Halligen – islands with mounds in the Wadden Sea

The Halligen off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein are picturesque islands in the Wadden Sea. They loom like mirages in the water. For the most part, they are dike-less islands where people have settled. To maintain themselves and protect themselves against the high water, they built their farms on mounds. You first see those hills, like molehills, when you look at the Halligen from the mainland. They are fantastic places for seclusion and walking, wonderful areas to experience the movement of the mudflats and island life. The Halligen are governed by ebb and flow. They can be reached by boat or by walking across the bottom of the Wadden Sea. Source: Begw, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

German islets with mounds

  • Inhabited Halligen and uninhabited islands
  • Warf of Warft in the Wadden Sea
  • Sandbanks
  • Hallig Langeneß
  • Hallig Hooge
  • Hallig Grode
  • Hallig Nordstrandischmoor
  • Hallig Oland
  • Hallig Süderoog
  • Hallig Südfall
  • Hamburger Hallig
  • Hallig Norderoog
  • Hallig Habel


Inhabited Halligen and uninhabited islands

The Netherlands does not have them, but Germany has ten: halligen. Six of them are inhabited and no one lives permanently on four islands (status 2017). The people have built their farms on mounds and live from livestock farming and tourism. They are located in the Wadden Sea of Schleswig-Holstein and the uninhabited islands are part of the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park. Together they are once again part of the Wadden Sea World Heritage, the world heritage that covers the Dutch, German and Danish Wadden Sea. Pellworm and Nordstrand are located off the same coast, but are not considered part of the Halligen but part of the Wadden Islands.

Warf of Warft in the Wadden Sea

Halligen are ten small islands in the German part of the Wadden Sea, the Wadden Sea of Schleswig-Holstein. The islets are located off the coast of Dagebüll, Bredstedt and Husum. The special thing about the Halligen is that they have no dikes to protect against the water. On the inhabited halls, residents protect themselves against high tides by building their homes and businesses on mounds. They are called warf or warft in the region and also wurth, warb, werf or werft. What the terp is called depends on the dialect of the region. A hallig is a concept that stands for a ‘mound in an area outside the dike’. The fact that the halligen regularly flood brings with it special vegetation.
Halligers, a North Frisian dialect, is traditionally spoken on the islands. Very few people speak it anymore.

The ten Halligen are



Number of Warfts

Population (2017)


Local authority





9.56 km²






700 hectares






250 hectares






1.9 km²






117 hectares






60 hectares





50 hectares



Hamburger Hallig


110 hectares





10 hectares





4 hectares




Four Halligen have become peninsulas through a connection with the mainland. This applies to Hamburger Hallig, Langeness, Oland and Nordstrandischmoor.


Next to the islands, on the North Sea side, there are three more sandbanks. They are not called islands because they are flooded every day with the high tide and have no vegetation. They are not hallligen, but Nordfriesische Außensände, the North Frisian sandbanks on the edge of the Wadden Sea. Being:

  • Süderoogsand;
  • Norderoogsand;
  • Japsand.


Hallig Langeneß

Hallig Langeneß is a ten kilometer long island, shaped like a worm. It is the largest of the halligen. It is an island where you can take beautiful mudflat walks and where many birds can be spotted. Langeneß has salt marshes that change every year and look different every season. In the summer sea lavender blooms in abundance and then the salt marsh turns blue-violet. In the winter period, the Hallig regularly experiences flooding and the Hallig-Landunter is a phenomenon that is frightening and at the same time fantastic to experience. Langeneß has 21 quays, of which 18 are inhabited and three are uninhabited.
Warft on Hallig Hooge / Source: Sandra Buhmann, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Hallig Hooge

Hallig Hooge is a biosphere reserve in the Wadden Sea. The islanders live in harmony with their environment as much as possible and attach great importance to sustainability. The characteristic of the hallig, that it is a non-dike area with artificially raised earthen mounds, does not apply to Hooge. There is a one and a half high stone dike here to protect the island. However, floods still occur in the winter half of the year. Then only the houses on their mounds are dry. Those molehills with houses on them are a fairytale and wonderful sight. The hallig is 700 hectares in size and has ten inhabited quays.

Hallig Grode

Hallig Gröde is a natural landscape where you can find absolute peace. The small island in the middle of the Wadden Sea is 250 hectares in size and has fifteen inhabitants. It is the smallest municipality in Germany. Gröde consists of two halligen that grew together around 1900. They are Gröde and Appelland. There are two wharves on Gröde, where the residents have retreated. There is also a church and a school.

Hallig Nordstrandischmoor

The Hallig Nordstrandischmoor welcomes many holidaymakers who, after a heavenly crossing via the Wadden Sea, end up in a special nature reserve. It is teeming with special plants and birds. When the berries hang on the sea buckthorns, almost the entire island turns fiery orange. The island experiences a Landunter , flood, about fifty times a year . Due to all the floods over the centuries, four warfts remained, where less than twenty people live permanently. Since 1933, a 5.5 kilometer long dam has connected the Hallig to the mainland.

Hallig Oland

Hallig Oland is a paradise for lovers of wading birds and water birds. It is a natural paradise where the blossoms and fruits of the sea buckthorns determine the color between lilac and bright orange. The island has one yard and less than thirty people live there. They do have a school, church and café. Dams were built around 1900, so that Oland is connected to the mainland and to Langeneß. There has been a meter-high summer dike around the Hallig since 1965. The land outside the dike floods about six times a year.

Hallig Süderoog

Hallig Süderoog is the southernmost of all Halligs and is approximately 60 hectares in size. The island has a mound with housing and employment for two scientists who conduct research into vegetation and birds all year round. A ship departs from Pellworm to Süderoog.

Hallig Südfall

Hallig Südfall is located between the islands of Nordstrand and Pellworm, is approximately 50 hectares in size and has a single mound. It is an important bird breeding area. The island may only be entered under the supervision of a nature guide. From Pellworm you can take a trip by ship to Südfall.

Hamburger Hallig

The Hamburger Hallig is approximately 110 hectares in size. It is a remnant of the island of Alt-Nordstrand, which disappeared into the waves in 1634. The Hallig has now become a peninsula and a dam was constructed in 1874. There is one yard and one house on the hallig, which was destroyed many times and rebuilt again and again. It is a protected nature reserve.

Hallig Norderoog

Hallig Norderoog is just under 10 hectares in size. It is located west of Pellworm. No people have lived there since the storm surge of 1825, which destroyed the mound and the house on it. There is now a log cabin on stilts for the bird watchers who stay there during the summer months. Norderoog is a protected nature reserve.

Hallig Habel

Hallig Habel is a tiny island of about 4 hectares. It is located between Gröde and the mainland and is a protected nature reserve. There is a mound on it with a house, but the island has no permanent resident. There are bird watchers there from March to October.

The Halligen

A . Langeneß
B . Hallig Hooge
C . Hallig Gröde
D . Hallig Nordstrandischmoor
E . Hallig Oland
F . Hallig Süderoog
G . Hallig Südfall
H . Hamburger Hallig
I . Hallig Norderoog
J . Hallig Habel

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