The island of Texel sits just off the north coast of the Netherlands. It’s bleak and windswept, but very beautiful. Hiking ad bird watching are the main activities here, and in winter much of the island is shut. There’s a seal sanctuary, caring for and fettening up injured seals found on the shores, and in the summer seal watching boat trips are the main draw.

Miles and miles of sandy beaches might appear tropical, but there’s no hiding the fact that this is squarely in North Sea territory and swimming, even in summer, is not for the faint hearted.

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