To make your stay as enjoyable as possible we have put together some information on the surroundings, suggestions on things to see and do. The area of Gansbaai on the Cape Whale Coast offers excellent whale watching, shark cage diving, diverse fynbos, coastal cliffs and deserted beaches.
Do some wine tasting in the Overberg, experience the fynbos on horse back or on foot . Enjoy a round off Golf on one of three golf cources.
Hope with a better insight of what our area has to offer it will make it easier for you to know what you are after and the amount of time you will need in our area. It is advisable to book some activities in advance.
boat based whale watching
Coming up close and personal with a Southern Right in it's natural habitat is truly exhilarating. The Southern Rights seem to be as curious about us as we are about them, and are often friendly and playful, passing under or next to the boat.
The industry is carefully regulated, and experienced operators are allocated areas to ensure minimum intrusion on the whales. Only 2 permits have been issued for legal boat-based whale watching on the Danger Point Peninsula. The boats stay 50m away from the whales, but Right whales are inquisitive and often surface very close to the boat, providing an unforgettable close encounter
The 2-hour boat trips depart in the morning with a possible second trip around lunch. Ivanhoe Sea Safaris operates in Walker Bay leaving from Gansbaai harbour (5min by car) and specializes exclusively in whales. Normal departure 10h30
Dyer Island Cruises leave from Kleinbaai harbour, (15min by car) heads towards Dyer Island with its penguins and Geyser Island with its colony of 50 000 Cape Fur seals. This is also were the shark boats operate, so you have a good chance to see a Great White Shark
Gansbaai has earned the title 'Great White Shark Capital of the World' through its large white shark population and jaw-dropping shark encounters.
Daily trips depart in the morning (times varies due to tides) from the small coastal village of Kleinbaai (15 min by car). A 20 minute boat ride takes you to "Shark Alley" between Dyer & Geyser Island, home to about 50'000 Cape Fur seals and therefore favourite hunting ground of the Great White Sharks. The trip takes between 4 & 5 hours depending on the weather, sea conditions and shark behaviour. The specially designed shark diving cage is attached to the side of the boat and floats with part of the cage above the water. All of the necessary equipment is supplied, and all shark diving operators have to comply with strict safety rules. No scuba certificate required.
boat tours to dyer island
From January till the whales return in June, 2 hour boat trips operate to Dyer & Geyser Islands to see seals, penguins, various seabird species, Great White Sharks and more than likely some dolphins.
boat base fishing trips
The rich Gansbaai waters offer a variety of fish ranging from bottom to game fish. Fishing charters are available throughout the year, weather permitting of course. In crayfish season (November to April) there is also the opportunity to catch these tasty shellfish crustaceans. A special license is needed, so make sure with the skipper if all paperwork is in order! Tuna charters can also be organized. All fishing gear is included.
Sea kayaking along the cliffs of De Kelders is another way of seeing our beautiful coastline. The 1,5km route takes you from Stanford's Cove to the underground fresh water caves in the De Kelders cliffs. A guided tour through the caves and an opportunity to swim in the mineral rich water pools are also included in the trip. For those days when the seas are too rough or for the less adventurous souls, there is always a kayak trip on the Uilkraalsmond estuary, a 3km stretch of picture perfect nature. A must for bird lovers. The full experience of this trip can only be enjoyed at high tide.
Diving in the cold water around Danger Point Peninsula is an adventure in itself. An experienced local dive operator offers various options. De Kelders cliffs offer shallow water with good visibility, pristine reefs and healthy marine life. A dive with the inquisitive and ever playful Cape Fur seals makes for a fun encounter. Explore one of the numerous wrecks around the peninsula like the famous Birkenhead or the bulwark.
