Cape Gannets5 1
Lambert's Bay Bird Island Nature Reserve

Map of Reserve area

Bird Island lies about 100 m off the shore of Lambert's Bay on the Cape's West Coast.

What to Do

As the only accessible spot in the world to see Cape gannets breed, Bird Island is a bird-watcher’s paradise. The island’s hide is perfectly situated to observe their activities first-hand and learn more about their breeding habits. Other birds include the Cape cormorant and the kelp gull.

The Walkthrough Museum provides you with the opportunity to explore a variety of sea mammals and sea bird skeletons such as the Cuvier’s beaked whale, Cape fur seal, Cape gannet, Dusky Dolphin, etc.

Polly the life size Southern right whale

Take a scenic drive along the West Coast on your way to Bird Island. On the way you may see these majestic creatures close to the shore, as southern right whales enjoy the warm water after migrating from icy Antarctica. Whale season is from June to November.


The island, which is almost three hectares in size, is connected to the mainland via a breakwater. It is an important breeding and roosting site for seabirds, particularly Cape gannets and cormorants. Cape fur seals can be seen sunning themselves on the island’s rocks.

In the island’s well-situated gannet lookout, visitors can get close to the birds and witness their unique mating dances. The bird hide is signposted with interesting information about these seabirds and their habits.

The lookout provides an excellent vantage point for visitors to study the island’s gannets. There are signs across the island providing background information on the West Coast’s birds.

Visitors should cross the breakwater carefully. Entrance is prohibited if rough seas make it too dangerous to cross the breakwater.

How to get there

If travelling from Cape Town, take the N7 towards Clanwilliam. On the approach to Clanwilliam, take the R364 Graafwater/Lambert's Bay road to the coast. Once in Lambert's Bay, follow the signs to the harbour and Bird Island. The whole journey should take no more than four hours.

When you arrive at Bird Island, the obvious attraction are the blue-eyed Cape gannets, but be sure to also enjoy the fascinating Walkthrough Museum (affectionately known as the Bone Box) where visitors can observe many different sea mammal and sea bird skeletons, like the Cuvier’s beaked whale, Cape fur seal, dusky dolphin, and of course Polly, the life-sized southern right whale.

GPS: 32 5 22.13 S 18 18 8.95 E

General information

Reserve hours: 08:00 to 18:00 (last permits can be bought at 17h30)

Reserve Tel: 087 087 3951 / 087 087 3952

Permit bookings Tel: 087 087 8250

LIFE OF BIRDS…can be discovered at Bird Island about 100m off the shore of Lambert's Bay on the Cape's West Coast.
It offers visitors a rare opportunity to see the blue-eyed Cape gannet up close. This destination is one of only six sites worldwide where Cape gannets breed, and it is the only breeding site easily accessible to the public.

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Bird Island Nature Reserve Filming

Bird Island is roughly three hectares in size and connected to the mainland of Lambert’s Bay by a breakwater. It is one of just six breeding colonies of Cape gannets on Earth and is also an important nesting and roosting site for a variety of other seabirds. Cape cormorants and kelp gulls are common.

A hide-cum-interpretation centre has been built at the site where visitors can observe and film at close quarters the activities of these resolute birds.

Find out more
Visitors Gallery
Events Calendar
2 Feb 2024
World Wetlands Day 2024
23 Sep 2023
7 Sep 2023
1 Sep 2023

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