Hermanus lends itself perfectly to family activities enjoying the natural environment of the Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot. Here are just 10 suggestions.
1. Swim in the sea
There are two Blue Flag Beaches in the Hermanus area, Grotto and Hawston that offer good swimming. But there are also many other super beaches, such as Voëlklip, Kammabaai and, of course, Onrus. The sea can be cold, especially when there is a south-easter blowing that causes upwelling of cold water. Swimming in autumn or winter can be an unexpected pleasure. Note that lifeguards are only on duty at the Blue Flag beaches for four months of the year. So keep safety in mind. Never turn your back on the sea and watch for rip tides especially along rocks.
2. Explore Estuaries
Both the Klein and Onrus Rivers have delightful estuaries which become safe, warm lagoons when the outlets to the sea close. Besides swimming try canoeing, snorkelling or just watching the little creatures. Try to find a hermit crab that has outgrown its shell and offer it a larger empty shell. Watch as the crab drags its vulnerable soft little body out of the old shell and quickly slip into the new ‘home’.
3. Dig for sand mussels
There is much satisfaction in gathering your own mussels for lunch – with a permit, of course. Mussels in a tomato-based sauce are delicious.
4. Rent a sea kayak
Kayak adventures start from the Old Harbour in Hermanus. An experienced guide ensures safety. Great activity, especially when the whales are in Walker Bay.
5. Hike the Cliff Paths
The Hermanus Cliff Path stretches for more than 10 km from the New Harbour in the west to Piet se Bos in the east. Much of it is wheelchair and pram-friendly. It provides excellent viewing of whales, coastal birds, fynbos scrub, as well as the occasional mammals like dassies, mongooses and genets. Collect your free information brochure from the Hermanus Tourism Bureau. Onrus-Vermont also has a lovely coastal path.
6. Explore a rock pool
There is a world of wonder in rock pools, small fish, sea anemones to feed, crabs, seaweeds, shellfish of many kinds and, if we’re lucky, an octopus.
7. Create land art on the beach
Create works of art on the beach with found objects. Take a photo and upload on social media before the tide comes in. Then remove and recycle any litter collected.
8. Collect ‘mermaids’ purses
Shark egg cases or mermaids’ purses are empty sharks’ eggs that wash out on the beach after the little sharks have hatched. A citizen-science project run by Whale Coast Conservation gathers data on the numbers and types of sharks found on the Cape Whale Coast. Collect and count the egg cases, identify them with the help of the information board at Grotto beach and send the results to Sheraine at email@example.com
9. Find a friendly shark in pyjamas
Visit the SA Shark Conservancy in the Old Harbour and see a cute Pyjama Shy Shark. Learn all about the small harmless sharks found along our shores.
10. Recce a reef
Just a small distance off the coastline of Hermanus is one of the most beautiful reefs in the country abounding with sea life, including spectacular nudibranchs. Contact one of the dive schools for an unforgettable experience.