Hermanus is an upscale coastal town that has fancy hotels, fancy homes, beautiful sunset vistas and yes, you guessed it, whales!
You are more likely to see retired couples sipping wine along the bluffs of the whale trail than kids frolicking on the weekdays, but Hermanus is still an excellent destination for families.
Breakdown of costs for 2 nights and 2 full days for a family of 4 in Hermanus
Accommodations – $111 for 2 nights
Excursions – $153 (includes shark cage diving for dad)
Groceries – $87 (lasting 4 days)
Eating out – $23
Souvenirs – $10
Key Highlights of Hermanus for Families
What to do with Kids in Hermanus
The Whale Trail:
The whale trail is a 5 mile paved/packed dirt pathway that meanders along the cliff and is perfect for whale watching. The first day there I happened on it quite by accident when I woke up early to take a morning jog. Running just half of it (because I thought it ended although it was just a junction point) was an experience I will remember for life.
At sunrise I caught whales jumping, and feeding within large pods, it was absolutely spectacular. The backdrop of million-dollar homes nestled into the cliff sides and the cool ocean air was spectacular. We took the children there for a sunset stroll and covered about 1 mile in and headed back.
The best place to catch whales is a bit north of town and should not be missed. Here you will see the whales surfacing and feeding in large numbers right along the edge of the cliff. It is an area easily missed but is right across from a golf course about .5 miles north of the city center. You can walk there or take your car and park.
Shark Cage Diving:
I wanted to take the whole family on the shark diving tour but this ended up being impossible for 2 reasons. Our kids at ages 4 and 6 were too young and the cost would have been excessive.
The going rate for shark diving out of Hermanus is 1300 rand or about $130 US per person. Kids are 900 rands or $90 and are not allowed in the cage.
Hermanus is a great jump off point for shark cage diving because it is just 45 minutes up the road to Grabaii which is the launching point for the best great white shark cage diving experience in the world.
I booked through the information office which is the easiest way to go. It cost $15 US to add the transport to and from Grabaii. A small bus picked me up in the morning at 6 am loaded with tourists coming from Cape town. They had been 2 hours in the bus to my stop so I was pretty perky and they were pretty tired.
I would recommend that if you have kids that are 12 and older you take them diving, it is an experience of a lifetime and they will be super excited and be able to endure the time it takes to attract the sharks and also handle the ocean swell which can make even the strongest of stomachs seasick.
Ocean swimming and tide pool
You won’t read about this one in the guides books, but there is a very cool natural outdoor pool built out of concrete and rock along the whale trail inside the city. It is filled with Ocean water that naturally fills the pool at high tide. In winter it is downright cold, but this didn’t stop our kids from taking the plunge – luckily I had my wetsuit. It is filled with sea urchins and is shallow, the natural beauty is spectacular. I can imagine this would be better in the summer when it is hot outside, but either way, you should take the kids.
The playground and park.
Center of the city is a great outdoor playground that is excellent for kids of all ages. The kids can frolic and get their energy out and mom and dad can enjoy the grass, and push the kids on the swings while whale watching… How often can you say that?
Accommodations for families in Hermanus
We stayed at the Hermanus Esplanade which was a good deal. At $55 US per night, we were given an entire fisherman’s cottage for our family.
We had a nice refrigerator, stove, family room and two bathrooms.
What we didn’t have was wi-fi or a swimming pool. Not biggies but the backpacker’s hostel may be worth the look and it seems to me it may be just a bit better for families.
Our kids had a special hideout upstairs as well which allowed them to sleep in and us parents to have a private room downstairs. The only downside is we are here in August and there is no heat whatsoever, it was quite cold in the evenings. We improvised by firing up the hot plate and using it as a radiant heater, which I must say didn’t work that badly – just don’t tell the owners.
Kind of dangerous but cool!
Where to eat in Hermanus
There are a million places to eat in Hermanus and probably all of them are good. We rolled in at 8pm and found a Tapas bar that was open that ended up having great chicken fingers and chips for the kids and cold Castle beer and a nice glass of wine along with great atmosphere. There are tons of places to get burgers, ice cream, and snacks along the main strip.