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Cliffs at Beachy Head, England

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

Headlands and bays are often found on the same coastline. A bay is surrounded by land on three sides, whereas a headland is surrounded 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 where 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



Land's End, England

North America




United States

Hanauma Bay and Koko Crater at Koko Head, Oahu, USA



South West Cape, Tasmania

New Zealand

South America

See also


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

fr:Cap (géographie)

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