Hermanus
Close to the ground.

GPS: S 34 25.174 E 019 14.553 pop. 50,000 | elevation 23 m/75 ft

The cliff-side town of Hermanus is the whale watching capital of South Africa. The former fishing village has become increasingly more developed in recent years to cater to the tourist crowd that flocks to the city during the calving season (July-October) when whales come into Walker Bay. Between August and September, you are almost guaranteed to spot a whale, sometimes with its newborn calf. There are hundreds of B&B and guesthouses in town, many of which overlook the ocean, making it almost possible to whale watch from bed.

Whale cruises are a must if you're visiting Hermanus between May and January.


Southern Right Charters

Southern Right Charters tours Walker Bay during the whale watching high season and do eco-tours of the local marine life during the rest of the year.


Walker Bay Adventures

Sea Kayaking trips launch from Old Harbour through Walker Bay Adventures. On a good day you can paddle feet from whales, seals, dolphins, penguins and sea birds. Walker Bay Adventures also does a variety of other outdoor and ocean adventure activities.


Shark Cage Diving

Shark Cage Diving that is promoted along the southern coast occurs about 25 km southeast of Hermanus in Gansbaai. There are a handful of operators that will take you out for a day drip where you climb into a metal cage tied to the side of the boat. The water is chummed with small fish to attract the sharks and fish heads or dummy bait is thrown out and pulled in by rope to bring the Great Whites right in front of you.


Shark Diving Unlimited

Shark Diving Unlimited is one of the more reputable shark cage diving operators. They offer a three to four-hour boat trip that includes lunch, and a shuttle will pick you up from Hermanus for an additional R150.


Great White Shark Tours

Great White Shark Tours is also a recommended shark diving operator. They offer pickup from Hermanus for an extra R110/person.


Hiking

Fernkloof Nature Reserve

Fernkloof Nature Reserve has more than 60 km of walking trails with views of the bay and some of the biggest carnivorous plants in the world.


Museums

Market Square & Old Harbour

Market Square and the neighboring Old Harbour have three museums perhaps best saved for a rainy day.


Whale House

Whale House is the newest of the three, with multimedia and large graphic displays on the whales of Hermanus. The best use of your time is the 20-minute video for the basics on the regional whale life and tips on prime spots to view them in the area (10am, 12pm & 3pm Mon-Sat, 12pm & 3pm Sun).


De Wet's Huis Photo Museum

De Wet's Huis Photo Museum has a collection of black and white photos and furniture from the town's booming fishing days, housed in a historic schoolhouse.


Marine Drive and High Street are lined with high-end clothing and décor boutiques.


Market Square

Market Square has a daily market of handmade crafts and souvenirs oriented towards tourists. Market Street is lined with small outdoor cafés where you can grab a drink while considering your purchases.


High Street Close No. 3

High Street Close No. 3 is a tree-lined alley just off High Street in the center of town. A small café, art gallery, antique shop and craft stores line the gravel pathway, which feels like a secret garden amid the hubbub.


Hermanus has over 300 guesthouses and B&Bs to cater to every whale watcher's needs and desires. For additional options, stop at the tourism office and page through their many accommodation picture books.


Budget

Hermanus Backpackers

Hermanus Backpackers is a colorful backpackers with a loungy TV and living room area shared with the resident cat and dog. Behind the house, the large backyard has a swimming pool, braai, tables, a fire pit to sit around at night and a bar and pool table. The managing staff and their friends are laid-back and friendly and frequently head out to sandboard or catch the surf.


Zoete Inval Travellers Lodge

Zoete Inval Travellers Lodge is a quiet backpackers off the Main Road that's a lovely place for a mellow night, but not a place to party. When you're ready to chill, hop in the Jacuzzi, a hammock or kick back in one of the multiple lounge rooms. They have one en-suite room that offers more privacy for families or groups of friends.


