Winter is Whale Time in Hermanus!

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 November. 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!

Other related links:

About whales:

Security tips:

More things to do in and around Hermanus:

© 2021 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hermanus-Unlimited-118490463355941

Instagram: @hermanus_unlimited

Email: hermanusunlimited@gmail.com

Partnering with House Watchers Hermanus

Why Your Family Needs a Break in Hermanus this School Holiday!

2021 had just gone on where 2020 left off, with the year beginning with a stricter level of lockdown, forcing schools to start later – meaning that the holiday didn’t coincide with Easter weekend this year. Every dark cloud has a silver lining though. In this case it means not two in one, but two separate holidays to provide that little bit of relief from all the stress the pandemic had brought upon us all. It also means that we have time to relax and get away from working at home. For local businesses it means that the seasonal window for business is open a bit wider for longer.

With travelling abroad not an easy option right now, towns like Hermanus are reaping advantages as South Africans opt for local holidays. It was really wonderful to experience a bit more vibrancy to our coastal villages during the twee long weekends recently, with people flocking back slowly to come and relax in this most pleasant of seasons in the Overberg. Flowers are blooming, days are sunny and lazing on the beach or walking the cliff path are a wonderful activities for both individuals and family.

Here and there we will have a bit of wind and rain of course, but hey, that is what our magnificent restaurants and coffee shops are for! For all the latest events going on, Google ‘hermanus restaurants’ and then visit their Facebook and Instagram pages. The Burgundy Restaurant, for instance has regular Friday night live music evenings with well-known performers and Dal Italia Deli and Romantiques combine to entertain small groups of 20 on dining and a movie. Follow the restaurants on social media to see what is on while you are visiting.

Why Hermanus?

  • Hermanus is a convenient one and a half hour-drive from Cape Town which provides an easy daytrip opportunity for someone on a limited budget. Be warned though – a day in the village will not even cover the basics, while a visit of four days or so will give one at least an idea of what the town has to offer.
  • Make sure to include a Saturday in your trip planning to visit one or more of the markets in the area. Also keep the art walk on the first Friday of every month in mind (only between September and April). There is now also an art market every first Sunday where the Saturday market is held.
  • Start your visit in Hermanus with a trip up the Rotary Way to the top of the mountain to enjoy the view of the whole of Walker Bay.
  • The town offers quite a few walking options. There are various routes into the mountain from the Fernkloof Nature Reserve as well as a cliff path walk along Hermanus’ 7.5km coastline from the new harbour to Grotto Beach (or the other way around). One of the local taxi services can be used for transport to the beginning and from the end point. You can also walk shorter distances on the cliff path from anywhere you stay in town.
  • For nature lovers there are plenty to see. The area is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom with plenty unique fynbos species to be observed.
  • Unfortunately our weekly Parkruns (on Saturday mornings at the venue on the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road) is still not being held due to Covid-regulations.
  • Other physical activities (weather permitting) to explore in the area are surfing, mountain biking, fat biking on the beaches, scuba diving, kite surfing, sandboarding, sea fishing etc.
  • Although ‘whale season’ is mostly during the months of August through to early November when the Southern Right Whales visit the bay, our local residential whales, the Bryde’s whales are currently entertaining residents on a daily basis. Colonies of seals, pods of dolphins and even waddles of penguin are seen regularly, along with schools of fish and always lots of different species of birds.
  • On wind-quiet, sunny days, kayaking is a wonderful way to get exercise as well as do some on-water sightseeing between the two harbours.
  • The town has no shortage of beaches with the main beach, Grotto, being the largest. On windy days, the estuary is a favourite playground for kite surfers. Alongside the cliff path lies Voëlklip (famous for surfing), Langbaai, which is small and intimate; and Kammabaai – a favourite for parents with small children and also suitable for surfing. Mosselrivier and Kwaaiwater beaches are also well-liked, with Kwaaiwater’s beach being a popular picnic area to lazy away summer evenings when the sun only sets after eight o’clock.
  • Hermanus’ restaurants are world-class and the road alongside the marine is lined with many options offering delicious food and the most beautiful views.
  • For art lovers there are 20 art galleries to visit around town as well as outdoor sculptures to adore as part of the annual FynArts Festival (in June). If you are here on the first Friday of a month, make sure not to miss the art walk, where you can stroll from gallery to gallery in town between 17:00 and 20:00.
  • The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is Hermanus’ contribution to South Africa’s wine industry and offer fourteen wineries to visit for wine tasting and other activities. Tours are available from the Market Square to ensure that tourists do not drive under the influence.
  • Hermanus is a favourite extreme sports destination, featuring a leg of the Cape Epic. Other activities include hang gliding, zip lining etc. (on the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road).
  • Other places to visit are the old and new harbours, the many sites alongside the cliff path from where one can appreciate the view from a wooden bench on the rocks, Hoy’s koppie in the middle of the town and the surrounding suburbs of Onrus, Sandbaai and Vermont. Stanford (and De Kelders are also close by which provides more entertainment opportunities such as river cruising, fishing and much more.
  • Hermanus is a photographer’s paradise, so bring your camera and tripod or test your cell phone’s picture taking abilities. You will not be disappointed!

