Elvis Brew in George has the closest viewing deck for large aircraft in SA
Whale Coast Hotel in Hermanus
Big fish accommodation the whole gang can enjoy
With hulking Cape Fold Belt mountains rising up toward the heavens to its back, the Botrivier and Kleinrivier lagoons unravelling majestically at its hips and misty cliffs dropping away to give reach to the sparkling Atlantic Ocean at its feet, the seaside village of Hermanus is a whisper of man’s presence in the midst of a natural wonderland.
In the past, local families with holiday homes retreated to its peaceful shores to breathe in the Champagne air, marvel at the whales calving in the bay, buy fresh bread from the lone baker and reconnect with each other in the absence of urban distraction. And though the Overberg hub has long since matured, adding many of the trademarks of modern civilisation to its repertoire, it still remains one of the most charming and convenient (it’s just over one hour from Cape Town) getaway destinations in the Western Cape.
Surprisingly though, many of the accommodation options that have cropped up to cater to those making the pilgrimage to this land-based whale-watching capital still fail to provide for anyone other than couples and lone travellers.
Whale Coast Hotel is filling that gap.
Spacious, modern and central, the four-star self-catering accommodation in Hermanus gives those with little ones (or those who simply like to spread out) a luxurious place to call home at an affordable rate.
The property’s two-bedroom and three-bedroom suites are as cavernous as Jonah must have found the belly of his big fish. Each comes with a downstairs lounge that looks out onto the shoulders of the bordering mountains, a state-of-the-art kitchen that easily rivals most guests’ own culinary ground zero and upstairs sleeping quarters kitted out with plenty of cupboard space and beds so soft they make you feel as if you’ve jumped onto a cloud.
Kids of all ages are welcome all year round because, unlike many of the village’s other properties, Whale Coast’s accommodation is big enough to swallow the sounds of youngsters whole.
What’s more, as the intimate collection of rooms is stitched into the side of a small shopping centre, those planning for long stays can take solace in the fact that Woolworths and Checkers grocery stores, as well as a handful of restaurants, are within a one-minute walk (47 seconds if you take the elevator).
Similarly, the famous 12-km Hermanus cliff path, a meandering trail that hugs the coastline and treats wanderers to views of the awe-inspiring Southern Right whales breaching, fluking and blowing from late June to early December, is just a five-minute saunter from the hotel’s front door.
What many people don’t realise though, is that apart from watching the lords of the deep at play, there’s so much to do in this charming town.
Shark cage diving and penguin viewing are just around the corner, a wine route that lays claim to some of South Africa’s most storied estates is but a 10-minute drive away, the Blue Flag Grotto Beach is within a tuk-tuk ride, hiking paths and trails galore spread out in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve that overlooks the village, a 27-hole golf course uncurls around the base of the nearby Raed-na-Gael mountain range and fishing, paragliding, sea kayaking, mountain bike riding and more are just some of the other things to do on offer.
But, by far, the best part is that after a day spent exploring the area, taking in the big five of the sea or simply indulging in some much-needed R&R, visitors staying at the Whale Coast Hotel can ring in the evening the same way that the locals do: with a roaring braai (barbeque) and lazy conversation on a spacious balcony (all of the property’s units come with either a wood-fire or gas braai).
You see, Hermanus may have outgrown its fishing village breeches, but in this wee provincial town – it still doesn’t have a movie theatre – old-fashioned entertainment, like good food, good drink and good company, still makes the country seat a worthwhile escape for families looking to share some quality time amidst South Africa’s breathtaking natural beauty.
Tip: For families who number more than six, Whale Coast Hotel can put an extra cot in the suites for a young child.
The Bill: Incredibly affordable, especially given the contemporary nature of the accommodation. Rates vary depending on how many people are sharing a flat/apartment.
Looking for a more romantic spot to stay in this seaside village? Check out Hermanus Beach Villa, where the sound of crashing waves will lull you to sleep.
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