Are you ready for a bucket-list worthy secret Cape Town cave adventure? There is nothing more thrilling than exploring some of Cape Town’s best secret spots and hidden gems. Besides the fact that Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, voted the ‘Greatest City in the World’ by the Telegraph Travel Awards 7 years in a row, there is so much more to this glorious city than meets the eye.
On top of its unapologetic natural beauty, Cape Town is home to some of the most magnificent hidden gems that are worth every second of exploring! All you need to do is wander slightly off the beaten tourist path and awaken the inner adventurer in you to discover them!
Here are our top 10 secret caves to explore in Cape Town – all of which you should add to your post-lockdown Cape Town adventure bucket-list right away!
** Important note: Although the Cape is rich in natural beauty, tourists and locals are urged to take necessary precautions when exploring secluded areas. Those venturing into the Table Mountain National Park should have the following emergency numbers on hand: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700. Criminal incidents should be reported to the nearest police station as soon as able.
We also recommend @safetymountain as a useful resource for hikers. This free safety tracking service allows you to notify local trackers of your contact details, intended route and travel time via whatsapp. You are then able to provide hourly updates on your progress, and to notify trackers when you are safely off the mountain.
#1 BOOMSLANG CAVE
- Difficulty: Easy
- Fitness level required: Low -Moderate level of fitness required
- Start point: Boyes Drive – Echo Valley
- End Point: Boomslang Cave above Kalk Bay
- Average time to the top: Approximately 2 – 3 hours (depending on your fitness and experience level)
- Approximate route distance: +/- 3.9km
- Child-friendly: Yes
Known as one of Kalk Bay’s coolest hidden gems, the famous Boomslang Cave is great for less experienced cave explorers. As it’s a relatively easy hike, taking approximately 2hours to complete, it is perfect for novice hikers, families with kids, or adventure seekers looking for something exciting to do. Found above Kalk Bay, Boomslang Cave tunnels right through the mountain – making it quite a thrilling experience to tick off your Cape Town adventure bucket-list.
To get to the starting point of the Boomslang Cave hike, you can either drive or take the train to Kalk Bay Train Station and head up Boyes Drive where you will find the sign for Echo Valley. This marks the start of your Boomslang Cave hiking adventure. From there it is a relatively easy climb as you follow the path through Echo valley for about an hour until you reach Boomslang Cave. Now this is where the real fun and games begin! You will need to get down on your hands and knees to enter the cave.
After a bit of shuffling and navigating your way around, the cave will open into a larger chamber. As it can get pretty dark inside the cave, taking a headlamp or torch along is a great idea to help you explore the labyrinth of tunnels within the cave before coming out the other side. Once you make your way through the cave you will be well rewarded for you efforts and daring adventurous spirit with breath-taking views over the Noordhoek valley and False Bay Coastline.
**Tip: Make sure you take a torch or headlamp along as it can get pretty dark in there. If you’re claustrophobic, you may want to give the Boomslang Cave adventure a skip as leopard crawling is necessary to reach the other side. The cave can get rather wet and slippery during rainy season, making spring and summer a far better time to explore this cool Cape Town secret cave. As you need to get onto all-fours to enter the Boomslang Cave, it is important that you wear the right hiking attire – long pants are recommended especially if you don’t want to get wet or dirty.
#2 WOODSTOCK CAVE
- Difficulty: Moderate level of difficulty
- Fitness level required: Moderate level of fitness required
- Start point: Tafelberg Road / Rhodes Memorial
- End Point: Upper Aerial Cableway Station
- Average time to the top: 1 – 2 hours one way starting from Tafelberg Road | 2 – 3 hours one way starting from Rhodes Memorial
- Child friendly: Yes
Another amazing cave to explore in Cape Town is the Woodstock Cave. This cave is impressive in its size and forms a long horizontal crack in the Devil’s Peak mountainside. In fact, the Woodstock Cave is one of the largest caves on Table Mountain – 50 metres wide, and 15 metres deep. This gives avid cave explorers and adventures tons of space to discover everything this cool Cape Town cave has to offer.
The hike to reach the Woodstock Cave is relatively easy and doesn’t require a great deal of hiking experience. Making it an awesome family-friendly hike and cave adventure. Plus, you will be well rewarded for all your hiking efforts with a magnificent view, a stunning shaded area to relax and recharge and even a small waterfall to admire and enjoy. During the winter months, the waterfall is especially evident as its also Cape Town’s peak rainy season.
