Wine, Whales and Views

Hermanus

Where to watch the whales this season, and some other reasons to visit Hermanus 

Just over a hundred kilometres from Cape Town, on the south coast of the Western Cape, lies Hermanus. The holiday town – best known for its whale watching opportunities – with Botrivier and Kleinmond to the West, and Stanford just a stone’s throw to the East, presents boundless opportunities for nature lovers, food enthusiasts and fans of cool climate wines to explore and relax in the abundant surroundings.

Now that the first whales of the season have been spotted along Hermanus’ defining coastline, here are the top picks of places to watch, sip, snack and stay this whale season…

Stay: Southwinds Estate

Just off the R43, nestled on 12 acres of fynbos and woodlands, is Hermanus’ newest gem. 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 1000 thread count sheets, and a kitchen is designed for self-catering (with the option for a private chef available should you prefer). There’s also a glass-walled sunroom 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 1 July, Southwinds places luxury firmly within reach.

www.southwindsestate.com

Drink: Hemel en Aarde Wines

Hemel-en-Aarde is the acclaimed Walker Bay Wine Region that rises above Hermanus. It is a vinous playground, comprising of 15 wineries, and is renowned for its outstanding cool climate wines. In particular the region is celebrated for their 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 estate’s including Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Newton Johnson and Creation Wines.

https://www.hemelenaardewines.com

Eat: 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 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.

https://www.farrofoodandwine.com

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, the views and fresh air are 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.

www.fernkloof.org.za/index.php/fernkloof-nature-reserve/hermanus-cliff-path

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!

https://www.hermanusonline.mobi/top-activities-hermanus/visit-one-of-the-hermanus-beaches

The Hermanus Whale Festival takes place from 29 September to 1 October. For more information, visit: www.hermanus.tourism.co.za