANP XTRA
Pampus is the result of a military plan to protect Amsterdam: the Defense Line of Amsterdam. To ward off attacks from the IJ, a fort was built between 1887 and 1895 near a sandbank Pampus. However, the fort never really served: there was no fighting in the First World War. In the Second World War it was now closed, in disrepair and thus quite useless. Since 1990, the island has been in the hands of the Fort Island Pampus Foundation, which brought it back into shape. The fort now tells the historical story, there is a virtual balloon flight, there is a pavilion and you can eat. Above all, there is a view over the IJmeer, including Marken in the distance.
What exactly does the island have to do with that well-known expression ‘lying in front of Pampus’? According to the books, many ships had to wait for the high tide because of the sandbanks before they could continue sailing.
Empire of a Thousand Islands
The Kingdom of the Thousand Islands could also be the name of a new Efteling attraction, but it is the name of a large collection of fields on small islands around the villages of Broek op Langedijk and Zuid- and Noord-Scharwoude. In the 13th century, these islands were intended to quarantine plague-infected pigs. In the late 1960s it became an extremely prosperous area through land consolidation until the settling peat was increasingly flooded. Nowadays the archipelago is split: part has been returned to nature, the other are detached houses. They are only accessible by boat.
The Dead Dog
Admittedly, De Dode Hond is not a really pleasant name. The man-made island is located in the Eemmeer, between Flevoland and Utrecht, although it is officially the most easterly part of North Holland. How it got the somewhat macabre name? The story goes that the dog of the workers who worked on the reclamation of the IJsselmeerpolders died suddenly. To cut costs, the poor beast was buried on the island and when the workers had to go to the island, they declared that they were ‘going to The Dead Dog’, according to the explanatory board on the island. Incidentally, there will hardly be a dog in 2020: it is uninhabited and partly impassable. Visitors can get there by boat and there may be limited overnight stays.