It is whale-watching season in Cape Town and surrounds. All along the Western Cape’s spectacular coastline, binoculars are turned towards the Indian Ocean for the foreseeable future to spot these majestic marine mammals in their natural habitat. From August until November numerous tour operators offer whale-watching trips, providing fantastic opportunities to witness the whales frolic in the deep blue expanse. You will have a good chance of spotting Southern Right Whales, Humpback Whales and even Bryde’s Whales.
The Southern Rights are undoubtedly the stars of the show. They migrate from the icy waters of Antarctica to the warmer waters of South Africa to breed and calve. Mothers and their calves can often be seen close to the shore, making them a favourite among whale watchers. Humpbacks are another common sight during the whale-watching season. They are known for their acrobatic displays, including breaching and tail slapping. They migrate along the South African coast as they travel between their feeding and breeding grounds.
Bryde’s whales are year-round residents in the waters around South Africa. While they can be seen throughout the year, they are still a part of the whale-watching experience, especially during the peak season. To maximise your chances of seeing whales, it’s a good idea to take a whale-watching boat tour, which will provide you with a closer and more interactive experience. Keep in mind though that while the whale-watching season is well-defined, sightings can still be influenced by various factors, including weather conditions and the behavior of the whales themselves.
Cape Town and its surrounding areas offer some fantastic opportunities to see whales during their yearly visit to the South African coastline. Known as the whale-watching capital of South Africa, Hermanus is a top spot to see Southern Right Whales. The town even has a whale crier who sounds his horn when whales are spotted. Gansbaai is a short drive from Hermanus and another great place to see whales. Dyer Island, near Gansbaai, is known for its shark cage diving and is also a prime spot for whale-watching.
False Bay is another hot spot for whale activity. You can often see Southern Rights from the shore, especially in places like Simon’s Town, Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek. Robben Island, where former president Nelson Mandela was held prisoner, can also be a great place for whale-watching when you take a boat tour from the V&A Waterfront. A little further afield along the Garden Route, there is Plettenberg Bay which is another excellent whale-watching destination. You can often see Humpback and Southern Right Whales in the bay.
Knysna, another Garden Route gem, offers boat-based whale-watching tours. These tours can take you closer to the whales and you may also spot dolphins and other marine life. De Hoop Nature Reserve, a beautiful coastal reserve that lies around three hours southeast of Cape Town, is a protected area known for its pristine beaches and excellent whale-watching opportunities.