Hermanus is in the privileged position to not only be a great summer destination, but also have more than enough to lure holidaymakers to its shores during wintertime. The reason? The annual return of the Southern Right Whales, of course!
With 2020 and 2019 not being the best whale seasons with regard to the number of whales returning, we hope that the three-year cycle will not disappoint and that there will be more to see this year. If the local Bryde’s Whales’ generous presence during the last few months in the bay is something to go by, we might just be in luck this year.
Hermanus is one of the twelve best whale watching destinations in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Walker Bay (the bay area between Hermanus and Gansbaai) is famous for being the breeding grounds for the Southern Right Whales, travelling all the way from their feeding grounds around Antarctica. The whales normally arrive from the end of May and entertain locals and holidaymakers until the middle of October.
When to Come
The best time to see whale moms and calves frolicking in the bay, is from end of June to September. The climax of the season was normally the Whale Festival on the last weekend of September, but unfortunately, the festival is postponed until 2022. Fortunately though, Hermanus and surrounding areas have more than enough other charms, such as wineries, fantastic restaurants with delicious food, adventure sports, lots of walking opportunities etc. for a memorable holiday.
How and Where to Watch the Whales
Hermanus has whale watching boats which take visitors to experience the whales up close and personal. Book in advance (online or at the offices in the new harbour) and keep in mind that all boat trips are weather permitting.
For visitors on a tighter budget or for those preferring not going on boats, the good news is that the whales are visible from the promenade – with Gearing’s Point, the Old Harbour (in the CBD-area) and further alongside the coast, with Die Gang and Siever’s Punt, popular places to watch from. Hermanus’ own whale crier could be found on busy days, blowing on his kelp horn in town when a whale is observed.
What to pack when visiting Hermanus to do Whale Watching
From May to August we can have anything from wonderful sunny beach days to days when the wind tries to blow one away to heavy stormy weather! Although spring starts showing its warmth in the rest of South Africa from August, Hermanus can see some of the coldest days during September and October, with rainy and windy days sandwiched in between beautiful wind-still days. So, when packing, keep the following in mind:
- Bring a raincoat/jacket and an umbrella.
- Pack a wind breaking jacket and warm clothes for cold weather and layer when getting clothed in the morning.
- With the cool sea breeze almost a constant, carry a jacket, scarf and beanie when going out.
- Bringing good binoculars will ensure a great viewing experience.
- Although cell phone cameras are incredibly good these days, bring a DSLR or small camera if you have one. If going on a boat, you might be able to take close-up photos of whales, but from the shore you will need a camera with a good zoom ability.
- Good walking shoes is a must for going ‘whale hunting’ from spot to spot in the village to get good pictures.
Planning your Stay
Most places of accommodation have Covid specials which might surprise you, so even if your budget is tight, don’t shy away of staying long enough. A weekend in Hermanus is a nice break away, but to enjoy more of the village and the surrounding areas, you need at least four days. A week would be better!
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More things to do in and around Hermanus:
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