Unfortunately, not even beautiful Hermanus is excluded from crime, so always be alert, especially when walking. Preferably, always walk in pairs at least. For safety tips as well as emergency numbers, click this link: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/

(To avoid unbalance advertising regarding businesses. Just search (‘kayaking in Hermanus’ or ‘restaurants in Hermanus’) to find what you want.

So – don’t bother Googling for your next break away. Come and see why we are raving about our beautiful village.

Hermanus is ready for you!

© 2021  Fielies De Kock ž HERMANUS UNLIMITED ž

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

Read more full articles at www.fieliesdekock.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hermanus-Unlimited-118490463355941

Instagram: @HERMANUS_UNLIMITED

Email: hermanusunlimited@gmail.com

Partnering with House Watchers Hermanus: https://www.facebook.com/housewatchershermanus

5 Free Definitely have-to-do’s in Hermanus

Walk the Cliff Path

Walk the cliff path from Grotto Beach to the new harbour (or vice versa). Pack a day pack and stop to have something to eat along the way. The walk can take anything from four to six hours, depending on your pace, how many times you stop, etc. Don’t be in a hurry. Take a swim along the way and stop to smell the fynbos. Reward yourself with a liquid refreshment at Dutchies Restaurant at the end at Grotto beach. This is a nice family activity. There are very few steps along the way, so it is possible to do with a child in a stroller if there are a pair of hands on deck to help carry it up and down. Find out more about the cliff path here: https://www.fernkloof.org.za/index.php/fernkloof-nature-reserve/hermanus-cliff-path.

Walking in Fernkloof

There are three dams in Fernkloof. The first is easy enough to reach for healthy persons. There are steps with uphills and downhills involved, but nothing serious. It is an activity that can be done with young children. Small children must be always accompanied by a parent. This route is not stroller friendly, so keep that in mind. To reach the second and third dams is much more difficult and is definitely not suitable for children younger than 12. You also need to know the route to these two dams, because the footpath is not always visible everywhere. Rather go in groups than alone for your safety.

Fernkloof also offers hiking and cycling trails which start from the entrance at the foot of the mountain. Find out more here: https://www.fernkloof.org.za/.

Walking on Grotto Beach

The beach from Grotto Beach stretches for kilo’s along Walker Bay and one can walk all the way to De Kelders (about 20km) and even further. With a day pack on the back, good shoes and food and water, this is a great walk if you want to have a hike along the ocean. If you do not want to go that far, do shorter walks (like an hour out and an hour back). Take a dip in the sea when it gets too hot. It is also safer to go in a group.

Cycling on the beach is another alternative if you want a bit more adventure and have your own fat bike. (Bikes are for hire, but this is a free activities article.)

