Travel Guide

Whale Watching in Hermanus – Stingy Nomads

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The gorgeous seaside city Hermanus is located in Walker Bay on the South Coast of the Western Cape about 90 minutes drive from Cape City. A number of totally different whale species could be seen within the space, however viewing Southern Proper whales from Hermanus is world famend. Walker Bay is a big bay situated in Western Cape province of South Africa between False Bay close to Cape City and Cape Agulhas, probably the most Southern Level of Africa. That is the mating and breeding grounds of the Southern Proper whale they usually appeal to greater than 150 000 vacationers yearly to Hermanus. The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) charges Hermanus as one of many 12 greatest whale watching locations on the earth. In season you’ve gotten loads of totally different choices to see these magnificent animals. Whales should not the one animals that may be seen on ocean expeditions. There are alternatives to see the Marine Huge 5; Whales, Sharks, Seals, Dolphins and Penguins on cruises within the space.

Whale Watching in Hermanus

Hermanus in Walker Bay is world famend as the most effective whale watching spots on the planet, permitting you to get shut to those huge animals on a ship tour, by kayak or simply watching them from the shore. The Southern Proper whales develop to an enormous 18 metres lengthy and may weigh as much as 80 tons, these animals actually are enormous. The title ‘Southern Proper’ comes from the truth that they had been seen because the ‘proper’ whales to hunt up to now, as a result of they swim comparatively gradual and don’t dive for too lengthy, spending a whole lot of time on the floor.

southern right whale
Southern Proper Whale

The looking up to now exhausted their numbers and as we speak there are regarded as solely about 3000 of those animals alive. Their enormous measurement, gradual swimming pace and lengthy floor time, makes them simple to see.  In season there often are effectively over a 100 whales within the bay making for a spectacular whale watching experience. Moms nursing new child infants is one thing superb that’s usually seen throughout a whale watching experience. Whales usually play in Walker Bay, a tremendous view from the cliffs on the sting of Hermanus to see these huge animals enjoying. Typically you possibly can see them ‘breach’,  leaping out of the water to create a giant splash, or ‘crusing’ with their tails within the wind.

Whale season in Hermanus

  • Southern Proper Whales could be seen for six months yearly, from early June to late November / early December.
  • Peak Season – Late September/early October the Southern Proper whale watching season peaks and though sightings can’t be assured with wild animals, not seeing a whale on boat excursions right now is extremely unlikely.
  • Different whale species – July to November is an effective season to see Humpback whales. Bryde’s whales are current all 12 months spherical.
  • Out of season journeys – January to Might, cruises to Hazard Level to see the resident Brides whales, Marine Huge 5 excursions, sundown cruises, chook watching cruises
Two Southern Right Whales - a mother and a calf.
Two Southern Proper Whales – a mom and a calf.

Walker Bay  is the mating and breeding grounds of the Southern Proper Whale from June to November, winter time in South Africa. These whales migrate from the Antarctic yearly round June to calve and mate. Calving takes place in August and September. The Southern Proper whale inhabitants reaches a peak in October when males arrive in Walker Bay for mating.

How one can get to Hermanus

The drive from Cape City to Hermanus on the coast is among the most scenic drives within the nation. There are not any direct public transport connections, you possibly can select to be picked up at your lodging in Cape City by most corporations or lease a automobile.

Driving to Hermanus you’ve gotten 2 choices, the N2 is about 30 minutes sooner, however taking Clarence Drive is among the most scenic coastal drives on the Cape Peninsula.

Driving on the N2 through Sir Lowrys Go  you’ll have nice views again over False Bay all the best way to the Southern Suburbs of Cape City. Driving this manner is 122 km and takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

The choice is driving the spectacular Clarence Drive coastal route. This coastal scenic street follows a phenomenal 48km coastal street between Gordon’s Bay and Kleinmond driving with unreal views of False Bay on one facet and the foothills of the Hottentots Holland Mountains on the opposite. There are numerous superior look out factors on the best way to cease and examine for whales in False Bay. Kogel Bay is a good surf spot and pulling over to observe the surfers is well-liked at this spot. Rooi Els is a pleasant place to cease for one thing to eat. There’s a huge penguin colony that may be a nice cease in Bettys Bay on the best way.

Driving between the mountain and the ocean on the attractive R44 Clarence Drive from Cape City to Rooi Els.

To take Clarence drive flip onto the R44 at Somerset West and comply with the rugged shoreline by means of Gordon’s Bay. This route is about 142 km taking 2 hours and 15 minutes to drive. 

