About Hermanus and the surrounding area
The town overlooks Walker Bay, where southern right whales congregate from July to November to calve and mate. During this time, Hermanus' very own whale crier watches the bay and informs people where the whales are by blowing on his kelp horn. The whales can be spotted from the cliffs as they frolic in the water. A few operators based in the new harbour are permitted to take visitors on whale watching trips in the bay, which promises to be an unforgettable experience.
When it comes to shopping, Hermanus offers tourists a wide range of stores. From a brand new shopping mall, art galleries, clothing boutiques and home décor stores, to stores packed with the necessary amenities, Hermanus has it all. A variety of craft markets occurs every Saturday.
Visitors to Hermanus soon discover the range of restaurants and cafés in town. Whether you prefer simple but delicious dishes, or five-star cuisine, Hermanus caters for your every taste and pocket size.
There is an abundance of activities to do in Hermanus - playing golf at the 27-hole Hermanus Golf Club, hiking and picnicking in Fernkloof Nature Reserve, fishing, kayaking in Walker Bay, whale watching from a boat or an airplane, relaxing on one of many beaches and much more.
Hermanus offers the best whale viewing from land in the world. A cliff path on the edge of the rocks stretches across the town’s entire coastline allowing whale watchers the opportunity to view these majestic creatures up close. Every year from June through to December the Southern Right whale visits the relative shallow waters of Walker Bay to breed, calve and nurse their young before making their arduous journey to the feeding grounds in the Antarctic.
The best way to enjoy whale watching is to go on a whale-watching boat trip with one of the charter companies based in the new harbour. The boats are large and comfortable and able to get within metres of the whales, making this an unforgettable experience.
Fernkloof Nature Reserve
Fernkloof Nature Reserve covers 1800 hectares in the Kleinriver Mountains above the town of Hermanus and is proclaimed a reserve to protect the coastal fynbos and a small patch of evergreen forest. There is no other place in the world where so many species can be found growing in such close proximity. There have been over 1475 species of fynbos collected, identified and documented within the reserve. The name of the principal vegetation type of this region is derived from the Dutch word ‘fijnbosch’ which is a collective name for a myriad of hardy evergreen shrub-like plants with small firm leaves, often rolled – but also includes woody plants with leathery textured leaves.
The reserve lies on the northern side of the town with a 60km network of trails. These provide the opportunity for people of all fitness levels to go out and enjoy some exercise and fresh air. A display of some of the flowers that can be found in the reserve and its gardens are permanently maintained at the Fernkloof Visitors' Centre. The various trails offer magnificent and unequalled views of Walker Bay, the Hemel-en-Aarde valley and Maanskynbaai.
Blue Flag Beaches
The Blue Flag Grotto Beach in Hermanus is one of the most striking South African beaches with its rolling waves and mountainous backdrop. Enjoyed by locals, visitors and whales, it is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, beach games and long bare-foot walks along its 18km unspoilt white sandy expanse. Grotto Beach is a top-rated ‘gust spot' - an excellent site for kite, wave and windsurfing. Ample parking, well-cared for ablutions with showers, and public barbeque facilities are among this Blue Flag beach's amenities.
Explore thickets of ancient Milkwood trees beside the lagoon, go fishing or horse ride at Die Plaat, bird watch at Kleinrivier lagoon, or follow the cliff path to Fernkloof Nature Reserve with its indigenous fynbos and herbarium.
The cool maritime climate and the right soil composition combine to make the Hemel-en-Aarde valley the ideal location for the fussy Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay vines. In this picturesque valley wine lovers can treat themselves to a unique wine tour among the southernmost vineyards in Africa.
The wines produced in this region are unique to South Africa and similar to ones from Northern France, due to a cool sea breeze and clay soil. Two of the most popular wines are a chardonnay and an exceptional pinot noir.
The Hemel-en-Aarde valley on the R320 is home to fifteen of the most superior wineries in the region, like Hermanuspietersfontein, Creation, Newton Johnson, Hamilton Russell, Spookfontein and Southern Right, each growing small volumes of premium quality wine in carefully sustainably managed vineyards with wine tasting facilities and sales.
Shark Cage Diving
South Africa was the first country in the world to protect this super predator of the ocean. Seals form an important part of a shark’s diet and are found in the channel between the two rocky reefs of Dyer and Geysers Islands. This has become an important feeding ground for the endangered Great White shark which still occurs in large numbers in the area.
The best time to view Great White sharks and enjoy the experience of cage diving with them is during the winter months from May to September and it is not uncommon to see sharks of over 4 metres in length.
Although shark cage diving operators are mainly situated in Gansbaai, they all have representatives throughout the Hermanus town eager to ferry visitors to Kleinbaai harbour to enjoy this invigorating experience.
The Hermanus Golf Course is situated within the town limits and is set in magnificent scenery with views of Walker Bay, the Kleinriver Mountains and adjoining Fernkloof Nature Reserve. This 27-hole course is known for its outstanding standards all year round and is a popular choice for golfing enthusiasts, both local and international.
Club facilities include a bar, restaurant, halfway house, locker rooms, pro-shop and practice facilities. Golf carts, trolleys and clubs are available for hire from the pro-shop. 20km outside Hermanus, toward Kleinmond, is the par 72 championship golf course of Arabella. Surrounded by the magnificent mountains and Bot River Lagoon, and edged by wild fynbos, the picturesque Arabella Golf Course is the ideal place to pursue one’s passion for golf. Arabella Golf Course has consistently been ranked in the top 10 courses in the country for many years and is currently ranked 4th in South Africa by Golf Digest magazine.