Watch the Sunset on the Mountain Top

Sunsets are just fabulous from the viewing points on the mountain. When driving out of town towards Cape Town, turn right on the Rotary Way (https://www.hermanus.co.za/rotary-way) and follow the road to the viewing point. Have a nice non-alcoholic sundowner up there while watching the sun vanish behind the water horizon. (Again, go in a small group or as family. Keep car doors shut and no valuables openly visible in your vehicle.)

Picnicking on the Beach

With the long never-ending summer days, a picnic on the beach is a wonderful end to a magnificent day in the sun. Take along a picnic basket, an umbrella if needed, a picnic blanket and welcome the evening while watching the sun set with the people you love.

!Remember!

  • Wear sunblock
  • Be alert towards you and your family’s safety. If possible, do these activities in groups or as a whole family.
  • Respect all animals on your adventures and do not feed them.
  • Put emergency numbers in your cell phone contact list. Click here to find the list of numbers: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/.
  • Please leave only your shoe or wheel prints behind. For everything else, use the bins provided.

For more safety tips, click here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/

For more to do in and around Hermanus, read here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

Enjoy your stay!

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Your Guide to a Safe Hermanus Holiday

Your Guide to a Safe Holiday in Hermanus

Hermanus is looking forward to welcoming holidaymakers back to our town for a well-deserved rest after a weird, challenging and probably life-changing year. Just a request: Please, please, please make sure not to bring an unwanted guest (I’m of course referring about a certain little virus) with you to our town, so that we can limit and eventually stop the spreading of this horrible Covid-19 thing.

Covid-19 Related Information

Make sure not to decrease your personal alertness with regards to the virus while on holiday. Keep us in Hermanus, yourself and your family safe by following the basic protocols. Remember the following:

  • Do not to leave your place of accommodation without a mask.
  • Have extra masks in your car, handbag, beach bag and jacket pockets for use when out and about.
  • Wash your masks every evening and let them dry well – in the sun if possible.
  • Be kind to fellow holidaymakers by practicing safe social distances on beaches, in the streets, in shops and in public areas.
  • Stay inside, away from people when you are sick or feel unwell.
  • In case you get sick and are symptomatic, call a local medical practice and they will advise you accordingly.

Tips for an Injury-free Holiday

As an experienced holiday-goer you know the basics. Here are just a few reminders when preparing for a relaxing and accident and injury-free holiday:

  • The sun in our area is a bit on the mean side, so always use sunblock when going to the beach, going for a hike or even when just going for a stroll on the cliff path or in town. Get after sun soothing cream for those irresponsible moments. Use an umbrella/gazebo when spending extended times on the beach.
  • Always wear a hat when outside in the sun.
  • Beware of the strong currents when swimming/surfing/body boarding at especially Voëlklip, Kammabaai and Mossel River. Diligently follow instructions from lifeguards on duty.
  • Be careful when leaving the cliff path to walk on the rocky areas near the sea, as waves can splash high and aggressively and surprise holiday-goers.
  • Be respectful of wildlife on the cliff path. Stay out of the fynbos and do not feed any animals.
  • Always carry water when going for a stroll, exercise or a hike.
  • Bring along a basic first aid with tablets for headache and fever, band aids, antihistamine tablets etc. Also make sure to bring along enough prescription medicine on holiday and have an up-to-date copy of your prescription with you or on the system at the pharmacy in case of an emergency.
  • If you reside on the east side of town, beware of the baboons. Never feed them and keep windows closed when they are in the vicinity. Don’t leave food unattended outside and keep garbage bins firmly closed. Contact the Baboon Hotline (072 028 0008) when experiencing problems.
  • Children:
    • Take extra precautions to teach your little one’s sun-safety.
    • Always watch small children near the water and on the rocks. Don’t let children walk on the rocks (or anywhere else) unattended.
    • Don’t lose sight of children on the beach.
    • Don’t let small children walk alone or let them out of your sight in shops.
  • Cell phones.
    • Keep you cell phone charged when out and about, in case you must make an emergency call.
    • Don’t use your phone while driving.
    • Don’t text while walking on pavements and crossing streets in our town.
    • Don’t take selfies at dangerous places.
    • Don’t turn your back on the water when filming on the rocks when the sea is rough and even when it’s not. Freak waves can occur even when the water is calm.
    • Try using your cell phone less while on holiday and rather enjoy every moment of your rest with your loved ones. Cleanse your soul. Give your mind a rest. Live in the moment.

