Whales & Whale Watching Boat Trips in Hermanus, South Africa
Southern Right Whale watching season is - early JUNE to late NOVEMBER
Summer season Ocean boat cruises info HERE
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Summer & Festive season Ocean Eco-Marine boat cruises info HERE
You have 4 major ways to watch Whales in Hermanus –
Whale Watching in Hermanus, South Africa – (Google Map at the bottom of the page)
Southern Right Whale watching season is -
early JUNE to late NOVEMBER
Hermanus is regarded by WWF and Greenpeace as being one of the world's best locations to watch Whales, it holds the annual week long Whale Festival at the end of September / early October which attracts over 150,000 eager Whale watchers. Southern Right Whales, Humpbacks and Bryde Whales are spotted, with the highest number of 196 Whales ever being viewed in ONE day. (Whale watching season is from early June to late November each year.) Penguins, Cape Fur Seals and Sea-birds are also viewed, with occasionally pods of Dolphin (we have 3 local species).
Boat trips will take you out to sea to meet them up close.
There are only 5 boat licenses allowed so as to minimize disturbance to the whales. 3 operate from Hermanus new harbour, 1 from Gansbaai harbour and 1 from Kleinbaai harbour. These last 2 are about 45 minutes drive around the bay from Hermanus. One trip we did last season was incredible as a whale actually rubbed its back on the bottom of the boat. Mind-blowingly excellent.
Hermanus operators go out at various times per day – 09.00am / 11.00am / 12noon / 14.00pm / 15.00pm / 16.00pm
Gansbaai operator goes out twice per day – 10.00am / 13.00pm
Kleinbaai operator goes out twice per day – estimated launch times – 10.00am / 13.00pm – from a natural harbour and according to tides – credit card details will be required to secure your booking
Morning trips are usually better due to less wind, which in theory means lower waves and more stability
All the boats are able to carry from 40 to 70 people each, are between 10 to 13 metres long, all have covered seating areas and upper decks so that you obtain a higher vantage point to take great photos.
Prices vary very slightly depending upon which operator you decide to go with – from R950pp to R1390pp.
The Hermanus boats are from R950 per person / Gansbaai boat is R1390 per person and the Kleinbaai boat is an eco-tour that visits the seals of Dyer Island and circles the Shark diving boats for 10 to 15mins and priced at R1390 per person
All Whale boat trips offer discounts for students, pensioners and kids under 12 years old
Please inform us of how many people are in your group - and - are there any kids under 12 years old?
Plus which date and time you wish to go on the boat trip?
Will you be requiring return transportation to get to Hermanus / Gansbaai - or - will you be self-driving?
Whale Watching Walking Tours, Hermanus - re-opens in JUNE 2021
Another option is to do a Whale Watching Walking Tour that takes you on a gentle walk along our paved cliff-paths in Hermanus, hugging the rugged cliff tops for 2 to 3 hours, with our experienced Whale Watching Tour Guide who will take you to all the hidden coves and inlets that the Whales love to frolic in and due to the cliffs being vertical, means that the Whales are literally only afew metres away from you. A visit to our Hermanus Whale Museum will start the tour. Tours are conducted at any time of the day that suits you and are R700 per adult / Kids under 12yrs are at half price (including entrance fee to the Whale Museum), plus are conducted in any weather, so if your Boat Trip is cancelled due to bad weather, then this tour will (nearly) always be available.
Kayaking with the marine creatures, Hermanus, South Africa –
You might also wish to consider Kayaking in the bay at Hermanus, which is a gentle paddle for 2 hours to explore our coastline from the sea in our stable Kayaks. Each Kayak can take 2 persons and is a lovely way to encounter Seals, Penguins, birdlife and hopefully pods of Whales (June to Nov) and Dolphin, with the incredibly pretty back-drop of our mountains surrounding you. Your Kayaking Tour Guide will give you a quick 5min briefing, while you strap on a life-jacket, grab a paddle and he will escort you out to sea, hugging the coastline. Please wear flip-flops and clothes that you don’t mind getting slightly wet below your waistline and only bring small compact cameras that you can easily and quickly stow-away. Minimum age is 13yrs old, as you need body weight and upper body strength to propel yourself along. Trips go out 3 times per day – 09.00am / 11.30am and 14.00pm, with the early morning trips usually being the best weather conditions. Price per person is R450. Kayaking is available all year long, weather permitting.
