The north German coastline is clearly divided into two very different zones: the North Sea coast and the “inner” Baltic Sea coast; connected via the Kiel Canal. Bracing breezes and big waves draw sailors, windsurfers and kiteboarders to the North Sea coast and its tiara of offshore islands, including the jet-set favourite of Sylt. Gentle by comparison, the Baltic beckons with dazzlingly clean, white sands and glittering water, especially around the islands of Hiddensee and Rügen. A long-time favourite with German holidaymakers, the region is still a well-kept secret among international travellers.
The Baltic Sea Coast, spanning the northern federal states of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, developed into one of the today’s most popular holiday regions from the 19th century onwards. It is especially famous for its long bathing beaches and Baltic Sea spas. Besides beaches and sea spas the region is famous for its different types of coastline (bodden coast; cliff coast) and diverse nature. The National Park Jasmund on Rügen is a World Heritage – natural site, whereas the old towns of the Hanseatic cities Stralsund and Wismar are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage – cultural site. On the Baltic Coast between the Bay of Mecklenburg and the Island of Usedom there are over 18,000 public mooring sites, the largest of which are Hohe Düne in Rostock-Warnemünde, the harbour in Kühlungsborn as well as the Weiße Wiek in Boltenhagen.
Sailing and water sports enthusiasts will find ideal conditions on the North Sea coast of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein with its clear, salty sea-air and the excellent climate there is much fun to be had and the tides can present an exciting challenge for sailors, also, because of the cold waters and the strong winds, the North Sea is particularly suitable for water sports professionals to practise their trade. Beginners would probably be more interested in the numerous mud flats of the North Sea islands. These coastal regions and their varying landscapes lead through almost undisturbed nature, where flora and fauna remain intact and preserved and can be discovered while you are water-hiking or Nordic walking. Along the north facing coastline of Lower Saxony, you will find The East Frisian Islands (German: Ostfriesische Inseln) part of the Wadden Sea UNESCO World Heritage Site. As this region caters primarily to Germans don’t expect too much in the way of foreign languages, although you should get by reasonably with Dutch as well as English. Along the west facing coastline of Schleswig-Holstein, you will find The North Frisian Islands. These islands are geologically different from the East Frisian islands in that they don’t mostly consist of sand and dunes, but are remnants of former mainland, cut of by the rising sea as well as storm floods and human mismanagement. The islands, and the water around them, make up the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park.