The Hermanus Whale Festival marks the return of the magnificent southern right whales from their icy feeding grounds in Antarctica to the glittering seas off the Western Cape and consists of a lively three days of marine-themed activities, delicious local food and, of course, whale watching. The annual event is within easy striking distance of The Twelve Apostles, so our guests can join the festival in welcoming the whales back to their South African home. Catch the best of this year’s event from 28th – 30th September with our guide to Hermanus Whale Festival.
The wild shores of Hermanus, flanking Walker Bay, are some of the best land-based whale-watching spots in the world, as the endangered southern right species migrates here when mating and calving between June and November. Recognisable for their horn-like callosities, bow-shaped heads and arched mouths, sightings of these mighty mammals are guaranteed from September to November, making Hermanus the ideal day trip destination from the hotel.
What to expect
Hermanus’ quiet seaside town sparks to life during the Hermanus Whale Festival, with food stands serving a variety of regional fare and barbequed specialities alongside well-stocked wine-tasting tents and busy pop-up bars. For souvenirs, browse the handicrafts and curios in the bustling craft stalls around Market Square.
There’s plenty to entertain children at the festival, with horse-and-cart rides, face painting and an action-packed Pirates and Mermaids Treasure Hunt between 12pm and 2pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Athletic types should join the hockey, football and cricket coaching clinics while music enthusiasts can stroll over to the Music Marquee on Gearing's Point for a foot-tapping line-up of live performances by local bands.
What to watch out for
Many of the Hermanus Whale Festival’s highlights take place in the Eco-Marine Tent. Exhibits, films and engaging talks are conducted by marine biologists and wildlife conservation experts. Focused on raising awareness of South Africa’s indigenous whales, penguins and great white sharks - and the measures being taken to preserve them - it’s an opportunity to become acquainted with the Western Cape’s unique marine biosystem. Feeling inspired? Sign up for the Whale of a Beach Clean-Up in the Old Harbour and on the cliff path to do your bit.
When to arrive
The Hermanus Whale Festival is an event that attracts more than 100,000 visitors per year so it’s best to arrive as early as possible, allowing plenty of time to explore this charming seaside town before it gets busy. End your day back at the hotel tucking into fresh seafood and appreciating the incredible views from the Leopard Bar with a cocktail in hand.
Visiting outside of the festival dates? Whale season lasts from June to November, so you can still catch a glimpse of the gentle giants once the crowds have dispersed.
Enjoy the Hermanus Whale Festival’s lively line-up when you stay at Red Carnation Hotels’ The Twelve Apostles in Cape Town.
Image credits: Lead image © iStock/Oversnap. Hermanus © iStock/JaySi. Children with face paint © iStock/kirin_photo. Whale © iStock/Focus_on_Naature.