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Located on the southern coast of South Africa’s Western Cape, the town of Hermanus is most famous for whale watching. Southern right whales can be seen from the cliffs of Hermanus between June and December, making this little town the best land-based destination for seeing whales in the world.
The magnificent sea creatures were once hunted in these waters but are now protected to ensure the survival of the species. For context, visit the Old Harbour Museum to learn more about the whaling industry and the habits of these giant mammals.
Other things to do in Hermanus include scenic cliff walks and hikes across the hills. Due to its close proximity to the Winelands as well as local wineries in areas such as such as Hemel-en-Aarde valley (Heaven and Earth), there is also ample opportunity for wine tasting.
A 15-kilometre route through the valley connects the wineries, which can alternatively be accessed on a quad-biking tour. However, if you’d rather be drinking than driving, there are organised tours between the wine farms, which include transport and a spot of lunch.
Nearby areas to visit include the rugged beaches of Gansbaai, where you can go cage diving with great white sharks; snorkelling and diving the shipwrecks of Arniston; a trip to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa; the private nature reserve of Grootbos, which is home to the largest milkwood forest in the world; and the World Heritage Site of De Hoop Nature Reserve, one of the largest protected marine reserves on the continent and a great place for dolphin sightings.
Around 122 kilometres and a 90-minute drive from Cape Town, many visitors to Hermanus come just for a day trip. However, we believe that this little coastal town makes for a relaxing and charming overnight stay, especially during whale watching season, to see the migrating southern right whales make Walker Bay their home, mate and calve – a stunning phenomenon to witness.
As the main attraction of Hermanus, be aware that the super-pods of southern right whales only call the waters off this coastal town home between June and December, so it’s best to time your visit in these months for some whale watching. However, with so many exciting outdoor activities and nearby places to visit, Hermanus is a great year-round destination, especially for active families with energetic youngsters.
Look out for the Hermanus Whale Festival in September, which is peak whale watching season. There’s lots of music, food, drink and sports going on as part of the festival, so the town can get busy, as it does during the December and January school holidays.
We include two nights in Hermanus as part of both our Best of South Africa & Mozambique tour and South Africa Family Adventure holiday. With so much to see and do at all times of the year, especially for families, let us know if you would like more time here, or if you'd like to add Hermanus to your tailor made holiday itinerary for South Africa.
Our tours to Hermanus include overnight stays at Ocean Eleven Guest House (George Clooney not included). The property is located right on the cliffs of Hermanus Bay, with some of the best hotel views in the world. Facilities include beautiful gardens, a luxurious swimming pool and gorgeous apartment suites.