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No surprise on an island fringed by 35km of sand that the focus of all activity is the beach. The finest, whitest sands run the entire length of the west coast, access to which costs €3–4 and is payable as the Kurtax included in accommodation or as a Tageskarte as you enter for day-trippers. Hooded Strandkörbe (beach seats), which come into their own in these breezy conditions, are available for rent by the day or hour on all beaches except those north of List on the Ellenbogen. Prevailing winds mean waves break on the west coast while sheltered (though often muddy) strips of beach line the east – Königshafen lagoon northwest of List, or the peninsula south of Hörnum are safe for young children in rough conditions.

Walking aside, watersports are the main alternative to loafing on the beach. Windsurfing is excellent thanks to waves and smooth water on either side of the island – Sylt hosts the Windsurf World Cup in the last week of September. Other aquatic activities include kitesurfing, and, waves permitting, surfing. The principal surf break is at Westerland – a mid-tide A-frame known as Brandenburg is the most popular spot in Germany. Inland are riding centres, many of which provide beach rides; a leaflet from tourist information centres lists eight.

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