Charles Darwin Rocks in Sea Point, Cape Town, Western Cape
Rock of Ages
The landmark Charles Darwin Rocks are situated in Sea Point. They can be found at the south end of the Promenade alongside Queens Beach. If you look out over the railings at the famous Sea Point “Contact” spot, you will see a group of immediately striking, oddly striated rocks.
The Charles Darwin Rocks, often thought of as discovered by Charles Darwin but that honour went to Clarke Abel in 1818, were so named because he visited them on his worldwide journey in 1836 on the HMS Beagle. This interesting discovery was what lead to his stay at the Cape of Good Hope, to be the longest of all his stops besides the Galapagos Islands, on his five-year voyage.
The group of rocks are a geological wonder, a ‘contact’ between granite and the sedimentary rock that forms Signal Hill. Geologists explain that the rocks reveal an impressive “contact” point, from approximately 540 million years ago, of dark slate with pale intrusive granite which proved that rocks can form from molten materials. Darwin’s later account of the rocks at Sea Point, which he erroneously called Green Point, was a result of eight years of writing and correspondence after his return to England.
The rocks were proclaimed a historical monument in 1953 and a bronze plaque was erected by the National Monuments Council. In 2010 the plaque was replaced with an informative plaque describing the significance of the outcrops.
Today, whenever there’s a decent swell, surfers clamber over this group of curious, streaky-coloured rocks at the south end of Queens Beach before leaping into the waves. Sit awhile, ponder the discovery and enjoy a beautiful sunset!
Things to see and do
- Rock Formations
- Plaque, with Geology Explanation
- Queens Beach
- Sea Point Promenade
- Saunders Rock Beach
Best during daylight hours
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