Robben Island infamous prison island


The infamous Robben Island is located in Table Bay, almost 7 km from Blouberg, on Cape Town’s north-western coast. Its name comes from the seals on the island, translated from the Afrikaans and Dutch name for the mammals. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Monument.

The Island was first used in the 17th century, and has been home to a former hospital for lepers, and a former maximum security prison, the latter dating back to the 1960s, when the National Party government imprisoned members of the then-banned African National Congress (ANC).

One can visit the Island, visitors guided by former political prisoners, and shown the cells. Nelson Mandela was its most illustrious prisoner, spending 18 years in captivity, before being transported to two other prisons, and released in 1990, after 26 years in captivity in total. Other political prisoners on the Island included Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, and Ahmed Kathrada.

Book a tour at R400 for local residents and R600 for tourists. Boats depart from the Nelson Mandela Gateway in the V&A Waterfront. Our Labotessa hosts can assist with the bookings for our guests. Tours take approximately four hours, and are weather dependent.


Labotessa Luxury Boutique Hotel…….’like no other in Cape Town’.

Labotessa Luxury Boutique Hotel, 5 Church Square, Parliament Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 010-6600