At certain times of the year you have a chance of spotting southern right and humpback whales frolicking in the waves and of course, it’s not unusual to see pods of dolphins all through the year.
Best time to view whales
Southern right whales migrate to warmer waters for the calving seasons and usually reach South Africa in June. They stay within shallow waters just off the coastline in False Bay – most popularly in Walker Bay, Hermanus, but also all along the coast line from Blouberg all the way around to Kalk Bay, Gordon’s Bay and Kleinmond. Their spectacular display of raw power and lively water acrobatics is something truly worth seeing.
Types of whales to look out for
This beautiful baleen whale gets to around 15-metres in length and weigh anywhere 47 tonnes as adults. They are most present between the months of June and November along the Garden route, but many report sightings as far as Kwazulu-Natal’s north coast too.
Peak calving season is in July and August, and this is when many female whales and their young come to bask in the shallow waters of Walker Bay. Sightings have been reported between September and October too.
The humpback whale with its distinctively long pectoral fins can be seen between May and December along South Africa’s coastline, moving up along the coast from Hermanus to St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal.
The medium-sized Bryde’s whale can be spotted all year round, and while rare, orcas can also be seen.
Best spots to sight whales
Prime whale-watching territory is from Doringbaai, south of Cape Town, all the way up to the coast at St Lucia.
The best place to view would be from cliffs and beaches or with boat operators for a close-up experience.
Along the West Coast prime spots include Yzerfontein, St Helena, Saldanha, Eland’s and Lambert’s Bay, while the coastline along False Bay is also good whale watching from the land. Spots including Cape Point, Simon’s Town, Kalk Bay and onwards have all reported great sightings.
The most famous town for whale watching is Hermanus due to the cliffs of Walker Bay and the perfect conditions nursery conditions for southern right whales and humpbacks. If Hermanus proves a little too busy for you, keep on driving because the lesserknown holiday village of De Kelders is another excellent place to watch from the land.
Every September, Hermanus holds a whale-watching festival that includes activities around both the environment and arts in the town.
Further up the coast in Plettenberg Bay and the Garden Route, watch out for southern right whales from June to November.
Humpback whales are also briefly seen during their migration from November to January but tend to stay in deeper waters.
Other key spots include Stilbaai, Mossel Bay, George, Wilderness, Knysna and Tsitsikamma.
In the Eastern Cape try Cape St Francis, Algoa Bay and Port St John’s. Humpback whales can be spotted almost daily as they migrate north from May to July and begin their retreat from November to January.
Get more information on whale watching click here.