The seven inhabited islands are, from west to east: Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog, Spiekeroog and Wangerooge. Borkum belongs to the district of Leer; Juist, Norderney and Baltrum are parts of Aurich; Langeoog and Spiekeroog belong to Wittmund; and Wangerooge is part of Friesland.
Two more islands, Memmert south of Juist, and Mellum east of Wangerooge are uninhabited. Another very small island, Lütjehörn east of Borkum is in constant danger of being washed away. In 2003 the German Coastal Defence (NLWK) announced that the sandbank Kachelotplate can now be called an island too, because it is not anymore flooded by usual high tide. However, it is not larger than 2 km² and will of course remain unsettled. Kachelotplate is located north of the mouth of the Ems River.
Most of the islands don't allow cars. The exceptions are Borkum and Norderney, which are also the most crowded islands. There are no bridges connecting the mainland with the islands. Each island is accessible by ferry.
The islands and the surrounding sea are part of the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park.