Almost 63 kilometers as the crow flies separate Cuxhaven in Lower Saxony and the island of Heligoland in the German Bight. Strictly speaking, Heligoland consists of two islands: the main island and the sand island "Dune". Taken together, both islands come to no more than two square kilometers of land area. If you add the sea areas in the port area, the total area is four square kilometers. At the end of 2021, fewer than 1.300 people lived permanently on Heligoland, or "Deät Lunn", as the islanders call their island in Frisian.
Heligoland from the northwest
Heligoland sand island dune
The first impression
Coming from the northwest, Heligoland's visitors first notice the new red sandstone. The main island, measuring a maximum of 61 meters at the highest point, is divided into the regions of the lower, middle and upper country. The landmark of Heligoland is the striking rock called "Lange Anna".
Lange Anna - bird paradise
Originally both islands were connected by a natural causeway. The New Year's flood of 1721 destroyed this connection. The "dune" serves as a bathing island for the Heligolanders and their guests. The airport and the campsite are also located there.
Heligoland throughout history
The regional tourism service puts the age of the island at around 8.000 years. The new red sandstone typical of the island has been around for around 250.000 years. The Heligolanders know their island as a sea fortress, a retreat for pirates, a pilot station and a trading center. From 1714 the island belonged to Denmark. In 1807 it fell to the United Kingdom as a crown colony. In 1890, the British surrendered the island to Germany in exchange for East African spheres of influence. The operation of a seaside resort was started in 1826 under British direction. During the First and Second World Wars, Heligoland was a naval base heavily fortified with bunkers. After the end of the war, in 1947, the British attempted to destroy the island and its fortifications with the largest non-nuclear explosion. The island resisted and was returned to Germany in 1952.
Heligoland's north mole
Heligoland's main sources of income - tourism and wind energy
Until the 19th century, the people of Heligoland traditionally made a living from fishing and pilotage. In the present, economic survival depends on tourism, wind energy and two research institutes.
Heligoland's status as a state-approved seaside health resort favors the Tourism. The island still attracts day trippers in the summer months with limited duty and sales tax exemption. Another attraction are the bird populations on Lummenfelsen. During the breeding season, bird lovers from all over the world follow the breeding behavior of the animals at close range.
Breeding gannets on Lummenfelsen
More than 20 kilometers away, there will be several wind farms operated. Their trade tax revenue flushes money into the city coffers. As can be heard, the income contributes to a more than balanced budget for the municipality. In addition, there are around 100 permanent jobs on the island created by wind energy.
As a research Institutethe Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) has established itself on the island. It examines the basics of sea life. Another scientific institution is the Heligoland bird observatory.
Heligoland - how to get there?
The island can only be reached by air and water. Flight connections with small planes lead to and from Nordholz/Spieka, Uetersen and Heide/Büsum.
During the season, sea resort ships travel to Heligoland from several German mainland ports. There is a year-round regular service between Cuxhaven and Heligoland. The Halunder Jet catamaran travels from Hamburg to the island.
WORLD VOYAGER in the roadstead off Heligoland
It is the privilege of small cruise ships to head for Heligoland. The island does not have the capacity to handle the passenger tide of large passenger ships. What small ships manage effortlessly poses a problem for large cruise ships. In addition, Heligoland cannot handle thousands of guests on a single ship. We visited the island with the expedition ship WORLD VOYAGER. We report on our impressions of the stopover below Heligoland sights.