Tag Archives: walker bay

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.

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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Following the Cliff Path of the Hermanus Biodiversity Walk (2017-08-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 09 MAY 2018

Hermanus is probably the best place for land based whale watching in the Western Cape (which is why we find ourselves visiting at least once a year), and its beautifully maintained Cliff Path makes this relaxing activity all that more better.

Although originally constructed by the Hermanus Botanical Society, these days the path is cared for by the volunteer Cliff Path Management Group (CPMG), who have done a fantastic job in improving, making accessible, and enhancing the walkway such that it remains one of the more popular Hermanus tourist attractions.

Wedged between the Kleinriviersberg mountain range in the north and the broad expanse of Walker Bay to the south, the official walkway meanders for almost eleven kilometres along Hermanus’ rugged and beautiful coastline, stretching from the New Harbour in the west and snaking all the way through to the estuary at the mouth of the Klein River in the east.

In addition to being great for whale watching, the path is super interesting for nature lovers as well, winding through a diversity of vegetation types (complemented by some informative signage along the Biodiversity Walk stretch). It takes you past a number of fascinating points of interest, including both the historic Old and New harbours, as well as the village market square. Follow it for long enough and near the wooden footbridge at the mouth of the Mossel River, you’ll even find signs depicting the graves of two southern right whales that beached at that point!

Beyond the river mouth, the path continues around the Langbaai bathing beach, on to the Kammabaai and Voëlklip beaches and right up to the magnificent main Grotto beach – which itself sweeps for nineteen kilometers around Walker Bay to De Kelders and Gansbaai!

Last year August saw us in town for a spot of whale watching (and of course lunch), and naturally we took the time to stroll a small section of this brilliant walkway on the day. It will still be a few years until we can walk the whole thing in one go (the girls moan far too much at the prospect of walking any real sort of distance at the moment), but once everyone is ready (i.e. a little more grown up) it is definitely something I’m going to make us do!

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Anyway, Hermanus always makes for a good day trip, and seeing as whale season is soon upon us once again, I guess we’ll be back in the area sooner than later…

Related Link: Hermanus Cliff Path | Hermanus

Whale Watching from the Cliff Tops Piazza in Hermanus (2017-08-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 30 MAR 2018

October 2005 saw the official opening of the Cliff Tops Piazza in Hermanus, a bustling central node for the town and one of the most perfect spots to sit, ice cream or coffee in hand, and watch whales come whale watching season in Walker Bay.

In fact, the Cliff Tops site has historically always been a traditional centre of Hermanus, a town that may have started out as a simple fishing village back in the early 1900’s, but which these days is very much the tourism giant of the Overstrand region.

Now while the piazza area is indeed great as a node for the all shops, restaurants and bars inhabiting it, I’m far more smitten with the lush green amphitheatre sprawled out in front of it, and thanks to the bribery of ice cream cones in their hands, I suspect my two small girls now rather agree with me.

Perfect spot to stretch out, take things slow, people watch, and of course admire the beautiful landscape all around you.

Mind you, our traditional walk to the Cliff Tops site is pretty nice as well. Always love all the public art installations (though admittedly this current batch on display isn’t exactly my favourite).

In terms of Southern Right Whale spotting for this particular day that we visited back in August last year, plenty of whales were out to put on a show in the bay – much to the delight of Chantelle who never quite seems to tire of watching whales wallow in water.

As for the girls, as always they were far more enthralled with the jungle gym and the furry dassies that run around everywhere than with boring old art, people on the sea in bright yellow kayaks, or the occassional flip of a whale tail out in the distance.

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Interestingly enough, I have never actually strolled down to the Old Harbour, nor paid a visit to the Whale Museum. I suspect both of these will happen when I one day lose my tail…

(Or I bribe it with something bright and shiny, or sweet and melty.) [Update: I did eventually get to visit the Whale House Museum in 2018]

Related Link: Cliff Tops Piazza | Hermanus

Sea Views from De Kelders in Gansbaai (2016-05-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 02 JUN 2016

Following a brilliant breakfast at the Blue Gum Country Estate (where we were spending a weekend in May), Chantelle discovered that she was unfortunately in need of some headache pills – and seeing as the delightful little village of Stanford doesn’t actually have a pharmacy within its borders, we opted to take the short scenic drive through to its larger neighbour Gansbaai.

The last time I had been to Gansbaai, Chantelle and I ended up watching whales from a boat (still need to get around to go shark cage diving!), but this time around we were looking for a far more relaxed outing, and so after a bit of driving about Gansbaai, we took a detour along the sea, heading off towards Walker Bay, to the nearby suburb of De Kelders (driving in pursuit of a rather fetching old Mustang convertible ahead of us).

De Kelders (“The Cellars” in Dutch) is obviously known for its prime whale watching views and the plentiful underground caves beneath the cliffs (including the historically important Klipgat Cave), but seeing as it was neither whale season nor did we particularly feel like looking for caves, Chantelle and I instead entertained ourselves by taking in as many of the gorgeous sea views as what we possibly could.

And yes, we did take a lot of selfies in the process too.

Needless to say, we returned from this particular sightseeing trip feeling quite refreshed and invigorated. What a glorious winter’s day indeed!

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Related Link: Gansbaai | De Kelders