Bat's Cave, Nahoon
DESTINATIONS,  Eastern Cape,  Eastern Cape hiking trails,  Hiking

Bats Cave East London: How to visit this secret destination

Tucked away along the rugged coastal beauty of East London in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province lies a hidden treasure: Bats Cave. This natural wonder remains largely undiscovered, due to its secluded location and imposing rock formations that conceal its entrance. Even though getting there might take some time and energy, the scenery along the way is absolutely stunning, and seeing the impressive Bats Cave makes every step worthwhile. The cave, shaped by nature’s forces over time, features a fascinating mix of textures and forms. Plus, right in front of the cave, there’s a beautiful natural swimming pool that’s perfect for a refreshing swim! So, keep reading to discover more about this hidden gem, how you can get there and some other useful tips for your visit.

Attention!

It was recently brought to my attention that Bats Cave is currently under review as a potential heritage site to be protected under the Heritage Resources Act 1999.ย As such, please be mindful when visiting here.

Minimize noise: Loud noises can disrupt wildlife and disturb the tranquility of the area. Keep conversations at a respectful volume.
Avoid littering: Preserve the beauty of the site by disposing of trash properly and carrying out any waste you generate.
Leave artifacts undisturbed: Refrain from touching or removing any objects you may come across. These items contribute to the historical value of the site and should be left for others to appreciate.

How to reach Nahoon Bats Cave

Unfortunately, there is no longer an official trail to reach Bats Cave. There are however a number of unofficial trails to get there. The best places to start the walk to Bats Cave is from either the MBSA Coastal Education and Visitors Centre (Nahoon Environmental Center) in Nahoon Point Nature Reserve. (It’s best to put ‘reef cafe‘ into Google Maps for precise directions here) or from the Nahoon Life Savers Shack.

MBSA Coastal and Education Visitors Center
MBSA Coastal Education and Visitors Center

From MBSA Visitors Center, it’s about a 1.1km walk to Bats Cave. However, unless you are with an experienced trail guide or someone who has done the walk before, navigating the way there can be tricky. To learn more about the route we took to Bats Cave, click here.

Useful Information before visiting Nahoon Bats Cave

  • Visit at Low Tide: To access Bats Cave, it is crucial to plan your walk according to the low tide. Make sure to check the tide timetables to determine the best time for exploring the cave.
  • Guided Tours of Bats Cave: If you’d like to join a guided tour, inquire for further details at the MBSA Coastal Education and Visitors Centre. Alternatively, contact Mr. Desmond Bekker at +27 74 585 6666.
  • Cost: Free
  • Distance: Appoximately 2-3km round-trip.
  • Technical skill: It’s a moderate hike with steep sections and some slippery rocks. Those with knee injuries or very young children (under 5 years old) should take caution.

Safety Warning

There have been reports of muggings here. ALWAYS travel in a group (a group of 10 or more people is best). Be aware of your surroundings. ALWAYS let somebody know where you are and which trail you are taking. Before you head out, be sure to let the Education and Visitorโ€™s Centre know, so they’re aware of who’s on the trail.

Alternate route to reach Bats Cave

I visited Bats Cave with an East London hiking group called ‘Let’s Hike‘. If it’s your first visit to Bats Cave, I recommend sticking to the official trail. But since we had a skilled hiker and trail leader with us, she took us on a different route to reach the cave. This route took us approximately 1 hour, which included lots of photo stops and viewpoints along the way.

As with the official trail, our walk to Bats Cave started at the parking lot of the ‘Reef Cafe‘ or the MBSA Coastal Education and Visitors Centre. After that, we walked up a paved road from the parking lot, heading towards a dune forest.

After walking for about 10 minutes, we passed a speed bump on the road. Right after that, we turned left onto a path that leads into the dune forest. Unfortunately, there are no clear signs marking the exact location, so it’s hard to give an exact point.

The sand dune path towards bats cave
The first part of the trail, through forested sand dunes

As you continue along the sandy dune trail, make sure to keep to the left at the first fork in the path.

Although we were on the lookout for dolphins or whales at the two ocean viewpoints along the way, we weren’t so lucky this time. Nevertheless, the incredible shades of blue in the water below were absolutely gorgeous!

As you keep walking along the top of the dune, following the coastline, the trail leads you to the Nahoon Beacon. After circling around it, you’ll go down to a paved road. At the bottom of the road, there’s a T-junction where you turn left.

Arriving at Nahoon Beach, a beautiful stretch of sand and water

As you turn the corner, you’ll see Nahoon Beach stretched out in front of you.

Facing the ocean, go left and walk towards the rocky part of the beach. There are also some awesome rock formations along the way that are pretty cool to see.

Although it’s easy to get distracted by the scenery, keep an eye on the time. Remember, visiting Bats Cave is tide-dependent. So make sure your timing is such that you are able to reach the cave at low tide.

At this point, you will come across some beautiful rock pools. Just look at the color of the water!

We loved spending some time here looking for the colorful anemones and tiny fish in the pool.

Top Tip: Wear appropriate shoes with a good grip as the rocks are quite slippery.

Reaching Bats Cave, a hidden treasure of Nahoon

Excited to finally reach Bats Cave, we continued on, carefully making our way through the rocks for another 5-10 minutes. Eventually, we made it to Bats Cave. Every effort to get here was worth it. It’s an amazing site but the best part had to be the natural swimming pool in front of the cave. After a long walk in the hot sun, it was fantastic dipping in the pool for a quick swim.

Swimming in the natural pool at Bat's CAve
Nahoon Bats Cave, the natural swimming pool

The rocks of Bats Cave itself, shaped by natural forces over many years, create an interesting mix of textures and shapes. And the colors โ€“ green, brown, and purple โ€“ are really pretty.

Finding Our Way Back

After enjoying a refreshing swim for approximately 30 minutes, we retraced our path along the rocks back to the parking lot at the end of the beach. From there, we followed the paved road all the way back to the Reef Cafe/MBSA Coastal Center.

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