Where to start your Woodstock Cave hike: The Woodstock Cave hike has two starting points to choose from. You can choose to start you hike via Tafelberg Road – To get there, continue past the Table Mountain Lower Cableway station until you reach a dirt road and a metal, pillared gate. Look out for a sign indicating the Woodstock Cave route. You will then see a parking area close by. You can either park at the Woodstock Cave route’s starting point or as close as you can when the road is closed. From here, you’ll start zigzagging your way up the slopes. The second option is to start your Woodstock Caves hike at the Rhodes Memorial parking lot and follow the path towards the Kings Blockhouse. From there, continue along the path around the mountain towards Cape Town, until you pass a ravine and eventually reach the cave.
**Tip: Don’t hike this route alone. It’s always best to hike in a group when hiking any of Cape Town’s hiking trails.
#3 LOOKOUT CAVE, CHAPMANS PEAK
The Lookout Cave is not only one of Cape Town’s top secret caves, but one of Chapmans Peak Drive’s most beautiful hidden gems and best secret sunset spots too. Like all the Mother City’s best kept secrets, you may need to wander a little off the beaten path to find it.
Make your way along Chapman’s Peak Drive until you reach the famous Chapman’s Peak Lookout Point – This is where the real adventure begins! Positioned just below the pass, you’ll have to climb over the railing and carefully make your way down the mountainside to reach the Lookout Cave. Once you’ve reached this cool secret hideaway and stunning sunset spot, it’s time to sit back, relax and soak it all in – The sheltered sand-stone cave boasts the perfect view over Hout Bay and Atlantic Ocean. An extra bonus is that this Chapmans Peak hidden gem has enough space to enjoy a picnic and a few sundowners paired with one hell of a view.
#4 KLIPGAT CAVE, GANSBAAI
Klipgat Cave is another one of Cape Town’s best secret caves and coolest hidden gems. Nestled within the Walker Bay Nature Reserve, a mere three kilometres from the idyllic De Kelders fishing village, is where you’ll find Klipgat Cave and its limestone windows looking out onto the ocean. On top of its stunning surroundings and spectacular views, Klipgat Cave has quite a bit of history behind it. The cave reached cultural, historical and world heritage significance due to the 1992 excavation when 70 000-year-old human bones and stone tools were discovered within the cave. These bones and stone tools were believed to be left behind by the native Khoikhoi bushman.
Besides its rich history, exploring Klipgat Cave is a real adventure! It boasts two chambers – The first chamber has a rugged rocky surface and leads to the ocean whereas the second chamber is made up of a small entryway that leads to the main cave excavation site. There is also a boardwalk that circles around the historical site.
How to get to Klipgat Cave: To get to Klipgat Cavefollow the N2 towards Gansbaai. The trail to reach Klipgat Cave starts at the Gansbaai harbour and continues for approximately 7km boasting spectacular ocean views and Cape fynbos along the way. However, if you’re not too eager to take on the 7km trail towards Klipgat Cave, you can simply drive to Walker Bay Nature Reserve via Hermanus, leaving you with only a short walk to the cave along the boardwalk. While it’s far less strenuous, you should still be prepared for a bit of climbing – it’s all part of the adventure right?!
**Tip: Besides all the adventure, beauty and history Klipgat Cave has to offer, it is also one of the best whale watching spots in the Western Cape.
#5 PEERS CAVE, FISHHOEK
Located just above the Fish Hoek dunes, you’ll discover an amazing overhang of rock faces which forms part of Peers Cave. While the hike to reach this secret Cape Town cave starts off fairly easy for the first 20 minutes, it becomes pretty rocky and challenging, with the path becoming less defined as you continue to make your way to the top. However, you will be well rewarded for your hiking efforts when you finally reach Peers Cave. Besides a spectacular view of the ocean and picturesque Noordhoek below, Peers Cave is a great spot to sit back, relax and enjoy a stunning picnic. Plus, the fact that it is perfectly sheltered from the north-easterly winds, means you can enjoy every second of this bucket-list worthy adventure.
Peers Cave also boasts quite a fascinating history – The cave was named after Victor Peers who, with his son, excavated it in 1927 and found a roughly 13 000-year-old human skull.
While exploring the inside of Peers Cave you might also find remnants of seashells. This is owed to the fact that during excavations, shells were found deep in the cave that are usually only found 5km into the ocean.
How to get to Peers Cave: To get to Peers Cave, drive towards Noordhoek over Ou Kaapse Weg (M64) from Cape Town. At Silvermine Road take a left towards the retirement homes and park your car there. Once you’ve parked, head back along Silvermine Road towards the marked parking spot – This marks the start of your hike to Peers Cave.
**Tip: To ensure your own safety as well as the safety of your hiking group, hikers are advised to be incredibly alert and aware of potential muggings in the area. Hikers are advised to never hike alone and to go in large groups to avoid being targeted and to leave all valuables at home.