Rentacar Cape City Is an effective way to search out the perfect rental costs, they examine costs of all probably the most respected automobile rental businesses within the metropolis. Hire a medium sized automobile from about $20 per day and small finances automobiles begin as little as $10 per day  if you happen to lease for per week! Decide up your car on the town or on the airport.

Hermanus Whale Cruises

Your greatest likelihood to see whales is on a ship primarily based whale cruise. The boats are involved with one another and infrequently know the place the whales are, some even use drones to scout. Among the boats have permits to get very near the whales, not nearer than 50m. The whales don’t all the time care about these guidelines and infrequently swim proper as much as the boat, this after all makes for implausible encounters. A lot of the excursions take about 2 hours, the boats are pretty large and steady, to get sea sick is nonetheless nonetheless doable. A lot of the excursions supply snacks and drinks on board. Don’t fear if ocean circumstances should not good, they need to help you sit contained in the cabin and name everybody outdoors when whales are noticed. 

Time of day will not be actually vital with whale watching, you’ve gotten a superb likelihood of seeing the animals all day round. In peak season excursions go away three occasions a day. Most excursions meet within the Hermanus New Harbor, discover it on Google Maps. The assembly time is often 45 min. earlier than departure. It’s good within the harbor and a superb place to go for a espresso or one thing to eat earlier than your whale watching tour.  

Whale watching from Gansbaai or Hermanus? – Whale watching excursions from Hermanus harbor are glorious for seeing Southern Proper whales. Aside from whales you may as well see dolphins, seals, penguins and marine birds on these journeys. To see an even bigger number of marine animals happening a Marine Huge 5 seafari from Gansbaai is a greater choice. There are solely 5 boat licences for whale interactions in Walker Bay to insure minimal influence on the whales. three tour operators make the most of Hermanus harbour, 1 boat operates from Gansbaai harbour and 1 boat from Kleinbaai harbour. 

Shark cage diving in Cape Town
Shark Cage diving in Gansbaai is among the most thrilling adventures in Cape City

The Greatest Whale Cruises in Walker Bay

These excursions are all effectively rated, with many critiques, go and check out the actions and browse a few critiques from totally different individuals earlier than reserving.

Land primarily based Whale Watching in Hermanus

Hermanus is claimed to supply the perfect land-based whale watching on the earth, in season the Southern Proper whales could be seen from shore within the space, coming as shut as 5m from the rocky shore. The city has a phenomenal cliff path wrapping across the coast for 12 km from West Cliff outlook near the Hermanus New Harbor all the best way to Grotto Seaside. The cliff path affords glorious vantage factors to view the whales. The city has its personal ‘Whale-crier’ that walks alongside the coast blowing by means of his kelp horn telling guests of whale sightings. It’s enjoyable strolling round city or sitting in a espresso store and operating to the sting of the close by cliffs while you hear the crying of his horn. Bientang’s Cave is among the eating places with the perfect location I’ve ever been, have a drink at a desk on the rocks and with some luck see whales swimming simply a few meters away.

Good locations to see whales from the shore in Hermanus

  • Within the West Cliff space, near the New Harbor; Fick’s Pool, Dreunkrans and Windsor Bay are well-liked whale watching spots
  • On the town; the Outdated Harbor and Gearing’s Level with nice views of the ocean are good spots.
  • Driving down Major Street in direction of the seashores (north-east) turn-off to Die Gang or cease at Kwaaiwater or Siever’s Level the most effective whale lookout factors on the route.
  • The Voëlklip and Grotto seashores are additionally good for whale recognizing from the rocks.
hermanus whale watching map
Hermanus whale watching map – click on map for Google Maps

Whale watching by Kayak

Within the city of Hermanus Whale watching kayaking excursions can be found. In season your possibilities of recognizing whales are superb and paddlers typically should take care to not get too near the whales. It’s a nice paddle to do across the coast from the Outdated Harbor in case you have your individual gear. The tour is a reasonably simple paddle for about 2 hours. Two individual kayaks can be found. This can be a nice alternative to come across Seals, Penguins, birdlife and hopefully dolphins and whales.

Lodging in Hermanus

I do know Hermanus effectively, these are all glorious lodging of their value vary with nice location.

Backpacker Finances 



The Marine Huge 5

The chilly Benguela present bringing nutrient wealthy water from the Atlantic Ocean converges with heat water from the Indian Ocean introduced by the Agulhas present. This phenomenon leads to the unimaginable biodiversity discovered round Africa’s southern tip increase a unprecedented ecosystem from tiny plankton to huge predatory fish.