Take a mellow cruise down the Klein River, home to over 130 bird species. Even if birding is not your thing, it is definitely worth seeing Stanford from another side. The river gently winds through scenic countryside down to the Hermanus Lagoon, with the backdrop of the Klein Rivier Mountains. If weather permits there will always be time for a dip in the river.
swimming & beach walks
There is a reason for the name "Danger Point Peninsula" as many sailors found out through the ages to their shock and horror. These coasts are spectacular but WILD! The waters are treacherous and the currents very strong. As a general rule one should be very careful to just go into the ocean for a swim. There are however, various protected coves and bays. Stanford Cove in De Kelders is a traditional safe place to go for a swim. At Franskraal, there is a tidal pool and at the outlet of the Uilkraalsmond-estuary, here many people take to the water. One of the protected bays in the Walker Bay reserve "Die Plaat" is suitable for swimming on most days. Only 200m from the lodge there is a small secluded cove, christened `La Bay Chardonnay' by guests due to the quantity of chardonnay that was consumed there. I often pop down there for a swim in summer to cool down.
The several never-ending white sand-beaches beckon for long walks. You will hardly meet a living soul and will mostly have the whole of the beach to yourself, not taking the cape clawless otter, the black oyster catcher and various other shore birds into consideration. Take water, something to snack on and always remember the SUNBLOCK even if it's overcast.
- Die Plaat - Walker Bay, stretching along the coast from De Kelders to the Hermanus Lagoon for 24 km, follows the coastline. There are several beaches and protected coves alternating with interesting rock formations jutting into the sea. Cliffs with rock overhangs provide a shady spot to rest and relax.
- Franskraal has a long sandy beach crossing the outlet of the Uilkraals estuary, a known birding hotspot.
- Pearly Beach is famous. It starts with some rocky outcrops where one can, it seems, always spot a solitary fisherman. Soon after the rock-pools, the beach becomes pure sand and continues forever. Pearly Beach is the best place in this area to enjoy long, solitudinal beach walks.
- Quoin Point. A beautiful empty sand beach stretches from the Buffeljags-settlement to Quoin Point. On the map it is called Jessies Bay, but locals call it "die Walle" (the walls). High straight dunes, eroded in the most fantastic shapes, tower over Jessies Bay. Despite the beauty of the shore, the ocean around Quoin Point is the burial place of numerous ships and hundreds of sailors.
The great variety of habitats in the Overberg is the reason as to why there is such an enormous diversity of bird-life e.g. the endangered black Oyster Catcher along sandy beaches and rock kestrels making their home along the cliffs. Fynbos-endemic-species populate the fynbos covered hills. The sound of the fish eagle can regularly be heard throughout the hinterland and a number of other raptor-species, including the enormous black eagle are residents of the area. The endangered Blue Crane is often spotted congregating in wheat fields. The Kleinrivier lagoon close to Stanford with its multitude of birds is ideal for enthusiasts.
klipgat trails - de kelders (unguided)
The 7 km Klipgat Trail is a path meandering along the coast from Gansbaai harbour to Klipgat Cave. The trail passes various caves and rock pools and crosses a unique habitat of the rare coastal limestone fynbos vegetation. A small circular rock walk prevents you from falling down the "Duiwelsgat" - the hole of the Devil!!. This trail passes in front of the guesthouse and is an ideal way to get to the Walker Bay Nature Reserve and the Klipgat Cave.
groot melkhout trail - franskraal (unguided)
Though this small trail is situated right next to the Franskraal residential area, the presence of Franskraal close-by is no longer noticed the moment one walks under the canapés of the Milkwood trees. The trail is a circular route of 2 km and it takes just about an hour to complete if the nature lover takes time to enjoy what the bush has to offer.
farm 215 - on the fynbos road - (unguided)
This private nature reserve is open by special arrangement for Whalesong guests and offers unguided trails. A map will show you the different longer and shorter trails of between 2 and 5 hours through pristine mountain fynbos and stunning viewpoints in this mountain catchment area.
