This Edenic and well-named little patch of paradise is located on the Wild Coast’s breathtaking and rugged Indian Ocean coastline, in the 2 149-hectare Cwebe Nature Reserve. Cwebe borders the Dwesa Nature Reserve on the other side of the Mbashe River and the reserves are a biodiversity hotspot, located between the temperate and subtropical biological zones.
The Haven Hotel is the only accommodation in the Cwebe area and is much loved by fishermen due to its location near the Mbashe River mouth. The estuary, mangroves, riverine forest and the grasslands of the nature reserves offer a wide variety of habitats for the 290 bird species so far recorded in the reserves - including mangrove kingfisher, narina trogon and a small tern colony at the river mouth.
Part of the Haven’s charm is its secluded and unspoilt surroundings, but along with this comes the gravel access roads, which can be very bad during or after the rainy season (November to March).
The Haven Hotel is more than 50 years old and has 38 spacious en-suite thatched chalets with garden or sea views. The hotel has a private beach, a nine-hole mashie golf course, a tennis court, snooker tables, table tennis, volleyball and a swimming pool.
Look out for
Walking trails – A rambler’s paradise leading to beautiful spots such as the Mbanyana waterfalls and a beautiful lagoon (home to Cape clawless otter).
Bird-watching in the Mbanyana riverine forest. Watch for halfcollared kingfisher and longtailed wagtail.
The Sardine Run – An annual winter (June/July) phenomenon in which millions of sardines swim 1 000 kilometres from the Cape to Mozambique, feasted on by sharks, game fish, dolphins, seals, gannets and humans. Shoals are sometimes netted on the beach right in front of the hotel.
Fishing – The Mbashe River mouth and surrounding coastline form part of a marine protected area. Fishing is not allowed within the reserve, but outside it there are spots where gullies yield stumpnose, bronze bream, zebra, blacktail, rockcod and grunter (especially in August), while kob, garrick, shad and kingfish are caught from the shore. Anglers are encouraged to catch and release.
4x4 trails – A 4x4 track runs through the reserve.
Dwesa, the bigger of the two reserves (3 900 hectares) contains a number of introduced game species, including red hartebeest, blesbok, blue wildebeest, crocodile, buffalo, eland and warthog. There is chalet accommodation next to the Mbashe River estuary.
Horse-riding at the Haven – There are various rides for beginner or experienced riders through different habitats, such as forests, beaches, river valleys and mouths and mangroves, and to the Mbanyana waterfalls and plunge pool. Children aged six years and older ride on the golf course.
Canoeing - The Mbashe River is navigable for 12 kilometres. Canoes are available from the hotel to paddle in the lagoon. Guided river-rafting trips are also offered.
Whale- and dolphin-watching - Bottlenose dolphins can be seen all year round; 15 000 to 30 000 common dolphins follow the Sardine Run. In June, the whales visit: southern rights stay until September and humpbacks until November. Visitors have reported seeing 10 whales at a time.