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Whale tale in the ocean in Hermanus of South Africa - Faruk - Adobe Stock
Whale tale in the ocean in Hermanus of South Africa - Faruk - Adobe Stock

Hermanus – the best land-based whale watching in the world

Hermanus: a dreamy fishing village at the end of two scenic routes from Cape Town, offers an array of activities. The area is popular with families, romantic couples, and adventure seekers alike.

About Hermanus

Searching for the best land-based whale watching in the world? – Hermanus is your destination!

Add to that romantic -, adventure – or family -, beach – or vineyard getaways!

In Hermanus, you can watch Southern right whales from June to December every year. Here whales come so close to shore; whale watching needn’t only be by boat, you can simply watch the whales frolic from the shore! Hermanus offers many outdoor adventures like surfing, beaches, fishing, boating and hiking or simply strolling along well laid out trails along the ocean and holiday shopping in this idyllic sea side resort. For those searching for one of the best wine regions in the world, the nearby Hemel-en-Aarde valley and Walker Bay area offers a wide variety of exceptional wines.

Besides Southern Right whales, you may be lucky at any time of year to spot Bryde’s whales, even humpback whales passing by around June and July and often bottlenose and common dolphins. Cape fur seals are common and on an easy scenic drive you could visit a resident colony of endangered African penguins at Stony Point in Betty’s Bay. For the adventurous – shark cage diving is available in Gansbaai.

Why visit Hermanus?

Looking for an idyllic setting, with mountains towering close-by, wrapped in natural beauty and the wild ocean breaking on the shores? This dreamy former fishing village offers family-friendly, as well as romantic appeal with wild adventures, natural beauty. Throw in the idyllic and award-winning Hemel-en-Aarde wine region and you have a destination for everybody!

Read on for more information about the area

What not to miss around Hermanus

  • Hermanus old harbour and museum.
  • Spot several ocean mammals, both from land and by boat. Very good sightings of Southern Right Whales from June to November, Bryde’s whales, dolphins and seals.
  • Numerous pleasant walks on cliff tops above the shoreline offer great whale viewing opportunities.
  • The only whale crier in the world – similar to a town crier, but dedicated to whale sightings, sounding a kelp horn instead of ringing a bell.
  • Several beaches will entertain the kids on hot summer days.
  • Hemel-en-Aarde wine region.
  • Shark-Cage-Diving in Gansbaai 
  • Varied restaurants for all tastes and budgets.

What to do in Hermanus:

Around Hermanus:
Best Scenic Drives around Hermanus
Annual events
Vineyards and wine tasting
Eat Drink and Do:
Restaurants
Café’s and Coffee Shops
Child-Friendly things to do
Pet-Friendly things to do
Arts, Culture and Museums
Markets and Shopping
Health Resorts and Spas
Sports and Wellness
Golfing
Outdoors:
Adventure
Natural Attractions in the area
Beaches in the area
Mountain Bike Trails
Hiking Trails
Surfing spots,
4×4 tracks,
Accommodation:
Luxury Accommodation Options
Self Catering Accommodation options
Budget Accommodation options
BackPacker Accommodation options
Pet-Friendly Accommodation options
Camping options
Info Details Hermanus

Around Hermanus:

Best Scenic Drives around Hermanus:

  • Clarence Drive – Scenic Coastal Route, R44 – Count the 77 bends between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els. Note this is a well engineered and exceptionally scenic drive, with a few sharp bends around 150 degrees. Passing can be difficult and an average speed of 60 km/h should be calculated into your planning. Do stop, marvel at the scenery and take photographs. 21km
  • Cape Agulhas loop: Hermanus, Stanford, Elim, Cape Agulhas, Waenhuiskrans, Bredasdorp, Napier 290 km

Hermanus Annual Events:

  • Hermanus Whale Festival: Hermanus is home to the annual Hermanus Whale Festival. This festival celebrates the calving of Southern Right Whales in the bay. A unique festival not to be missed. For more information on the Hermanus Whale Festival

Vineyards and Wine tasting:

Overberg wine route

Below are several vineyards in the Overberg wine route, but closer to Hermanus well worth visiting – Especially the Hemel-En-Aarde valley:

  • Hermanuspietersfontein
  • Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate
  • Sumaridge Wine Estate
  • Almenkerk Wine Estate
  • Creation
  • Springfontein Wine Estate
  • Ataraxia Wine Estate
  • Bouchard Finlayson Wines
  • Iona Wine Farm

Eat and Drink:

Please check the latest information on these restaurants, cafés and coffee shops to ensure the cuisine and ambience is what you are looking for.

Being a seaside resort, the fish restaurants serve the freshest fish. That said, there are many restaurants that serve an array of superb dishes from vegetarian, through pub fare and great steak restaurants. Café’s and Coffee Shops abound and don’t forget informal ice-cream and coffee vendors along the road and beaches.

