South Africa is one of the finest destinations in the world for spotting whales. Every year these animals migrate from the cold waters of Antarctica toward the warmer climate of South Africa. In and around Cape Town, there are dozens of locations on the coast where you can admire these graceful beasts, both from dry land and the water.
While whales can be seen roughly from June to November, the time at which their numbers are at their highest varies by location. The route described below goes from False Bay in Cape Town to Hermanus, the self-appointed whale capital of the world.
The best place in Cape Town for whale spotting is the False Bay side of the Cape, where the water is warmer. The whales migrate here from mid-August to around mid-October. A number of lookout points (where anyone can stop) along the coastal route allow spectators to see these great mammals with binoculars. It is much easier to spot the whales on days with little wind and calm water.
Approximately halfway between Cape Town and Hermanus is the picturesque resort town of Gordon's Bay and its stunning beaches. Whales are most common here between July and September. A good vantage point is the Steenbrasdam, which also offers a fine vista over Gordon's Bay itself and provides a nice place for a picnic. Gordon's Bay is on the lovely Clarence Drive coastal route, which can be followed all the way to Betty's Bay. It’s definitely worth your while to drive there to see the major penguin colony.
The endpoint Hermanus, which is approximately one and a half hour’s drive east of Cape Town, offers without doubt the best opportunity to see whales both from dry land and the water. The animals can clearly be seen from lookout points on the picturesque walking route which runs around the cliffs, sometimes only 25 metres away. Boat trips will take you closer still. Every year in September, Hermanus organises a Whale Festival, an event which celebrates the whale with many concerts and culinary activities.