About Charles Darwin’s Rocks

Look out to sea over the edge of Sea Point’s promenade, on the south end of Queens Beach, and you will see a group of immediately striking, oddly striated rocks. They are known as Darwin’s Rocks - not because he discovered them, that honour belongs to Clark Abel who described them in 1818 - but because he visited them on his world-wide journey in 1836.

Did you know? The group of rocks are a geological wonder, a ‘contact’ between granite and the sedimentary rock that forms Signal Hill.

And why would a group of rocks entice Charles Darwin? The evolution theorist saw a sharp contrast between igneous and sedimentary rocks, proof that rocks can form from molten materials. Interestingly his stop at the Cape of Good Hope was the longest of all his stops, besides the Galapagos Islands (the fascination of which one can well understand), on the five-year voyage he made on the HMS Beagle.

Geologists describe how important these rocks are, for they are an example of how hot magma (a high-temperature fluid substance that is a mixture of molten or semi-molten rock, found beneath the Earth’s surface) intruded into and ‘baked’ the sedimentary rock and then cooled into granite.

They are proof that rocks can form from molten material from beneath the Earth, contradicting the ‘Neptunist’ geologists who believe that all rocks occurred under water.

There is a plaque at the site of the Darwin’s Rocks explaining the geology. Find the rocks at the parking lot on the south end of Queens Beach, near the intersection of Alexander and Beach roads.

Need to Know

WhereAt the parking lot on the south end of Queens Beach, near the intersection of Alexander and Beach roads, Sea Point, Atlantic Seaboard, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours.

OvernightStay in Sea Point Accommodation, Cape Town

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