Hermanus is one of the unique destinations for a spontaneous small-town getaway. Our list uncovers some of the coastal town’s highlights, with whales, views, authentic West Coast cuisine and wineries, and everything in between.
One of the seaside town’s top summer attractions is the Hermanus Flower Festival, an annual celebration of the Cape fynbos which takes place over the Heritage Day holiday weekend. For 2019, Hermanus Botanical Society’s ‘Fynbos 4 U’ theme offers something for everyone. There are various fynbos exhibits, hands-on creative workshops in the gardens’ Amphitheatre, special entertainment for the little ones, and plenty of gorgeous environmentally-related items available for sale in the Market Hub. Don’t leave without checking out their exclusive floral exhibit by Leon Kluge, South Africa’s entrant to the renowned Chelsea Flower Show.
A variety of informative demonstrations and talks are also on the menu. From Dr. Arien van der Merwe covering Nature’s pharmacy and plant self-portraits with Tristan Woudberg, to sustainable flower harvesting from Flower Valley. Families with a greater sense of adventure can opt for close and interactive encounters with an owl and raptor from Eagle Encounters. Delicious teas, light lunches, wine, beer and fynbos craft gin are available for purchase throughout the day. Consult the programme for more details on activities and experiences.
Entry Cost: R25pp | Free for children under 12 | R10pp for senior citizens on Mon 23 Sep | Tickets can be purchased at the gate or via Quicket
Time: Sat 21 Sep to Tue 24 Sep | 9am to 4pm, closing on Tue 24 Sep at 2pm
Address: Fernkloof Nature Reserve, Hermanus
Tel: 028 313 0819 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: www.fernkloof.org.za
Facebook: Hermanus Flower Festival | Twitter: @fernkloofza | Instagram: @hermanusbotanical
The annual Hermanus Whale Festival, now in its 28th year, is a celebration of the return of the Southern Right whales to the coastal waters of South Africa. All events and activities during the whale festival are focused to create awareness on how to protect the whales and all our marine wildlife who share our coastal waters.
This year’s programme includes land & boat-based whale watching, arts and crafts, an orchid show and the Whales and Wheels Classic Car Show. Festival-goers can expect to linger for hours inside the Coke Live Music Marquee, and the Old Harbour Music Arena where various local artists perform. Other festivities include the Marine Mammal & Eco Talks, Festival of Whales Street Parade, shop-till-you-drop stalls, Kiddies Whale of a Beach Clean-up in the Old Harbour and on the Cliff Path, and also kids’ movies and entertainment. The very popular Pirate & Mermaid Treasure Hunt is also extended over two days and once again has lots of giveaway prizes.
Entry Cost: Free
Time: Fri 27 Sep to Sun 29 Sep | 9am to 5pm
Address: Hermanus Waterfront, Eco Marine Village, Hermanus
Email: email@example.com | Website: www.hermanuswhalefestival.co.za
Facebook: Hermanus Whale Festival 2019 | Twitter: @WhaleFestivalZA | Instagram: @whalefestival
Tucked away in a traditional Khoi Strandloper cave and enclosed by ocean waves, Bientang’s Cave Restaurant and Wine Bar is a buzzing, family-friendly tourist destination perched on the whale-watching shores of Walker Bay in Hermanus. The restaurant is famously known across the globe for marrying a unique dining experience with uninterrupted, snap-worthy views of the ocean. If you’re lucky, you could even spot some whales during the season, or impromptu pop-ups from local birds and Dassies.
Their menu offers some of the Cape’s finest award-winning wines alongside a selection of traditional seafood, meat, poultry, an assortment of vegetarian dishes and decadent desserts. Highlights include seafood curries and traditional-style potjies, Cognac flambé beef medallions, and Bientang’s Bouillabaisse, their signature twist to the Marseillaise classic. It’s sure to be a memorable, unfussed seaside experience.
Reservations are highly recommended, and the restaurant is also available for special occasions.
