The quaint seaside town of Hermanus is world renowned as a whale watching mecca and a much loved South African holiday destination a little over an hour’s car trip from Cape Town. From June to December the Southern Right Whales visit the nutrient rich waters for calving and mating season and put on spectacular breaching shows. Visitors can marvel at the behemoths from land based vantage points on the cliffs above the shore (sometimes from within a stone’s throw distance) or venture out into the bay on one of the many charter boats.
The town is replete with charming sea facing accommodation covering a variety of options – from five star luxuries hotels and guest houses to homely sea cottages, many of which are perched right up on the cliffs overlooking Walker Bay.
Hermanus is home to a wide array of renowned restaurants serving fresh seafood and other gastronomic delicacies. The epicentre of the town houses a bustling and vibrant craft market which is surrounded by art galleries, bohemian boutiques and often filled with the sounds of live music.
The historic Old Harbour just below the centre of the town is a picturesque focal point and home to the Whale House museum and the ‘Whale caller’ who sounds the arrival of the whales by blowing through a special kelp horn which is rumoured to attract the gentle giants. The shoreline between Hermanus and Onrus offers excellent diving, fishing and kayaking.
Undulating cliff paths which connect the areas pristine beaches are home to semi-tame rock hyrax – or dassies – which are said to be the closest living relative to the African elephant! Prisitne Grotto beach has been awarded International Blue Flag status.
The natural beauty isn’t confined to the sea-side. Hermanus is straddled by majestic mountains which offers hikes and bird watching in the heart of one of the words richest floral kingdoms. The more adventurous traveller may want to take advantage of the consistent flying conditions which make the area a favourite amongst paragliders.
Just minutes away is the picturesque Hemel en Aarde valley which has several renowned wine producers and fine dining restaurants. To the north, lies the historic Birkenhead Brewery, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and the coastal town of Gansbaai which is widely regarded as the best place in the world to come face to face with Great White sharks. Shuttles to Gansbaai can be arranged through the shark viewing operators who typically operate two trips a day.
We recommend accommodation at the luxurious Birkenhead House with its commanding seaside cliff-top position and the two enchanting eco lodges, nestled between the mountain and the sea at the Grootbos Nature Reserve.