platbos forest - on the fynbos road - (guided or unguided)
A privately owned 30 hectare indigenous forest which is also Africa's southern most forest. This ancient forest, with specimens of up to 1000 years old, is a rare remnant of the Sandwoud forest type, with species compositions not found anywhere else in the region. It is a leisurely route with wide paths and gentle gradients, which will take between 1 and 2 hours to complete. There are some stunning picnic sites so take some refreshments to enjoy while listening to the bird songs travelling through the ancient forest.
grootbos experience - on the fynbos road -(guided)
As the name says, this is not a trail, but an experience! Grootbos, a beautiful five star Lodge also welcomes non-residential guests to enjoy this private nature reserve. You will walk under the guidance of a botanist though the reserve and enjoy fascinating views over Walker Bay, including snacks, drinks and drive to the coast to see whales or enter the Klipgat Cave.
heidehof fynbos nature trails - on the fynbos road - (guided)
This fynbos reserve and flower farm with 20ha of cultivated fynbos (Whalesong gets its flowers here) organises guided trails and "medicinal walks". Various rare and localised species grow on Heidehof's Limestone hills.
Matthia Schwiegler is the local specialist on the medicinal value of fynbos-plants and will point out and explain these healing plants to you. There are 3 different routes - a short stroll for the less energetic to a longer, more testing trail covering the upper reaches of the limestone hills. Matthia speaks English, French, Dutch & German
4x4 mountain tour (guided)
For a more leisurely approach, take a 2½ hr tour up the mountains behind Gansbaai. Learn about the local Fynbos and enjoy the spectacular views over Danger Point Peninsula and Walker Bay, spotting Dyer Island and Geyser rock in the distance. During whale season, spot the hundreds of whales playing off the coast. On a clear day you can see all of the way down the coastline to Cape Point.
horse trails - Stanford/Farm215
This part of the Overberg is excellent horse country. Tar roads are few and far between and one can ride for miles without seeing any man-made item.
Various rides are on offer: Beaches along these shores stretch on and on providing solitude which begs for some serious gallops or simply meander along the Kleinrivier with its multitude of birds and lush vegetation. Enjoy a mountain ride in unique fynbos with panoramic views of the area on farm 215 a 800ha fynbos reserve. For more info and costs please ask. (Needs to be booked a day in advance)
danger point lighthouse - 9 km from gansbaai
A few decades after the wrecking of the HMT Birkenhead in 1852 at Danger Point, the present lighthouse was erected in 1895. Danger Point Lighthouse is at the tip of the peninsula. The rock the Birkenhead struck is visible from the lighthouse. The many steps to the top of the lighthouse can be climbed, allowing for a marvellous 360 degrees span over the ocean and the hinterland of the peninsula.
In front of the lighthouse is a plaque commemorating the victims of the HMT Birkenhead. An arrow points to the submerged rock that caused it's demise. This can be recognised by the waves breaking over it. Also visit the quaint little Strandveld museum on the beach road in Franskraal for the largest collection of relics of the HMT Birkenhead. Here Jan Fourie will tell you many stories about the area and its people. (mon-sat 10-12 & 15-17)
uilkraals estuary- 5 km from gansbaai
The Uilkraals river and the Boesmansriver flow down from the valleys of Uilkraals and Baardskeerdersbos, joining at the beginning of this estuary. Looking down from the Franskraal mountains, one can see the whole system of creeks, ponds and streams coming together. This beautiful estuary can be seen on the left and right sides when you cross the bridge that forms part of the R43 from Gansbaai to Pearly Beach. Access to the estuary is via the Franskraal Beach, where the estuary finds its outlet. The Uilkraals estuary is a famous birding hotspot and a perfect and safe swimming and fishing place.
A 4km drive will take you to the small fishing village which is our closes shopping area. Here you would find most things that you might need. From the ATM (money) to the pharmacy (motion sickness tablets) to the SPAR shop (goodies for a picnic). Jo Signs is the place to get your photo needs taken care of. Most shops are situated on the main road.
