Hermanus in South Africa is the Land Based Whale Watching capital of the world and every whale watching trip is a unique experience where the sightings vary. Southern Right Whales are the stars of the show during the annual mating and calving season, which starts with the arrival of the bulls in June, closely followed by the females. They will mate during their sojourn in the South African Cape Coastal waters. Pregnant female Southern Right Whales will be the last to arrive and the last to leave with their newborn calves. Only when the calves are fit enough will they swim back to the Antarctic waters where she and the calf will feed on krill, a nutritious rice grain size crustacean.
On a typical whale watching trip you may encounter Cape Fur Seals, pods of common dolphins or the playful bottlenose dolphins and the endangered Africa Penguins. Depending on the time in the season, you may also see migrating Humpback Whales or the resident Bryde’s Whales. The Hermanus Walker Bay area also attracts a large concentration and variety of seabirds.
Duration: Usually 2 hours, sometimes longer, depending on the whales.
Departure times: 9h00, 11h00, 14h00 and 16h00
Trip times may vary due to weather and tide conditions.
Guiding: You will be accompanied by one of our SATOUR qualified guides for the duration of the trip.
Our guides have first-hand knowledge about the marine wildlife of this area.
Our boat, Unathi is WHEELCHAIR accessible and child-friendly.
Before the Tour:
The tour starts at our Orange office on your right-hand side as you enter the New Harbour. You will be welcomed by our friendly office staff, who will set the scene for a memorable trip. Our clean, comfortable bathroom facilities are available for your convenience. You will love the beautiful view over Walkerbay during the 2-minute walk down to the boat. Once on board, one of our guides will give an orientation briefing about the trip, safety and facilities on board as well as the marine wildlife we can expect to encounter.
The Whale Experience:
An exhilarating two-hour voyage to discover Walkerbay’s wonderful wildlife, stunning coastline and famous whales. Depending on conditions and recent sightings, you could find yourself exploring the coast towards De Plaat or the sandy beaches of Hawston, in search of the stars of the whale watching trip - Southern Right Whales. On the way to our whale watching area, we regularly encounter two different whale species inhabiting these waters, Humpback and Bryde’s whales. Each trip is different, which makes the experience even more exciting! When we set out from the harbour we never know exactly what kind of whales wait for us out at sea on that particular day. While you enjoy your whale watching we will serve you crisps and cold drinks.
Return to Land:
You can enjoy the boat ride and magnificent landscapes while summing up the experiences of the trip with our friendly guides.
Because we are dealing with wild animals, it might happen, especially at the beginning of the season, that there were no sightings. In a case of no sightings, we offer you the option to join us on another trip free of charge.
Full refunds will only be applicable for company cancellations due to the weather.
The Boat - Unathi
Designed especially for whale watching and leisure cruises, Unathi our SAMSA approved modern 15-meter catamaran is equipped with engines that minimise underwater noise. Two 380HP inboard diesel engines are used for our vessel’s propulsion to make the trip quieter and safer for the marine life.
The main passenger cabin is enclosed with retractable windows and the open top deck offers great viewing and photo opportunities. Spacious interiors are fitted with modern environment-friendly ladies and gents toilets. Comfortable café style seating without compromising viewing opportunity for an up close and personal wildlife encounter.
Our vessel Unathi, is crewed by a friendly multi-linguist team of guides and a skipper who are very experienced in interacting with the local marine wildlife and Southern Right Whales.
Quick facts about our boat:
The crew have expert knowledge of the Cape Whale Coast sea conditions and are fully trained in all aspects of safety. The Whale Watchers staff constantly monitors the weather and responds professionally to any changes. Passengers' comfort and safety are always our priority. Unathi is wheelchair accessible.
You will be accompanied by our SAMSA registered skipper Emile and two SATOUR registered guides, Valentine and Phillip. Crew member, Boere, completes the team. Amongst them, they can fluently speak English, Afrikaans, French and Mandarin.
Hermanus has been recognised by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) as one of the 12 best whale watching destinations in the world. The best time to enjoy watching the majestic Southern Right Whales will be between June and December… when these whales visit the Hermanus coastline annually.
Southern Right Whale
Southern Right Whales are easily distinguished from the other 2 baleen whales (Humpback & Bryde’s whales) by three distinct characteristics: V-shaped blow, callosities on their heads and the lack of a dorsal fin on their broad backs.
"Humpback” refers to the habit of raising and bending its back in preparation for the dive, accentuating the pronounced hump in front of the dorsal fin.
They are named after a Norwegian, John Bryde, who, in 1912, financed the first scientific investigation of whales in South African waters.
All prices are per person.
Arrival 30 min before departure at the “orange” office on your right-hand 50m after entering the harbour.
Trips are weather depending. Trips cancelled due to weather will be refunded less banking charges.
Contact us to find out about our Special Rates.
Frequently asked questions about Southern Right Whales and Whale Watching in Hermanus.
HOW MUCH DOES A WHALE WATCHING TRIP COST?
Trip costs are valid for the whale watching season from June 2017 - December 2017.
WHAT ARE THE TRIP TIMES?
HOW DO I MAKE A RESERVATION?
WHAT WILL I SEE?
Every whale watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Southern Right Whales are the stars of the show from June – November during the annual whale watching season. A typical whale watching trip may encounter Cape Fur Seals, pods of Common & Bottlenose Dolphins and the endangered African penguins. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales and resident Bryde’s Whales. Cape Coastal waters also attract the largest concentration and variety of seabirds.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE SEA AND WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE NOT SUITABLE?
Our staff constantly monitors the weather and responds professionally to any changes. This may mean a tour is canceled or safety restrictions placed on children or passengers with medical problems. Passengers traveling to join us on the day of their trip are strongly advised to telephone us for a sea condition update.
IF MY TOUR IS CANCELLED, WILL I BE TRANSFERRED TO THE NEXT ONE?
When a tour is canceled, you can change the booking to the next available tour.
HOW LONG IS THE TOUR?
The actual time on the water is up to 2 hours including check-in time and safety briefing. Allow 90 minute transport time from Cape Town.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR ON MY WHALE WATCH TOUR?
Dress warmly and wear flat shoes.
WHAT IF I SUFFER FROM MOTION-SICKNESS?
If you are susceptible to motion-sickness you should take the necessary precaution prior to arrival according to the prescribed medication. Hermanus Whale Watchers also sells natural active motion-sickness tablets but we are not permitted to sell medicated options which can be purchased at the local pharmacy located in the town centre. All our whale watching tours are graded with a seasickness warning announced at the safety briefing prior to trip departure.
DO WHALE WATCHERS SELL FOOD AND DRINKS ABOARD WHALE WATCH VESSELS?
We serve complimentary cold drinks, water and crisps. There are two restaurants and a pub located in the Hermanus New Harbour, within walking distance from the parking area. No alcohol is permitted on a whale watching trip as per permit regulations.