Most individuals know the Huge 5; lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant so what’s the Marine Huge 5? Throughout a Marine Huge 5 safari  you might be out to see  Nice White Sharks, whales, seals, dolphins and African Penguins. 

humpback whale
Humpback Whale

Marine Huge 5 excursions are supplied from Gansbaai about 50 km from Hermanus. That is the one tour obtainable the place you possibly can see all these superb animals on one tour. We did this thrilling journey with Dyer Island Cruises, a particularly skilled and skilled, eco-friendly outfit.

Marine Huge 5 tour

Marine Huge 5 Journey in Gansbaai with Dyer Island Cruises These journeys are sometimes absolutely booked, guide now!

You possibly can arrive by yourself at Gansbaai harbor or select to be picked up at your lodging in Cape City.

Our whale watching seafari began with a briefing, espresso and muffins at The Nice White Home in Kleinbaai, near the harbor (on Google Maps). 

After launching we began heading in direction of Dyer Island, about 8km offshore. Someplace near Uilkraalsmond, we discovered a  mom and calf pair of Southern Proper Whales. They had been cruising the world, spending a whole lot of time on the floor enjoying within the swell. This created a whole lot of alternatives for taking pictures. The whales confirmed us a whole lot of flipper and a few tail after they had been frolicking and diving in deeper water. They weren’t shy in any respect and we noticed them once more enjoying on our approach again to the harbor. Within the morning there was additionally a pair of humpback whales and a pod of dolphins.

Cape fur seals
There’s a colony of 60 000 cape fur seals Dyer Island.

We left the whales and continued to  Dyer Island to  see the Cape Fur Seals. There have been hundreds on the island and a few seals enjoying across the boat.  On the best way, we noticed  some African Penguins within the water.

On our approach again in we stopped subsequent to the Marine Dynamics Shark Cage Diving boat. As a result of presence of Killer Whales (orcas) within the bay, the Nice White Sharks disappeared for a few days. There have been nonetheless a few pretty massive Bronze Whaler sharks entertaining the divers within the cage.

The Whale Watching Journey period is between 2 and three hours, relying on sightings and climate circumstances. Dyer Island Cruises and Marine Dynamics cruises depart from Kleinbaai harbour close to Gansbaai. We had a implausible journey. The onboard marine biologist was educated, there was some swell and powerful wind, however the crew did a superb job of helping the one or 2 seasick purchasers.


The journeys depart all 12 months round. In case you are within the Cape between July and December don’t miss the chance to see the unimaginable Southern Proper Whales!

Whale Behaviour

Southern Proper whales are lively on the water floor and curious in direction of people. They have a tendency to strategy and work together with boats and have a number of fascinating behaviors it’s possible you’ll observe on a whale watching expedition. Crusing is an fascinating motion, the whales use their elevated flukes to catch the wind, ‘crusing’ whereas remaining in the identical place for appreciable period of time.

Things to do in Hermanus

This as soon as sleepy fishing village has changed into an unimaginable vacationer vacation spot with stunning nature, native artwork galleries, fascinating museums, unimaginable wineries and a wide range of thrilling journey actions.

Wine tasting – Stellenbosch is probably the most well-known wine tasting space in South Africa, take a look at our detailed Stellenbosch Wine Tasting Information. The Hemel en Aarde Valley, surrounding Hermanus is nonetheless residence to the perfect producers of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines within the nation. For those who go to Hermanus don’t miss on tasting the world well-known wines made by Hamilton Russel and Bouchard Finlayson on the estates.

Museums – The whale museum is an fascinating place to go to with data on totally different whale species, whale sense, echolocation, and behaviours like spyhopping, breaching and lobtailing. There’s a full southern proper whale skeleton within the museum. The De Moist’s Huis Photograph Museum is fascinating with footage of Hermanus when it was nonetheless a tiny fishing village, and previous pictures of the previous harbour and previous pics of the Windsor Lodge.

Nice White Cage Diving – Stand up shut with the last word apex predator, the Nice White Shark with a cage dive amongst the sharks of Gansbaai. Skilled marine biologists onboard. Non-compulsory transfers from Cape City can be found.

hemel en aarde valley quad bike
Alya beloved exploring the great Hemel en Aarde valley by quad bike!

Journey actions – the city affords a big number of actions to get your adrenaline pumping; there’s nice scuba diving from operators within the new harbor, sandboarding (nearly like snowboardingon the close by dunes in Kleinmond, sea kayaking, mountain biking and nice quad biking within the Hemel en Aarde valley.. 

Stony Level Penguin Colony – Residence to one of many largest breeding colonies of African Penguin on the earth, Stony Level Nature Reserve is the place to go if you wish to see many penguins in South Africa. Situated in Betty’s Bay about 40 km earlier than reaching Hermanus if you happen to drive the coastal route through Clarence Drive (R44).

