Top 10 Cape Town Out-of-Town Excursions

By Michael Sieburg & Alison Bradley
Whale-watching at Hermanus, South Africa
MAN & BEAST: Whale-watching at Hermanus, South Africa (Rod Haestier/South Africa Tourism)

3. Spot Whales and Great Whites at Hermanus
The scenic coastal drive along Sir Lowry's Pass leads to Hermanus, a lovely seaside town nestled between jagged mountain peaks and crashing South Atlantic surf near the southernmost tip of Africa. Hermanus also offers some of the best whale-watching in the world, with giant southern right whales arriving in Walker Bay between June and November to calve. Humpback whales can also sometimes be spotted. Cliffside trails around Hermanus offer good vantage points for when the whales come close to shore, notably from Castle Rock and Kraal Rock. Whale-watching cruises are tightly regulated here, with only a handful of local operators licensed to operate in the waters offshore: Southern Right Charters and Hermanus Whale Cruises are two of the more reputable outfits; for an even better view, sign up for a sea kayaking tour with Walker Bay Adventures. In town, a small museum in the Old Harbour complex offers a glimpse into Hermanus' past as a fishing outpost, while shops and restaurants make this a pleasant spot for an afternoon browse. The area's other main attraction is the legendary (and somewhat controversial) cage-diving tours to see the great white sharks offshore from neighboring Gansbaai (20 miles south). The best time to see these awesome fish in their natural environment is also from June to November. While diving cruises depart from Gansbaai, numerous outfitters promote their tours out of Hermanus; recommended outfitters include Brian McFarlane and Shark Lady Adventures.

When to Go: June to November for best chance of seeing whales and great white sharks
Driving Distance from Cape Town: Hermanus (75 miles)


Published: 24 Mar 2010 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Hermanus

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