If you're a resident or even an annual visitor to Gansbaai, you’ve probably noticed a tortoise or two crossing the road...
The bustling coastal town of Hermanus is well-known as a popular holiday destination in South Africa and it comes as no surprise as to why. The thriving “Overberg city” situated on the cliffs of Walker Bay not only provides for all your lifestyle needs but also offers natural splendour in the form of scenic views and biodiversity.
Caught between the abundant waters of Walker Bay and rolling mountain backdrop, Hermanus offers a wide variety of activities for adrenalin junkies to leisure travellers of all ages. Here are our top 10 picks:
1. Go Hiking
For those looking to head into the hills and lose themselves in nature, Hermanus has just the hiking trails for you. The neighbouring Fernkloof Nature Reserve offers various trails with panoramic views and a chance to glimpse some of the areas local wildlife along the way. Heading towards the coastline, you can take on the famous Cliff Paths. Stretching from New Harbour all the way to Grotto Beach, this 12km trail along the cliffs offers stunning views over Walker Bay and is also very popular during Whale Watching season. The path includes wheelchair accessible sections and benches along the way to take a moment and truly take in the scenery.
2. Visit the Nature Reserve
Located within the Cape Floral Kingdom, this area of the Overberg holds various nature reserves and protected areas. Hermanus is proud to be the home of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve with its rich diversity of endemic flora and fauna. Stretching over 2000 ha, the reserve is home to various animals like snakes, skinks, baboons and an abundance of birdlife which can be spotted while making your way through the reserve. Not forgetting about the plant life, the Reserve plays host to rare and beautiful species including some of the largest carnivorous plants found in the world. Be sure to stop by the Fernkloof Indigenous Nursery to take a piece of heritage home with you.
3. Become a Beach Bum
To be known as a great holiday destination, there needs to be good beaches for those sunny summer holidays and in this regard Hermanus pulls out all the stops. Home to several white sandy beaches, the town also boasts 2 Blue Flag Beaches, namely Grotto Beach and Hawston Beach.
Grotto Beach is one of the first beaches to offer beach-going wheelchairs and is also a great surfing and wind/kite surfing spot. After a long day of lounging on this beach, be sure to stop by its local restaurant located on the shore.
Hawston Beach is well-known for its winding boardwalk and interpretive signage which guides you along the way with information about the area and its biodiversity. Along with also having lifeguards on watch during peak season, the beach also holds a braai and picnic area to ensure a great family outing.
4. Do Some Shopping
When heading to Hermanus you’ll be sure to get your money’s worth in retail therapy. With a mix of local speciality shops and popular chain stores, you’ll have no problem finding exactly what you are looking for. Located in the Village Square is the Fisherman’s Village Craft Market where you can find all manner of gifts, African arts and crafts, curios and more. Saturday mornings also see a flurry of excitement with a number of Saturday Morning Markets throughout the town. These markets are a great place to get locally produced goods while mingling with the locals and the perfect way to start your weekend.
5. Unwind with a Spot of Golf
Although it is mostly known for its adventure activities, Hermanus is also well versed in the ultimate gentleman’s game of golf. Home to its own beautiful course located in Eastcliff, the town also has a neighbouring golf course on the banks of the Botrivier Lagoon. Originally built in 1907, the Hermanus Golf Course was later upgraded to 27 holes and includes part of the Fernkloof Estate. The course also has a club house and bar where visitors and members alike can enjoy a meal while taking in the stunning scenery of one of Golf Digest’s top ranked courses.
6. Wine Tasting
South Africa recently launched its 21st Wine Route and Hermanus holds the one that literally translates to heaven on earth. Located in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, the Hermanus Wine Route includes 15 wine estates that are well-known for their award-winning wines and superb restaurants. The unique climate and terroir allows the wineries to offer up a bouquet of wines ranging from Chardonnay to the ‘rare’ Voignier. Wine tasting in this region brings together a divine combination of natural beauty and exquisite taste sensations blended to perfection.
7. Whale Watching
Known for being home to the best land-based whale watching, Hermanus truly puts on a whale of a show every year from June to October. During these South African winter months, the Southern Right Whales make their way to the warmer waters of Walker Bay to breed, calve and entertain. For the best seat in the house, head over to the Village Square and watch the gentle giants of the deep frolick in the shallow waters while enjoying a drink or light meal at one of the ideally located cafés and restaurants. The presence of the whales has given birth to Hermanus’ own Whale Festival and is the highlight of the Hermanus social calendar. Also, remember to keep an ear out for the Hermanus Whale Crier to ensure you don’t miss a fin-tastic show.
8. Get Creative
The rejuvenating sea breeze and beautiful natural land- and seascapes is enough to get the creative juices flowing for anyone. This must be why so many artists have decided to establish themselves in Hermanus and let the Overberg be their inspiration. The artistic community within Hermanus is a flourishing one and has *spawned* many an event. The annual Hermanus FynArts brings together a palette of artists, sculptors and painters in a week of utter creative spirit. Then there is also the Hermanus First Fridays Artwalk which takes you on a stroll through town to 15 different art galleries to meet the artists and their creations.
9. Get Involved
The Overberg holds a very strong sense of community and a great number of conservation efforts. One of these can be found in Hermanus’ New Harbour, ie. the South African Shark Conservancy. This registered Non-Profit focuses on the research of long-term sustainability of marine resources and is made up of a group of scientists, marine biologists and volunteers. Other projects include consulting on fisheries management, marine biodiversity conservation and of course, education and creating awareness. Be sure to visit them and learn all about the wonderful marine life of our coastal waters and how you can help to protect them.
10. Get Out There
Hermanus truly is an activities haven for any holiday-maker, but if you’re not convinced yet, then hold onto your seat. Hermanus also offers an array of outdoor adventures that is ideal for families, groups and team-building getaways. Feel a sense of adventure by kayaking side by side with Southern Right Whales, taking scenic flights over the coast, going deep-sea fishing or going horse riding along the white sandy beaches. If this is not enough to get your blood pumping, then why not take on quad-biking, sandboarding, paintball or zip lining through the forest canopy. Top all this off with tubing or river rafting on the nearby Palmiet River in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve and you’ll be good to go. Go on, get out there!