Where to watch sip snack and stay this whale season
It is not every day that you see a whale. And there are even fewer days where you can see one from your bed. But in Hermanus, the holiday town known for its whale watching opportunities – this is more than feasible, with guest houses and hotels overlooking Walker Bay.
With Botrivier and Kleinmond to the West, and Stanford just a stone’s throw to the East, the destination presents boundless opportunities for nature lovers, food enthusiasts, and fans of cool climate wines to explore and relax in the abundant surroundings.
And now that the first whales of the season have been spotted along Hermanus’s defined coastline, here are the top picks of places to watch, sip, snack, and stay this whale season.
Stay: Southwinds Estate
Southwinds Estate is an expansive luxury manor house in the whale-watching haven, combining modern sophistication with a lush garden oasis, Southwinds offers an idyllic retreat for relaxation, adventure, and enjoying the beauty of nature.
The house sleeps eight people in en-suite luxury rooms with 1 000 thread count sheets, and a kitchen designed for self-catering (with the option for a private chef available should you prefer).
There’s also a glass-walled sun-room providing panoramic views of the garden, and private access to the lagoon. It’s a serene place to catch your breath in between venturing out.
Open for bookings from July 1, Southwinds places luxury firmly within reach.
Drink: Hemel en Aarde Wines
Hemel en Aarde Wines. Picture: Newton Johnson
Hemel-en-Aarde is the acclaimed Walker Bay wine region that rises above Hermanus. It is a vinous playground, comprising 15 wineries, and is renowned for its outstanding cool climate wines.
In particular, the region is celebrated for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs, many of which are counted as some of the finest expressions of the varieties in the country.
Wind your way up through the three appellations – valley, upper-valley, and ridge – taking time to stop and savour the fine wines at iconic South African wine estates including Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Newton Johnson and Creation Wines.
Eat: Farro at Gabriëlskloof
Farro at Gabriëlskloof. Picture: Farro at Gabriëlskloof
Just a short drive from Hermanus, in the Botrivier Valley, is where you’ll find the veritable oasis that is Gabriëlskloof Wine Estate – home to some of South Africa’s most awarded wines.
It is here where the husband-and-wife duo, Alex and Eloise Windebank reopened their much-loved Farro restaurant in early 2022.
It’s just over a year later and just as delicious, the team serving up simple dishes, bursting with flavour. Book a table and enjoy a bottle of Gabriëlskloof Landscape Series Elodie 2022 with freshly baked focaccia bread drizzled in olive oil, and truffled chicken with smoked ham, before finishing your meal with an almond and polenta cake with chocolate sorbet and preserved cherries.
With a roaring fireplace and views of the vineyards, it’s worth the drive for a long leisurely lunch.
Do: Cliff Paths
This 12km winding path along the beach and coastline is perfect for walking or jogging.
It’s within the Fernkloof Nature Reserve and runs from the new Hermanus harbour all the way to Grotto Beach, and the views and fresh air are a remedy for any soul.
The best whale-watching spots along the way are Gearings Point, Old harbour, Roman Rock, Mickey, Kraal Rock, Silver’s Point, and down to the beaches of Kwaaiwater, Voëlklip, and Grotto Beach.
There are also wheelchair-friendly sections for the benefit of the disabled, elderly, and infants in strollers and prams.
If you’re brave: Cold water morning swims
Hermanus is recognised around the world for its Blue Flag white, sandy beaches perfect for swimming, surfing, sunbathing and diving. With an average water temperature of 13-19 degrees Celsius, it’s a refreshing (or invigorating) way to start the day.
Choose from Onrus Beach, Grotto Beach, Kammabaai and Langbaai Beach to get all the benefits of cold-water swimming – if you’re brave enough.
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