The fleet of fishing boats and the caning factory in the harbour employ a substantial number of people. Locals call the occasional typical smell from the fishmeal factory the "smell of money". The fishing industry dates back to the earliest days of settlement in Gansbaai. Johannes Wessels erected the first temporary dwelling in 1881 next to the fresh water fountain on the spot where the harbour is now. It was named Gansgat (goose hole) after the Egyptian geese that had their nests around the fountain. Only later did it change into the more respectable Gansbaai (Goosebay). There are two little fish shops and this is where we get our fish from.
masakhane township tours
Accredited tour guide takes you on a two hours tour through the peaceful and rural township of Masakhane, just outside of Gansbaai at the spurs of the Franskraal Mountains.
Masakhane (the Xhosa word for "stand together") has about 15'000 residents, mostly still originating from the Eastern Cape. The majority belongs to one of three tribes: Thembu, Mpondo and Bomvane, all part of the Nguni-Xhosa people. Each tribe has its own traditional leader "Induna" that takes decisions on behalf of the chief who resides in the Eastern Cape.
Learn about the history and culture of Masakhane, get introduce to a Shangoma (traditional healer), see local handy crafts and get invite for Umqomboti (African beer). Ask us to arrange your tour.
wine in the area
We have put together a list of our favourite Wine Estates that you are able to visit. (Open Mon to Fri, Sat half day) You will also find some of their wines on our wine list:
Hemel & Aarde valley - This appellation has already established itself as one of the premier viticultural sites in the Cape, traditionally specializing in Pinot noir and Chardonnay. In South African terms it is seen as one of the coolest vineyard sites, with the ability to create wines of finesse, balance and complexity and is unique as the only appellation in the Cape where every vineyard has a view of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Hermanuspietersfontain, Bouchard Finlayson, Newton Johnson
Stanford - Raka wines is nestled in the Kleinrivier Valley 17km out of Stanford on the R326. Taste my favourite, the award wining Biography Shiraz.
Fynbos road - on your way to the southern tip of Africa is the newest wine region of South Africa Located next to Elim you will find Zoetendal were we get our easy drinking Sauvignon Blanc. From. First Sighting/ Strandveld Of the beaten track you will find remote Quin Rock Vineyards.
elim on the fynbos road
A unique historical village, situated halfway on the dirt-road from Gansbaai to Bredasdorp. It was founded as a Moravian mission station in 1824 dedicated to establishing a self-supporting church of indigenous people. Dominated by the "Kerkwerf", the area around the beautifully maintained historical church, the village consists of neat rows of cottages on more or less equal plots, the majority of which date back to the 19th century. The houses are built of mud-brick, plastered with lime plaster made of sea shells and originally thatched with "restio-grass", harvested from the surrounding Fynbos.
The working water mill, which used to grind the flour for the local bakery, has been restored to its original historical state. The local museum, with a collection of historical handicraft, shows the history of the village with a large collection of historical photos. The museum is situated in the original mission store. The original school building, a dark-red plastered building, now houses the municipal library, in front of it, as far as we know, the only monument celebrating the abolition of slavery (in 1835) in South Africa.
golfing in the area
Kleinbaai Golf Club
9 holes (10min drive)
This is a rustic coastal links course with sea views from every hole and apart from the beauty of the Cape coast beaches, whales are often spotted. The impression is of wide-open fairways, but this belies the fact that due to the indigenous fynbos that lines the course; it is in fact quite a tight layout. Wind can be a factor.
Hermanus Golf Course
Besides the charm of the surroundings and the resident troop of baboons who regularly romp across the fairly flat fairways, this course also presents a good test of ones golfing skills. The sixth hole is probably one of the toughest holes in the Cape. The green slopes uphill from front to back with a water hazard looming close by on the right.
Peter Matkovich, who designed the Arabella Golf course, ensured that the 18 holes encompass the Mountain backdrops, lagoon frontage and forests on the estate near Kleinmond. It borders the largest natural lagoon in Southern Africa, and the 9th, 17th and 18th run parallel to the lagoon. These provide for links, parkland and coastal aspects, while the individual fairways provide natural corridors as vantage points to savour nature's true beauty. Golf carts, pull carts and caddies are available.