#6 STADSAAL CAVES, CEDERBERG
While exploring this hidden gem may require you to travel a little outside of Cape Town, it will be well worth the trip. Located just over 2 hours outside of the city centre, the Cederberg Wilderness area is considered one of the most undisturbed regions of the Western Cape. With burnt ochre mountains, jagged sandstone rock formations and ancient San and Khoi rock art, it will feel like you’ve escaped to another world entirely. Known for its unapologetic and untamed beauty, a visit to the Cederberg Wilderness should be on everyone’s Cape Town bucket-list, especially if you’re an avid hiker and nature lover at heart.
The Stadsaal Caves is a series of caverns carved into the rock by thousands of years’ worth of wind erosion. These caves were entirely formed by nature and have been touched only by humans in the form of the ancient bushman paintings found on the walls inside. The Stadsaal Caves, together with other nearby landmarks such as the Wolfberg Arch and the Maltese Cross, are undoubtedly some of the most magnificent natural gems you’ll discover in the Western Cape.
Standing inside the caverns of the Stadsaal Caves, you will feel part of something sacred as you’re surrounded by rock paintings believed to date back 1 000 years. These rock paintings are incredibly well preserved. This is owed to the longevity of materials made from ochre rock with which the Bushman used to paint. Witnessing these rock paintings up-close is a truly remarkable experience.
How to get to the Stadsaal Caves: To get to the Stadsaal Caves, follow the N7 towards Citrusdal. Continue north from Citrusdal and take the Algeria turnoff to the right onto a dirt road. Continue to the Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve, the caves are located around 5km from the Algeria campsite. You will find a gate barring the entrance to the caves. The gate can be unlocked with the combination attached to your CapeNature permit.
**Important information: As the Cederberg Wilderness is a CapeNature reserve, you will need a permit to enter. You can purchase a permit at Driehoek Farm, en route to the Cederberg, or directly from CapeNature by contacting them on 021 483 0190. The cost of permits is R70 for adults and R40 for children.
#7 WAENHUISKRANS CAVE, ARNISTON
Located just off the sandy shoreline of Arniston, the Waenhuiskrans Cave is undoubtedly one of Cape Town’s best secret caves to explore. Arniston is a small seaside town on the coast of the Overberg region of the Western Cape, approximately 3 hours from the city of Cape Town. It is home to white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and a stunning shipwreck-strewn coastline rich in history and heritage. But, by far one of its best kept secrets and hidden natural gems is the Waenhuiskrans Cave!
Due to its secret location, the Waenhuiskrans Cave can only be accessed during low tide when you are able to make your way through the shallow waters to the entrance of the cave. The Waenhuiskrans Cave is a true Mother Nature work of art as the cave was formed over the course of centuries by the movement of the tides.
Once you’re done marvelling at the remarkable craftmanship of this Arniston natural gem, it’s time to go cave exploring! Inside the Waenhuiskrans Cave you’ll discover several rockpools scattered throughout, as well as plenty of rock-dwelling marine life that have decided to take up residence inside the cave. If you’re an avid adventurer and keen explorer, a trip to the Waenhuiskrans Cave in Arniston should definitely be on your Cape Town bucket-list!
How to get to the Waenhuiskrans Cave: As you enter the Western Cape coastal town of Arniston, you will see a signpost directing you to the Waenhuiskrans Cave. Follow the road until you reach a beachside parking lot – this is where you can park your car. From there, follow the CapeNature signposts to Waenhuiskrans Nature Reserve until you see a set of stone stairs leading down into the water. From here you will be able to reach the smaller section of the cave, however, once inside, you will need to crawl through a small opening at the back to access the larger cave.
**Tip: The Waenhuiskrans Cave can ONLY be accessed during low tide. For your own safety it is vital that you do not attempt the hike at any other point of the day. Take only the essentials along when making your way to the cave. Due to the slippery, seaweed-strewn rocks that lie beneath the water’s surface as you navigate your way to the cave, it is important that you wear shoes that are appropriate for traversing slippery rock beds. If you require any additional information on the tides, be sure to contact Cape Agulhas Tourism (028 424 2584 or 028 424 2883) – they will be happy to give you all the pointers and additional information you need.
#8 TARTARUS CAVE, MUIZENBERG
While the laid-back coastal town of Muizenberg may be known for it’s chilled beach vibes and surf’s up approach to life, it’s home to some of Cape Town’s coolest hidden gems too – One of which is the Tartarus Cave! If you’re a die-hard thrill seeker, exploring this Cape Town cave is right up your alley. But you better be up for an exhilarating adventure, as its certainly not for the faint-hearted!
