Hermanus is the perfect place for a holiday because it is a naturally beautiful location with many things to see and do. Only 122km from Cape Town, this beautiful seaside town is located over a thin strip of land between a rugged mountain range and the pristine Walker Bay conservancy so it’s not surprising that sunbathing on the beach vies with mountain climbing, wine tasting and whale watching as top pursuits.

Historically this quaint little town began as a fishing village in the late 19th century and some of the old cottages are still standing today, creating a quaint and quirky atmosphere. It soon became a holiday destination with families trekking over Sir Lowry’s Pass in ox wagons for their annual Christmas holiday. In 1902 the first hotel was erected, now the 5-star Marine Hotel, where people flocked from far and wide to imbibe the ‘champagne air’. Hermanus weather is indeed perfect. Sure there are the odd windy days, but the moderating influence of the sea always keeps the summer temperatures at a bearable level.

Hermanus Village

As accessibility improved, Hermanus grew into a thriving seaside town with holiday homes and hotels populating the coastline. Today it is a thriving community with schools, a hospital and a police station, but it still largely a holiday town, at its busiest over Christman and Easter.

The beaches in Hermanus are famous, each one offering something a little different. Grotto Beach is the largest, situated at the far eastern end of Hermanus. A long white stretch of sand stretches all the way to the mouth of the lagoon making it the perfect place for a long walk, a quick swim or a game of beach bats. It’s big enough to contain large groups of friends and family and its blue flag status means it ensures the highest standards of safety, services and water quality.

Hermanus Grotto Beach

Voeklip beach is named for the large rock situated just off the coast where birds like to perch. It is quite protected, so a good choice on windy days, and the grass verge is a pleasant place to relax with a good book, while the good waves attract surfers out at the break.

Kammabaai next door is a favourite with young families because the beach is relatively safe and the sea easily accessible. Rock pools also keep the young ones busy. Langbaai, a little further on towards town, attracts the more adventurous with bigger waves and rocks to clamber over. 

These beaches are all joined by a well-maintained cliff path so it’s easy to move between them but also lovely just to stroll along and enjoy the spectacular views of both mountain and sea. The path stretches 12km all along the coastline from the town right to the lagoon and coffee wagons are usually stationed at each beach where you can stop and enjoy a fresh brew. Benches are placed strategically along the route overlooking the sea. 

Hermanus Beach Sunset

The beaches are great meeting places: early risers gather each morning for a rejuvenating dip into the cold water, families spread out over the sand for the day building sandcastles and romping in the waves, while others gather late to watch the always spectacular sunsets.

Hermanus Beach

In the 1970’s the first vineyards were planted in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, just a short drive up into the mountains, and today the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Wine Route boasts 20 wineries each offering excellent quality wines. Each winery is located in this spectacular valley whose name literally means ‘heaven and earth’ because when you get there, you might think you’ve died and gone to heaven as you gaze over elysian fields of indigenous ‘fynbos’ and rolling green vineyards.

Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Sunset

The prevailing cool sea breeze and soil profile make this valley perfect for growing particularly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. As you enter Hermanus from the Cape Town side, spot the Hermanus Wine Village where all the local wines are stocked. But, if you have the time, turn left and drive up into the mountains and you will discover a whole host of wineries, some offering just a wine tasting experience, but others offer delicious meals and excellent coffee as well.

Bosman Hermanus is situated in the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, a ward at the highest point of the region, overlooking the De Bos dam. This WWF Conservation Champion focusses on regenerative wine farming but over 150 hectares are under conservation management which means alien vegetation is constantly removed and a comprehensive rehabilitation programme is underway to allow indigenous plant species to thrive. The Frame House is a tasting venue offering light meals and a spectacular view over ‘fynbos’ and vineyards towards the Babylonstoren mountains. This farm produces excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc but their range is supplemented by wines from their Wellington farm so Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and the one-of-a-kind Nero are up for tasting, along with some single vineyard releases.

Good wine calls for good food and there is no shortage of that in Hermanus. Whether you’re in search of a fine dining experience, fresh seafood or just a good cup of coffee, Hermanus boasts a whole host of eateries producing excellent meals, usually with excellent views too.

Commercial whaling was banned in South Africa in 1979 and since then the whale population has grown steadily in our southern ocean, another drawcard for tourists. These majestic creatures can be viewed from July to November when they venture into Walker Bay to give birth to their calves. There is a whale crier who ambles around town announcing the best spots from which to view the whales, but to get really close, you can book a trip on one of the whale charters that take visitors out into the bay. Journeying out across the water is a magical experience. The views in all directions are just beautiful. A day our at sea is really a great getaway but the chance to get up close and personal is a rare and envigorating treat.

The annual Whale Festival is usually held in September every year and great marquees are erected near the Old Harbour. There’s live music, food trucks and market stalls making for a jolly atmosphere.

Hermanus Whale Festival

There are other festivals throughout the year: The Fynarts Festival in June is all about wine, art, culture and history while the Kalfiefees in August is mainly a weekend of Afrikaans entertainment of comedy, arts and stage shows.

For the more active, there’s a range of activities. The Hermanus golf club is a spectacular course with mountain views all the way and an excellent 19th hole to end off your day. With the sea on the doorstep, water sports abound. Kitesurfers love whipping across the lagoon while surfers and paddle boarders head for Voelklip and Kammabaai. The historic Old Harbour in the centre of town is the location from which kayak tours are launched, while the New Harbour, at the western end of the town is where the famous whale tours depart as well as scuba diving tours. Shark cage diving expeditions usually leave from Gansbaai further east.

The Fernkloof Nature Reserve in the Klein River Mountains above Hermanus comprises 18km² of carefully conserved indigenous flora and fauna. Gorgeous trails, starting at the Fernkloof Nature Reserve hut take you through various biomes, to waterfalls, pools and spectacular viewing sites. For the adrenaline junkies there are also mountain bike tracks and quad bike trails for various skills levels in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.

Fernkloof Nature Reserve

Looking for pampering? There are several spas in and around Hermanus where a relaxing massage or beauty treatment will set you up to enjoy the rest of your holiday.

As mentioned earlier, Hermanus has a colourful and interesting history that is well-documented. Near the Old Harbour is a museum of photographs illustrating the rich heritage of the place. Old sepia photographs of men with big fish, women in modest bathing suits, quaint little houses and interesting streetscapes tell the story of the original folk who settled here.

Old Harbour

There is also the Whale Museum where one can learn interesting facts about the whales that patrol our shores, particularly the Southern Right Whales that are the most prolific in these parts. There is even a whale skeleton on display.

The Hermanus Country Market is popular with locals and visitors alike. Situated in Eastcliff up near the high school and sports grounds, this market offers authentic arts and crafts, delicious food, usually with live music. It’s a fun outing to wander around the stalls, buy something delicious and then sit down under the trees to enjoy it with a glass of wine. 

Many talented artists and craftspeople live in and around Hermanus. There are a host of galleries exhibiting both local and national artists. Once a month Hermanus hosts an art walk in the early evening when all the galleries are open and you can wander around.

So you see, Hermanus is really worth a visit. Its picturesque scenery makes it the perfect place to unwind in whichever way you choose. Spend a few days chilling on the beach, take time to visit a few wine farms, book a table at some of the best restaurants and don’t forget to include a hike in the mountains or at least a wander along the cliff path.

That’s what makes Hermanus special: there is something for everyone.

Bosman Hermanus