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Small South Africa flagSouth Africa

Whale Coast & Overberg Accommodation

Explore on Map Map of Whale Coast & Overberg Accommodation

Best land-based whale watching in the world!

Just over the mountains and approximately one hour east of Cape Town, lies the Cape's most jealously guarded secret... The Overberg, sometimes referred to as the Whale Coast.

The Overberg ("the other side of the mountain") was the original name given by Dutch colonists in the Cape when referring to the land that lay east across the Hottentots Holland mountain range.

The region is an all year round destination, excellent for beach holidays. It is a playground of the earth and sea, a nursery of the Southern Right whales and a garden of delight, from its rare floral tapestry, to the fields of grain and orchard of fruit.

For beach holidays and to enjoy the sun of South Africa at its best December - February is the time to visit. The busiest time, however, is December which is the traditional holiday period for South Africans. A quiet period is March - May, when the weather is moderate and the area is fairly quiet. For the best land-based whale watching in the world and the floral spectacular at its best June - November is ideal, and especially August and September.

The Overberg enjoys a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The height of summer is in January with average temperatures 15C. The middle of winter is June with average temperatures from 5C to 22C.

Best land-based whale watching sites world-wide

The coming of the whales to the Overberg creates a stir along the coast when reports of sightings draws crowds who gather to watch the greatest mammal show on earth. The Overberg coast forms part of the MTN Cape Whale Route. There are three types of whales likely to be seen, The Southern Right whale, Humpback and Bryde's are the three types of whale likely to be seen.

The whales may be viewed along the Overberg coast and especially good vantage points are along Hermanus' Walker Bay and at Koppie Alleen in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, the world's most important calving and mating grounds.

In Hermanus a 12km stretch of cliff path provides one of the best land-based spots for whale watching world-wide.

A wealth of indigenous plants and animals

The diversity of the Overberg's natural environment is accompanied by an unsurpassed wealth of indigenous plants and animals.

The Overberg is the heart of the famous Cape Floristic Region and although it is the smallest plant kingdom in the world, it has an amazing 8500 species.

Some of the finest colonies of fynbos in the country are found in the Overberg. Fynbos (fine bushes) is the popular name given for the vegetation of the shrub lands of the Western Cape's winter rainfall area. Although fynbos is at it's most spectacular during late winter and spring, the region offers flowers to be enjoyed throughout the year. A similar variety of animal species includes many mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and terrestrial invertebrates and fish.

Food and Wine

Visitors to the Overberg can expect to find a superb coastal area of fine beaches and quaint villages in beautiful mountain settings. Every town and many of the farms have well preserved historical features, often still in use as part of their everyday life. Those interested in arts and crafts will find a vibrant mixture of indigenous crafts and modern art works to choose from including unique crafts such as decorative works on wagons and dried fynbos arrangements. There is also a variety of art galleries, exhibition venues, pottery clubs and art groups.

The Overberg has developed it's own style cuisine and is renowned for its excellent seafood and traditional 'beorekos' dishes. It's wine estates, many with cellars open to visitors for wine tasting, produce award winners listed on the SAA wine list and are exported to Europe. Wines range from crisp dry whites to full-bodied reds.

The Outdoors

Outdoor lovers have a wide variety of activities to choose from. Bontebok National Park, De Hoop Marine Reserve, and the Fernkloof Nature Reserve are just a few of the nature reserves well worth visiting and walks and hiking trails are available including horse trails, mountain bike trails and 4x4 trails. For the more daring, great white sharks can be viewed in their environment whilst in the safety of an underwater cage. For the not-quite-so-daring, there's always angling, swimming, sailing and then there's golf...

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Explore in pictures...

