Charles Darwin’s Rocks

Landmarks / Miscellaneous in or near Sea Point, Atlantic Seaboard in Cape Town, South Africa.

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsCharles Darwin’s Rocks

Where? At the parking lot on the south end of Queens Beach, near the intersection of Alexander and Beach roads, Sea Point, Cape Town

Overnight? Accommodation in Sea Point, in Western Cape

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.

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.

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

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.

For more on Darwin’s visit to the Cape see: "The Darwin Trail - Retrace Darwin's Visit to The Cape".

Find the rocks:

At the parking lot on the south end of Queens Beach, near the intersection of Alexander and Beach roads.

Why not overnight? Find Accommodation in Sea Point

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