Hole in the Wall, Wild Coast, Eastern Cape
Did you know?
The Wild Coast is one of the few places you'll see cattle chewing the cud on the beach.
Hole in the Wall – what a weirdly Zen name for a small town in the Eastern Cape. Set along the shoreline overlooking the rocky formation that gave the tiny holiday village its name, this Wild Coast settlement south of Coffee Bay attracts beach lovers and anglers in equal numbers.
The instantly recognisable rock formation is made up of Ecca shale and sandstone, capped with hard volcanic dolerite.
It stands before the mouth of the Mpako River and is the source of many legends. In the Xhosa language, this area is called esiKhaleni, which means ‘the place of sound’. Some say it’s because, under certain conditions, the waves slap the rocks with a resounding cracking sound, while it roars during storms.
Others say it refers to a Xhosa legend involving a young maiden who fell in love with one of the mythical ‘sea people’. Such was the love of this sea person for the maiden that he and his people rammed a hole in the side of a lagoon wall with the help of a huge fish so they could reach her; she was never heard from again. In this version, it’s the voices and singing of the sea people that give the name esiKhaleni.
Either way, Hole in the Wall is one of the landmarks of the Wild Coast.
Geologists say that the cliff walls were once joined to the land. Continuous wave action against the softer sandstone rocks wore them away. The same happened to the more vulnerable shale and sandstone under the hard dolerite, creating the archway.
Locals also believe this is a gateway to the world of their ancestors.
Although some foolhardy people have gone through the hole in boats and by swimming, and others have managed to climb to the top of it, there have been many injuries and fatalities.
The Xhosa people from this region, quite rightly, advise against doing anything so dangerous.
It’s enough to admire this splendid rocky icon from the quiet beach.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Hole in the Wall Hotel & Holiday Village
Tel: +27 (0)47 575 0009
Cell: +27 (0)83 317 8786 or +27 (0)87 150 6095/6
How to get here
The closest airports are at East London and Durban. From East London, follow the N2 and drive through Idutywa and then Qunu until you reach the turn-off on your right to Vidgesville at the Swalala bottle store. Follow the road, ignoring the first turn-off to Hole in the Wall. Drive on through Coffee Bay, until the road becomes gravel. Follow this along the coast, keeping left. After about 7km or 8km, you'll reach Hole in the Wall. The distance from East London is just over 200km, but the road from Umtata to Hole in the Wall in particular is bad. Set aside four hours for the drive.
From Durban the distance is around 400km, and the turn to Vidgesville is just south of Mthatha (formerly Umtata).
Best time to visit
The Wild Coast is delightful any time of year. If you go between June and July you might see the annual Sardine Run, when thousands of sardines, trailed by dolphins, sharks and seabirds, make their way up South Africa's east coast.
Around the area
Visit nearby Coffee Bay, which has a lively nightlife thanks to the backpackers' establishment there, the Coffee Shack.
Self drive is the best option.
Length of stay
To settle into the laid-back rhythm of the Wild Coast, stay at least two or three nights, but a week or even two is better if you can.
What to pack
Pack your swimming costume, suntan lotion and walking shoes.
Where to stay
Stay at the Hole in the Wall Hotel and Holiday Village. The accommodation is self-catering, and ranges from two-person chalets which cost approx. R500 per night for both people, up to 10-sleeper chalets which cost approx. R1300 per night for the chalet. You can also opt to eat in the restaurant.
What to eat
Seafood is fresh and plentiful. You might even catch your own.