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South Africa

Hermanus holidays

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Have it all in Hermanus

In South Africa’s Western Cape, about 75 miles southeast of Cape Town, Hermanus was once a sleepy fishing village. Today, this coastal town is a bustling hub filled with markets, restaurants and adventurous activities. But Hermanus holidays are famous for one thing above all else: whale-watching.

A trip to Hermanus takes you to the whale-watching capital of the world. This place is built on the shores of Walker Bay, where southern right whales migrate every year from the cold waters of Antarctica, to breed and raise their calves. If you visit Hermanus between June and December, a sighting of these gentle giants is practically guaranteed. You won’t even need to get in a boat, if you don’t want to, as the whales are easily visible from the shore.

As well as whale-watching, there are plenty of activities to enjoy on your Hermanus holiday. Take your pick from several beaches, where you can swim, snorkel and surf – or just relax on the sands. Go walking or horse riding along the dramatic cliffs, or try paragliding for a bird’s-eye view of the coast below. If that’s not enough to get your adrenaline pumping, take a trip out to sea and go cage diving with great white sharks.

For something more low-key, check out Hermanus’ markets. Foodies will be in their element on Saturdays, when the Hermanus Country Market and Hermanuspietersfontein Boeremark sell delicious homemade goodies, local wines and organic produce. If you’re after souvenirs rather than snacks, why not browse the stalls of Lemm's Corner Craft Market? This Saturday spot is filled with artwork, clothes and crafts.

There’s so much to see on any holiday to South Africa, so Hermanus could just be one part of your trip. Why not visit the Cape Winelands, and head along the coast to iconic Cape Town? Or perhaps you’d prefer to travel east and meander along the beautiful Garden Route? However you want to spend your time, our travel experts will help you plan your perfect getaway.

Whale-watching

Hermanus beaches

Things to do

Best time to go

Whale-watching in Hermanus

If you’re hoping to see whales on your Hermanus holiday, you’ll need to plan your trip between June and December. In whale-watching season, Walker Bay fills with southern right whales – large black whales with white patches on their stomach – as they migrate to these warm waters to breed. Luckily for you, southern right whales are very slow swimmers and feed just below the surface, making them easy to spot. It’s common for the whales to swim near the shore, too, so you can see them from Hermanus’ beaches and cliffs.

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For a closer look at the whales and their young, take a boat trip out to the edge of the Marine Reserve. Your guide will usually stay about 50 metres away from the whales – but you’ll often find that these curious creatures swim right up to the boat, keen to investigate their visitors.

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Show Less

Hermanus beaches

Hermanus has several lovely beaches, each with its own personality and attractions. Stretching for 11 miles, Grotto Beach is the largest. Its Blue Flag-awarded sands are backed by rugged mountains, while the Atlantic Ocean sweeps along the shore. Go for a dip in the calm lagoon, or take a stroll along the coastal pathways.

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If you’re a keen surfer, catch a wave at Langbaai, Kammabaai or Voelkip Beach. Kammabaai is the most accessible option, with plenty of picnic spots and walking trails to both Grotto Beach and Voelkip Beach. The currents here can be strong, though, so take care if you’re visiting with children.

Onrus Beach is a much safer spot for swimming, and there’s plenty of sandy space for sunbathing. Alternatively, you could make tracks for Breakfast Bay. Sheltered from the winds, this cove is the perfect place for a picnic, while the calm sea offers some great snorkelling opportunities.

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Things to do

If you’d prefer to go hiking, head just outside Hermanus to Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Trails snake for 60 kilometres through the Kleinrivier Mountains, where you’ll be able to see all kinds of flowers and animals, including baboon, mongoose and dassie – a large ostrich-like bird. The reserve is also home to the elusive Cape mountain leopard, but sightings are rare.

There are plenty of adventure activities on offer in Hermanus, too. You can go abseiling, mountain biking and zip-lining, or take to the skies with a paragliding session. Or, for the ultimate adrenaline rush, drive 40 minutes to Gansbaai and sail out to sea, where you can cage-dive with great white sharks.

