Cape Point seems like the end of the earth – next stop Antarctica. Staring out at an endless watery horizon can create a queasy agoraphobic shiver when you realise there is nothing but freezing cold southern ocean ahead of you. The horizon is so far away that you can see the earth beginning to curve.
When visiting Cape Point you may be told that this treacherous finger of rocks delineates the Atlantic Ocean from the Indian Ocean, and this seems perfectly feasible, especially when a distinct colour difference is seen between the two bodies of water.
So is this or isn’t this the point where two oceans meet?
The answer is, “No, they do not meet here,” but it depends who you talk to! Some tour guides and publicity material make the most of the possibility that the two oceans meet at Cape Point. And there is definitely a difference in water temperature between the great expanse of Atlantic Ocean to the west of Cape Point, and the more protected waters of False Bay to the east. As a result there are some significant differences in marine life too. But this does not make it the meeting place of the two oceans.
Satellite photographs show quite clearly that, the cold Benguela current from the South Atlantic that veers up South Africa’s west coast, meets the warm Agulhas current of the Indian Ocean, off Cape Agulhas. This is Africa’s southernmost point, a couple of hours drive east and slightly south of Cape Town. Cape Agulhas tourism officials are very protective of their Two Ocean status, and get very cross when Cape Point tries to take this accolade away from them.
But does it really matter where the two oceans meet? All you need to know is that Cape Point is one of the most unique places on earth for its marine and terrestrial biodiversity and has a magical atmosphere. It’s on the “Must See” list for Cape Town.
Look out for post coming up about the original, lonely Cape Point lighthouse keeper who fell to his death.