Exploring Heligoland

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Heligoland is a dramatic archipelago thirty miles offshore from mainland Germany. Attractions include incredible natural beauty, extensive seabird life, seal colonies, naval ruins and many excellent restaurants. On our second day in Heligoland, we toured throughout the main island and particularly enjoyed the views and scenery from the cliff tops at the north end.

Below are trip highlights from October 17th at Heligoland, Germany. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

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Bruns Bistro
A great lunch on the terrace at Bruns Bistro. We arrived shortly after noon and had our choice of tables. By the time we left, every table was taken.
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Docks just removed for the winter at Nordosthafen. The area is reserved for local boats and visiting yachts are not allowed to enter.
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We noticed this group of people seemingly captivated with a large Yokohama fender ashore. It turned out they were studying some birds nearby, or at least we hope so :). The island is on a major migration route for birds crossing the North Sea and is very popular for birdwatching—we saw many birders equipped with large-lens cameras and monoculars as we toured around.
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Sandbag Trail
Walking a beach-side trail made from large sandbags covered with tarp to prevent erosion.
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Looking back along the beach on the north end of Heligoland.
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Stairs leading from the beach to the top of the cliffs. This is our third trip to Heligoland, but we only stopped briefly for fuel those other two times and never spent the night. We’ve been really looking forward to seeing more of the island, particularly from the top of the cliffs.
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Wind Farm
From the top of the cliffs we had a great view to the wind farms that we diverted course around on our way to Norway last year.
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The 260ft (79m) German Coast Guard vessel Neuwerk that we saw last year at Cuxhaven underway off Heligoland. The marine pollution control vessel is also used for buoy tender operations, shipping police support tasks, icebreaking, firefighting and emergency towing operations.
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Lange Anna
The 154ft (47 m) seastack Lange Anna is Heligoland’s most famous landmark. We saw Lange Anna from sea on our way to Norway last year. The seawall to the left was built by the Germans when Heligoland was a Navy base. The wall is no longer used and has been left to deteriorate.
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Juvenile Northern Gannet on the cliff edge at Heligoland.
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Cliff and Cave
At the bottom of the Heligoland cliffs you can see a road leading into a tunnel through the cliff (click image for a larger view). This is part of the old German fortifications.
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Nests of Nets
The seabirds on Heligoland have built there nests from scrap fishing net. This really underlines the massive quantities of discarded fishing net that are floating around out there. We’re lucky we haven’t caught any in our propellers over the years.
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British Bang
Following World War II, the British used the uninhabited Heligoland as a firing range, in 1947 detonating 6,700 tonnes of explosives. What became known as the “Big Bang” or the “British Bang” was one of the largest single non-nuclear detonations in history. The crates visible are a result of the explosion.
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Communications Tower
A very large communications tower bristling with antennas.
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Heligoland’s light house looks so imposing at night from its cliff-top perch, partly because of the height of the cliff and partly due to the lights intensity. But the structure itself isn’t that tall.
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View South
Looking south across Heligoland from the cliffs. Dirona is just visible moored at the far left in Sudhafen to the left of the Hermann Marwede (click image for a larger view).
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The small island of Dune to the east of Heligoland. The two islands were connected until 1720 when a storm destroyed the natural connection.
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Heligoland is part of the EU, but is not part of the EU Customs Union or VAT area and much of the island’s livelihood derives from duty-free sales. We saw many, many stores selling duty-free alcohol, cigarettes and perfume, among other products.
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Aquatic Center
A large pool complex on the east side of Heligoland.
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In contrast to the island’s exposed and windswept west side, the east side of Heligoland was lined with sheltered and beautiful cliff-top gardens.
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What’s left of a propeller after the plane crashed, on display outside the Heligoland museum.
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Piles and piles of tetrapods line the south shore of Heligoland.
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We finished our tour of Heligoland by walking out to the end of Sudmole. It’s a massive seawall, built to withstand the frequent North Sea storms.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.


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2 comments on “Exploring Heligoland
  1. Matthias says:

    Hello Jennifer, hello James,
    it is very nice to see that you have visited Helgoland again.
    It is a very special place in Germany. We are living in Bremen. Driving with our 23“ Bayliner many times to Bremerhaven and take the ferry to Helgoland because the North Sea and our Bayliner think, that there are not compatible. ;-)
    Maybe you visit Bremerhaven the next time you are here in the area?
    There is a lot to see with the Emigration-Center (Auswanderer Haus) and the Climate-Center (Klimahaus 8 Grad Ost) and the Marina „im Jaich“ is in the middle of all.
    I hope you have a nice and safe journey ahead of you and i wish you all the best.
    I am very happy that you share your adventures on this website with us.
    Best wishes from Bremen/Germany.

    • Thanks for the best wishes from Bemen and we appreciate your invitation to visit. As you know we have been past a few times. It’s always good to know about more interesting stops along German bight.There are times when the weather can kick up out there so knowing about more fun places in the area to visit is helpful.

      For the first time, rather than just getting fuel in Helgoland, we spent some time there and visited. It was a really enjoyable visit. We can see why it’s so popular.

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