If you’re looking at staying at Wilderness on Sea, then you’re the kind of person who values adventure and a free spirit. You’re also probably going to love the festivals that are happening as Winter ebbs to welcome in the Spring. Wilderness, like many of the small villages and towns which dot the West Coast get really excited about the return of the Southern Right Whales as they return to breed in the protected waters. This is a great time to visit as you’ll soon see.
Hermanus Whale Viewing
Not only can you see these gentle giants from nearly anywhere along the coast, but none more so than nearby Hermanus which is just a very short drive from Wilderness, and also a lovely one. It means being able to escape the crowds once you’re done enjoying the best of these festival offerings this busy time of year, and relax in your appointments at Wilderness on Sea, free to return the next day refreshed and ready to go anew.
The whales come to breed in late July, and get closer to shore in August and September primarily before they eventually head out to sea with their calves in December. These whales are playful creatures, as they breach, splash, call and blow air and water out their blowholes for all to see. They are an utter natural joy to behold, and an easy spot this time of year. They are one of the sights a person cannot just see anywhere else, and one that shouldn’t be missed. Seeing these amazing beasts changes a person.
Hermanus, a long established fishing village pays homage to these whales with three hopping festivals alive with so much activity that you may not even get to do it all while here, but you are welcome and encouraged to try! The first one is the Hermanus Times Kalfiefees, named for the whales, the second is the Hermanus Wine and Food Festival, and the last of the season there is the Hermanus Whale Festival. We’ll go into more detail about each of these so you can decide which you like the best, or determine to see them all!
The Hermanus Times Kalfiefees
The Hermanus Times Kalfiefees is happening from 4 August to 9 August. Tickets are sold at the door for R110, and is in the Onrus area of Hermanus. This event features primarily Afrikaans talent, and is deliberately timed to the arrival of the whales. There is musical performances here to enjoy, comedy acts, and a ton more. Expect to be pleasantly introduced to the warmth of the West Coast in this first festival, where local heart meets amazing ambience.
The Hermanus Wine and Food Festival
The second event overlaps the first one – The Hermanus Wine and Food Festival, which is in the Sandbaai area of Hermanus at the Curro School. It’s been easily voted as one of South Africa’s premier top ten wine affairs, with an extreme amount of activities to take part in. There are over 65 local craft beers and fine wines to sample, gourmet foods on offer prepared by local chef stars of the field, wine pairings and sales at winery pricing, food stalls, deli treats, live music performances and a ton of kids activities. The event is from 6 August to 8 August, and tickets are R50 to get in, and R100 for the wine area.
The Hermanus Whale Festival
The last event is considered THE festival not to miss, and is one of a kind in South Africa. The Hermanus Whale Festival happens from 30 September to 2 October, the 25th annual one to be held here and stands as the only environmental arts festival where the ecosystem meets the arts. Available at this famous festival are over 20 artists which will be playing on the Two Oceans Wine Music Stage, full street parades, entertainment for the little ones, sporting events, homemade foods, crafts and local offerings to take back with you, as well as delicious food stalls, and the ability to see visitors from all over the world. If you see no other festival, be sure not to miss this one.
Staying in Wilderness this time of year is the perfect way to see these whales before they disappear back to the briny deep and go too far out to see from shore. There is no better way to experience the joys of the West Coast than to stay within it yourself, and take short jaunts to the many festivals celebrating the joy of small town life and the annual arrival of the amazing Southern Right Whales.