A quick guide to whale watching in Hermanus, South Africa

A visit to South Africa usually means a climbing Table Mountain and a visit to the Cape of Good Hope. But if whale watching in Hermanus is not on your usual itinerary, it’s definitely one to add now.

Hermanus, South Africa. Photo credit: JaySi/Shutterstock.com

Nothing beats the sight of a gargantuan whale frolicking amid the waves, mere metres away from your boat. Hermanus is under a two hour drive from Cape Town, making it easy as a day trip or even a longer stay. Here’s what you need to know before planning your whale watching excursion.


The seaside town of Hermanus lies around a 90-minute drive southeast of Cape Town. It’s widely known as the whale watching capital of South Africa, thanks to the pods of Southern Right whales that make their way to its waters to calve and mate every year.

When to go:

Whale watching season in Hermanus runs from June to December. Occasionally, cetaceans are spotted as late as early January.

Photo credit: Delle Chan

Who to book with:

Several operators run boat-based whale watching tours in Hermanus. The most popular outfit is Southern Right Charters, which prides itself on its ethos of environmental sensitivity (its motto is “observing, not disturbing”). It runs three tours daily, weather permitting.

Alternatively, try Hermanus Whale Watchers, a smaller outfit that runs up to four tours daily, weather permitting.


A trip typically costs around ZAR800 (S$78) for adults and around ZAR400 (S$39) for children; prices vary slightly between tour operators.

Whale breaching in Hermanus South Africa
Photo credit: Ken C Moore/Shutterstock.com

What to expect:

Each trip lasts around two hours on average, depending on the locations of the whales. Passengers will board a catamaran with a specialist guide and support crew; they’ll then be given a safety briefing before travelling out to sea.

Do slap on some sunscreen and pop the necessary pills if you’re prone to seasickness. Should you feel peckish midway through the trip, you’ll be glad to know that light refreshments are usually provided on the tours in the form of crisps and bottled water.

Sightings will vary – besides Southern Right Whales, you may even glimpse other whale species, Cape Fur seals, bottlenose dolphins and assorted birdlife. Of course, the highlight is undoubtedly seeing the gentle giants breaching and lobtailing playfully amid the waves, putting on a magnificent show for all to see.

SEE ALSO: The best places to go whale watching in New South Wales, Australia

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