The route stretches from Rooiels in the West, to Quoin Point in the East. The main towns on the Cape Whale Coast are Hermanus, Kleinmond, Stanford and Gansbaai.
If you are looking for a coastal escape, a romantic weekend away, a family adventure or a special trip to go Whale watching, then there is no better destination than the Cape Whale Route. Long considered one of the best kept holiday secrets in the Cape, this route will satisfy the adventurous at heart, with Whale watching expeditions and Shark Diving as well as hikes, horse riding and kid’s activities.
Whale watching on the Cape Whale Coast is at its best from mid-August to mid-October during the spring months. Although Whales can be seen all along the South African coast, this area of the coastline offers exceptional Whale watching, both from land and by boat. Of course there aren’t only Whales, but also Dolphins and Great White Sharks to be encountered.
There are several small towns along the Cape Whale Route offering small guesthouses, interesting galleries and quirky shops, many selling maritime memorabilia. Several museums chronicle the history of the region and the Whaling industry that nearly wiped out these amazing animals.
Hermanus - The Whale Watching Capital
The coastal town of Hermanus which is about an hour and a half drive from Cape Town is the heart and soul of the Cape Whale Route. This little town has grown from a small fishing village into a town acknowledged as one of the 12 best Whale viewing sites in the world. The town has the world’s only Whale Crier who signals the Whale’s location using a traditional kelp horn.
There is a 12km (7mile) long cliff top path in Hermanus that has some of the best spots to watch out for Whales in the bay below. You can see them breaching and blowing down in the bay. For a closer view, you can go on Whale boating tours which will allow you to get closer to these majestic animals. The boats however have to keep over 300m away from the animals by law for their protection.
There is a Whale Festival held in Hermanus every year around the end of September. In between Whale watching expeditions there is plenty to keep the whole family entertained. During this period Hermanus has a carnival like atmosphere, with live music, arts and crafts and all kinds of stalls to create what has become one of the biggest environmental arts festivals in South Africa.
There are several guesthouses as well as affordable and luxury hotels in Hermanus. Have a look at the range of Hermanus whale watching hotels and accommodation options. If you are intending to go over the Whale Festival be sure to book early as accommodation is at a premium over this period.
The rest of the Cape Whale Coast
The section of the Cape Whale Coast from Hangklip to Klienmond is a beautiful region with fynbos covered mountains and dramatic sea vistas. There are many spots along the route which provide great vantage points for Whale watching. Small coastal villages such as Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay and Klienmond offer great places to stay and have Whale and Dolphin related activities.
The other major hub of Whale watching activities on the Cape Whale Coast is Gansbaai where you can see “The Big 2”, namely the Southern Right Whale and the Great White Shark. Shark cage diving is a popular activity in Gansbaai for those adrenaline junkies who want to have a close encounter with these mighty predators. A bit further inland you can take a trip to Stanford, a sleepy town that has many Victorian buildings and the ambiance of a bygone era. There are a number of small cafes and stalls offering delicious Cape country kitchen goodies. You could also take a relaxing trip down the river and enjoy the pretty rural scenery.
If you have ever been intrigued by Whales and wanted to get closer to them then setting off on a Whale watching trip on the Cape Whale Coast is sure to be a highlight of your holiday in South Africa. If you are just looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life then there are many tranquil places where you can enjoy a relaxing holiday in scenic surrounds.