Hermanus is a beautiful coastal town in the Western Cape of South Africa. The nearest airport is Cape Town International and the drive from Cape Town to Hermanus lasts just over one and a half hours.
Not only is the town famous for whale watching but also for the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, which boasts the most scenic views through some of South Africa’s best wineries.
What you need to know before you go?
Per the locals, the best time to visit Hermanus is between July to September if you keen on whale watching. However the wineries seem to be open all year round for wine tastings.
In preparing for the trip we used the Inside Guide for where to stay and what to do, as well as Trip Advisor for the best restaurants in town.
The locals were so friendly and warm, and the atmosphere calm and relaxing. Perfect for a quick weekend getaway.
PS. Do not forget your binoculars.
How to get to Hermanus?
From what we can tell, there are two different routes that one could take to Hermanus. Either via the R44 which is the scenic coastal route, or further inland via Sir Lowry’s Pass which passes fruit and wine farms. If you do the return trip via Cape Town, then try them both. But if not, take the R44 coastal route. There are great viewpoints along the way.
About whale watching in Hermanus
In season, the Southern Right Whales come into the bay, and so all you need is a pair of binoculars and a bit of patience and you will definitely see some whales.
If you keen on a close encounter, then I suggest going on a whale watching tour. There are a number of tour companies offering multiple trips throughout the day. Don’t leave the tour for the last minute as they do get booked out, and trips are often cancelled due to the weather.
Southern Right Charters seem to have the most popular boat, and have great reviews on Trip Advisor. The tour costs R900 per person and lasts about two hours. Whilst they leave from Hermanus, they do go further out towards Gansbaai. We saw both whales and a shoal of dolphins on our tour. However the mum and baby we saw were a bit docile.
Wine tasting in the Hemel-en-Aarde
Most wine farms in the Hemel-en-Aarde are open to the public and offer wine tasting from about 10am to 4pm everyday. If you interested in specific wineries, plan accordingly as some of the wineries seem to be closed from Saturday midday to Monday morning.
Creation Wines offer a host of food and wine pairing options. They even have an offering for kids and those who don’t consume alcohol. Their six course food and wine pairing is not to be missed. Check out their website and book in advance of your trip to avoid any disappointment.
Unfortunately there is no Uber is Hermanus, but there are local taxi’s. If you not keen on driving, you may be interested in a wine tour. They do charge per hour, so it can get a bit pricey.
If you wondering, there is traffic police in Hermanus. NB. Foreign tourists – please note there are restrictions ito drinking and driving. More than one drink and you likely to be over the limit which could lead to prosecution.
If you not already sold, Hermanus has great swimming beaches too, although the water is on the cold side. I’d definately recommend a visit to Grotto Beach. They even have chairs and umbrellas for hire.
Where we stayed in Hermanus?
At a brand spanking new guesthouse called Whale Coast Villa situated a street away from Grotto Beach. We found them on Booking.com and they had great reviews for their breakfast and service. If you want the best online rates, call their central reservations team.
We opted for their standard room situated near the parking lot for ease of access. We loved that it was in a secluded part of the house with our own entrance. There are rooms with seaviews as well but these obviously come at a cost.
Unfortunately the house does not allow children under 12 years of age so if you looking for a romantic weekend away with your significant other, this spot is perfect. We also found that it was incredibly good value for money as it includes breakfast, and the place is absolutely lovely.
The only downside is that you need to drive in and out of town. We on the other hand loved being near Voelklip and Grotto beach, as we took long walks on the beach and the Cliff Path every morning. And we saw the whales from here.
What to do in Hermanus
- Whale watching tour
- Take a scenic walk / run along the Cliff Path – break it up and take a different route everyday
- Relax on one of the many benches at Sievers Point with your binoculars and look out for the whales
- Gearings Point – in the town centre overlooking the bay where you likely to spot whales
- Wine tasting in the Hemel-en-Aarde
- A visit to Creation Wines for their food pairing offerings – which is exceptional
- Swim, take a stroll or read a book on Grotto beach
- Check out the town centre
- Have a tea and scone at The Marine Hermanus
- Spa treatment at The Marine – the therapists are fantastic
- Have dinner at Dutchies, a local hangout on the beach
- Reserve brunch or lunch on Saturday morning at either the Hermanus Country Market (this one I can recommend) or the Market at HermanusPieterFontein winery (which we heard is great too)