The West Coast brings marine life lovers from all over the world to South Africa. Home to the Southern Right Whale, we’re just about ready to welcome them back to our shores, where they breach close enough to be seen with the naked eye, frolicking and playing as they breed in protected waters, and do not leave again until their calves are large enough.
Nowhere is better suited to come for this incredible moment than staying along the coast in Wilderness at On the Beach, where you can get away from the tourist madness of Hermanus, which is just a very short drive away. You can go see the whales and even take advantage of several events going on there, and come back to a luxurious stay at your home away from home, listening to the waves lull you to sleep as you nestle comfortably just above the beach.
The first event of the momentous season is the Hermanus Times Kalfiefees 2016 which is always much looked forward to by visitors and residents alike, and perfectly timed for the arrival of the whales. The event itself was named for the great marine beasts, and happens over six days in the Onrus area of Hermanus. It is from 4 August to 9 August, and tickets are R110 sold at the door. The event has been running for 15 years solid and is a renowned offshoot of another festival we’ll list here, the Hermanus Whale Festival. This one showcases primarily Afrikaans talent with musical performances, comedy, and plenty more.
Overlapping this event is the Hermanus Wine and Food Festival 2016, which takes place at the Curro School in the Sandbaai area of Hermanus. This event has been voted as one of South Africa’s top 10 wine affairs, and is an incredible amalgamation of activity. Over 65 local wine and craft beers can be found here from 6 August to 8 August. Tickets are R50 for the venue and R100 for the Wine area, and are sold at the door. There is also some gourmet food on offer there prepared by locally famous chefs, which pairs very well next to internationally acclaimed wines featured here. There are tastings and sales offered at rock bottom prices, restaurant open-food stalls, deli treats, live music and plenty to do for the kids.
Since the whales are most easily seen from Hermanus, and they don’t leave until December, it’s the perfect place to be for events that match alongside your whale watching adventure. The whales show up in late July getting closer to shore until December when their calves are big enough to brave the open ocean alongside their mothers. They can be seen breaching, blowing water from their blowholes and playing with one another in the water, seemingly close enough to touch.
The last festival for the whales here is the Hermanus Whale Festival mentioned previously. This one happens a bit later, from 30 September to 2 October. The event is in its 25th year and is the ONLY environmental arts festival anywhere in South Africa. You can expect to find quality street food, crafters selling homemade delights to take home with you, sporting events by the dozens, entertainment for the kids, full street parades, a full Eco marine tent, and over 20 artists playing at the Two Oceans Wine Music Stage. This event is such a big deal, that it draws visitors from all corners of Africa as well as tons of international travelers, so don’t miss out on this one during your stay in Wilderness.
The Wilderness area also gets its share of the whales, and because you’ll be staying right on the sands of the Wilderness Beach, you stand a decent chance of getting a glimpse of one, just far enough away from the crowds in Hermanus to feel as though it came just for you.