Show More
Show Less

Away from the beach, there’s plenty more to see. Visit Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary – the only free-roaming primate sanctuary in the world – and see more than 3,500 birds at the world’s biggest free-flight aviary, Birds of Eden. Or you could go for a coastal walk through Robberg Nature Reserve. The trails range from 45-minute strolls to five-hour hikes, so you can choose which option is best for you.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to visit Hermanus

To see whales, you should plan your Hermanus trip between June and December. Weather-wise, though, the best time to visit is from November to April. This is South Africa’s summer, when temperatures in Hermanus hover in the early twenties – but, on clear sunny days, it can be as hot as 26°C.

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Show Less

As you might expect, there’s a coastal breeze here all year round, but December to February is the best time to go surfing. If you want to go cage-diving, you’re most likely to see great white sharks in June, July and August. May to August is the wettest time of year but, even then, it’s dry in Hermanus most days.

Show More
Show Less

Whale-watching

Whale-watching in Hermanus

If you’re hoping to see whales on your Hermanus holiday, you’ll need to plan your trip between June and December. In whale-watching season, Walker Bay fills with southern right whales – large black whales with white patches on their stomach – as they migrate to these warm waters to breed. Luckily for you, southern right whales are very slow swimmers and feed just below the surface, making them easy to spot. It’s common for the whales to swim near the shore, too, so you can see them from Hermanus’ beaches and cliffs.

Show More
Show Less

For a closer look at the whales and their young, take a boat trip out to the edge of the Marine Reserve. Your guide will usually stay about 50 metres away from the whales – but you’ll often find that these curious creatures swim right up to the boat, keen to investigate their visitors.

Show More
Show Less

Hermanus beaches

Hermanus beaches

Hermanus has several lovely beaches, each with its own personality and attractions. Stretching for 11 miles, Grotto Beach is the largest. Its Blue Flag-awarded sands are backed by rugged mountains, while the Atlantic Ocean sweeps along the shore. Go for a dip in the calm lagoon, or take a stroll along the coastal pathways.

Show More
Show Less

If you’re a keen surfer, catch a wave at Langbaai, Kammabaai or Voelkip Beach. Kammabaai is the most accessible option, with plenty of picnic spots and walking trails to both Grotto Beach and Voelkip Beach. The currents here can be strong, though, so take care if you’re visiting with children.

Onrus Beach is a much safer spot for swimming, and there’s plenty of sandy space for sunbathing. Alternatively, you could make tracks for Breakfast Bay. Sheltered from the winds, this cove is the perfect place for a picnic, while the calm sea offers some great snorkelling opportunities.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do

If you’d prefer to go hiking, head just outside Hermanus to Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Trails snake for 60 kilometres through the Kleinrivier Mountains, where you’ll be able to see all kinds of flowers and animals, including baboon, mongoose and dassie – a large ostrich-like bird. The reserve is also home to the elusive Cape mountain leopard, but sightings are rare.

There are plenty of adventure activities on offer in Hermanus, too. You can go abseiling, mountain biking and zip-lining, or take to the skies with a paragliding session. Or, for the ultimate adrenaline rush, drive 40 minutes to Gansbaai and sail out to sea, where you can cage-dive with great white sharks.

Show More
Show Less

Away from the beach, there’s plenty more to see. Visit Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary – the only free-roaming primate sanctuary in the world – and see more than 3,500 birds at the world’s biggest free-flight aviary, Birds of Eden. Or you could go for a coastal walk through Robberg Nature Reserve. The trails range from 45-minute strolls to five-hour hikes, so you can choose which option is best for you.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Hermanus

To see whales, you should plan your Hermanus trip between June and December. Weather-wise, though, the best time to visit is from November to April. This is South Africa’s summer, when temperatures in Hermanus hover in the early twenties – but, on clear sunny days, it can be as hot as 26°C.

Show More
Show Less

As you might expect, there’s a coastal breeze here all year round, but December to February is the best time to go surfing. If you want to go cage-diving, you’re most likely to see great white sharks in June, July and August. May to August is the wettest time of year but, even then, it’s dry in Hermanus most days.

Show More
Show Less

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