Hermanus is well worth a visit for many reasons, but the main attraction is the town’s spectacular whale watching. The town claims to be the best location for land-based whale watching in the world. Hermanus is also well known for introducing the first Whale Crier in August 1992, sounding the arrival of the #Whales with a kelp horn for all to hear.
This iconic character inspired Zakes Mda to write his novel “The Whale Crier” in 2005, telling the story of a man in Hermanus who becomes enthralled by a Southern Right Whale by the name of Sharisha.
The town was originally dubbed "Hermanuspietersfontein" after one of its founders, but due to the fact that the name was considered to be too long by the postal service, it was shortened to “Hermanus.” However, it is still possible to visit the Hermanuspietersfontein Boerdery Wine Farm just outside of the South African town.
Land-based Whale Watching in Hermanus
As reported by the Cape Town Magazine, the Southern Right Whales arrive in Hermanus in June each year and can be clearly seen from the cliffs located in the town center. The whales give their amazing display up until early December. As reported by the Telegraph, the whales were originally hunted in the town of Betty’s Bay close by, but fortunately these days the species is protected. In September each year, Hermanus holds a whale festival to celebrate the return of these iconic creatures for their calving and mating season.
The Old Harbour museum in Hermanus offers several interesting exhibitions about the whaling industry, while close by images depicting the town by photographer T.D. Ravenscroft can be seen at the De Wetshuis Photo Museum. The Whale Museum is also of interested as it houses a whale skeleton and offers an audio-visual show about the whales and dolphins twice a day.
Hermanus is convenient to access
For those on vacation in Cape Town, it is an easy drive to Hermanus, around 115 km to the southeast of the city. #Travel a further 40 km and you can visit Gansbaai, a town famous for its cage diving with the Great White Sharks.
Originally the town was to be accessed by rail, and there is an existing, historic railway station in Hermanus. However, the town’s founders changed their minds about rail access, as it would have commercialized the town and they wanted Hermanus to remain a picturesque fishing village. Little did they know how popular their town was to become in the future.
Sailors will enjoy the Hermanus Yacht Club, while golfers can play a game with a view at the Hermanus Golf Club in the town. The Eastcliff course is said to be among the most beautiful golf courses in #South Africa.
Where to stay in Hermanus on the Overberg Whale Route
The town offers many first class hotels and quaint bed and breakfasts, but possibly the most famous is the historic Windsor Hotel in a stunning location on the rocks overlooking the ocean.
The town itself is home to many quaint fishermens' cottages, as well as a range of interesting shops, cafes, restaurants and art galleries. Each weekend there is a selection of art, food or craft markets to visit. Surrounding Hermanus, the scenery is beautifully mountainous and wild offering amazing views of hills covered in what is called the Cape “Fynbos” and the iconic South African national flower, the Protea.
The Fernkloof Nature Reserve on the outskirts of town is one of the area’s richest floral kingdoms, offering mountain biking and hiking trails. Due to the thermals experienced in the reserve, paragliders from all over the world often indulge in their sport there.
Hermanus is a great place to stay on a vacation in South Africa and when visiting the Western Cape and Cape Town, make a plan to head down the coast for at least a weekend of wine, food and the amazing whales. Meet up with the famous Whale Crier on a whale watching boat trip in the video included below.