African (Jackass) Penguins’ breeding floor at Stony Level, Betty’s Bay.

Animals on a Marine Huge 5 Journey

Southern Proper Whale

The Southern proper whale attracts most vacationers to the world in whale watching season.  They are often recognized by the callosities on it’s head,  lack of a dorsal fin on its again and a protracted, arching mouth that begins above the attention. Grownup whales are between 14-16m in size and may weigh between 40-60 tonnes. Southern Rights have a double blow gap, leading to a singular V-shaped spray blown out. They’re an endangered species strictly protected and the inhabitants is slowly recovering. 

Brydes Whale

The Brydes whale is a smaller whale species discovered within the Walker Bay space. These whales are estimated at 10.1 to 11.6 m (33 to 38 ft) in size. These deep diving animals are troublesome to see, often they dive after surfacing briefly, staying down for as much as 20 minutes. Bryde’s whales are discovered within the Dyer Island space all year long, with most sightings occurring through the summer time months.

Humpback Whale

Humpback whales are generally seen between June and August whereas these animals are migrating to the hotter Indian ocean.  They’re simply recognizable by their lengthy flippers, humped again with a dorsal fin, and the distinctive white markings on the underside of tails. Humpback whales develop as much as 16m and 30 tons.


Nice White Shark

Whenever you point out diving in South Africa many questions relating to sharks all the time come about. Cage diving with Nice White Sharks is a highly regarded bucket listing exercise for a lot of adventurous vacationers. Throughout a Marine Huge 5 journey with Dyer Island Cruises the boat takes you to the well-known ‘Shark Alley’. At this location between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock, they cease subsequent to sister firm Marine Dynamics doing cage diving. If there are Nice white sharks round you’ve gotten a good chance of seeing these prime apex predators from the boat. Bronze whaler sharks additionally typically encompass the cage diving boats. The sharks should not fed, they’re lured to the boat with a scent path, the “chumming” consists out of a bait bag containing fish merchandise.

Gansbaai shark diving season

Nice White Sharks could be seen round Gansbaai all year long,  the perfect time of the 12 months to view these sharks within the space is between June and September. The visibility is often good then and plenty of migrating sharks could be discovered round Dyer Island


Dolphins are sometimes seen on the expeditions and if you’re fortunate you could be surrounded by huge pods of dolphins. Humpback dolphins and Widespread dolphins are the species most frequently seen in Walker Bay.

Cape Fur Seals

This is among the Marine Huge 5 you might be mainly assured to see on a whale watching Hermanus expedition! There are about 60 000 of those curious, playful animals dwelling on Geyser rock, subsequent to Dyer Island. They usually swim and play across the boat making for good picture alternatives.

African Penguin

The African penguin is the one penguin species that breeds in Africa. They breed primarily on offshore islands in colonies and Dyer Island is one such a breeding space. Breeding season begins in January and African penguins mate with the identical companion 12 months after 12 months.

Sadly these guys are in bother with a 90% inhabitants decline on Dyer Island within the final 30 years. There are numerous causes, however a giant one is guano harvesting, chook poo is superior fertilizer on your backyard and tons of it was scraped from Dyer island to be bought to gardeners. Penguins used to burrow nests within the guano layer that was meters thick, with out this protecting layer they’re uncovered to the solar and predators.

Need to save a Penguin’s life?

You possibly can sponsor a penguin shelter for R500, by constructing these specifically developed ‘synthetic nests’ on the island  the inhabitants have been stabilized on the present stage. MORE INFO

The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) in Gansbaai present short-term rehabilitative care to diseased, displaced, injured, oiled and deserted marine birds, specializing in the endangered African penguin. Feeding of the penguins within the middle is on a regular basis at 15:00. It’s a good place to go after your seafari,  sit and watch whereas having fun with glorious cake and occasional.  The APSS is a undertaking pushed by the Dyer Island Conservation Belief (DICT) along with Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises. The primary sponsor is Volkswagen.


We noticed many birds on our whale watching journey, together with Gannets and a number of other totally different Comorant species.

The Hermanus Whale Pageant

The Hermanus Whale Pageant, the one Eco-Arts pageant in South Africa, is held yearly in spring. The festivities occur late September/early October to have a good time the return of the Southern Proper whales to Walker Bay. Hundreds of holiday makers come to this stunning little city to observe whales from the cliffs and revel in a wide range of reside exhibits; music, comedy, youngsters leisure, cabaret and dance through the Pageant. It’s a very festive environment with the whales the principle efficiency and the occasion by no means stops. E-book lodging early, this little city will get loopy busy with the Whale Pageant. Whales are present in many various areas world wide, checkout extra worldwide whale watching pleasure.

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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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