Tag Archives: hermanus

Watching the Fishermen on the Wall at Hermanus New Harbour (2021-01-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 MAR 2021

As it turns out, Gordon’s Bay isn’t the only small town in the Western Cape blessed with two harbours. If you have ever been to Hermanus then you’ll obviously be well aware of the Old Harbour next to Gearing’s Point, right in the heart of the town’s tourist center and which nowadays is preserved as a small museum. If you visit during whale watching season, then the New Harbour, situated to the west of the town alongside the Zwelihle township, is where you would go to hop on one of the many whale watching boats that ply their trade from that quay come season.

In the past, a lot of fishing was conducted from Hermanus, and by the 1930s the Old Harbour had become too small for the amount of fishing boats stationed there. The location for a new harbour was identified (a semi-protected strip of coast known as Still Bay), and construction of the southern breakwater was started – and then almost immediately put on hold as the Great Depression followed by the Second World War sunk its teeth into pretty much all economic activity. In 1951 the New Harbour did eventually become operational, but without a second (and recommended) east breakwater, meaning that this particular harbour occasionally suffers from rough waters – something one definitely does not want from a harbour! Unfortunately this state of affairs has led to a number of drownings and wrecks over the years, making the New Harbour one of the least safest safe harbours in the country.

Moving on. Unfortunately over-fishing from outside the Walker Bay area eventually led to the collapse of the fish stocks in Walker Bay, and so commercial fishing out of New Harbour essentially vanished – it was only once an alternative catch in the form of abalone was discovered that the harbour roared back into life again. These days, as a place of interest to visit, the New Harbour is probably most famous for the lovely Harbour Rock (and its Gecko Lounge bar), an elevated restaurant that sits perched above the harbour, affording one a lovely view over all the watery activity down below. Additionally there is Heart of Abalone, an established abalone farm that offers visitor tours, and of course you can always just stroll out along the breakwater to look at the boats and watching the local fishermen trying to catch fish from the seawall and occasionally do battle with the always competing Cape Fur seals.

So of course, after a morning of climbing up Hoy’s Koppie, staring down over the village from up on Rotary Way, walking along the Cliff Path, and before letting the girls eat their lunch on Voelklip beach, I made them accompany me for a stroll around the harbour. They did not appreciate the smell.

Lunch on the Lawn of Voëlklip Beach in Hermanus (2021-01-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 MAR 2021

Having successfully dragged my girls and Cara all around Hermanus with me, strolling up Hoy’s Koppie, looking down over the town from Rotary Way, walking along the Cliff Path, and admiring the outdoor FynArts sculpture exhibition, naturally they were now at the point of rebellion, openly advocating a crippling strike if they didn’t get to have lunch right now, and most important of all, that they also get to choose what’s for lunch. I tried guiding them to selecting any one of the multitude of eatery options that call Hermanus home, but no, they wanted KFC. So that’s then what we got.

Of course, having let them choose the food, there was no way that I was leaving the choice of scenery in their hands, and so I drove them and their precious brown paper bag of fried chicken goodness over to the lawn above Voëlklip Beach, where we happily hunkered down into picnic mode in order to snack on our treats while watching the waves splash down below. (This was during the closed beaches stage of this year’s Covid-19 lockdown, so there were no people playing in the sand, no people tanning on the grass, and just a handful of incredibly bored lifeguards wasting their day away).

As for the beach itself, well the whole rugged coast of Walker Bay is littered with beautiful little coves and sandy beaches, and thus includes a number of Blue Flag status beaches, like Onrus, Kammabaai, Langbaai, Hawston, and of course Hermanus’ signature biggest and best beach, Grotto Beach. Tiny little Voelklip beach also counts itself among these Blug Flag pearls, and this little sandy bay is surrounded by rocks, generally sheltered from the wind, features a lush green lawn above the soft inviting sand, has ablution facilities and a little tuckshop selling all manner of snacks, and of course the aforementioned lifeguards during peak season. It is also by far the most popular spot for both the local surfer and bodyboard brigades.

A Cairn at Rotary Way Lookout Point above Hermanus (2021-01-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 FEB 2021

Hermanus is a wonderful seaside town, squeezed into a narrow coastal plain that is bounded by the endless blue of the Indian Ocean to the south and the peaks of the Kleinriviersberge mountains to the north. One of the best ways to get a lay of the land is to drive up the easy to miss as you enter the town Rotary Way, a 5.3 km long road that ticks all the boxes of being a mountain pass but which instead simply doesn’t go anywhere.