Set into Silvermine’s mountainside, Tartarus Cave is located down a small hole in the ground and consists of roughly 50 metres of chambers. Inside the cave you will find a narrow underground passage which leads to a large slippery-edged pit. Be extra careful when you reach this point as this is where Tartarus Cave becomes incredibly slippery and potentially dangerous.
While navigating the Tartarus Cave itself is more challenging and only recommended for the real adrenalin junkies, it is a rather easy walk/hike to the cave on a steep incline. The trail is filled with stunning views and scenic surroundings, incredible vegetation and a diverse display of fauna and flora, making it a real treat for nature lovers. An extra special bonus is that during Cape Town’s whale season (August – November), you will be able to enjoy some spectacular sightings of Southern Right Whales in the ocean waters below.
How to get to the Tartarus Cave: From the coastal town of Muizenberg, make your way towards 110 Boyes Drive and park your car at the Bailey’s Kloof sign (located opposite the shark watcher’s post). At this point you will find a footpath. Follow the jeep track for about 30 minutes passed the “Amphitheatre” stone beacon. Continue the path until you see a 1.5-metre hole in the ground – That marks the start of the Tartarus Cave
**Tip: It is highly advised to go in groups and not to embark on a Tartarus Cave adventure on your own. Be careful not to venture too deep into Tartarus Cave, unless you are with someone who knows the cave well. At a certain point, the cave becomes incredibly slippery, dangerous, and difficult to navigate. We highly recommend you take a flashlight along as it can get pretty dark and daunting down there. The best time to hike to Tartarus Cave is from September to December when it is mostly shaded, the flora and fauna are on full display, and you can enjoy some incredible whale sightings along the way.
#9 ELANDS BAY CAVE, ELANDS BAY
Another top cave to explore in Cape Town is the Elands Bay Cave located in the surfer’s paradise and beautiful west coast town of Elands Bay. Declared a provincial heritage site in 2009, Elands Bay is the only area along the entire West Coast to offer such a significant concentration of heritage resources. On top of its pristine heritage status, Elands Bay boasts pristine white-sand beaches, turquoise ocean water, diverse wildlife, stunning natural surroundings, and some of the best swimming and surfing spots in Cape Town. One of Elands Bay’s greatest allures is the fact that it has remained largely untouched and undiscovered by the masses. This makes it the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and the ideal destination for a bucket-list worthy adventure – With exploring the Elands Bay Cave being right at the top of the adventure to-do list!
Besides its stunning scenic views and incredible rocky surroundings, the interior of the Elands Bay Cave boasts amazing rock paintings done by the Bushmen thousands of years ago. It truly is quite remarkable to witness first-hand!
How to get to the Elands Bay Cave: To reach the Elands Bay Cave, drive past the Crayfish Factory and head around the point until you pass three dilapidated former WWII buildings and a gravel road. Continue to drive as far down as you can and then walk the rest of the way to the cave.
** Tip: It is important to keep an eye out for snakes during the warmer months.
#10 ELEPHANT’S EYE CAVE, CONSTANTIABERG
The Elephant’s Eye Cave is located within the Table Mountain National Park, just outside Cape Town in the Silvermine Nature Reserve. It is one of Cape Town’s more accessible caves, making it perfect for an adventure-filled day out with friends and family. Named Elephant’s Eye because of its shape, which from the right angle reveals something similar to the eye of an elephant, this cool Cape Town cave is not only relatively easy to reach, but offers hikers and adventurers spectacular views all the way through.
While the Elephant’s Eye Cave may not be one of South Africa’s most majestic or historically-significant caves, it is one of the most fun caves to visit because you can set off on your own cave adventure without the guidance of an expert guide.
The hike to reach the cave is relatively easy, except for the last part which is fairly steep. However, it is still very do-able, and no expert hiking skills or experience is required. Even though you may be panting a bit, you will be well rewarded for your hiking efforts with a spectacular view from inside the cave. Another great thing about the Elephant’s Eye Cave is that it’s big enough to sit back, relax and enjoy a cave picnic paired with stunning views over the False Bay coast.
**Tip: The Elephant’s Eye Cave hike is a pleasant hike, provided that you do not start your hike in the mid-day summer heat as there is limited shade along the way. Make sure you take sunscreen, a hat, and enough water along, as well as a picnic basket to make the most of this Cape Town cave and hiking adventure. Good hiking shoes and attire is also important.
#11 WATCHMAN’S CAVE
Located just above the main trail to the peak of Lion’s Head, Watchman’s Cave is reasonably easy to locate.
The view overlooks Signal Hill and is sheltered enough to enjoy a nice picnic or just admire the glorious sunset from one of the best sunset spots in Cape Town.