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The annual migration of our big blue friends always allows for some serious whale watching along the Western Cape coastline.
For those who have no clue what we’re on about; each year, between late June and November an assortment of whales leave the frigid waters of the Antarctic to visit our beautiful South African coastline to mate, calve and teach their new family members the ways of the water.
This means an abundance of charismatic displays of frolicking whales. Some of the most common sightings are of mighty southern right whales, making waves as they breach and goof around with their young. Adult southern rights can weigh up to a whopping 60 tonnes and measure almost 15 metres long - incredibly impressive creatures. You could even catch glimpses of humpback whales, bryde’s whales, and possibly a rare sighting of orca.
where 2 whale watch
Sound enticing? We can guarantee it is an experience like no other, and luckily for us (and you), there are some absolutely spectacular spots along South Africa's coastlines to get your fill of whale watching.. Here are some of our top picks:
Tooting the title of one of the best land-based whale watching spots in the world, our favourite contender is undoubtedly the sensational tiny town of Hermanus, just 2 hours away from Cape Town. With over 12kms worth of coastal hiking trails, elevated hills and quaint seaside restaurants, Hermanus offers an unparalleled whale-watching experience. The protected bay area attracts an abundance of whales and the multiple viewing points mean that you can get a super close look at these big blues as they wallow about. The hiking trails are equipped with informative information boards and you might even hear the sounds of the “Whale Crier” blowing his kelp horn to signal a whale sighting! You'll love it and most of our tours include this as a stop.
Holding its place as another firm favourite is the dramatic False Bay Area, with the likes of Cape Point, Hout Bay, Clarence Drive and more. As if the thrill of a whale sighting isn’t enough, these spots have some of the most mesmerising scenery; you might even find yourself so distracted by the views that you miss the whales! The dramatic cliffs at Cape Point also offer undisturbed panoramic whale watching opportunities. Look for whales whilst grabbing a bite at the Two Oceans restaurant or hike along multiple viewing points perched at the edge of the southwestern-most point of the African continent on the Lighthouse Keeper’s Trail.
Some of the other favourites include the Gansbaai region, the lush Garden Route and Eastern Cape, all offering rustic seaside settings from which to whale watch and witness one of nature's finest displays.
how 2 whale watch
Whale watching is definitely a recommended activity for all ages and a great addition to any South African wishlist.
The variety of unique whale watching locations means that there is a myriad of ways to tick a sighting off your bucket-list. One of the most popular being land-based whale watching. We are spoiled for choice with an abundance of quality land-based whale watching options, some of them (as mentioned above) ranking up there with the best land-based spots in the world! Woah, get ready for a whole lotta whale. Hermanus, Cape Point, Clarence Drive and Wilderness, en-route to the Garden Route, are but a few of these world-class locations.
head out to sea
Another favourite amongst whale enthusiasts is to get up close and personal with a registered Hermanus whale watching cruise. Get out to sea to increase your chances of seeing an incredible big blue up close.
On the water, whales often exercise their natural curiosity and approach the boats where they engage in all manners of fin-slapping as they explore their environment or teach their calves the way of the world. With an environmental philosophy of ‘Observe and Not Disturb’, registered whale cruises operate with the aim of creating awareness for local and international conservation of marine wildlife, so you can rest assured that your Whale Eco-Cruise will positively contribute to the longevity of these magnificent creatures.
Looking for a little more adventure? How about exploring the wonderful whale world on their own turf from the thrill of a sea-kayaking adventure. Your guide will accompany you as you glide across the ocean waters, marvelling (from a safe distance) at potential whale breaches and splashes! You might even be lucky enough to spot some lazy seals and other fascinating marine life form your stable sea craft!
And finally, if you’re looking to take things to the next level, you could hop aboard a 30-minute flight over Walker Bay near Hermanus to view the unmistakably enormous silhouettes of whales swimming alongside their young offspring. A sight to behold! In fact, this is such a wonderful way to whale watch that sightings are guaranteed during whale season, with a full refund if whales are not found! The record sighting to date is over 100 whales in a single day!
The height of whale season is during colder winter months, so be sure to dress warmly, bring along a blanket and a coffee flask.
Surprisingly, the whales love windy and cloudy weather! So don’t be afraid to go explore when the weather is miserable.
Be patient. Part of the thrill of whale watching is scanning the waters for any sign of movement, so be prepared to linger a little.
While most viewing points offer spectacular sightings, it’s still a good idea to bring along binoculars to see the action even closer.
make a change
Our love for whales, and all wildlife in general, goes beyond just sharing their beauty with our guests on tour. We’ve teamed up with a local conservation organisation called DICT, to take a stand against single-use plastic. Studies have shown that 56% of whale and seabird species have ingested plastic, mistaking it for food. Shocking statistics! For "Plastic Free July" our non-profit arm, 2Cchange, is raising awareness about single-use plastic and the threat it poses to penguins, whales and many other sea creatures. We're giving guests a specially branded glass water bottle, offering more info about the catastrophic effect of plastic in our oceans and encouraging them to refuse single-use plastic.
To support us in our pledge against plastic, take a look at our tour options. A portion of the proceeds from all Hotspots2c tours goes towards our conservation efforts, including our "Say No To Plastic" - Save our Penguins campaign. If you'd like to support this or any other cause, you can also add donations through the 2Cchange page.
go see the whales
Say hello to the big blues