Hermanus (or Hermies as it is more affectionately known by us locals) is like a second-home to me. I visited it again this past long weekend and was inspired to compile my top 10 favourite things to do in Hermies. What would be on your list?
1. Whale watching
Hermanus is synonymous with whales. Southern Right Whales travel thousands of kilometres from the Antarctic to breed and give birth in its safe warm waters. The whale season in Hermanus runs from June until December peaking in September and October. I love watching these mysterious, gentle giants of the sea frolicking and breaching in the waters. I prefer spontaneous whale watching as opposed to trying to chase after them. When I catch a glimpse of whales when I am in town or walking along the Cliff Path (see below) a spontaneous sighting is what makes the experience more magical and other-worldly.
Hermanus has some beautiful beaches. The Blue Flag Grotto beach stretches almost 18km to De Kelders and is my favourite beach for long walks. I prefer Voelklip Beach or Kammabaai (which literally means “calm bay”) for swimming and catching waves. In summer the water temperature can rise has high as 18 degrees which is substantially warmer than the water at the Cape Town beaches.
3. Cliff Path
The expansive cliff path that meanders next to the coastline from the New Harbour to Grotto Beach for almost 12km has to be one of Hermanus’s best features. There are spectacular views of mountain above and ocean below while you are surrounded by fynbos to keep you distracted while you are walking. There are also plenty of little wooden benches strategically stationed at scenic spots to allow you to soak it all in.
Hermanus is surrounded by extensive mountain ranges with ample opportunity to hike on well-maintained paths. The best hiking spot is probably from the Fernkloof Nature Reserve which boasts over 50km of hiking trails. My favourite hike is up to the three dams (reservoirs) where you can also swim (obviously).
5. Harbours (Old and New)
Hermanus used to primarily be a fishing village before it became a tourist mecca. I love to visit the Old Harbour with its out-dated tiny museum and sit on the wall with some fried fish and slap chips (the soggy kind with salt-and-vinegar dripping from the paper) watching the waves crash against the rocks while the seagulls beg for scraps. I also like seeing all the boats and activity in the new harbour and have tried (unsuccessfully) to fish off its pier.
6. Hemel-en-Aarde wine route
This has to be one of my favourite wine routes in the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde valley (on the R320 route) with some world class vineyards such as Newton Johnson and Bouchard Finlayson. Spend a few hours tasting wines along the route, have lunch at Newton Johnson or La Vierge which both offer spectacular views down the valley, or enjoy the tasting menu at Creation.
7. Morning Markets
The Hermanus Country Market on the Hermanus Cricket Club has to be my first morning market experience in 2006 before even hitting up the more famous Neighbourhood Goods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. A morning market is typically a number of tasty treats for breakfast and then maybe buying some dips, bread, spreads, olives, cheese, fruit and veggies for the rest of the day. The popularity of this market has seen a number of similar ones pop up around Hermanus with the other popular one being Hermanuspietersfontein.
I love shopping in Hermanus because it has a number of craft, vintage and boutique options. It is a shopper’s paradise. From the craft and curios at Lemm’s Corner to the boutique clothing shops around the Village Square. But as an avid reader, my favourite shop in the whole of Hermanus has to be the Hemmingways Bookstore on Harbour Road which is bursting with interesting reads and character.
Hermanus is a foodie’s delight with a plethora of restaurant options to choose from. If you break away from the more traditional fish-and-chips offering, places worth visiting are: La Pentola, the Cuckoo Tree and the Barefoot Cook (all in the town of Hermanus) and Gabrielskloof and Mogg’s Country Cookhouse (in the greater Hermanus).
10. Swim spots
This one is on the list just for me because as a true mermaid I love swimming and exploring new swim spots. I have swum in almost all of the swim spots in Hermanus. Namely, the reservoir/dams in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, the lagoon and all of the tidal pools in the greater Hermanus area (Marine Pool, Fick’s Pool, Dawies’ Pool and Jan Rabie Pool). I also recently tried out the beautiful 50m pool in Hawston which was empty at 8am and a great spot to swim train.
And a notable mention of activities but not on the top 10 list:
Hermanus has attracted some talented artists and there are a number of beautiful art galleries in Hermanus that are worth checking out. There are also some amazing sculptures in the “Sculpture on the Cliffs” exhibition on until 16 June 2017.
Hermanus has one of the best and most pristine 18-hole golf courses in South Africa (if golf is your thing). The fees seem a bit pricey but it’s a beautiful course.