According to Xhosa legend and mythology, the Wilkd Coast's iconic Hole-in-the-Wall, or izi Khaleni (place of thunder), was created by a giant fish as an act of vengeance against a local village.
The mythology speaks of sea people, who look like humans but who have flipper-like hands and feet that allow them to navigate the waters off the coast of the Eastern Cape.
According to the legend, which has been passed on through oral tradition, an enchantingly beautiful woman who lived on the Wild Coast in a village not too far from a lagoon was cut off from the sea by a cliff.
One of the sea people, mesmerised by her beauty, sought to elicit her attentions. However, the woman's father was enraged by this and forbade the relationship.
At high tide one night, the sea people came to the cliff and, with the help of a huge fish, rammed a hole through the centre of the cliff. As they swam into the lagoon they shouted and sang, causing the villagers to hide in fear.
In the commotion the girl and her lover were reunited and disappeared into the sea.
izi Khaleni gained its English name from a Captain Vidal of the vessel Barracouta, sent by the British Admiralty in 1823 to survey the coastline between the Keiskamma River and Lourenço Marques (now Maputo).
Vidal took his ship to within 800m of the coast, and described in his log "where two ponderous black rocks above the water’s edge, upwards of 80 feet above its surface, exhibiting through the phenomenon of a natural archway", prompting him to name it the Hole in the Wall.
Standing at the mouth of the Mpako River, the cliff consists of dark-blue shales, mudstones and sandstones of the Ecca Group, dating back some 260 million years.
Scientists believe the rocks were intruded by a dolerite sheet, and the ‘hole’ was created over millions of years by the buffeting waves, which eroded away the softer rocks underneath the dolerite to form an arch.
The same process also eventually separated the cliff from the mainland.