In season we count over 150 whales in our bay. Known as the whale coast.
The Southern right whale visits us from the end of May to the end of November every year. Whales continue to be seen until early January but in far fewer numbers.
They come to give birth and mate in the warmer and protected waters of our bay.
They seem to be curious by nature and will often pop their heads out of the water to have a look at the people watching them and then put on a display of enormous strength launching their bodies out of the water several times in succession to the delight of the crowds. Seagulls always seem to always be around to collect the somewhat stunned fish after the whales crash back into the ocean. Whales will often approach the whale spotting boats to within touching distance to have a good look and seem to have no fear at all.
In order to show off they will reverse up out of the water tail first holding their tail aloft like some huge banner for ages. One whale was there for so long we thought it had jumped and then landed face down in the ocean bed - stuck ! He wasn't; he was just the best tail waver we ever saw.
Depending on the weather they will laze about next to the rocks , sometimes touching the rocks and swimming in the kelp (seaweed) within meters of the cliffs. Other times they will put on stunning displays. We are not sure but the rougher weather seems to invigorate them.
Mating is an involved affair with the female selecting who she wants. We have witnessed a rejected male trying for hours to mate with a female who just rolled onto her back whenever he approached. In the end he was jumping onto her to try and get her to accept him. He left a desperate whale quite disappointed in the end.
Our local pilot who offers flights over the whales has witnessed interaction with dolphins, where the baby whale plays tag with the dolphins and ends up with a thoroughly irritated mother whale chasing the dolphins away. We have watched dolphins coming from a distance away directly to the whales, swim around and in between for some time and then swim away, who knows what interaction we witnessed, but it happens often.
We have also witnessed a whale calf swimming up to her mother, who was lying on her back, the mother folded her massive flipper around the calf holding her close.
Birthing is a lengthy and noisy affair. Often the female giving birth will be assisted by 2 other females. The one seems to help the female keep near the surface and the other one will push the baby to the surface when it is born to get it's first breath.
On the Cliff Guest House in Hermanus provides awesome whale watching opportunities. This unique Hermanus accommodation, where you can watch whales from your bed or private patio, has 4 stars and is a luxury guest house with magnificent sea views. Shark cage diving or shark based activities can be arranged and is an easy drive from Hermanus.
Hermanus has wonderful beaches stretching for miles and swimming areas with life guards. We can also arrange whale watching cruises, scuba diving, paragliding, horse riding on the beach, fishing, golf, quad biking, sea kayaking, etc. Walk from our front gate along the cliffs to town or the New Harbour and watch whales jump or swim sometimes so close you feel you can touch them or just sit and enjoy the stunning tranquility and beauty.
There are currently 2 operators in Hermanus and several in Gansbaai.
The boats leave several times a day and usually the trip takes about 1,5 hours. It is advisable to pre book in season.
The weather does not always fit in to your schedule and we sometimes have guests who are only staying one night and have only a limited time to see whales. This is not always practical as if the sea is rough the whales stay away from the cliffs and it can be a very rough boat ride. We would recommend that you stay at least 2 days. Some operators will go out in quite rough seas where the boats are quite capable but not all the passengers find it pleasant.
This is the only place we know of that it is absolutely unnecessary to leave land to see whales up
close and personal. It is not necessary to take an hour and a half boat trip to find a whale you
will see them while you walk, while you sit and have lunch at a seafront restaurant and if you
stay with us you will also most likely hear them at night. They can make quite an eerie moaning
noise amongst others, they also hit their tail on the water make very loud slaps.
Take a boat trip or plane ride and it will give you a different perspective .