The ultimate guide to whale watching in SA

Posted on 22 May 2024 By Louise Bell

From the sparkling waters to the majestic beasts showing off by jumping through the air with a crafty flip, whale watching is the ultimate experience in South Africa. From Hermanus to Plettenberg Bay, you’ll have a ball by having a wide selection of locations and boat trips to choose from.

Unsplash/Marlin Clark

Need help taking to the seas in order to enjoy a spot of whale watching? Here are a few ways to ensure you have the best time, whether you’re watching from the shore or in safety in a boat.

What to expect

As the seawater in South Africa has the perfect conditions as a breeding ground, whales make the trek to enjoy the temperate waters this country offers. You’ll be able to spot several species in this whale migration, but the most common are the southern right and humpback whales.

Hermanus, often dubbed the whale-watching capital of the world, is the ultimate place to watch various species make their way to the bays of this seaside town. Pick this whale-watching location at the end of September. You’ll be able to enjoy the annual Hermanus Whale Festival and join in on the local festivities.

When is whale watching season?

The best time to book your boat trip or take a gander from the shores at these beautiful aquatic beings is between June and the end of October. If you find yourself in the waters when one of these creatures is present, keep at least 300 meters between you and this stoic species.

Tips for whale watching on a boat

  • Prepare for the trip ahead—As many boat rides last only a few hours, to ensure an unforgettable experience, you’ll need to pack a few essentials to survive the trip ahead. From sunscreen to seasick-easing aids, a few items in your hand luggage will have you watching whales in style.
  • Bring a rain jacket—As the whale-watching season falls in the winter of South Africa, you’ll need to prepare for rainy weather conditions ahead. A rain jacket will also double as protection from the big splashes whales can cause.
  • Book in advance—Whale watching is a popular pastime for many tourists visiting the bays of South Africa, so you’ll need to book well in advance to avoid disappointment. 

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