Mid-range

La Fontaine

La Fontaine is an exquisite B&B with all the touches of home. Perfectly perched to overlook the cliffs, its sea-facing rooms have a large balcony to view the whales in the bay below, while others open to a lovely garden and swimming pool. Breakfast is best enjoyed on the patio to take in the views as you sip your coffee.


Avalon on Sea

Avalon on Sea is a cozy and well-situated guesthouse run by a gracious couple who are happy to arrange activities for you. It has three double rooms with gorgeous ocean views of Walker Bay as well as family friendly accommodation. The pool is nothing you can do laps in, but is private and perfect for lounging.


Windsor Hotel

Windsor Hotel is a historic Hermanus establishment that's looking a little worn but has unbelievable ocean views. Ask for a third-floor room for the best vantage point for whale watching. Some second-floor rooms have a balcony for no additional cost.


Top-end

Auberge Burgundy

Auberge Burgundy is an enchanting guesthouse in the Provençal style, just steps from both the city center and the sea. If the ivy-laden back terraces and crisp white linens don't delight you, the spectacular views and rooftop pool will. Rooms 14, 15, 16 and the penthouse are poolside.


Ocean Eleven

Ocean Eleven is the most elegant guesthouse in Hermanus. Each of the 11 spacious rooms look out right over the cliff to the ocean and the front of the house has a direct entry to the cliff path. They also offer two luxury suites and an apartment for four, outfitted with French doors, a spacious living area and private patio.


Quarters Hotel

Quarters Hotel is a posh hotel located in the heart of downtown Hermanus. Suites offer private balconies and full kitchens and every room affords you the opportunity to take a bubble bath right next to your bed. If you can, book suite numbers 14 and 8 for the best sea views.


Fisherman's Cottage

Fisherman's Cottage is a Hermanus mainstay that has recently come under new ownership. Though under remodeling at the time of research, new owners Maurice and Erma promised to keep the cozy classic kitsch of the eatery while expanding the seafood menu and dropping the prices.


The Burgundy Restaurant

The Burgundy Restaurant is a French country kitchen that serves up continental favorites in an understated dining room of cozy rugs, enclosed porches and beamed ceilings. Tapped as one of the best restaurants in the area, Burgundy's strength is preparing straightforward main dishes that allow the flavors of the high-quality base ingredients to shine through. If you have room for dessert, don't miss the Malva pudding, a mouthwatering warm South African trifle.


Mediterra

Mediterra is one of the more formal dining options in Hermanus. The good fresh food is served in a second-story dining room overlooking the water. Choose from either a selection of tapas or a two or three-course meal of fresh seafood, steak and a large selection of desserts.


Tapas

Tapas is an upbeat restaurant and wine bar located in the heart of downtown. Live music sets the mood most nights as patrons nibble Mediterranean-inspired tapas and unwind after a long day. Don't be surprised if, by the end of the night, satisfied customers are dancing in the square.


Savannah Café

Savannah Café serves breakfast and lunch with a dose of dresseddown elegance. Lunch fare and comfort food are heavy on cheese, which is usually a good thing.


Bientang's Cave

Bientang's Cave is a seafood restaurant built inside a cave in the cliff near Old Harbour. Just feet away from penguins, gulls and (on a good day) breeding whales, this eatery is well known for its breathtaking scenery, but you better like your fish fried.


Paradiso

Paradiso is a casual Italian restaurant with outdoor seating. It's known for its pasta and thin crust pizza, but also has a selection of seafood and steaks.


Zebra Crossing

Zebra Crossing is one of the better libation destinations in town. It is a small cozy bar with occasional live acoustic music, where you rub shoulders with the locals. Breakfast, light meals and pub grub can be ordered from the small kitchen.


Shimmi

Shimmi is a retro-chic lounge and club that attracts the party crowd. If there is a place to be seen out at night in Hermanus, this is it.


Bojangles

Bojangles does its best to pull off a Hermanus club scene and attracts a mixed crowd with a DJ, dance floor and events such as karaoke, "talent" competitions and ladies night. Next door to Bojangles is their unlicensed mini-casino where you can get drinks, women and play the slots.