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Whale of a time in Hermanus, South Africa



Whale watching shouldn’t be strenuous affair if you’re visiting Hermanus in South Africa. Just take note of these simple dos and don’ts and then sit back and let the whales take care of the rest.

DO brush up on your whale lingo

Is a callosity a large city? Is spyhopping what James Bond does in his spare time? Nope, these are all words that describe southern right whales’ awesome appearance and wacky antics.To find out what breaching and lobtailing mean, visit the Whale House Museum in Hermanus’ Market Square. Engaging and informative installations provide the lowdown on the whales’ wow factor.

DON’T be in a hurry

Mother Nature has a way of taking her time, and so she should. Don’t expect to see a breaching whale within two minutes of arriving in Hermanus.

While the southern right whales are guaranteed to be in Walker Bay from June to December, you may have to kick back, relax and scan the deep waters patiently while absorbing the magic of every moment.

DO explore the area 

It’s tempting to sit for hours at any one of the prime whale-watching spots in Hermanus. You’re free to do that, of course, but do also make time to explore.

The 11km of cliff paths that skirt Hermanus offer different vantage points for land-based whale watching from the Blow Hole on the western side to Grotto Beach on the east. There are benches along the way, so you needn’t sacrifice those lingering breaks.

You can also spot whales from Fernkloof Nature Reserve, which looks down on Hermanus from the north. There are more than 50km of trails, from one-hour meanders to five-hour slogs. Views over Walker Bay dominate all the while. 

DON’T forget your binoculars

You’ll want to be able to see those callosities and observe the lobtailing while you’re out on your walkabout. Beg, steal or borrow a good pair of binoculars, and don’t forget your camera either. Hermanus’ fresh air and clear skies make for ideal photography conditions. 

DO get up close and personal 

You can get within 50m of the southern right whales – no binoculars required! Find out just how gentle and curious these marine giants are when you hop onboard a boat with Southern Right Charters – you’ll see loads of spectacular marine life en route.

Expect not only southern right whales in their droves, but seals, penguins and other marine birds, and often Bryde's whales, dolphins and humpback whales, too!

DON’T miss the Whale Crier of Hermanus

Look out for the man with the feather in his hat and the big black-and-white board around his neck. He’s the famous Whale Crier of Hermanus and the only one of his kind in the world. During whale season, you’ll hear the unmistakable sound of his kelp horn, blown to alert visitors to the whales’ position.

Have your picture taken with him – the sound should be enough to lead you right to him as he walks up and down the Hermanus coastline between 10am and 4pm from June to December.

Watch him in action below