A visit to Hermanus during the annual Whale Festival (from 28 – 30 September this year) promises a sensory overload. This small coastal town will again be bursting at the seams with locals and visitors from near and far, flocking to enjoy the wide array of food stalls, events and live entertainment, and of course, whale watching! And parents can rest assured that kids will be well catered for, with a Pirate and Mermaid Treasure Hunt as well as a Kiddies Beach Clean-up in the Old Harbour.
Get the best view
Hermanus has been rated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as one of the twelve best whale watching spots in the world. There are a number of vantage points from which to enjoy your whale watching, most popular being the viewing terraces leading from the Old Harbour to Gearings Point. My favourite viewing spots are from a window table at either the Ocean Basket or La Pentola restaurants in the Village Square centre. Here you have the most beautiful views of the entire bay and can watch the Southern Right whales frolicking whilst sipping on your favourite red.
Whale watching can also be enjoyed from any of the great beaches Hermanus offers. Onrus beach, with its super relaxed Milkwood restaurant is a personal favourite, followed closely by Voëlklip and Grotto beaches.
Listen out for the Whale Crier
Not to be missed is the chance to see the world’s only Whale Crier in action. When the Southern Right whales come to the safe and warm waters of Hermanus to calve, the Hermanus Whale Crier alerts whale watchers to the whereabouts of whales, by blowing on a horn made of kelp. Those more familiar with the Whale Crier’s blows can tell from the different sounding blows whether it is a Southern Right whale, Humpback or Bryde in the bay. You can meet up with him on the cliff path that stretches all around the Hermanus, whenever you hear a series of horn blows. Although he mostly uses this age old way of communication, you can also follow him on Twitter (@whalecrier), for a heads up on the day’s weather conditions and whale sightings.
Hop on a boat
For those who take their whale watching seriously and want to get up close and personal (and have a bit of cash to spend), there are a number of companies that offer whale watching cruises. You can also book a 30-minute flight, where you’ll see whales playing and breaching in their natural habitat, totally undisturbed.
Once you have had your fill of the majestic whales and gorgeous scenery, take some time to enjoy some of cool restaurants, art galleries, unusual boutiques and food markets that Hermanus is known for. But more about that another day!