Time: 11.30am to 4pm daily | Dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, weather permitting
Address: In a cave, Below Marine Drive, Hermanus (100m from Old Harbour)
Tel: 028 312 3454 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: www.bientangscave.com
Facebook: Bientang’s Cave Restaurant & Wine Bar | Instagram: @bientangscave | Twitter: @bientangscave
Established in 1989, Bouchard Finlayson Winery is a boutique vineyard covering 125 hectares of Walker Bay’s prime viticultural land in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. The winery is locally and internationally recognised as a leader of Pinot Noir, but the intimate cellar extends equal attention to the quality production of their other esteemed labels.
Bouchard Finlayson offers weekly tastings and pre-booked tours. For a light lunch in the romantic cellar, try the Deli Platter laden with Salami, mild Gruberg cheese, Colby cheese, ciabatta, estate olive oil, olives, olive tapenade and mixed nuts paired with wines recommended by the in-house experts. Wine connoisseurs can build up their knowledge with the vineyard’s exclusively tutored Vintage Tasting sessions. Some of Bouchard Finlayson’s rare vintage variety takes centre stage at these informative sessions and is served with cheese and charcuterie faire.
And if you’re keen to explore more than just the wines at this top Western Cape vineyard, expert conservationist and botanist Frank Woodvine is running a guided nature walking tour of the estate with small groups. The tour varies from 45 minutes to two and a half hours and covers some of the region’s stunning flora, birdlife, and views.
Walk-in tasting sessions are welcome, but advance booking is essential for the Vintage Tastings, and Nature Walk.
Time: Mon to Fri 9am to 5pm | Sat 10am to 1pm | Closed on Sundays and public holidays
Address: Bouchard Finlayson Winery, R320, Hermanus
Tel: 028 312 3515 | Email: email@example.com | Website: www.bouchardfinlayson.co.za
Facebook: Bouchard Finlayson | Instagram: @bouchardfinlayson | Twitter: @bouchfinlayson
Cycling is still one of the best ways to explore Hermanus. Whether you’re an advanced mountain bike rider or fresh off the training wheels, GoBike Hermanus offers bicycles that are suitable for your every need, either for rental or purchase. From advanced electric bikes to fat bikes and mountain bikes, all from internationally acclaimed brands, the group will have you pedaling the picturesque valley or mountain tracks in no time.
Founder Dean Gillatt also hosts a variety of guided tours ranging from 2-3 hours to 7 days. Their Wine Trip comes highly recommended. Running for approximately 3-5 hours, the excursion kicks off in central Hermanus and head into the Hemel-en-Aarde valley, pit-stopping at some of the region’s top wineries such as Hamilton Russel Winery and Newton Johnson Family Vineyard.
If you prefer to go at it alone or just explore the city, the wide selection of bikes on offer caters to every rider. Gillatt and his team will even throw in some nifty insider tips and pointers to have you cycling in and around Hermanus hassle-free!
Tour bookings and rentals can be made via email or telephone. Customised and group tours are also available.
Cost: R280 – R1100 per person
Affectionately known as the Jewel of the Cape, De Hoop Nature Reserve offers an outdoor experience that perfectly encapsulates some of the most beloved natural aspects of the Cape – the sea, sand dunes, the vlei, wildlife and a floral sensation of rare fynbos plants. Visitors can observe – and possibly have a close encounter with – bontebok, Cape mountain zebra, eland, baboons, ostrich, various bird species, diverse antelope and a colony of endangered Cape vultures.
Day visitors and overnight guests can grab a bite at the restaurant before or after heading out to do some snorkeling in the turquoise rock pools, mountain biking along the many gravel roads or scenic game drives, lazing around on the beach or adventuring one of the various day-walks through the fynbos or along the coastline. Accommodation varies from fully-equipped self-catering cottages to fully-catered suites – suitable for every kind of traveler!
Tickets are available at the gate.
Cost: R50 for adults | R30 for children | Free for WILDCARD members
Time: 7am to 6pm daily (closes 7pm on Fridays)
Address: De Hoop Nature Reserve, Overberg District Municipality, Western Cape
Tel: 021 422 4522 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: www.dehoopcollection.com
Facebook: De Hoop Collection | Instagram: @dehoopreserve | Twitter: @dehoopreserve
Nestled on a snap-worthy Klein Rivier lagoon on the Whale Coast, De Vette Mossel Hermanus boasts with a rustic charm paired with ‘casual dining, fine wine and fantastic coastal views. Forget the fancy plates and shiny cutlery, guests tuck in as they would on any other beach braai on the West Coast!
