Hermanus is a small town on the Southern coast of the Western Cape, and is most famous for its whale watching. While the town is a relatively sleepy “retirement town” during three quarters of the year, it comes alive during the late Southern winter and spring as thousands of tourists come for the Whale Festival. This runs during the first week of November, and is the best time of year for whale viewing.
There are a number of hotels in Hermanus,which have superior views of the waves crashing onto the rocks. Good places for an authentic stay you might want to try out one of the many luxury guesthouses in the area, such as the above-mentioned Birkenhead House or Grootbos Lodges.
Selected Hermanus Hotels
During the Whale Festival the streets fill with tourists, and all you have to do to see whales is walk along the seaside main street of the town and glance out into the bay. Whale spotting is also good for several weeks before and after the festival, but declines sharply towards the end of November.
Whale watching tours are available from many operators, and usually cost between $25 and $50, with some offering a partial refund if no whales are spotted (not a concern during peak season, but well worth considering in early October/late November).
A once popular feature of the town, the local self-appointed Whale Crier, used to walk around the main street with a horn, blowing signals that let tourists know where to find whales (the meaning of the signals were printed on his sandwich-board). The original Whale Crier retired several years ago, but he has since been succeeded by an enthusiastic youngster.
Fishing tours, trips to the local penguin colony, and hang-gliding are also popular activities that run constantly from before the Whale Festival and well into Autumn.
Grotto Beach is the largest and most popular blue-flag beach in Hermanus, with a long stretch of white sand and perfect conditions during summer. It can, however, get a bit windy on the beaches during spring and autumn.
For surfers, the nearby Onrus beach offers a good break with consistent 2-3 foot off-shore conditions, only occasionally changing to on-shore during autumn and winter.
Hermanus is also becoming an attractive center for artists and musicians alike. With regular shows and exhibitions you are bound to experience a flare of the creative arts on your visit. Laughter and smells of delicious food fill the air on weekends when people gather at the local organic food market near Hermanus High School and the corner flee market in the center of town. You will soon realize that this is no longer a sleepy little beach town, but one full vibrant flare.
For the outdoor travelers there are wonderful walks and hikes in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, canoeing or kite-surfing on the lagoon or enjoy a horse ride on Grotto Beach.
Hermanus is truly a ‘town of all trade’ and will provide you with an unforgettable getaway on your travels or an excellent starting point for your further travels up the Garden Route.