Helgoland is a small German archipelago in the North Sea once ruled by both Denmark and the UK.
It is the only German island not in the immediate vicinity of the mainland, lying some 31 miles off the coast. Heligoland became part of Germany in the late 19th century. In a move to better control and protect its new Kiel Canal built in the 1890s, the Germans swapped Zanzibar for Heligoland with the British.
The locals, known as Frisians, are also native to other North Sea coastal areas in Germany and the Netherlands, and the modern Frisian dialect spoken on Heligoland is closely related to contemporary English.
Our walking tour covers the highlights of Heligoland and starts from the jetty in the main town, also called Heligoland, and past St. Nicholas’ Church, whose patron saint appropriately protects the island´s sailors and merchants.
Close to the church, you pass by massive bomb craters created after World War II by British engineers who attempted to destroy the entire island in what became known as the "British Bang". Roughly 4,000 tons of surplus ammunition were placed in various locations around the island and set off. The blast is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest artificial non-nuclear single explosive detonation. The demolition attempt gives the island a moonlike appearance in places.
Our tour continues to what is often referred to as “bird rocks”, where thousands of birds nest during early summer. This is the only habitat in this bay of Germany with birds nesting in a cliff.
Kittiwakes, common guillemots and many other bird species make their homes here. We next proceed to Heligoland´s most famous landmark, “Lange Anna” (Tall Anna), locally known as “Nathurn Stak” (Northern Stack). The freestanding rock column (or stack) is 154 ft. and weighs about 25,000 tons.
Your guide will also tell you about the work of Dr. Ommo Hueppop, a local zoologist who developed one of the world´s most consistent avian research data capturing programmes at the Heligoland Avian Research Institute.
After the guided walking tour, you have free time to shop “tax free” in the town´s small boutiques, or you can just enjoy the friendly little island´s ambiance before returning to the ship.
The order of sights on the tour may vary.