In the biosphere reserve all the classic landscape and coastal features of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern littoral are found within one small area. The land is deeply indented here by the sea. One the one hand, peninsulas and coastal headlands are linked by narrow strips of land, on the other side they are separated by lagoons known as boddens and open bays called Wieken locally. There are fine-sanded beaches and rugged cliffed coastlines, at the foot of which are impressive rocky beaches. Broad belts of reed girdle the shores. Beech woods or poor grasslands are found on the sites of terminal moraines and meadows and pastures in the depressions formed after the Ice Ages. Cultural features include megalithic tombs of the New Stone Age, Bronze Age tumuli, medieval churches and village layouts, and the resort architecture of the Modern Era.
It was made a biosphere reserve in 1990 as part of the GDR's national park programme.