Hermanus & Overberg

Close to Cape Town you can experience a very special phenomenon between July and November. These months are the whale season which means that large groups of these enormous mammals reside just off the coast at the town of Hermanus. You can witness this miracle hassle-free: it is the only place in the world where you can see whales so close to the shores. On this page you will find an overview of top attractions in Hermanus and the Overberg.

south africa hermanus whale watching

After Cape Town and the Cape Winelands, the Overberg (including the town of Hermanus) is the next area you encounter on your way to the starting point of the Garden Route. Many people overlook this area and only gaze upon it from the N2 motorway, yet it is very worthwhile spending some this in this region. you wull see beautiful landscapes with rolling hills, a number of rugged mountain ranges, all complemented with a magnificent coastline complete with wide sandy beaches. There is also the unique opportunity to watch whales without having to venture out on a boat: unique in the world. Furthermore, the area lends itself perfectly for keen hikers, cyclists and sports fishermen.


Our insider top tips in Hermanus and the Overberg:

Whale watching Hermanus

walvissen hermanus zuid afrika

Southern righ whales each year come to South Afica's southern coast and concentrate especially around the town of Hermanus. The whales usually stay from late July until November in the bay just off Hermanus. Female whales arrive first, they venture into the calm waters to nurse their young whale calves. In October the populations is at its peak as the male whales come in and pick up their females and youngsters for the long journey back. The whales come very close to the coastline, sometimes up to only twenty meters. You can almost touch them so to speak. When staying in Hermanus during these months it is very unlikely thay you will leave town without some great pictures of the southern right whale.

R44 Clarence Drive coastal road

overberg south africa western caper44 clarence drive

A well-kept secret, visited only by a few travellers during a luxury South Africa holiday, is a coastal road between Cape Town and Hermanus. Most people prefer following the quickest route eastwards via the N2 motorway. Also the N2 takes you over a spectacular mountain pass, but we rather prefer making a de-tour that takes you around these mountains. The R44 coastal road is well marked on the map: after you left Cape Town on the N2 you turn off just after Somerset West in the direction of Gordon's Bay. Just past this attractive coastal village the R44 Clarence Drive starts winding its way towards Hermanus. It is a dramatic coastal road perched in between the Indian Ocean on the one side, and the Kogelberg mountain range on the other. Along the road there are numerous places where you can stop to soak up the amazing views. We recommmend making a short stop seven and a half miles out of Gordon's Bay. Here you will find the glorious wide beach of "Koëlbaai" (Bullet Bay), please also see the image on the right. Further along this rad you pass sleepy villages with names like Rooi-Els and Bettiesbaai. Have some extra time to spend? You can then visit the penguin colony at Betty's Bay. When driving Clarence Drive you will soon understand why it is that so many car manufacturers shoot their television commercials on this very road.

Great white shark cage diving

shark cage diving south africa great white shark

We guarantee an adrenaline rush when seeing the mystical great white shark up close. The Western Cape is one of the few places in the world where it possible to closely approach these animals. White sharks around Cape Town showcase a unique feature: it is only here that they make the typical jump out of the water (breaching) what you probably have seen when watching a television special. Scientists claim this is the only place in the world where white sharks show this behaviour. During a half day excursion you get a really good chance of making spectacular photographs. In addition to viewing these impressive marine animals, you can also decide to get into the water, fortunately protected by a cage. Most of these tours leave from the village of Gansbaai (Goose Bay) near Hermanus. From April to September it is most likely to see white sharks during an excursion (success rate is about 95%). In the South African summer (October to March) the water is warmer and the sharks will expand their hunting ground, resulting a slightly smaller chance of seeing them. Still, with a 80% success rate, chances of seeing great white sharks in these months are very high.

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Did you know?

southern right whale

Southern right whales spend summers (our winter) close to Antarctica searching for food? In winter the whales migrate north so they can give birth in the warm and calm waters around the coasts of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Namibia, Mozambique, New Zealand and of course South Africa. The total population of southern right whales is estimated at 12,000 individuals. Since whaling became prohibited, the total grows by 7% per annum.

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