Hermanus: The Not-So Sleepy, Coastal Retreat in South Africa
To be completely honest, Hermanus wasn’t the part of my trip to South Africa that I was super excited for, I mean I had read about it being a quaint town to stop in with beautiful views, but honestly the main reason was because Shark Cage Diving isn’t too far down the road from this town and made it possible to do that more conveniently.
Shark Cage Diving was a huge highlight, but I found myself liking Hermanus for more than just that – we’ll get back to Shark Cage Diving in a minute!
If you’ve never heard of Hermanus, this quaint, pretty, fishing village, offers more than 300 different activities and places to play. In addition to the numerous awesome spots to go and watch whales, it is also the only town in the world with a ‘Whale-Crier’, who alerts the town to the location of Southern Right whales in the bay during the mating season August to December.
I knew technically traveling at the end of December that we were outside of whale watching season, but I was still hoping we’d get to see a few, but we did not – a reason I must go back!
Sitting at Bientang’s Cave was one of my favorite afternoon activities just watching the waves crash and the tide move in and out. This restaurant and wine bar is actually carved out a cave and offers some of the best whale watching in the world during the season. Although whales were nowhere to be found, we decided to enjoy the views, local wines and fresh fish from the area.
The waters were so mesmerizing and the views so beautiful, it was fun to just walk the bay, climb through the rocky terrain and get sprayed by the salty water.
If I would have had another day there to explore, a spa day would have been on the top of the list! Spas are abundant in Hermanus as most of the boutique hotels and villas have them on site.
We stayed at Abalone Lodge, which comprised of 10 rooms all with a beautiful view of the ocean – take a look for yourself…
I could have simply stayed at this property and enjoyed myself for days relaxing. The spa services are incredibly affordable and the views that you never tire from.
Probably the first time I’ve ever taken a bath on vacation…I simply couldn’t pass it up in such an amazing bathroom – equipped with a towel warming bar and the perfect resting spot for my wine.
Ok, so on to the more exciting stuff – SHARK CAGE DIVING!
So many people have told me that this is on the top of their bucket list for future travels and I do agree it is a must do and see!
Our morning for Shark Cage Diving started very early with a 4:45am pickup, which for us isn’t a huge deal since we are up early at home anyway, but when we found out that the two other couples in our transfer had been picked up at 2:30AM, we were shocked! They were staying in Cape Town, not Hermanus, which made me even more thankful for choosing to stay in the area for this particular activity.
After about a 30-40 minute drive we arrived at Marine Dynamics and were briefed on how the day would go, measurements were taken for our wet suits, rain coats were handed out and life vests – time to get on the boat!
Now, I have to admit, I was kind of miserable. Even with all the research I had done, I failed to know that I needed to be wearing layers on this boat – IT WAS FREEZING! And well with the early morning wakeup call, I didn’t realize it was going to be an overcast morning with no sun….and there I was wearing a bathing suit coverup with a raincoat. But I knew as soon as the boat got far enough out to sea, I’d be getting my wet suit on and I’d be ok, right?
Holy moly the water is so so so so so so so so cold despite it being summer. I learned that the water is warmer during their winter and well with my limited experience in a wet suit, I learned that it does keep you a little warm, but I spent most of my time in the water with my teeth chattering and I couldn’t feel my feet well enough to climb back into the boat.
The amazing part of all of that discomfort is the moment they tell you “DOWN!” and you dive down to see a Great White Shark swim right in front of your eyes, you completely forget the cold, the discomfort and how much you’d rather be back in that warm bathtub full of water.
Hermanus truly ended up being so much more than originally anticipated and it would be hard to go back to South Africa without making this a stop on my journey. I will be back – next time I want to see the whales!