The start of the road gives you a view to the Western areas of Hermanus, such as Sandbaai, Zwelihle and Vermont, while a little further on to the left you get blessed with the stunning landscape views of the fertile green Hemel en Aarde Valley, before reaching the final tarred section of the road which opens up views over the Klein River Valley, Stanford, the Lagoon and of course of Walker Bay and Hermanus itself. Here there are a couple of benches to sit down and quietly admire the view, or if you are like me with a couple of energetic girls in tow, head out for a stroll in the bush and add a couple of stones to the nearby cairn as a way to leave your mark. (This was by far the most fun bit of this stop for them).

The views over Hermanus are of course spectacular. You are high but not high enough that you lose any detail, and it becomes a fun way to spot the landmarks like the golf course, Hoy’s Koppie, the Old Harbour and Gearing’s Point. (It’s also worth pointing out that if you have a capable vehicle, you can actually continue along the gravel section of the road from here, which will then take you past the local hang glider launching area all the way through to the edge of the Hamilton Russell Vineyards property where the road finally terminates once and for all.)

Beautiful agamas and other rock lizards, delicate fynbos flowers, views to die for, and that fresh sea breeze in your face, a drive up Rotary Way should really be considered the next time you find yourself in Hermanus on a good weather day.

Onion Rings and Fries at Wooden Barrel in Hermanus (2019-08-25) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 05 OCT 2019

This year’s annual outing to Hermanus in the hopes of spotting some Walker Bay whales was unfortunately a bit of a flop. The day started out promising enough, with blue skies, excited family, and a nice scenic drive out to the area, but that shine soon rubbed off as the clouds pulled in, the drizzle stopped by to say hi, and the whales made it abundantly clear that either they weren’t actually in the bay yet, or if they were, today was simply not going to be the day that they reveal themselves to a more than slightly dejected wife sitting next to me.

We started the day’s adventure first with a drive up to Fernkloof Nature Reserve to have a bit of a look around, then on to Grotto Beach to start the whale watching hunt, followed by stops at Voelklip Beach, Kammabaai Beach, Langbaai Beach, Kwaaiwater and finally Sievers Point.

Roman Rock and Kraal Rock didn’t turn up any sightings either, so we gave up at this point and went off in search for a spot of late lunch instead. At this stage the clouds were quite threatening in terms of rain, so after some milling about (i.e. I was sneaking in some sights), we settled on the menu at the Wooden Barrel bistro, opposite The Cliff Tops Piazza and sitting in the space which if I remember correctly was Europa (an old favourite of ours).

Surprisingly, lunch was rather nice, but still, it wasn’t enough to lift the mood of our by now very disappointed whale enthusiast. Plus it was getting progressively wetter, so we called it a day and headed back home.

So a bit of a soggy, unrewarding outing this one.

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Pirate Golf at Benguela Cove in Bot River (2018-11-10) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 30 AUG 2019

Across the water from the famed golfing Arabella Country Estate, lying on the opposite bank of the Bot River Lagoon, is the luxury Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate. Established in 2003, this lush Walker Bay farm has been developed to house a state of the art winery, luxury lifestyle estate, numerous restaurants, productive olive groves, and a vineyard that can boast about being one of the closest vineyards to the sea!

Which is probably then why you might just be surprised to learn that nowadays you can even play a fun round of putt putt there.

Because adults can’t have all the fun, last year saw Benguela Cove lift the wraps off of Benguela Cove Pirate Adventure Golf, a pirate-themed mini golf (or adventure golf) course aimed squarely at families with kids. A great strategy move on the part of the wine estate of course, but as a parent with two young kids who is always on the lookout for fun family activities, definitely one that is very much appreciated!

The eighteen hole course is standard putt putt fun, suitable for all ages and with pleasingly very few frustrating holes – you know, the ones that often leave kids in tears. Everything from entrance to score card is pirate themed and the course is dotted with pirate mannequins (even a Jack Sparrow when copyright lawyers aren’t looking) and other fun pirate props.

There is a small pirate-themed restaurant aimed at kids onsite (Blackbeard’s Diner), and as an added bonus, a colourful splash pad dubbed Benguela Splash next door, which boasts a variety of fun water spraying, squirting and dumping amusements. (They were still busy installing this when we visited late last year).

