Hotels in and around the Hermanus suburb
Hermanus has, for decades, been a popular tourist destination, desirable for its quiet seaside charm and the proliferation of whales during spring. This popularity and the regular influx of visitors has forced this quaint fishing village to upgrade its infrastructure and facilities, and it is now geared towards handling large numbers of tourists during the holidays and whale season. Remnants of the village ambience still permeate every street, beach and resident, luring visitors from around the world to experience the magic of Hermanus.
Southern Right whales usually frequent the waters off Hermanus mainly in spring, but sightings are noted from as early as June, right through to December. Hermanus offers boat- and plane trips to tourists wanting to catch a close-up glimpse of these magnificent mammals. Notably, Hermanus is the only place in the world with a Whale Crier, who blows on his horn to alert all in the town to look out for whales along the central sea route.
With this ocean on one side, and the mountains on the other, Hermanus promises an impressive array of vistas.
It was in the early 1700’s that a shepherd, Hermanus Pieters, discovered the lush vegetation of the area now named after him. After exploring an elephant trail that lead him to a spring, Hermanus decided to graze his sheep in this fertile spot. He also told other farmers and shepherds, who soon shared in the rich produce of the land. The area was first called Hermanuspietersfontein (Hermanus Pieters’ fountain), but this was shortened to its current name in 1904, when the town achieved municipal status. Fishermen soon moved into the area after realising that these waters teemed with edible fish. The sea air was recognised for its healing properties, and Hermanus soon became the destination of choice for those seeking their fortune in the fishing industry or for those that were undergoing some sort of rehabilitation. Doctors in England were quoted as prescribing Hermanus’ “champagne air” to patients with breathing difficulties or similar ails.
Hermanus is situated in the Western Cape, in close proximity to Cape Town. It takes approximately 2 hours’ drive on the N2 motorway. International visitors will need to arrive at Cape Town’s international airport and drive from there.
Should you require a taxi, call a reputable service to organise one. Do not make use of the minibus taxis in South Africa, unless you are comfortable and familiar with local customs and languages. These are not always roadworthy, and have been notorious for their wreckless driving.
Cape Town’s airport has been revamped in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. This means that it is even better equipped to handle large numbers of flights and visitors with efficiency and safety foremost in mind.
Hermanus is famous for its annual Whale Festival. Consult with your tour operator to get the exact dates so that you may enjoy spotting the beautiful Southern Rights as they leap and splash in the icy Indian Ocean waters.
Arts and crafts, many of which take their inspiration from the sea and beaches, can be found at several markets throughout the town.
The old harbour boasts restored fishing boats that whisk visitors back to a time when this industry built and sustained the community.
The Fernkloof Nature Reserve boasts the fynbos for which the Western Cape in particular is famous. These unique plant species present a mosaic of colour and texture and can be found climbing the mountains of the cape. Walks through the flora of this area are rewarding and make for a great day trip for the family.
Other activities include shark cage diving, shopping, swimming, snorkelling, wine tours, fishing, hiking and the exploration of the unique galleries and boutiques in Hermanus.
Hermanus summers extend between December and February and its winters between June and August. Summers are hot (approximately 30 degrees Celsius), but offshore winds cool the air considerably, ensuring comfort. Winters can be chilly and rainy, and usually reach a maximum daytime temperature of about 15 degrees Celsius. Sunscreen is essential year-round. For climatic reasons, as well as the opportunity to see whales, September and October are the best months to visit this seaside town. The nights are cool, but the days are generally warm, not hot.
It is essential that you consult with your travel agent and your accommodation provider to ascertain which areas of Hermanus should be avoided, although these are somewhat limited. Do not walk around the town centre, isolated areas or local tourist attractions with large amounts of money on you and do not accept help from strangers. Go into the bank for assistance rather than asking those around you. Stick with your tour group, if applicable, and do not stray off alone. Ask any officials, including policemen, to see their identification cards before accepting help. Make a note of their names and ID numbers. No police official has the right to ask you to pay for something immediately. If they do, go to the nearest police station and report them. Do not, under any circumstance, pick up hitchhikers.