Hermanus extends along Walker Bay, which boasts some of the finest land-based whale watching on Earth! So a stay here holds huge appeal for travelers who are interested in marine life.
Hermanus is very easy to access by road, as it is linked to Cape Town via the R43 highway and N2 motorway. Alternatively, travelers can take the R44 to enjoy some amazing ocean views! The town is approximately 115km from the Mother City and just 55km from the southernmost point of Africa, Cape Agulhas. And Gansbaai, the town famous for offering cage diving with ferocious great white sharks, is only 40km away.
Whale watching in Hermanus
If the main purpose of your trip to Hermanus is whale watching, we recommend traveling here in the southern winter and spring – that is, June to October. It is during these months that the massive mammals – specifically, southern right whales – are particularly prevalent, with over 3,000 individuals migrating from Antarctica! The whales enter the warmer waters of Walker Bay to mate and calve. Often they are observed breaching near the shore, leaping out of the water! Onlookers may also spot them spyhopping, rising vertically from the water and holding the position for up to 10 minutes. Lobtailing is common too, when whales lift their tail and slap it back down. And they frequently expel water from their blowholes at a rapid rate.
Viewing these enormous animal antics really is thrilling – and the people of Hermanus must agree, as every year the town hosts two whale festivals! In August, there is ‘Kalfiefees’, the Calf Festival, to welcome the first offspring into the world. Then the end of September sees a general celebration of the whales’ return. At both events, there are stalls for foodstuffs and crafts, as well as environmental awareness programs and even some drama productions! There is also the opportunity to take part in a 45-minute whale-watching flight, enabling you to check out these astonishing creatures from the sky.
Other attractions in Hermanus include the Old Harbour Museum, positioned on the coast. Here, you can embark on a journey back in time to 1855, when the town sprang up around this favorite haunt for fishermen. There is plenty to see, from the site of the Old Harbour to an indoor museum revealing the history of fishing, to the Whale House, which features a hall housing a whale exhibition complete with suspended skeleton! This really is a must-see for all whale enthusiasts.
If watching the whales frolicking in the water makes you keen for a swim in the sea yourself, we recommend you head to Hermanus’ largest beach, Grotto. This beach has blue flag status, indicating first-rate water quality, safety, and accessibility. The beach is also absolutely stunning, with its white sands, sparkling turquoise waters, and breathtaking vistas of mountains behind. Ideal for swimming and walking alike, Grotto is the perfect place to relax – there is even a restaurant nearby, where you can pop in for a snack or take time for a delicious meal!
Hermanus has lots of other excellent eateries, as well as many other activities such as abseiling, quad biking, and golf! There is also a great selection of places to stay – hotels, guesthouses, and numerous B&Bs. Just take a look at our top picks below, then phone us to discuss the whale of a time that awaits you in this very special part of the world!