Located about 6.9km west of Cape Town, Robben Island has an area of 5.1km2. It is Dutch for “seal island.” Since the end of the 17th century, this island has been used for political prisoners ever since the Dutch settled there, for example, when they isolated Indonesian political leaders. The island was once also used as a leper colony and prison for convicted criminals.
Robben Island was also where the former South African President Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years out of the 27 years he served, prior to the fall of apartheid. Up to today, three of the country’s presidents were former inmates of Robben Island.
The tour to this island includes a visit to Mr Mandela's cell, the courtyard, the washing area, and the quarry where the prisoners on the island used to do forced labour. It is quite an interesting tour. Normally the tour guide is a former prisoner and knows the island from first-hand experience.
Ferries and private tours depart from Nelson Mandela Gateway in Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
The Moturu Kramat shrine could also be found on the island, which was built in 1969. It is a sacred site for Muslim pilgrimage on the island built to commemorate the Prince of the island of Madura in Indonesia, Sayed Abdurahman Moturu, one of the first imams who was exiled by the Dutch in 1740 and died there in 1754.