69km (43 miles) N of Amsterdam; 4km (2 1/2] miles) N of Den Helder

A short ferry ride from Den Helder, family-orientated Texel (pronounced Tess-uhl) is the largest and most populated of the Wadden Islands archipelago. With just 14,000 permanent inhabitants (outnumbered three to two by sheep that are the source of the prized Texel lamb), that's not saying much. Texel, 24km (15 miles) long and a maximum of 9km (6 miles) wide, has a varied landscape of tidal gullies, sand dunes, and rolling meadows, and its entire North Sea shoreline is one long beach. It has the serenity intrinsic to islands, even allowing for the many visitors who pour in during summer months to fill up the island's extensive roster of hotels, vacation homes, apartments, and camping sites.