Robben Island is an island in Table Bay, 6.9 km west of the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa. The name is Dutch for “seal island.” Robben Island is roughly oval in shape, 3.3 km long north-south, and 1.9 km wide, with an area of 5.07 km². It is flat and only a few metres above sea level, as a result of an ancient erosion event. Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars before the fall of apartheid. To date, three of the former inmates of Robben Island have gone on to become President of South Africa: Nelson Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe, and current President Jacob Zuma.
Robben Island is both a South African National Heritage Site as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Robben Island, the unique symbol of “the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice” with a rich 500 year old multi-layered history, is visited every year by thousands of people eager to understand and honour the important aspects of South Africa’s history that the Island represents.
Robben Island tours operate from Monday to Sunday (weather and demand permitting) from 9:00am to 3:00pm. The Robben Island tour runs every day of the week, four (4) times a day or more depending on demand. You will be transported to the Island via ferries. The ferries depart from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm – weather permitting. The tour takes 3.5 hours including the ferry trip to and from the Island (Hired boats and our other boats may have different travel times).