A charming Victorian village next to the Klein River, at the foot of the majestic Klein River Mountains, over the weekend it comes to life with a good selection of little restaurants and bric and brac browsing.
Things to do & See:
- Stanford Galleries (closed mon)
- Boat trip on river & lagoon (need to book)
- Go for a walk along the Klein River, excellent Bird watching
- Explore the Junk/antiques shops, galleries & bookstore
- Birkenhead Brewery - for beer tasting (on R326)
- Klein Rivier Dairy - Cheese for tasting & picnic in season on the R326 (closed sun)
- Raka Vineyards for some local wine tasting on the R326 (closed sun)
- Salmonsdam Nature Reserve on the R326
Best place to have lunch:
- Mariana´s (thu -sun)
- Art Café serious art …… serious coffee (closed mon)
- Madre´s Kitchen (outside Stanford on Hermanus Rd) (fri -tues)
- Paprika (fri-sun)
- Mandeli´s (thur -sun)
- Havercrofts (outside Stanford on Hermanus Rd) (fri & sat; sun lunch)
Originally a fishing town, Hermanus has now developed into the best known tourism hub of the Overberg. Especially in season, Hermanus is so popular with both South African and overseas tourists that parking becomes the same challenge as in big cities. If you like shopping, Hermanus is the place to be.
Things to do & See:
- Hemel & Aarde Valley for wine tasting: Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Bouchard Finlayson, Newton Johnson Wines
- Hemel & Aarde Village - Great Wine Shop, Galleries, Pottery studio, HPF Hermanuspietersfontain Wine Cellar
- Hermanus village square & surroundings for arts, craft and clothing. Funky Vibes for good selection of music (where most of our music can be found)
- Saturday Food Markets - Fernkloof (till 11h30) & HPF (till 13h00)
- Cliffpath meanders along coast of Hermanus 7km
- Fernkloof Fynbos reserve for well marked hiking trails
- Hermanus Golf Course
- Just Pure - 100% natural & preservative free skin & body products
Best place to have lunch:
Cape Agulhas - Southern most point of Africa
- Harbour Rock in the new harbour. -Seafood & sushi
- Deli - best coffee
- Hornbill house - Hemel & Aarde Village
- Heaven (Newton Johnson Wine Estate) (booking advisable ,closed mon)
- La Vierge (Hemel & Aarde Valley)
It's a nice day trip, one can either do a circular route, taking the fynbos road (partly gravel road) past the hamlet of Baardskeerdersbos, though the Moravian Mission village of Elim, a National Heritage Site, onto Struisbaai & Agulhas (1½hr). When leaving the Southern tip, take the tar road (R319) straight up to Bredasdorp. From there drive the R316 over rolling Wheat and Canola fields in a quilt of green and gold passing through the village of Napier. Continue with the R316 till you get to the R326 turning left over the Akkedisberg Pass to Stanford and back to De Kelders or you can take the tar road there and back (1¼hr).
Things to do & See:
- Take a walk round historical Elim
- Wine Tasting at Zoetendal, Agulhas Wines & Quoin Rock (Small Detour)
- Detour to the artist hamlet of Wolwengat, de Roubaix Gallery
- Southern most tip of Africa & Agulhas Lighthouse
- Detour to Aniston 150yr old fishing village, Waenhuiskrans, Swimming in Indian Ocean, Nacht Wacht Art Gallery & tea garden
- Visit the De Mond Nature Reserve between Arniston and Struisbaai (6,7km trail)
- Bredasdorp square, Bel Don (goose down products),Julian´s & Kapula Candles for some shopping
- Shipwreck museum in Bredasdorp
Best place to have lunch:
- Agulhas Lighthouse
- Pelicans Harbour Café in Struisbaai
- Julian´s in Bredasdorp
- Big Boyz in Bredasdorp
- Farm Stall & Reneessance in Napier
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