Hermanus comes alive from June to December with the arrival of southern right whales close to shore. The coastal village offers other natural attractions such as mountain walks and bird watching. It's a good surfing spot and there is plenty of excellent accommodation.
The quaint coastal town of Hermanus has become synonymous with whale watching, given its sheltered coves in which these marine mammals come to mate and calve. It also offers range of other activities and attractions for travellers.
Southern right whales start arriving in Walker Bay from June and remain until December. These massive creatures can be viewed from the shore, or from boats or planes. To alert onlookers, a whale crier sounds his kelp horn when he spots whales off the Hermanus coastline.
For its scenic beauty alone, Hermanus is one of South Africa's Cape gems. The town's mountainous backdrop declines steeply to a rugged shoreline, characterised by deep bays alternating with stark white beaches with names like Onrus, Kammabaai, Langbaai, Voelklip and Grotto Beach. While some beaches are ideal for walking, others are popular among surfers, and those with lagoons are ideally suited to families.
The town is at once a mix of old and new, with commercial shopping outlets, jewellers, art galleries, antique dealers and museums lining its narrow streets. Step off the beach and into the old-world whale museum, or wander the streets looking at gnarled fishermen's cottages to see how time has shaped the town.
Keep Saturday morning free to browse at Lemm's Corner, where locally produced arts and crafts are on sale and shoppers are serenaded by a marimba band, or visit the Hermanus Country Market at the cricket fields.
Adventure activities to be enjoyed in Hermanus and its adjacent coastal spots include shark cage-diving; sea or lagoon kayaking; mountain abseiling; half-day river cruises; sea cruises to Dyer and Geyser islands to see sharks, penguins and seals; Botrivier boat trips for bird lovers; scuba diving; quad biking and horse riding.
Fernkloof Nature Reserve is popular among hiking and photography enthusiasts, and golfers will be thrilled to discover an award-winning course at the Arabella Country Estate. The Hermanus Golf Club is another beautiful local option.
Where to stay
Hermanus offers top-class hotels, plenty of B&Bs and holiday cottages.
Around the area
Go food and wine tasting at the Hermanuspietersfontein Wine Cellar market in the Hemel-en-Aarde Village. Stanford, just outside of Hermanus, hosts an evening market at the Birkenhead Brewery on the last Friday of every month. For a dose of nostalgia, visit the Fisherman’s Village Craft Market on Lemm’s Corner in the heart of Hermanus over the weekend.
Tours to do
Take a township tour of Zwelihle to meet residents and understand a different side of Hermanus life.
DID YOU KNOW?
Hermanus is considered one of the best land-based whale watching destinations in the world.