Whale watching in Hermanus

Country: South Africa
Outdoor activities: Whale watching
Sustainable tourism rating: écotourisme-5-SOL
 When we came to South Africa we had in mind to spot the Big 5, but we quickly realised that this country has much more to offer… if you can see the Big 7 (Lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros, white shark and whale) and much more. After several safaris in the game reserves we decided to visit the coast and cruise with the whales. We headed towards Hermanus, the main tourist destination for whale watching.



This seaside resort is located at only one hour east of Cape Town so is very convenient to travel here.

This quiet town is full with tourists during the whale watching season (July to December) as the whales come in these warmer waters to give birth and to rear their young. The star of these beautiful cliffs carved by powerful waves is the Southern Right Whale. It is distinguished from the other whales by the wart-like on its head.


This gentle giant (which weighs the weight of 10 adult African elephants) comes here to mate and give birth to their calves on these coasts where they less predators than in the Antarctica’s cold waters. Whales main predators are the big sharks and the killer whales that live mainly at the two poles.This migration of whales is a joy for tourists who can observe them from the coast.


In Hermanus, a beautiful coastal path has been laid out and you can just wander around and see whales playing with their calves. The lucky ones may even see them breach vertically out of the water and do tricks that delight everyone.


The less fortunate and who want to see them even closer can jump on a whale watching cruise. We stayed for four days in Hermanus and unfortunately we have not had much luck because of gusty winds that turned the sea into a waves’ dance that made impossible to spot the whales. We therefore opted for a boat tour. We have joined a cruise with Southern Right Charters. The first day they had to cancel our trip because of the rain and clouds that covered the place. They offered us a voucher for the next day and this time it was much better, but the wind was still quite strong. The waves were huge! Fortunately the boat and the staff were very reassuring. We spotted several whales with their calves but the waves rocked the boat so much that taking pictures became a hard mission. Also the whales were not very playful we didn’t see their amazing jumps.


The tour lasts two hours in a whole and most of the time you are able to spot the whales.

If you decide to come to Hermanus during the whales season (July to December) plan several days on site to be able to see them. There are also many hikes in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve for the windy days when you cannot watch the whales.


You can also opt for a kayak outing (we did not try it because there was too much wind).


For the accommodation, we recommend Hermanus Backpackers.  We have stayed with them and the rooms are very cosy, the location is perfect and the price is the best in town!

The pros
Lovely town and well appointed for the observation of marine life.

You can also see sharks, seals, dolphins; many birds etc …



 Southern Right Charters crew were very professional.

The educational brief at the beginning of the cruise was very informative.

The cons

 You must be very lucky to have good weather and whales that come to pose 😉

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