Best Place To Watch Cape Town Whales

August 4, 2012 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Things To Do in Cape Town,Whale Watching

Best place to whale watch in Cape Town area?

Whales Cape Town: It sounds like an invasion. But it is an invasion. But where is the best place to see whales, Cape Town?

Great question. People always suggest Hermanus to watch whales. But there are other places closer to Cape Town as well. Hermanus is 120 km from Cape Town. This may not sound like a long trip.

But get in your car and travel there. It’s going to take you 90 mins if you are lucky. Probably two hours. And two hours back. And the alternative is 40 mins away.

The good news is that Hermanus has a very unique vantage point. You walk along the sea shore and see these huge animals. You are relatively high and the angle and look down on the Southern Right Whales.

Hermanus hosts an annual whale festival at the end of September, when the Southern Right whales come into the local bay during the mating season. Prior to this main whale festival a “Kalfiefees” (or “Calf Festival”) is held, to welcome the first whales (usually in August). Both festivals are characterized by food and craft stalls and also attract South African drama productions to the town.

Have a look at the image above and below. You are right there.

best place to whale watch in Cape Town area

But you may be bound by time and want to see Cape Town whales; whales close to Cape Town.

That’s when you visit other places like False Bay where there are many Southern Right Whales and other massive sea-life like the Great Whites and Killer Whales.

Your question was:

Best place to whale watch in Cape Town area?

If you want to see whales close to Cape Town central then I would take the road to Simonstown, past Muizenberg, via a road called Old Boyes. Old Boyes is high and you look down seeing whales and great whites.

This is the road where our shark watchers sit as well. You’ll see them on the road over looking Muizenberg.

Going to Simonstown you may see a whales along the road.

But the real killer:

At Simonstown we can book you a trip on a boat with a licensed whale watcher operator. They will take you as close as they are allowed to go to these gracious whales.

We have been and I cannot tell you how it feels to see these whales turn on their heads and wave their tales. If you ever get any closer you may be breaking the law. Our friend knows his limits and take you where he is allowed. (He’s licensed).

Obviously this is going to cost you money. (Adults pay R800 and kids R500).

Here’s another idea:

Let’s say you travel to Hermanus to go and see the whales. And you get there and there are no whales. You’ll not be happy. But let’s say you phone us from wherever you are and you ask us if there are any whales in the bay.

Then you have a better chance of seeing whales.

Obviously we will not guarantee that because we have no way of know how long it will take you from getting to Simonstown from the time you phone.

You can see from the image above that we see Southern Right whales in action. Here they jump – they are active – and we see that close up. And if you want more action and you get on the boat when the dolphins are round you may even see killer whales in action.

Here’s a killer whale chasing dophins close to Simonstown’s False Bay.

Killer whale watching simonstown

Cape Town Whale Watching is great but when you have some historical insights it mat help. The first whaling station was at Simonstown 67 years after Baron G. W. van Imhoff, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies chose the site and named it after Simon Van der Stel. (read more here on Simonstown history)

In 1810 a whaling station operated at Simon’s Bay, and there were about 40 houses, belonging to people who resided in Cape Town during the summer months.


Then Kalk Bay took over from Simonstown

1820 Kalk Bay was again a hive of activity as the whaling boom brought much needed enterprise. This happened because whaling was prohibited in Simon’s Town due to complaints by the residents and the garrison, that the smell of burning rubber and rotting whale carcasses was repugnant, unhygienic and unacceptable.


What Kind Of Cape Town Whales can you see?

The Southern Right Whales are the most common during May to November with the peak in October.

The southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) is a baleen whale, one of three species classified as right whales belonging to the genus Eubalaena. Like other right whales, the southern right whale is readily distinguished from others by the callosities on its head, a broad back without a dorsal fin, and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. Wikipedia.


Cape Town Whales Southern Right

Why are the Southern Right Whales called as such?

It was the right whale to kill.

The whale’s common name is the Southern Right whale because it lives in the southern hemisphere and at the time was the right whale to kill.
Why? Because it was a slow swimmer and it had so much blubber it seldom sank.


Other Cape Town whales to watch out for:

Whales Cape town Brydes

  • Bryde’s Whales: The chances of seeing these beautiful whales from the shore is low.
“Bryde” is pronounced “brooda or brooders”, the name coming from the Norwegian consul to South Africa, Johan Bryde, who helped set up the first whaling station in Durban, South Africa in 1908. They are often seen feeding at sea, usually associated with frenzy feeding together with other bird, seal and penguin species, but are generally shy and keep away from vessels and other disruptive activities. Best spotted from whale watching vessels, they may come closer to investigate, but often when seen as individuals will continue swimming away and feeding. (More here..)
  • Humpback Whales
Humpback whales mate and calve in the warm waters off both Mozambique and West Africa, and can be seen in False Bay as they move past South Africa on their northward migration in winter, usually May and June, and then on their return trip to the Southern Ocean in October and November, with a few stragglers in December.
  • Killer Whales (Orcas)

Killer Whales Chasing dolphinsThe killer whale (Orcinus orca), also referred to as the orca whale or orca, and less commonly as the blackfish, is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family. Killer whales are found in all oceans, from the frigid Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas. Killer whales as a species have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as sea lions, seals,walruses, and even large whales.

The killer whales are mostly seen from boats in False Bay. Sometimes you may see lots of bird activity above of pod of dolphins in False Bay that could either mean the dolphins are feeding or are been fed upon by the Orcas. Then you need a strong binocular of preferably a telescope.

Well that’s enough of Cape Town Whales and watching of these gracious creatures.

  • If you want action then watch these Cape Town whales in False Bay and from a boat.
  • If you don’t want to travel far to see whales then come to Simonstown as it close to Cape town.
  • If you want to increase the chances of seeing a whale give us a call.
  • If you have more time then Hermanus is a great option.

You asked:

Best place to whale watch in Cape Town area?

Did this answer your question? If not please use the comment area to ask more questions or give us advice.


  1. Train Cape Town to Simonstown | Southern Line Tourism Route said on August 9, 2012 3:22 pm:

    […] the outdoor front, go swimming with the penguins at Boulder’s Beach, set sail for a boat trip to watch whales, go sea-kayaking or play nine holes of golf. On the food front, experience fresh seafood, French […]

  2. 10 Inspiring Cape Town Photos and Memorable Quotes said on August 15, 2012 4:02 pm:

    […] to see the Big Five. Well. Here’s an alternative. – Thirty minutes from Cape Town you can watch whales, dolphins and sharks. In action. [tweet this] […]