The heritage eatery boasts with a unique twist to the buffet-style which us city-slickers we are familiar with. Their secret weapon? Most of the dishes are prepared in full view on sizzling open fires, and served ‘off the grid.’ Kick back and relax as you work your way through nine courses of proudly South African culinary classics. Highlights include the unique West Coast-style approach to ‘snoek en soet patats’, mussels steamed in farm butter, garlic and white wine, and a meat or seafood potjie. Round off your feast with the much revered Afrikaner entertaining staple, coffee and koeksisters.
De Vette Mossel Hermanus boasts with a big play area for kids. Visitors are welcome to bring their own drinks, glasses and ice to help soak up the relaxed beach atmosphere with old friends and new ones. Booking is essential, and functions for large groups can be accommodated on any open day.
Time: Summer: Saturday dinner 6.30pm to 10pm; Sunday lunch 12pm to 3pm | Winter: Sunday lunch 12pm to 3pm
Address: Prawn Flats, on R43 Voëlklip, Hermanus
Tel: 064 552 6627 | Email: email@example.com | Website: www.devettemosselhermanus.co.za
Facebook: De Vette Mossel Hermanus | Instagram: @devettemosselhermanus
‘Views, vino and vivacious dishes’ await at La Vierge Wines and Restaurant, nestled in the scenic surrounds of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Pop in for one of their food and wine pairings to get a scope of the vineyard’s diverse and award-winning offering. The saucy Jezebelle Chardonnay 2017 or the more refined The Affair Pinot Noir 2018 are perfect ways to kick start your visit, and all their wines are available for purchase at special cellar door prices. Enjoy your wine on the sunny open-air deck or among the artworks and windows showcasing the beauty of the valley.
If you’re staying for lunch or dinner on select evenings, the resident B’s Stro’s @La Vierge Restaurant is headed by famous steak-master Bruce Henderson and presents a combination of accessible and haute cuisine fare to perfectly complement the vineyard wine range. Free-range fillet sits perfectly next to ‘The Perfect Onion’ starter, which can be paired with the faint floral overtones of Anthelia Syrah 2016. And in celebration of Italian month in October, Bruce and his team also offer a special Italian-inspired menu which they’re keeping under close wraps.
Booking is essential and can be made via email or telephone.
Time: Tasting Room Mon-Sun; 10am to 5pm | Restaurant Tue-Sun; 11am to 4pm and select evenings – call to confirm
Address: La Vierge Wines and Restaurant, 12 Hemelenaarde Valley Road, Hermanus
Tel: 028 313 2007 or 028 313 1030 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com | Website: www.lavierge.co.za
Facebook: La Vierge Wines & Restaurant | Instagram: @laviergewines | Twitter: @laviergewines
Described as a peaceful, enchanting getaway set in the middle of the bustling town, The Barefoot Cook serves unique, seasonally-inspired dishes that combines European influence with South African flair, and a decent dash of culinary creativity.
Creative genius and Head Chef Anton Verhoogt is billed as ‘a flavour artist who considers every plate a blank canvas, ready to be adorned with colours, textures and tastes.’ Verhoogt keeps it local with fresh and seasonal produce to create his culinary masterpieces, and a selection of craft beers and wines. A regular attraction on his Blackboard Menu is well-cooked fillet plated creatively with bone marrow and homemade ash mayonnaise – a dish which will win over the most discerned foodie.
The mood is cosy and intimate, decorated with quirky curios and coup with attentive service. The shaded outdoor courtyard plays home to a tranquil water fountain that quietly trickles away beside dazzling petunias for the perfect dining setting for when the sun is out. While the roaring indoor fireplace makes for a cosier atmosphere on colder days.
Booking is essential and can be made via telephone and website.
Time: Lunches: Tue to Fri 11am to 3pm | Dinner: Wed to Sat 6pm to 9pm | Closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays