Hermanus, South Africa

The Cape coast hereabouts is an alluring mix of rugged sea cliffs, tranquil lagoons and warm wooded valleys lined with vineyards and orchards, and the area is also famed for its dolphins, penguins and great white sharks. If diving in a shark cage is a bit much, horse riding along the beaches or a wine tour in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley will allow you to appreciate Hermanus’ natural wonders in more relaxed surroundings. However you work up an appetite, you’ll need no excuse to indulge in the fresh seafood, organic produce and excellent wines.

When to go

Hermanus has mild climate and even the blustery winter season has plenty of sunny days. Summers months are dry and hot, although the sea breezes offset the temperature. Early March is perfect, with afternoon mists known as ‘champagne air’. The all-important whale-watching season is from July to late November, with activity peaking from August to October.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Cape Town International (+27 (0)21 937 1200) is the nearest airport | 90 minutes north of Hermanus. Flights take 11.5 hours from London; Virgin Atlantic | BA and South African Airways operate direct flights from London.
  • Automobiles

    A car is ideal in Hermanus. It’s cheap | and easy (particularly if you’re British: they drive on the left side of the road) | although you will need to reserve a car well in advance. It’s worth noting that it is South African law to carry your international driving licence at all times. Also | some driving tips: at roundabouts | there are four-way stops where the rule is | whoever gets there first | leaves first. Minibus taxis have right of way – let them go ahead.
  • Taxis

    Taxis are plentiful and cheap; ask your hotel to call you a cab.

Hermanus

Hermanus

Getting to this town south of the Garden Route, two hours from Cape Town, involves one of the most spectacular drives on the globe. For several months a year, Southern Right Whales come to calve around Walker Bay. And Hermanus has a grandstand view. Within easy reach is Cape L’Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.

Find out more about Hermanus
Whale watch in wonder

Whale watch in wonder

Whale and dolphin watching is the best at the former fishing village of Hermanus from July to November: there’s a cliff path that runs for eight miles along the coast from Scotsmans Point. As guests of Birkenhead House can attest, the whales swim right in front of this luxury hotel. Or if you’re further east, go for a walk in the nature reserve Robberg Peninsula and keep your eyes peeled throughout. Or park up in Keurbooms in Plettenberg and get some just-caught fish with chips and eat it sitting on the big whale tail at the lookout point.

Find out more about Birkenhead House