Pirate themed putt putt? Of course it’s great silly fun!

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Whale Watching from the cliffs of Hermanus (2018-08-25) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 JUN 2019

As my regular readers would by now very much know, Chantelle absolutely loves whale watching and given our general proximity to South Africa’s best land based whale viewing area, i.e. Hermanus, we always tend to make at least one trip each and every Walker Bay whale watching season.

Last year August saw us take a drive down to a very windy Hermanus for a spot of Southern Right whale watching, and although the gusty conditions ruled out a walk up Hoy’s Koppie, it didn’t seem to bother the whales at all as we enjoyed a fabulous day of watching whales cavort around in the windswept surf.

For a change we did most of our whale watching to the east of the Cliff Tops Piazza, favouring spots along the Hermanus Cliff Path like Sieverspunt, Kwaaiwater, Skulpiesbaai, Langbaai, Kammabaai and Voëlklip Beach. The adverse wind conditions meant that we weren’t jostling through crowds of fellow whale watchers, making for a whale watching expedition that felt leisurely and not people pressured at all.

That said, the delightful Aromatish Cafe and Bakery still proved to be way too popular for us to grab a seat (so we settled for a cup of coffee at the pleasant enough Groves Cafe instead). Pleasingly, Chantelle also relented and sacrificed some of her whale watching time to allow me the opportunity of popping my head into the Old Harbour Museum, the Whale House Museum, and the De Wet’s Huis Photographic Museum. (All things that have for long been on my list of getting around to).

Basically, a little bit of something for everyone but the kids then.

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The Whale Museum in Hermanus (2018-08-25) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 12 JUN 2019

The Whale Museum, or more accurately, the Whale House Museum can be located within the historic Fisherman’s Village section (right next to De Wet’s Huis Photographic Museum) of the Old Harbour Museum complex in Hermanus.

By the early 1990’s, whales had become the primary tourist attraction for this popular coastal town, and as such it was suggested that Hermanus establish a whale museum with the mission of informing and educating both local and international visitors alike. Built up over 3 distinct phases, the main hall (which was completed in 1998) is the museum’s centerpiece, now dominated by the suspended skeleton of a young female Southern Right whale that had washed ashore at nearby Onrus River in 2003.

With a strong focus on digital displays with audio/visual interactions, the Whale House Museum is a treasure trove of cetacean information and although not a large space by any means, it provides a good learning experience for any youngsters stepping through its doors.

There is a also a very interesting mini-sub lounging on its floor (a favourite with the girls) and naturally, there were plenty of photos taken on the day:

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The Old Harbour Museum in Hermanus (2018-08-25) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 15 MAR 2019

Hermanus is just such a lovely coastal town to visit. The allure of the visiting whales during whale season, the excellent beaches, the surrounding mountains, the breathtaking cliff path – it really isn’t difficult to understand just why Hermanus has exploded into the tourist friendly hub that it now finds itself being. Of course, the historic and stories of old shouldn’t be lost, and one such place attempting to preserve some of this former fishing town’s history is the Old Harbour Museum.

The museum consists primarily of two sections, the historical Old Fishing Harbour and Fisherman’s Village, the latter being home to De Wet’s Huis Photographic Museum and the Whale House Museum.

The old harbour itself (or “Visbaai” as it was known back in the day) is preserved as an open air museum, with a couple of relics from a bygone era still visible along the stone and concrete walls of the structure. There is also the War Memorial at its entrance, and tucked into one of the old fisherman’s shacks is the Old Harbour Indoor Museum which displays an eclectic mix of items used by the local fishing industry both present and past, as well as some items from the Selkirk Collection.

That said, in all honesty I would have to say that the indoor museum has obviously seen much better days and is probably very much in need of better funding – though nevertheless makes for an interesting enough stop if you have some time to kill and nothing else left to see. (Admittedly, the kids don’t agree with me on this one).

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Coffee and Sandwiches at Groves Cafe in Hermanus (2018-08-25) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 16 FEB 2019

After a day spent bay hopping around Hermanus to watch the whales frolic and play, as well a stint in a museum or two, we rounded off our Overstrand visit with a cup of cofee and something light to eat at Groves Cafe.

Situated in the heart of the touristy center of Hermanus, Groves is a small coffee shop and bistro that excels in providing excellent coffee, a good selection of craft beers, and light meals – complemented of course with a great view over the bay.

Simple, delicious, and a great way to get off our feet for a short while.

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