6 Cafés and Coffee Shops:

  1. Pear Tree
  2. Char’d Grill and Wine Bar
  3. The Wine Glass Restaurant
  4. The Cuckoo Tree
  5. Heritage Restaurant
  6. Cafe 1904 Restaurant Hermanus

5 Restaurants:

Information about Restaurants

  1. The Gallery Café and Deli
  2. Tulip Coffee Roastery
  3. Groves Cafe
  4. Caffe Blu
  5. CanD’s Kitchen

5 Child Friendly things to do:

Hermanus is known to accommodate the whole family – that includes children

  1. Walk along the Hermanus Cliff Path
  2. Grotto Beach
  3. Fernkloof Nature Reserve
  4. Hermanus Country Market
  5. Voëlklip Beach

3 Pet Friendly things to do:

Hermanus and the surrounding towns seem very pet friendly and well-behaved owners and pets on a leash are welcomed as below – Please pick up after your pets.

  1. Walk along the Hermanus Cliff Path
  2. HermanusPietersfontein Market
  3. Hermanus Country Market

Arts, Culture and Museums:

Historical Hermanus revolves around its Fishing and Whale legacy and, of course, the Hermanuspieters fountain.

  1. Old Harbour museum with whaling and fishing history
  2. Whale museum
  3. De Wet’s Photo Museum – Photographs depicting the fishing history of Hermanus
  4. Hermanus Story Walk – An interesting way to gain personal knowledge of Hermanus’ history.

Markets and Shopping:

The markets around Hermanus are renowned for their friendly atmosphere – well worth a visit

  1. The Hermanus Country Market
  2. Curio and Craft Daily Market
  3. Market in the garden – St Peters Church gardens
  4. Hermanus Pietersfontein Food and Wine market.

Sports and Wellness:

Hermanus is well known for its variety of sports and sports and wellness facilities.

  1. Cycling
  2. Hiking
  3. Golfing
  4. Surfing
  5. Swimming
  6. Running

Golfing:

Two golf courses in the area stand out:

  1. Arabella Golf Course
  2. Hermanus Golf Course

Health Resorts and Spas:

Several accommodation properties offer in-house spas.

  1. The Marine
  2. Abalone Guest House
  3. Birkenhead House

Adventure:

The ocean in front of and the area around Hermanus offers adventurous water, air and land-based activities.

  • Abseiling
  • Archery
  • Diving
  • Fishing
  • Horseback riding
  • Kite Surfing
  • Mountain Biking
  • Paragliding
  • Quad Biking
  • Sand Boarding
  • Shark Cage Diving
  • Surfing
  • Zipline

The natural environment:

Fynbos: The area is not only blessed by an abundance of Fynbos, but an abundance in variation too, including:

  1. Overberg Sandstone Fynbos,
  2. Hangklip Sand fynbos,
  3. Overberg Dune Strandveld
  4. Cape Seashore Vegetation.

Natural Attractions in the area:

Hermanus has great natural diversity, especially in floral and bird species, as well as marine mammals and interesting geological formations.

Nature centered Activities:

  1. Fernkloof Nature reserve – Botanically diverse with around 1300 plant species.
  2. Vogelgat Private Nature Reserve – Famous for birding and Fynbos
  3. Walker Bay Nature reserve Cape Nature

Birds to look out for in the area:

With around 350 species recorded, here is a small extract of birds you could find in the area:

Blue Crane – South Africa’s National bird

Common: Apalis Bar-Throated, several Canaries, Cape Batis, Bishop Yellow and Red, Wax-Bill Swee, Cuckoo, Doves, Guinea Fowl, Ibis Sacred and Hadeda, Neddicky, Nightjar, Grassbird, Mousebird, Several Martins, Swallows, Swifts, Flycatchers(African Paradise, Blue Mantled Crested, African Dusky and Spotted), Pigeons, Starling

Endemic: Cape Rock-Thrush, Cape Weaver, Francolin(Cape and Grey-winged), Greater Double-Collared Sunbird, Ground Woodpecker, Hoopoe, Orange-Breasted Sunbird, Protea Seed-eater, Whydah, Victorin’s Warbler

Raptors: Jackal Buzzard, Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle, African Fish Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, African Goshawk, Black Harrier, Rock Kestrel, Owls., Sparrowhawk, Osprey, Kite,
Waterbirds: Avocet, Coot, Cisticola, Ducks, Egret, Flamingo, Geese, Grebe, Heron, Kingfisher, Moorhen, Pelican, Plover, Warbler

Pelagic (Ocean): Albatross (Offshore), Cormorant, Gull, Petrel, Penguin, Sheerwater, Tern

6 Best Beaches and 4 Tidal Pools in the area:

Grotto Beach has blue flag status and for smaller kids and those that like exploring, the tidal pools in the area are great.

