Have a whale of a time on the Cape Whale Coast
by Wessel Badenhorst
This article originally appeared in our South African family travel magazine Things to do With Kids in collaboration with the Cape Whale Coast. For all the mentioned providers contact details please visit their website. Thank you again for the fantastic work done together! xx Tanya
The Cape Whale Coast stretches from the hamlet of Rooiels in the west to Quoin Point in the east. All within about 200 km from Cape Town and the ideal getaway for families. If you used to know all the surf spots and now find yourself searching for things to do as a family, you may have to update the itinerary. We explored Hemel-en-Aarde, driving from Cape Town to Hermanus, then headed off to Stanford before taking the scenic way home via Kleinmond.
Day 1 on the Cape Whale Coast: Hermanus
Learn to speak whale like Dory, in Hermanus
Regular travellers along the N2 know where Caledon is, but few choose to slow down and turn into the town. If you choose the road less travelled, you find the start of the winding Shaw's Pass (R302) over the mountain of the same name. The pass ends at the start of the breath-taking valley of Hemel-en-Aarde, the perfect place to start exploring the Cape Whale Coast.
We stopped at the picturesque Creation Wines, with their restaurant overlooking rolling mountain slopes. It is impossible not to get excited about their range of food and wine pairings, from a quick breakfast pairing to their 7-dish, 8-wine “Story of Creation”. Creation is one of the few farms in South Africa to cater for kids as part of the tasting experience that includes milk, juice and snack pairing. They also offer an indoor kids room where your little ones can play with toys and blocks while you spend some quality time with your spouse.
The area offers a variety of high-energy adventures. You can explore on horseback, zip slide through the canopy, go on a quad-bike adventure in the forest, or have an all-out paintball war.
As we entered Hermanus, we discovered the Super Plants nursery. Their Wonderland Café has a putt-putt course, pirate boat, and a variety of jungle gyms in the play area. They also sell snacks, drinks, and trinkets, this is all helpful making the journey more enjoyable for all.
The town of Hermanus has many interesting things to do and see but is best known for the Southern Right whales that come to visit every year. The kids will love spotting real-life, gigantic whales and may try calling them just like Dory in Finding Nemo. During whale season you may be lucky enough to hear the world's only whale crier announcing on his kelp trumpet where whales have been sighted.
Visit The Honey Stall and taste the subtle difference that the different types of flowers make to the final product.
Other Activities -Paid
SA Forest Adventures (age 10 years and older)
- Stop to feed the animals at the Rocklands touch farm between Hermanus and Stanford.
- Head to the Walker Bay Conservancy which is home to not one, but two blue flag beaches, but don't stay too long; there is much to explore in and around Stanford.
Day 2: Saturday spent in Stanford
The town of Stanford was founded in 1857 by Sir Robert Stanford and still breathes that quaint historical charm. Pick up the “Historical Stanford on Foot” booklet form the local tourism office and head off, popping into the antique shops and art galleries as you go. The kids will enjoy the authentic Italian Don Gelato ice-cream shop.
Take a stroll through the Saturday Morning Market on the stoep of the Stanford Hotel (10:00 - 12:00), where you will find everything from fresh local produce to homemade treats.
Stop at Stanford Hills for a bite at the tasting room while you let the younger children run wild on the jungle gyms and trampoline. Families with older children will enjoy mountain biking, trail running, or hiking on one of the farm's trails.
Down the road from Stanford Hills, you are faced with a difficult choice: Turn left towards Stanford Harvest to taste the lovely local mead (honey wine), in both the classic and fynbos incarnations, and dig in for the Sunday Buffet. Alternatively, if grappa and pizza are more to your liking, turn right and pop in at the Sir Robert Stanford Distillery. Both have ample lawn for children to run wild if they have finished eating before the rest of the group.
Mosaic Private Conservancy offers luxury accommodation with a number of activities open to both guests and the public. Take a trip on their private boat to the estuary, or go biking on the beach with fat-wheeled bicycles that can be hired on site. They also offer quad-bike adventures, picnics on the lawn, and an old "Spookhuis".
We particularly enjoyed Kleinrivier Cheese Farm. The beautiful surroundings and award-winning cheeses set the scene for a perfect picnic. The kids adored the farm animals, and just loved the extensive play area with a kick-bike track.
- Wandelpad hiking trail and fishing spot (all ages)
- Overberg Honey - 20 varieties tasting (all ages)
- Phillipskop Mountain Reserve hiking trail, rock art, and waterfall (all ages)
- Riverboat cruises on the Klein River
- Beer tasting at Birkenhead Micro-Brewery
- Panthera Africa big cat sanctuary
Day 3: Great Whites in Gansbaai and Kleinbaai foraging
An unrivaled coastline and an abundance of seafood (like the giant periwinkle) make Kleinbaai one of my favourite destinations. The area is best known for its population of Great White sharks, and for older children, shark cage diving is an option to consider. Young children will enjoy exploring the delightful Fantasy Garden with plenty of references to well-known fairy tales and nursery rhymes.
Spending your morning looking for seafood is an activity the whole family will enjoy, and Google comes up with recipes to fit every preference.
An inspiring place to visit is the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary between Gansbaai and Kleinbaai where you can have a cup of coffee, and see the work done to protect these wonderful creatures. The little ones will also be able to see some of the rescued birds being rehabilitated.
- Watch the penguins at De Kelders beach.
- Visit Drupkelder Freshwater Caves.
- Enjoy the view from the top of the Danger Point Lighthouse (Monday to Friday, 10:00 -15:00).
Did you know? A group of penguins in the water is called a raft – a group of penguins on land is called a waddle. Other collective nouns for penguins include rookery, colony, and huddle.
Enjoying the little things in Kleinmond!
Heading back home can be more than time spent on the road. Take the coastal road, because Kleinmond has two special treats for you. The first is the penguin colony at Stony Point, which is the second largest land-based penguin colony in Africa. Alternatively, you can stop at Rooisand and seek out Kleinmond's famous wild horses.
The Cape Whale Coast is a must for every family looking to experience something new. From the tranquillity of Creation Wines to the rush of diving with the sharks at Gansbaai, there really is something for every taste, and your kids will be begging you to come back for more. I was surprised at the number of businesses that make an effort to create an experience that both adults and children will remember for years to come.
The Cape Whale Coast Contact Details:
Address: 1 Patterson Street, Hermanus, 7200
Tel: 028 313 8038
For more information please visit: Cape Whale Coast more Information