Cessna Plane / Helicopter Flights over pretty Hermanus, South Africa –
For an incredible birds-eye view of the Whales (June to Nov) and the pretty Hermanus scenery, then how about a flight over all of this fabulous natural splendor? Cessna Plane Flights allow 3 persons to fly at once and offer you different packages – 30mins is a total of R3850 / 45mins is a total of R5500 / 60mins is a total of R7300. The longer the flight the more you will see and be able to circle above the pods of Whales (June to Nov) for excellent photo opportunities. Flights are available all year long.
Helicopter based at Gansbaai - we now have fabulous helicopters - "Squirrel" (Eurocopter AS350 / Airbus H1255) maximum of 5 passengers (40mins drive from Hermanus) to fly over the Whales in the bay – 15mins R5000 – 30mins R10,000 – 60mins R20,000 – or – Departing from Hermanus – 15mins R8000 – 30mins R12,500 – 60mins R23,500 – divided by number of persons on the flight. Sometimes the helicopters have to come from Cape Town which can add-on R12,000 - we will check b4 you are booked for your trip.
The best thing to do is book your Whale Watching Trip to occur on the first day you are in Hermanus / Cape Town and if the weather is not so good on that first day, then we just move your trip to the next good weather day.
We keep a very close eye on the weekly Weather forecast
Even more Whale watching information –
How does it happen?
Every year at almost the exact same time, from early winter to mid summer (early June to early Dec), Whales come to visit us off the shores of Hermanus, South Africa.
Yes, it is the most beautifully elegant and enormously gentle giants of the oceans - WHALES!
Southern Right Whales and Humpback Whales return for their annual vacation off the South African coastline, after swimming from Antarctica some 4,500 km away, where they have been constantly feeding up on krill, plankton and shrimp for the last 6 months.
We are certainly blessed, as this is a very special time to spend with them, as they love, play, mate, breach (jump), tail slap, flipper wave, spy-hop and nurture all day long. For their mating season, they choose a very selected bay indeed, Walker Bay at Hermanus, which stretches all the way from Danger Point at Gansbaai, along the Marine Reserve to the New Harbour at the Westcliff beacon. Perhaps the Whales see this as their own private summer fun space!
They do love to choose shallow, sandy-bottomed and sheltered bays with warmer waters for their activities. Walker Bay is perfect for them and hence it is a Marine Reserve during the months of June to December, when these waters are protected - NO jet-skis, water-ski-ing or fishing boats are permitted, so as to allow the Whales to roam about as they wish in total safety.
Hermanus has been acknowledged by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Greenpeace as being one of the world’s top 3 best Whale watching sites and for good reason too, as a staggering 196 individual Whales were spotted in Walker Bay on just ONE day recently.
With Whales weighing in at 40 to 80 tons and measuring up to 18 metres, this must surely be Whale rush-hour.
There are only 4 licenses allowed for Whale Watching Boats in Walker Bay; 1 other licence is allowed at Kleinbaai; while being strictly controlled by the Coastal Marine Management Police.
These boats have to keep their distance from all Whales and can go no closer than 50 metres from them, but Southern Right Whales display a natural curiosity for boats and it is common for them to quietly approach a vessel for a closer look. Raising their heads, tails and flippers out of the water, giving their human watchers the perfect chance to take some awesome photographs. Some mother Whales however do move their calves away when sensing danger or a foreign object.
Whales are special and have been on the planet for over 25 million years. The biggest mammal on earth – with a Blue Whale measuring up to 100 feet long! They are very intelligent and sociable, with some species during feeding times, blowing bubbles and creating “bubble-nets” from their blowholes, catching small fish and krill by swimming up from below and swallowing the whole bunch for lunch!
The brains of Whales are large and complex - the Sperm Whale for instance, has the largest of any, weighing 4 to 5 times as much as the human brain. They actually “turn off” part of their brains to sleep, while remaining semi-conscious to continually surface to breathe air thro’ their blowholes.
Celebrations in Hermanus –
The Hermanus Whale Festival is held in late September each year, celebrating the arrival of the Southern Right Whales, with the worlds only Whale Crier calling on his Kelp Horn.
