KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Whale spotting along the coast

South Africa is one of the best whale watching destinations in the world. Every year, these marine mammals migrate from the cold arctic waters to the warmer climates of South Africa. There are dozens of locations along the coast in and around Cape Town to observe the whales, either from land or on the water.

Whale watching season runs approximately from June through to the end of November, but peak whale watching time varies from location to location. Approximately an hour and a half by car from Cape Town lies the village of Hermanus, the self-proclaimed whale watching capital of the world. Here you will encounter a large number of whales from June to December (peak season is in September and November). The warm water on the coast of Hermanus attracts large numbers of whales that come here to play and mate. The top 3 whale watching spots from Cape Town to Hermanus are listed below.

Whale near the coast of South Africa
Whale near the coast of South Africa

Cape Town

False Bay, the best whale watching spot in Cape Town

The best whale watching spot in Cape Town is on the False Bay side of the Cape, where the water is warmer. The whales migrate here from mid-August to approximately mid-October. Along the coastal route are several lookout points where you can stop and take your binoculars to look for these enormous marine mammals. Tip: the whales are a lot easier to spot on days with little wind (when the seas are calmer).

Whale spotting in False Bay
Road between Gordon’s Bay and Rooiels

The beautiful beaches of Gordon’s Bay

The picturesque village of Gordon’s Bay with its magnificent beaches lies approximately halfway between Cape Town and Hermanus. The best time to spot whales here is between July and September. A great lookout point is Steenbrasdam, a wonderful picnic spot that also offers a great view of Gordon’s Bay. Gordon’s Bay is also on the beautiful Clarence Drive coastal route that runs all the way to Betty’s Bay – well worth the drive just for its large penguin colony.

Hermanus: a close-up look at the whales

The final destination of Hermanus is one of the best locations for watching whales from the shore and on the water. The whales are easily spotted from the viewpoints along the picturesque walking trail above the cliffs, sometimes no more than 25 metres from shore. Boat tours provide an even closer look. Every year in September Hermanus organizes the Whale Festival, an event that celebrates the migration of the whales with many concerts and culinary activities.

The Hermanus coast