Ecomare: Texel’s Sea Life Rescue Center
Texel’s Ecomare is a cornerstone to the island. This sea life rescue center is crucial to helping the sea life that depend on the island for survival in addition to serving as a major tourist draw for the island.
While seals are the most popular of the rescued animals at the Ecomare sanctuary, the facility also houses sea birds, ducks, fish and even a few porpoises. Your visit helps support these efforts and will teach you more about these animals and their fragile ecosystem.
Ecomare has strollers you can borrow for your visit. This is a great option if you have biked here with your little ones.
Outside are the rescued seals. Check the feeding schedule and try to make time to watch the staff interact with the animals. The commentary is in Dutch but it’s fun to watch the seals all come out of the water to play with the staff.
The rail is low which makes for amazing viewing for the kids. You’ll need to watch them as it’s super tempting to put your hands in the water. We’ve been to many zoos and rescues before, but this one had the closest viewing, which the kids loved.
The area does fill up so it’s worth arriving a bit early to save a spot. The seals are sure to put on a show for you before things even get started so going early to the feeding pool isn’t wasted time.
The outdoor viewing area has several pools but what is in use depends on who is currently in the rescue. There are two porpoises that have a permanent home here as a result of being abandoned too young an age and not learning to fish in the wild. At the time of our visit there were also several baby seals in smaller observation areas that had recently been rescued.
There is also a little playground. We’ve certainly seen better but it was perfectly fine for the kids to get some run around time and for us to get some sit down and read the material time.
Our Middle Little is a huge fan of these hopping stumps.
The Big Little loved all the climbing elements.
The dune walk leaves from this outside area, but we skipped that since our hotel (The Grand Hotel Opduin) had provided plenty of dune exploration time. Instead we headed downstairs to the aquarium. There are several large tanks filled with local fish. The boys loved this area. Again, all the tanks are easily viewed by children.
Inside there are several large rooms of exhibit space, many of which are hands-on. The boys loved playing in a real rescue boat with real equipment. There was even dress up, but it was a bit too large for my littles.
The indoor section is natural history museum-esque, with sea life models, bones and taxidermy. The exhibits are all creatively done. We loved bird spotting with our guide and binoculars for taxidermy birds placed around the room.
Ecomare could easily occupy the majority of your day. We combined our visit with the beach club just down the pier. You can bike or walk right from the Ecomare parking lot. The beach clubs all serve the same sort of food and it’s much more about the atmosphere. We popped in for a quick lunch and found most of the tables reserved. We promised to be out in under an hour and they were happy to let us stay. If you’re planning for dinner though you may want to call ahead for a reservation at any of the beach clubs on Texel.