Southern right whale breaching off the coast of Hermanus. Hermanus is widely regarded as having the best land-based whale watching sites in the world
Gansbaai is synonymous with great white sharks. If patting a shark is your "thing" then head off to Gansbaai for a boat trip to remember. Don't forget to take your "brave pills"
The Hermanus old harbour was declared a national monument in 1970 and is presently a Provincial Heritage Site. The site has been extensively developed to conserve the area through the rebuilding of old fishing shacks with displays to depict the history of fishing and marine life in Hermanus
A full size model of a southern right whale. An adult female can vary in length from 15 m (49 ft) and weigh 47 tonnes, up to 18m (60 ft) in length and 80 tonnes. Lifespan is believed to exceed 100 years
Hermanus may be famed for spectacular whale-watching, but it also does a pretty good sunset. This magnificent fiery affair was shot from a rocky outcrop close to Hermanus
A southern right whale breaching in the failing light, off the coast of Hermanus. Approximately 10,000 southern right whales are spread throughout the southern part of the Southern Hemisphere
Hermanus beach. One of many sandy spots that are waiting to be explored. Hiking in the area provides endless photographic opportunities
The Hermanus old harbour. The town originally developed around this harbour from the middle of the nineteenth century when fish and fresh water were plentiful in the area
A sign along one of the many "Whale Walks" displaying the various behaviours to be seen. A whale of a time is guaranteed for all!
Old buildings which have been restored and are now part of the Old Harbour Museum are to be found alongside the old harbour
Kleinbaai (small bay) beach scene. Located on the Danger Point Peninsula, this area is also a popular whale-watching location
Looking down from the Hottentots Holland Mountains. At the start of the Great Trek in 1835 when migrants decided to leave the Cape Town area, or Cape Colony as it was then known, the first mountain range they crossed was this range
Theewaterskloof Dam is an earth-fill type dam located on the Sonderend River near Villiersdorp. It was established in 1978 and is the largest dam in the Western Cape Water Supply System with a capacity of 480 million cubic metres
Looking down on the suburb of Voelkip with Grotto Beach in the foreground. Grotto Beach is the largest beach in Hermanus and has also been proclaimed a "Blue Flag" beach. Blue flag beaches meet international Environment, Safety and Management criteria
Rainbow in the Hemel en Aarde Valley near Hermanus. The name is Dutch for "Heaven and earth" and this region is truly blessed with producing some high-quality wines from the Burgundy varieties
Buffelsjagbaai is now the home to the Buffeljags Abalone Farm. Abalone are grown in baskets suspended in sturdy glass fibre ponds. A plentiful supply of seawater is circulated through the ponds, ensuring a constant supply of cool, aerated water for the growing abalone
Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). The lifespan of great white sharks is estimated to be as long as 70 years or more, with males reaching sexual maturity at 26 years old and females only at 33 years of age
Caledon Town Hall. Originally known in Dutch as Bad agter de Berg (Bath Behind the Mountain). A bath house was built in 1797 and a village called Swartberg sprang up, which was renamed Caledon in honor of the Irish peer Du Pre Alexander, 2nd Earl of Caledon (1777–1839), the first British governor of the Cape (1806-1811)
Architecture of Caledon: Georgian Cottage on the corner of Cathkin Street and Donkin Street. Originally a private town house, which then became the first head office of the local farmers co-operative
The House at 11 Constitution Street, is now part of the Caledon Museum. Restored using old photographs and plans, research was done on other old buildings of the same era. Period correct wallpapers were researched typical of that time, with actual samples being found in a house in Mill Street
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Bredasdorp is home to the Shipwreck Museum which tells the stories of the 150 wrecks along the nearby Agulhas Reef. The only museum of its kind in the southern hemisphere
Betty's Bay is popular location for lovers of penguins. A walkway specifically for this task has been created and it's no real surprise what is waiting at the end...
...penguins! Betty's Bay is not only famous for it's African penguin colony but also home to the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden
Sunset at Betty's Bay. Betty's Bay is named after Betty Youlden, daughter of the first developer of the area Arthur Youlden
