Most of the Western Cape of South Africa are aware that Hermanus is the land-based whale watching capital of the world. It is a truly spectacular locale from which you can view the Southern Right whales and their pod playing in the surf. But when it comes to winter whale watching from land, there are many other viewpoints to visit where you can catch a glimpse of the whales that frequent South Africa’s oceans.
If you are in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape or Western Cape - the whale season is best experienced in SA during winter. A local boating company recently announced that the Southern Right whale watching season has already begun, with regular sightings and great alongside interactions, although not yet the high number of whales that can be expected.
Our team recommend the following things to look out for when whale watching:
- Breaching – the whale leaps out of the water and falls back in with a large splash. If whales breach once, chances are they'll breach more than three times consecutively.
- Blowing – if you're really close, you'll hear this. The sound is accompanied by a spout of condensed water vapour.
- Lobtailing – the whale slaps its fluke or tail on the water, causing a loud sound. As with breaching, this typically happens a few times consecutively.
Here are five absolutely amazing whale watching spots across South Africa’s coasts:
Hermanus and Walker Bay
The whales really do come up close to the shore here during the Hermanus whale season, and they have a particularly playful attitude towards people it seems.
Hiking the St Blaize Trail will give you a good view of the bay below, where you can spot Southern Right Whales, Humpback Whales or the deadly Killer Whales feeding on seals on the island in the bay.
The West Coast
On the Cape West Coast, excellent sightings of Southern Right Whales can be enjoyed all the way from Strandfontein to Lambert's Bay, Elands Bay, St Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay and Ysterfontein, just north of Cape Town.
The Wild Coast
From Cape St Francis onwards, the cliff-lined coast gives some of the best vantage points from where to see Humpbacks, Bryde's Whales, and further north towards Port St Johns, even Sperm Whales. Dolphins are also abundant in this area.
This is Humpback Whale territory, which stretches as far as Cape Vidal. The whales always stay in the perimeters of the coastline. From mid-May to mid-September, they move more north to breed off the Mozambique coast, and from September to December they return, en route to the nutrient-rich waters of Antarctica.
If you want an even closer look at these magnificent creatures there are boat tours to get you up close and personal.
Get in touch with one of our Elite travel experts and we will do the rest!