Goa Lawah bat cave is located in Pessinggahan village, midway along Bali’s southeast coastline. It’s only 15km past the Bali Safari Park and about the same distance shy of Candi Dasa so it’s not exactly off the beaten path but it’s unusual enough to earn a mention here.
Not surprisingly, the cave takes its name from the large colony of bats that inhabit it, with many hundreds of bats in plain view roosting around the cave opening. Also not surprisingly, to the Balinese the presence of so many bats has spiritual significance so way back in the 11th century, Mpu Kuturan, one of early priests responsible for laying the foundations of Hinduism in Bali established a temple in front of the cave. These days, the Pura Goa Lawah temple is one of the biggest temple complex’s on the island.
No one seems to know how big the bat cave actually is and with all those bats in residence, who can blame them for not wanting to find out! According to local legend the cave leads to three different locations into the interior highlands including Mount Agung, Talibeng Hill and Tangkid Bangbang. Another story goes that when a prince from the Mengwi kingdom hid away from enemies inside the cave he followed it all the way through to Besakih Temple “Mother Temple” 30kms away on the foot of Mount Agung. These claims are supported by tales of ash emerging from Goa Lawah when Mount Agung erupted in 1963.
Before leaving Goa Lawah, duck across the road to the beautiful black volcanic sand beach of Kusamba and check out the traditional salt mining activities.