The Overberg is winter-escape ready, here's why you should head to Hermanus

2019-04-30 12:00 - Selene Brophy
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South Africa’s coastal offerings are extensive and Hermanus - in particular - is an exceptional place. 

Admittedly, it has had social development issues of late but when it comes to the uncomplicated, intricacies of nature - life is beautiful here. And the resulting tourism is a good part of the solution.

This is one of the best areas for catching the southern right whale season in South African waters - from June to November. Last year an estimated 1 400 whales were spotted during the calving season - including a rare albino calf. 

A host of festivals take place leading up to the season - Hermanus Fynarts from 7 to 17 June, Kalfiefees from 8 to 11 August and the official Whale Festival from 27-29 September this year.

But even as an off-peak retreat the ocean views along its well-constructed paths let you know this place is winter-escape ready. If you're wanting to make the most of a long-weekend or midweek breaks, try this itinerary on for size. 

Hermanus is an iconic whale-watching destination

Hermanus' Blue Flag Grotto Beach. (Photo: Selene Brophy)

Hermanus is an iconic whale-watching, winter escap

The old harbour in Hermanus dates back to 1855. (Photo: Selene Brophy)

STAY: 

In Hermanus you are spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation. There is no specific industry centred in this Overberg town, otherthan its sustainable fishing. This makes tourism a thriving part of the way of life here.

You could literally hop, skip or jump into a variety of accommodation styles and types from lux to basic. 

During a recent visit I checked into the Ocean Eleven Guesthouse with paths leading straight out to the beautiful walks that encapsulate the grandeur of Walker Bay. During whale season I'm told the whales nestle right in the ocean that is quite literally a stone's throw from your balcony.  

Ocean Eleven provides the ideal haven from which to go walking or trail running, and the breakfasts are super fresh and delicious. 

Hermanus is an iconic winter escape destination

Cosy and comfortable at Ocean's Eleven. (Photo: Selene Brophy)

Hermanus is an iconic whale-watching, winter escap

This boutique hotel offers the perfect respite after walking along the paths along Walker Bay.

(Photo: Selene Brophy)

SEE: 

Well the whales obviously!

And while the town is small enough for a solid walk from the Old Harbour to the New Habour, taking a bus tour really gives you an insider perspective of this little town. Watch the video above to see what I mean. 

Our guide Kurt Krause is just the insider you're looking for - from taking a deeper look at life in the informal township, Zwelihle (meaning beautiful world) through to Fernkloof Nature Reserve, which makes for incredible hiking despite the recent fires.

I also discovered that the National Space Agency has an observation centre based in Hermanus, since there are no trains or magnetic fields disrupting its instruments. 

There is also an enticing public art feature, as you'll discover, with a walk through the town. There are about 20 art galleries in the CBD alone, and during a first Fridays Artwalk initiative, they all stay open until 20:00.  Entry is free.

If you plan on taking the Hermanus bus - One round-trip at R200 per person includes a 90-minute tour, which departs from Old Harbour and includes various stops, including the Blue Flag Grotto beach. Contact 082 700 4163 or visit www.chillguru.com.

Hermanus is an iconic, whale-watching destination

(Photo: Selene Brophy)

Hermanus is an iconic, whale-watching destination

(Photo: Selene Brophy) 

TASTE: 

There are more than 102 restaurants in Hermanus - but the one tasting experience you cannot miss is at the Wine Glass

With close to 100 wines available to taste either by the glass (Yes, every single one - even their top-tier apex wines) it is quite an experience. 

They also pride themselves on featuring the wonderful selection of wines from the Overberg region, venerated for the unique flavours created by the crisp Atlantic breezes that cools the region. Their offering, which is extensive includes wines from Botriver, Hemel & Aarde, Stanford, Elim and Agulhas. 

Hermanus is an iconic winter retreat destination

The Wine Glass offers more 100 different wines for tasting by the glass. (Photo: Selene Brophy)

DO: 

Since it wasn't whale season, we planned our trip around an indulgent visit to Creation Wines.

We tried the Harvest Story of Creation, a six-course pairing - a rather decadent, well-portioned menu and paired with some of their best wines.  

Owners Jean-Claude and Carolyn Martin have literally positioned the wine estate as a sensory experience that delights both young and old in the menu offering. With tasting menus for non-alcoholic drinkers too as well as vegan and vegetarian options, give as much consideration in the menu selection as any other dish.

Carolyn's passion in establishing the wine estate as an Overberg stop-in, par excellence matches the award-winning wine making skills of Jean-Claude. They will be hosting a special tasting experiences during the Hermanus Fynarts festival - read more about what they get up to on their blog here

Hermanus is an iconic winter escape destination

Wine tasting is 80% flavoured aromatics and 20% taste. Creation wine tastings engage the salty, sweet, sour and umami flavours. (Photo: Selene Brophy)

Hermanus is an iconic winter escape destination

But they have delightful offerings for the tea-totaller too. (Photo: Selene Brophy)

READ MORE: Wine worth travelling for: A Creation Wines harvest story

 Day-trip: 

A short 30-min drive from central Hermanus puts you in prime, day-trip territory to unleash your inner artisan at this Klein River Cheese Farm in Stanford. Enjoy a day with the animals, picnic (to be purchased on the farm) or  indulge in a cheese platter at the deli restaurant. Winter-time bliss. 

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*Disclaimer: Selene Brophy was hosted for her stay in Hermanus by Ocean's Eleven, the Wine Glass and Creation Wines including all meals.