Hermanus is rightfully famous for its sightings of Southern Right Whales during the winter and spring months. In fact, visitors don’t need to go far, as the whales can be spotted right from the cliffs near the town centre, starting around June each year and up until early December. While whales used to be hunted from Betty’s Bay close by, nowadays they are protected and can be enjoyed by visitors every year. The town hosts several interesting museums, with information about the town’s past, as well as a quaint shopping area, art galleries, restaurants and so much more to enjoy. The following are the top ten things to see and do in Hermanus.
1. Land-based whale watching and the Whale Crier
Hermanus has been proud to have the world’s one and only Whale Crier since 1992. The first was Pieter Classen and there have been several since then. The Whale Crier’s task is to sound his kelp horn to announce the arrival of the Southern Right Whales to the shores of Hermanus. While there are several good spots to view the whales, the most convenient is the cliffs, right next to the town centre, where these magnificent creatures can be seen rollicking in the waves.
Landbased Whale Watching
Address: Hermanus Cliff Path Walk
Opening Hours: From June to early December.
Access: Convenient from the centre of Hermanus
Website: Whale Crier
2. Hermanus Cliff Path Walk and Fernkloof Nature Reserve
Hermanus has been proud to have the world’s one and only Whale Crier since 1992. The first was Pieter Classen and there have been several since then. The Whale Crier’s task is to sound his kelp horn to announce the arrival of the Southern Right Whales to the shores of Hermanus. While there are several good spots to view the whales, the most convenient is the Cliffs, right next to the town centre, where these magnificent creatures can be seen rollicking in the waves close by.
Besides watching the whales, the cliff path makes for a wonderful walk in the fresh sea air. The walk stretches for 14 km (8.6 miles) with spectacular views, not only of the sea and the Southern Right Whales, but also of Fernkloof, a nature reserve in the area, which is considered to be one of the richest floral kingdoms in the world. The reserve itself offers 50 km (31 miles) of hiking trails as well as a mountain biking track, perfect for enjoyable exercise in the fresh air.
Cliff Path Walk
Address: Central Hermanus
Opening Hours: Any time.
Duration: around 1-3 hours required.
Access: Start the walk from the centre of town
Website: Hermanus Cliff Path Walk
3. Sea-based whale, dolphin and shark watching
For those preferring to head out to sea, Hermanus offers much in the way of sea-based whale, shark and dolphin watching activities. Boat trips vary in length, depending on the conditions and the tour operator, but are usually around 2 hours long, including trips out to Gansbaai and Dyer Island to spot whales, African penguins and the Great White Shark in their natural surroundings. Experienced guides share their knowledge with you on the journey, explaining the importance of conservation and responsible tourism.
Sea based whale watching
Price: from 30-60 USD
Hours: 9am, 12noon and 3pm.
Duration: around 1-3 hours required.
Access: From the New Harbour
Website: Whale Cruises
4. Adventure sports in Hermanus
For those feeling more adventurous, Hermanus offers the full range of exciting water sports. Sea kayaking is a fun activity right along the coastline, as is paragliding, parasailing and scuba diving. Paddleboarding on calmer waters is also fun. Of particular interest, however, is the Shark Cage Diving in nearby Gansbaai where visitors can get up close and personal with a Great White Shark. Watch as the shark takes a snack from your guides and admire those ferocious teeth!
Great White Shark Diving
Price: from 130 USD
Duration: Full day
Access: Transport from central Hermanus
Website: Great White Shark Diving
5. Hermanus Wine Tours
South Africa is famous for its excellent wines and is now the seventh largest wine producer in the world. While visiting Hermanus, you will find yourself within easy access of more than 70 wineries, all located in spectacular mountainous and coastal scenery. Enjoy a tour of the Hemel en Aarde (Heaven on Earth) Valley wine farms, including professional wine tasting sessions, and then relax with a delicious lunch at one of the wineries before heading back to the town.
Hermanus Wine Tours
Address: Hemel en Aarde Valley
Price: from 40 USD
Duration: around 2 hours required.
Access: Transport from town
Website: Hermanus Wine Tours
6. Bird watching in Hermanus and Surrounds
Birding enthusiasts are spoiled for choice in Hermanus, with over 100 varieties of birds living in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Among these are the Cape Sugarbird, The Orange-breasted Sunbird, Victorin’s Warbler and many more beautiful and fascinating species. Enjoy a stroll through the gorgeous landscapes in the area while spotting, and hopefully photographing, these amazing birds. Guided tours are on offer to give more detail and background on the various species living in the reserve.
Address: Fernkloof Nature Reserve
Price: from 1 USD
Opening Hours: On set days - consult website.
Website: Birding in Hermanus
7. Art galleries and sculpture in Hermanus
Art lovers can enjoy the artistic and bohemian vibe in this lovely coastal town, with its art galleries and outdoor sculptures. There are a number of galleries available to visit, including the Walker Bay Art Gallery, which displays 20th Century and Contemporary South African art pieces, as well as showcasing the work of up and coming artists in South Africa. Around town, various attractive pieces of sculpture are on display, including the magnificent whale sculpture pictured above.
Walker Bay Art Gallery
Address: 167 Main Road Hermanus
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 9am-5pm, Saturday: 10am-3pm, Sunday: 10am-1pm.
Duration: around1 hour required.
Website: Walker Bay Art Gallery
8. Museums and the history of Hermanus
Learn the history of Hermanus at the Old Harbour Museum (pictured above), where exhibits from the town’s whaling industry past are on display. Enjoy the De Wetshuis Photo Museum, where photos by T.D. Ravenscroft graphically display the history of the town. Head to the Whale Museum to see a whale skeleton and enjoy an audio-visual presentation about the whales and dolphins twice a day, including an explanation of the life cycle of the whales and the importance of their conservation.
Old Harbour Museum
Address: Market Square, Marine Dr, Hermanus
Opening Hours: 9am - 4pm.
Duration: around 1-2 hours required.
Website: Old Harbour Museum
9. Craft markets in Hermanus
There is a wide range of markets to visit and explore while staying in Hermanus, including the Hermanus Country Market, selling fresh baked goods, jewelry, furnishings and local produce on every Saturday of the month. The Onrus Craft Market is held on the first Saturday of each month, while the Fisherman’s Village Market is open every weekend with original art and creative crafts on offer and free wine tastings available.
Hermanus Country Market
Address: Fairways Ave & Jose Burman Dr, Hermanus
Opening Hours: 9am - 1 pm Saturdays.
Duration: around 1 hour required.
Website: Hermanus Country Market
10. Fun for the kids in Hermanus
Hermanus is a family destination, with plenty for the kids to see and do. Besides the excellent Blue Flag beaches along its coastline, including Grotto Beach, Voëlklip, Onrus and others, children will enjoy various games arcades in the town, as well as a range of parks for children with seesaws, swings and jungle gyms. One fun option is the Rocklands Petting Farm, just outside the town on the road to Stanford. Here children can enjoy a hands on experience with emus, rabbits and other cuddly animals, while parents can relax in the tea garden on site.
Rocklands Petting Farm
Address: R43, between Hermanus and Stanford
Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm.
Duration: around 2 hours required.
Website: Rocklands Petting Farm
With its gorgeous scenery, fascinating sea life and more, Hermanus is a must-visit destination on your Western Cape tour. Make sure you get to experience the incredible whale watching, adventure sports and so much more on offer for the whole family. The town is around 120 km (74.5 miles) outside of Cape Town with several scenic routes to choose from. Hire a car at the Cape Town airport or book a tour shuttle or bus to take you there.
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