Evening in the picturesque historical fishing village Kassies Bay, on the outskirts of Arniston
The fishing village of Arniston, characterised by its lime-washed and thatched houses, remains unspoiled and has been declared a national monument in its entirety
Prior to the loss of the merchant ship the Arniston, the town was known as Waenhuiskrans, an Afrikaans name meaning literally "Wagon house cliff", after a local sea cave large enough to accommodate a wagon and a span of oxen
Fishing boats in the dry dock at Arniston. The town of Arniston takes it's name from the wreck of the sailing ship the Arniston on 3rd May, 1815
View over L'Agulhas. Located just north of Cape Agulhas, the southern most tip of the African mainland, it is the southernmost settlement in Africa
The marker at Cape Agulhas indicates the official dividing line between the Atlantic and Indian oceans. It is also the geographic southern tip of the African continent
Detail of the marker at Cape Agulhas
The Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, the second-oldest working lighthouse in South Africa, is at the southern end of the town. It was lit on 1 March 1849, and declared a National Monument in 1973
The rocky coastline of Cape Agulhas. Some 150 ships lay scattered along the South African coast, many due to the treacherous Agulhas Reef. It is in memory of the countless lives lost and to warn passing ships of the pending danger that the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse was built
In 1846 a wealthy Englishman, Herbert Vigne, bought the farm Weltevreden. He established a freehold agricultural village in 1854, keeping two small portions for himself and bequeathing the remainder of the farm as commonage. He named the village "Greyton", after Sir George Grey, the then Governor of the Cape
Looking down onto Kleinmond from the Hottentots Holland Mountains. The town's name, meaning "small mouth" in Afrikaans, refers to its location at the mouth of the Bot River lagoon
Wooden path at Kleinmond, looking south-east towards Hawston and the Hoek-van-die-berg Private Nature Reserve. Kleinmond is situated inside a UNESCO-declared biosphere about 90 km east of Cape Town between Betty's Bay and Hermanus
Fishermen and Land Rover on a perfect day at Pearly Beach. Pearly Beach is located smack bang in the middle of the Uilkraalsmond Nature Reserve to the north-west and the Pearly Beach Nature Reserve to the south-east
Pringle Bay is named after Rear-Admiral Thomas Pringle, of the Royal Navy, who commanded the naval station at the Cape in the late 1790s. The town and surrounds are part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve
Storm brewing over Riviersonderend Mountains. The village of Riviersonderend was established in 1923. First known as "Rivier Zonder End" (Dutch for "river without end"), the name later changed to the Afrikaans "Riviersonderend" which was a literal translation of the Khoi-khoi name "Kannakamkanna" ("river without end")
Situated on the eastern shore of False Bay, the Rooi Els coastal road (R44) hugs the coastline a few metres above sea level and in the shadow of the Hottentots-Holland Mountains
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The harbour at Struisbaai. There has been some debate over the origins of the name but it is likely derived from an old Dutch word meaning "huge" given due to the long stretches of beach - the longest in the Southern Hemisphere, stretching for a total of 14 kilometres
Fisherman's Cottage, Hotageterkilp, Struisbaai. The fishermen's cottages in Hotagterklip have been declared provincial heritage sites. Many of the old cottages fell into ruin, until original cottages were restored in the 1990s
Suiderstrand is completely surrounded by the Agulhas National Park, home to vast diversity of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects. Pristine beaches, rockpools, marine lagoon, a historic beach home and archaeological fish traps, are all visual treats that await the coastline hiker or casual walker
Sunlight breaking through at Van Dyks Bay. Van Dyks Bay is well known for its whale watching, especially during the months from June to December
Kleinbaai (small bay) at Van Dyks Bay
Entrance to Kleinbaai (small bay) at Van Dyks Bay
This lovely Swellendam Monument was purchased in 2003, and with major renovation, turned into a country hotel. Originally built in 1853 in the Georgian style, the Victorian filigree lace and balcony was added in the early 1900's. It has had an eccentric and chequered past, often standing derelict and abandoned
The Old Drostdy in Swellendam. The town has over 50 provincial heritage sites, most of them buildings of Cape Dutch architecture. In 1743 Swellendam was declared a magisterial district, the third oldest in South Africa
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