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A headland is a coastal landform, a point of land usually high and often with a sheer drop, that extends into a body of water. It is a type of promontory. A headland of considerable size often is called a cape. [1] Headlands are characterised by high, breaking waves, rocky shores, intense erosion, and steep sea cliff.


Headlands and bays are often found on the same coastline. A bay is flanked by land on three sides, whereas a headland is flanked by water on three sides. Headlands and bays form on discordant coastlines, where bands of rock of alternating resistance run perpendicular to the coast. Bays form when weak (less resistant) rocks (such as sands and clays) are eroded, leaving bands of stronger (more resistant) rocks (such as chalk, limestone, granite) forming a headland, or peninsula. Through the deposition of sediment within the bay and the erosion of the headlands, coastlines eventually straighten out then start the same process all over again.

List of notable headlands


Cape Malabata, Morocco Cape Malabata Lighthouse.jpg
Cape Malabata, Morocco



Cliffs at Beachy Head, England Beachy Head and Lighthouse, East Sussex, England - April 2010 crop horizon corrected.jpg
Cliffs at Beachy Head, England
Land's End, England Land's End - geograph.org.uk - 171343.jpg
Land's End, England

North America

Hanauma Bay and Koko Crater at Koko Head, O'ahu Island, Hawai'i, USA Oahu from air2.jpg
Hanauma Bay and Koko Crater at Koko Head, O'ahu Island, Hawai'i, USA
Point Reyes, California, USA Point Reyes National Seashore PORE2141.jpg
Point Reyes, California, USA
Sydney Heads, NSW, Australia View from North Head Lookout - panoramio.jpg
Sydney Heads, NSW, Australia




United States

South West Cape, Tasmania South Cape Bay 2.jpg
South West Cape, Tasmania



New Zealand

Cape Horn, Chile CapeHorn.jpg
Cape Horn, Chile

South America

See also

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Cape (geography) A large headland extending into a body of water, usually the sea

In geography, a cape is a headland or a promontory of large size extending into a body of water, usually the sea. A cape usually represents a marked change in trend of the coastline which makes them prone to natural forms of erosion, mainly tidal actions. This results in capes having a relatively short geological lifespan. Capes can be formed by glaciers, volcanoes, and changes in sea level. Erosion plays a large role in each of these methods of formation.

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Ponta Norte

Ponta Norte is a headland on the north coast of the island of Sal in Cape Verde. It is the northernmost point of Sal. It is approximately 11 km north of the island capital of Espargos. The lighthouse Farol da Ponta Norte is located near the cape.

Ponta Cais

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Ponta do Sol (Santo Antão promontory)

Ponta do Sol is the northernmost point of both Cape Verde and the Island of Santo Antão. It is located 300 meters north of the city center of Ponta do Sol. The former Agostinho Neto Airport was located on the headland.


  1. Whittow, John (1984). Dictionary of Physical Geography. London: Penguin, 1984, pp. 80, 246. ISBN   0-14-051094-X.