Where is Hermanus?
Hermanus, known as Hermanuspietersfontein until 1902, is situated on the south coast of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It is approximately 120 km, or around a one and a half hour drive from Cape Town.
Why Go to Hermanus?
Apart from just being a pretty spot and a great place to chill out and take a break, Hermanus is known for Southern Right whale watching, typically between late June / early July to early November. Have a look at the very informative Hermanus website.
Our visit was planned to get together with friends and family, and see the whales while we were there.
Getting to Hermanus
There are two ways to get there.
– Driving there from Cape Town, or from inland. Hermanus is situated some kilometres off the main N2 national road.
– Arranging a transfer through a private company.
We hired a car, which we collected at Cape Town airport on arrival from Johannesburg on Kulula Airlines.
We chose the scenic coastal route to get there. This is a very pretty drive down through Pringle Bay and past Betty’s Bay, best taken slowly with a few stops to look at the scenery.
The alternative, main route is the shorter of the two, through the mountains, mainly along the national N2 route. We returned to Cape Town this way, stopping at Houw Hoek farm store on the Houw Hoek pass. Excellent pies available there, as well local produce and biltong.
It’s worth stopping to see the view over the Cape Flats and Somerset West at the top of Sir Lowry’s Pass. We stopped there in time to see the local paragliding group in action.
A smoky day over the Cape Flats. Somerset west on the left and Strand by the sea on the right.
Where to Stay in Hermanus
The town is well established for the tourist trade, offering a good variety of accomodation, from hotels to guest houses and self catering establishments. A number of local agents offer holiday rental properties.
A key consideration when choosing your accommodation is transport. The town is spread along the coast. We stayed approximately 5 km from the centre of town, so really needed the car on a daily basis.
Through friends we rented a house in Voelklip, quite close to the beach, for the 5 nights we were there.
Food. Eating Out and In
There is a wide variety of restaurants and cafés to suit most tastes. Wherever we ate the food quality was good.l
Along with many other shops, the three main South African supermarkets, Pick ‘n Pay, Checkers and Woolworths are in Hermanus. Self caterers will have no problem finding something good to cook.
By UK standards, good steak is ridiculously cheap and of excellent quality. Suffice to say that we made the best of it.
What to do in Hermanus
Just sit on one one of the many benches on the cliff tops, relax and watch the sea. Or wander across to Gearings Point. The whales will be there, typically just wallowing in the sea. Often you will see mother and calf.
If you are lucky you’ll see a whale breach, leaping out of the water and splashing back in. Or a huge tail emerging and slapping the water. Looking across to Gaansbaai you may see distant splashes of whale activity.
During my 2010 visit I saw a few breaches close to the shore. In this trip the whales we saw were content to just drift in the water, close to the shore. The breaches we saw were far out in Walker Bay, but still impressive.
Alternatively take a boat trip or go out in kayaks to get closer.
This was a surprise tour, as we had never connected Hermanus with wineries. a great day out, we took the Hermanus Wine Hoppers tour, covered in my last post.
Hermanus has a long history based around fishing and the local harbour. The Old Harbour Museum shows much of this history.
Local markets offer a range of products including location art and craft and a range of clothing, locally made and imported. Well worth a couple of hours rooting out some treasure.
This was a tour that we saw when planning our trip. It’s not one we took, but it’s available.
Just Go There
Cape Town and the surrounding area have much to offer. We consider Hermanus to be one of those little gems which most tourists have probably never heard of. Well worth a visit if you’re visiting the Cape.
And with that it was time to move on from Hermanus. To one of my favourite places in South Africa – the KZN (kwaZulu Natal) coast near Durban, a little beach spot called Umdloti.