Tips for Staying out of Crime’s Way

Unfortunately, criminals never go on holiday and Hermanus isn’t exempt from opportunists. Don’t drop your guard. Be alert as if you are still at home. Stay safe, alert, and streetwise by keeping the following in mind:

  • If possible, always move around in groups. Don’t walk alone in Fernkloof, on the cliff path or go alone to the Rotary Way viewpoint on the mountain. Although these places are generally safe most of the time, criminals might be on the lookout for unassuming holiday-goers.
  • When walking on the cliff path, consider carrying a whistle so that you can draw attention to yourself should you land in trouble. The Hermanus Public Protection (HPP) services are on duty daily and will hear when you make a noise. (Say “hi” to these friendly people dressed in brownish uniforms when passing them. They are performing a great service in helping to keep Hermanus safe.)
  • Make sure your young children are always accompanied by at least one adult.
  • When observing poachers, do not confront or interact with them. Rather call law enforcement. If you report them, mention where you saw them. There are place names everywhere alongside the cliff path (https://www.fernkloof.org.za/index.php/fernkloof-nature-reserve/hermanus-cliff-path).
  • Do not confront any criminals yourself. Call law enforcement.
  • If you are unfortunate to become a victim of a crime – even petty, please report it and make a case to the police. No action can be taken if this isn’t done, which means that culprits go free to commit crime again.
  • Don’t run or walk alone after dark.
  • When driving around and leaving your vehicle in a parking lot, do not leave valuables lying around inside the car. Lock them in the trunk, carry it with you or leave it in a safe place at your holiday residence.
  • When having a braai or just sitting on the stoep at night, keep doors locked and make sure purses, wallets, watches, phones, laptops and other valuables aren’t lying around openly. Thieves are on the lookout for opportunities when holidaymakers are relaxed and at their most vulnerable. Keep security lights on at night when kuiering outside.
  • Don’t leave garage doors open for long – even if you are at home or working in the garden.
  • If you are staying in a bed-and-breakfast or hotel, familiarise yourself with their security guidelines and follow it.
  • If renting a self-catering flat or house, make sure that you are informed about the neighbourhood and security system watch and know how the alarm works.
  • Switch on outside lights at night as dark premises encourage criminals to enter without being seen by law enforcement and neighbourhood watch vehicles.
  • Have telephone numbers for emergency services in Hermanus readily on your mobile phones in order to call for help should an emergency arise.
  • Use local official businesses for excursions, tourist attractions and events. Don’t fall for opportunists trying to scam you.
  • Hermanus does not tolerate begging in streets as this only encourages drug usage and other issues. There are various organisations where people can go for help. Be on the lookout for chancers harassing holiday goers.
  • Don’t keep your cell phone/money/wallet in your back pocket.
  • Do not put your handbag on the floor/ground when sitting in a restaurant. Rather keep the handle around your leg or keep it on the seat close to you.
  • Cell phones.
    • Keep you cell phone charged when out and about for in case you must make an emergency call.
    • When in public (walking/restaurants) keep cell phones out of sight. Try not to walk with a cell phone/tablet in your hand in case as it can easily being grabbed by thieves.
    • Don’t keep your child busy with a phone/tablet in public as they make soft targets for criminals.

Bottom line: Don’t become lax in exercising safety and security just because you are on holiday.

Emergency numbers

(Please Note: Do not confuse the 028 Hermanus’ area code with a cell number. The NSRI uses the 082- cell number though.)

We hope you enjoy your time in Hermanus and make such wonderful memories that you want to come back again and again.

A friendly PS: Please make sure to only leave your footprints behind.

Read here for more about Hermanus and things to do: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.