  1. Grotto Beach
  2. Voëlklip Beach
  3. Onrus Beach
  4. Sandbaai Beach
  5. Kammabaai Beach
  6. Sandbaai Beach

4 Best Tidal Pools in the area:

Many tidal pools in the area are great, offering some interesting ocean life and fewer waves.

  1. Vermont Tidal Pool
  2. Davies Pool
  3. Fick’s Pool
  4. Marine Tidal Pool

4 Best Mountain Bike Trails in the area:

Hermanus offers several scenic Mountain Bike Trails in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley, from family to technical and endurance challenges. Fernkloof Nature reserve offers an intermediate circular MTB route. The Hermanus cycle track and Onrus gorge route.

  1. Fernkloof – 17 km, intermediate, circular, about 2 hours
  2. Hermanus MTB trails. Green, Blue, red and black routes in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley. Permits available from village cycles. From 7 km family friendly, 50 minutes to 60 km, 150 minutes, challenging circular routes.
  3. Onrus Gorge. 2km single track, 10  minutes. 
  4. Hermanus cycle track behind Voëlklip, starting and ending at Fernkloof.

5 Best Hiking Trails in the area:

  • For all South African hikes, take:
  • sunscreen,
  • hat,
  • water,
  • rain protection,
  • jacket,
  • cell phone with emergency numbers for the area loaded.

Do not hike alone – for your own safety.

Beware of baboons – stay away from them, do not feed them.

  1.  Drie Damme (Three dams) hiking trail – First dam easy, thereafter more strenuous
  2. Cliff Path walk/hiking trail. Easy, but slippery when wet. Start anywhere, unique whale watching trail.
  3. Fernkloof Nature reserve
  4. Walker Bay Nature reserve Cape Nature.
  5. Slack Packing – Fynbos trail.

5 Best Surfing spots in the area:

As beaches change with time and storms, waves depend on wind and tides, please check your favourite app for conditions and current spot ratings.

As always when surfing – be careful and ask a local if you don’t know.

  1. Grotto Beach
  2.  Kleinmond
  3. Betty’s bay
  4. Die Plaat
  5. Walker Bay

3 Best 4×4 tracks in the area:

Hermanus has some great sandy 4×4 tracks in the area.

  1. Walker Bay Nature Reserve Cape Nature
  2. Honingklip Farm
  3. Grabouw 4×4 route

Accommodation

Hermanus has a wide variety of accommodation and caters for all tastes and budgets. As accommodation can change quickly due to circumstances, please check current ratings and comments on your favourite trip planner. 

6 Luxury Hermanus Accommodation options:

For those seeking more luxurious Accommodation

  1. The Marine Hermanus
  2. Birkenhead House
  3. 7 on Marine
  4. One Marine Drive Boutique Hotel
  5. Mosselberg on Grotto Beach
  6. Misty Waves Boutique Hotel

5 Guest Houses and BnB:

A few well appointed Guest House and Bed and Breakfast

  1. Lavender Manor Guest House
  2. Penguino Guest House
  3. Hermanus Boutique Guest House
  4. Kennedy’s Beach Villa
  5. Oude Schuur Boutique Accommodation

3 Farm Stays:

The scenic beauty of the area can be felt in accommodation outside of town

  1. High Season Farm
  2. Heaven and Earth Cottage
  3. Overberg Gems – Lagoon View

5 Self Catering Accommodation options:

You will be spoilt for choice – here are 5

  1. Bayview Hermanus
  2. 74 on Marine
  3. 31 Tobago Bay Hermanus Seafront
  4. Perla
  5. La Gratitude

3 Pet Friendly Accommodation options:

A few establishments allow pets: Please enquire directly with the establishments beforehand

  1. The Marine Hermanus
  2. Port del Mar guesthouse
  3. High Season Farm self-catering cottages

2 Camping options:

Camping will offer a way to get closer to this naturally interesting area.

  1. Onrus Caravan Park
  2. Habonim Campsite and Conference facilities

Info Details Hermanus Tourism:

  • Info Office tel: +27 (0) 28 312 2629
  • Mobile: 079 492 1949
  • Email: Info Office

More Towns in the in the Overberg area

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Find more towns in the Western Cape

© images Jacques Fouché and Adobe Stock

Jacques Fouche

Jacques has been a keen travel junkie, for as long as he can remember. Having spent his childhood in Namibia, Limpopo province in South Africa (near the Kruger National Park ) and KZN in South Africa and later Cape Town, always been surrounded by nature and beautiful scenery. Qualifying as a safari guide in 1996, Jacques guided over virtually all possible natural eco systems and travelled over hundreds of thousands of kilometers, through all the southern African countries. Later he spent 8 years living and working in Austria, mixing cultural, city and natural scenic travels all across Europe.

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