The Hermanus Old Harbour area bustles into life with art exhibitions, galleries, craft markets & stalls, food & wine festivals, children’s events and bands & music shows offering partying on the streets.
The vertical cliffs at Gearings Point and the Old Harbour become a mecca for Whale Watchers, with their binoculars and cameras at the ready to witness these incredible creatures play and splash about.
The Whales surely must come to Hermanus with some urgency and natural programming to enjoy the calm warmer waters, while the sun shines down onto the surface; it must be a perfect environment for their ever important breeding survival instincts.
Mating Season –
Love must be in the air (or should that be the Sea) when the Southern Right Whales are here. Calving usually takes place during August and research has concluded that soon afterwards the females may start secreting an estrogen substance into the water. (Calves will be nursed for 10 to 12 months.)
Males then detect this substance and naturally hang around these particular females. As many as 8 male Whales have been known to try and mate with one female Southern Right Whale, but she’s very selective and will choose only the strongest male to mate with her, leading to a one year gestation period.
During the time of mating, there’s a lot of splashing and blowing going on, the male Whale, who has reached sexual and physical maturity at about 9 to 10 years old, will carry out a wide variety of strenuous activities with his head, body and his tail, which happens to be the strongest muscle of any marine mammal’s body.
The male Southern Right Whales also make unusual calling sounds, which are actually mating songs and seem to be important for the male-to-male interactions in which the singing brings male groups together and will start the pursuit of a female Whale. These songs are beautiful and ever-changing too, by using their tiny blind air sacs branching from their respiratory tracts. These are low frequency sounds and can travel 3 times faster underwater than in air.
Whale calves also enjoy practicing their vocal chords in singing a song, with research showing that over 45 songs have been recorded from different calves over a 6 year study.
Other Marine & animal attractions at Hermanus –
As an added bonus you maybe lucky to also spot pods of Bottle Nose Dolphin, Humpback Dolphin and Common Dolphin, who love the sandy shallows of Walker Bay too, as this is the perfect marine environment for small bait fish to congregate, which the Dolphin come to feed on. Cape Fur Seals, African Penguins and many species of sea birds can also be spotted.
Dassie / Rock Hyrax are the size of a large rabbit (whose closest living relative is the Elephant!!??) live on the cliff edges and are a favorite food of eagles.
If you really wish to get very close to the sea, then one adventure sports company has an exclusive license allowing you on Kayaking trips into Walker Bay and it has been known for the Whales to suddenly pop-up close to these Kayakers. An amazing surprise I am sure you will agree.
Concern and Hope –
Wildlife conservation is a very important and major issue across the world, with many pressure groups, charities, the UN, Government agencies and international wildlife organizations all pursuing a much greener, environmentally friendly and highly responsible agenda by all the worlds nations towards our planets remaining wildlife and eco-systems.
Greenpeace estimate that there are well over 10 million avid Whale Watchers around the world, which is not so surprising, as Whales are such gentle, affectionate and intelligent mammals. We humans can so easily relate to their universal appeal!
Whales are a symbol of much concern however for environmental organizations around the world, especially as Japan, Iceland, Norway and Russia are still killing 100’s each year, for what they politely call “Scientific” reasons??!!??
If that’s the case, then could someone please say why a fast food chain in Japan recently put Whale burgers onto their menus??
Uuumm, I think we call that Commercial Fishing don’t we??
Thankfully at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in St Kitts in June 2006, the Whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary will continue to receive international protection. This voting process was only won by a small margin, even tho’ Japan admitted that it bought votes, by offering Government aid to countries such as Nicaragua, St Kitts & Nevis, and Palau.
Strangely over 70% of Japan’s people are actually opposed to Whaling, with only a tiny 1% eating Whale meat. So whats all the fuss about, one wonders?
Over the years, aerial surveys of Walker Bay have shown that the Whale numbers are steadily increasing at rate of between 7% to 10%, therefore doubling their population every 10 years. This is fantastic news.
Long may these majestic creatures visit Hermanus for us humans to marvel at.
We at Percy Tours support many environmental issues and practice an ethos of only ever conducting business with equally eco-conscious companies.
On the 30th October 2019, the Hermanus region was given an extremely important and unique award – being named as – THE Gastronomic Town of AFRICA –
check it all out - Click HERE
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