Once a tiny fishing village, Hermanus, just a 90-minute drive east of Cape Town, is now a bustling seaside town with fabulous Hermanus accommodation and tons of things to do. Think wine tasting, whale-watching, hiking and long white beaches. Here’s my pick of 15 things to do in Hermanus on the Cape Whale Coast, South Africa.
[Updated February 2020] In Hermanus itself, try The Brewery in the Hemel-en-Aarde Village. Try a tasting tray of five varieties from lager and pale ale to brown ale and stout. For those who don't love beer, there are two gins on tap too, or you can order from their wine list. Hungry? Enjoy a meal, from salads and burgers to pork belly and mussels.
2. Visit a museum
3. Go shopping
There are tons of shops in Hermanus, selling virtually anything you could possibly want. Here are three of my perennial favourites.
4. Walk the cliff path
5. Take a hike
6. Drive the Rotary Way
7. Sit on a beach
8. Go whale-watching
During whale season, listen for the whale crier who blows his kelp horn to alert the public to sightings nearby. If you don’t mind crowds, you’ll love the whale festival each September. If you want more than land-based whale-watching, you can pay for a whale-watching boat trip from the New Harbour.
9. Enjoy a wine tasting
My favourite stomping ground is the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley for wineries like Newton Johnson, Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson (don’t miss the spectacular Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2017 or the interesting combo of French and Italian cultivars in a wine called Hannibal). Creation does great wine pairings (e.g. chocolate and wine) and has fab views from its tasting room, while Sumaridge’s Methode Cap Classique from Pinot Noir is honeyed heaven.
Visit Spookfontein for its lovely position in the vineyards above the valley and the story of its name. Back in the 1800s, when the farm was established, the iron in the water of the fontein, or spring, interacted with the cool coastal breeze to create mist, which the locals thought was a spook, or ghost. And visit Ataraxia for its tasting room (pictured above) that looks like a small chapel. The name Ataraxia means a feeling of serenity and that’s what you get looking through the windows onto the vineyards.
I’ve only been to Bientang’s Cave twice and that was a good few years ago, so I can’t comment on how good the food is currently. But, given that the restaurant is situated in a cave right on the edge of the rocks and looking out to sea, you’d be hard-pressed to find a seafood restaurant with a more spectacular view.
[Updated February 2020] Until December 2019 when Fick's opened, Bientang’s was the most scenic spot in Hermanus. Fick’s is now a strong rival with a gorgeous setting right along the rocks above Fick’s Pool - perfect for sundowners and snacks with a sea view on a hot summer afternoon.
11. Poke around the market
12. Visit an art gallery
13. Tour the abalone farm
14. Stay over
There’s no question that a day in Hermanus isn’t enough to explore it properly (and I haven’t even focused on horse riding, kayaking, surfing, cycling, paragliding and ziplining!). What I’m trying to say is that you’ll definitely want to check out some Hermanus accommodation and stay over for a few days. Whether you want to push out all the stops in a seafront boutique hotel, or go budget self-catering, Hermanus has something to suit; there’s even camping in nearby Onrus if that’s your thing. To explore your options, have a look at Booking.com or Hermanus Tourism’s website.
15. Take a day trip
- Bredasdorp with its ship museum
- L’Agulhas – southernmost tip of the continent of Africa with its lighthouse
- Stanford – see 10 things to do in Stanford
- Gansbaai – see Gansbaai: best destination for responsible travel
- Greyton – see 15 things to do in Greyton.
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