Home to 68,000 African penguins, Dassen Island is located in the Atlantic Ocean around 55 kilometers north of Cape Town and 9 kilometers off the coastline near the West Coast village of Yzerfontein. Although scattered with huge granite boulders and featuring patches of bedrock along the shoreline, Dassen Island is mostly flat and sandy, experiencing a Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summers and rainfall in winter. The flora of the island consists of hardy shrubs and grasses and supports a diverse range of animals, including the famed African penguins. Dassen Island is an important breeding ground for these penguins, which were classified as "Endangered" by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in June 2010, due primarily to the threat of oil spills, as well as competition with commercial fisheries and other birds for food resources.
Dassen Island’s waters are rich in kelp forests and floating phytoplankton, attracting a variety of marine creatures and birds to the area. Although the island is a nature reserve and not open to the public, tours around the island are available by boat offering visitors the opportunity to view the marine life, as well as the large flocks of birds that live on the Island.