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Of all the Frisian Islands, TERSCHELLING is both the largest – some 30km long and 3.5km wide – and the easiest to reach. Despite its reputation as a teenage hangout in summer months, it does offer wilderness, peace and tranquillity: you just have to head away from main centres to find them. Quite simply, the further east you go the more attractive the island becomes; eighty percent of the island is a nature reserve area, dominated by beach, dunes, forest and polder. Although summer temperatures can soar, out of season Terschelling's wild weather seems to mirror its wild landscape, storms lending it a brooding air. The ferry docks next to the colourful fishing harbour at WEST-TERSCHELLING, a tourist resort in its own right that's packed throughout the summer with tourists sampling the restaurants and bars that line the main streets, Torenstraat in particular.
The best place to investigate Terschelling's past is the excellent Museum't Behouden Huys, near the ferry terminus at Commandeurstraat 30 (April– Oct Mon– Fri 10am–5pm & Sat 1–5pm; mid-June to Sept also Sun 1–5pm; 3; Web: www.behouden-huys.nl ). Prime exhibits here include maps of the old coastline illustrating Terschelling's crucial position, various items from the whaling fleet, lots of sepia photos of bearded islanders and a shipwreck diving room. There's also a rather half-hearted tribute to the local explorer Willem Barents, who hit disaster when pack ice trapped his ship in the Arctic in 1595. If you're extra-keen on things aquatic, aim for the tiny Museum "Aike van Stien", a fishing museum at the back of a shop on Raadhuisstraat (May– Oct Mon– Sat 10am–12.30pm & 2–5.30pm; Nov– April Thurs & Sat 2–5pm; 2; Web: www.visserijmuseumaikevanstien.nl ), as well as, just east of town, the Centrum voor Natuur en Landschap, Burgemeester Reedekerstraat 11 (Nature and Landscape; April– Oct Mon– Fri 9am–5pm, Sat & Sun 2–5pm; check hours at local VVV out of season; 4.50; Web: www.natuurmuseumterschelling.nl ), which contains a decent aquarium.