Ten things to do in Hermanus

Summer in Hermanus is not just about lazing on the beach. There’s so much to do in this seaside town that you’ll want to restrict your tanning time and go hiking, biking, wine tasting and much more. PETROVNA METELERKAMP has a few standout ideas.

ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES

For the fit and fearless there is a wide range of exciting adventures, ranging from deep-sea diving and kite surfing to kayaking and paragliding. Or you could simply go cycling.

  • A cycle trail leads from the Fernkloof Nature Reserve to the mountains above Voëlklip, turning back at the Vogelgat boundary. Contact Hermanus Cycles on 082 932 3938 to hire bicycles.
  • Mountain bikers can choose any of a variety of routes that suit all abilities. In addition to a 17km trail in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, there are four trails in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley that range between 13km and 33km. Permits are issued by Euodia Cycles; call 028 316 2119 or 028 316 1343, or email info@euodiacycles.co.za.
  • Quad bike tours are arranged by SA Forest Adventure Hermanus and Walker Bay Adventures for a different outdoor experience over rough terrain and off-road routes. A favourite is a sunset trip that ends in a picnic in the mountains. Call 082 739 0159 or email wbadventures@hermanus.co.za.
  • Tree top canopy tours make it possible for the adventurous to zipline 50m above ground in the forest. The terrain includes dense poplar trees and waterfalls and is populated by a rich birdlife. Spend two hours between platforms that range between 20m and 200m high. For more information, email support@adrenaline-hunter.com.
  • Kite surfing lessons are offered by the Hermanus Kite School and by Kite Surf Hermanus, with beginners starting in the Klein River lagoon beyond Grotto Beach. Gear can be hired and three sessions of two hours should suffice before you will be kite surfing on your own. For more information, call Hermanus Kite School at 081 855 2488 or contact Kite Surf Hermanus at 060 985 7250 or info@kitesurfhermanus.co.za.
  • Paragliding, using a lightweight glider aircraft with a large kite, is an unforgettable experience for anyone wishing to view Hermanus from up high. The flight, usually in the morning, lasts about 45 minutes. Contact Parapax Tandem Paragliding at 082 881 4724.
  • Paint ball is an action-packed contest where survival is the name of the game. Enjoy the adrenaline rush as you corner the enemy and shoot and mark them with paint. For more information, call 083 517 3635 or email clinton@saforestadventures.co.za.
  • Horse riding in the mountains of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is a good way to spend time in beautiful surroundings. Book in advance by contacting the Clouds End Stables at 079 627 8182 or Heaven & Earth Trail Rides at 083 885 5608.
  • Sea kayaking takes you close to the marine life around Hermanus while you glide across the swell outside the Old Harbour. Or you could explore the 10km length of the Klein River lagoon, where during the five-hour excursion you’re likely to see a good proportion of the rich birdlife. Call Walker Bay Adventures at 082 739 0159 or send an email to wbadventures@hermanus.co.za.
  • Join the locals for an afternoon of bowls on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday from 2pm in summer. Call 028 312 4073 for more information.
  • Anyone for tennis? The Hermanus Tennis Club in Spence Street, Sandbaai, welcomes visitors. Call 084 406 8294.
  • The local 27-hole golf course is ranked 42nd among the top 100 courses in South Africa. Situated in Golf Road, Eastcliff, it is one of the most beautiful mountainside courses. Call 028 312 1954 for more information.

NATURE WALKS

  • Fernkloof Nature Reserve, 3km east of town, offers lovers of nature a 60km network of paths for walking, running, cycling, birdwatching and taking photographs of the stunning sea and mountain views, the waterfall and forest, and the indigenous flowers and birds. You can also picnic, swim in the forest pool and even stay overnight in the Galpin mountain hut for an unforgettable experience (contact Peter Coxall on 082 570 3403 or pcoxall@mweb.co.za).

Most of the paths are wheelchair friendly and dogs on a lead are permitted along certain routes. There is a playground for children, a fern garden and a nursery where indigenous plants are sold. There is also a visitors’ centre and a herbarium containing more than 4 000 plant specimens. A guided walk (for a small fee) can be booked by contacting Vic Attwell on 082 785 5145 or vicattwell@telkomsa.net.

The reserve is open daily from 6am to 7pm. Rangers are available until 4pm for security. Entrance to the reserve is free. Call 028 313 0819 for more detailed information.

  • The Hermanus cliff path runs along the coast for almost 12km from Grotto Beach to the new harbour. Security guards are on duty but take care when they are not in sight. Dogs on leads are allowed. The walk offers views of beaches, fynbos and birdlife.

ENTERTAINMENT

  • The Whale Coast Theatre on the main road has two cinemas that screen art films as well as the latest popular movies. Besides the modern Premier Theatre, which also stages live performances and can be hired for private functions, there is a theatre with extra large beanbags for younger movie-goers. View the programme at www.whalecoasttheatre.com. Enquiries for venue hire or group bookings can be sent to manager@whalecoasttheatre.co.za or call 028 312 1396.
  • Jannie du Toit will be singing and presenting his new album, Oesjaar, in the Municipal Auditorium on 15 December to the accompaniment of cello, piano accordion and percussion. For bookings, contact Jopie Koen at 072 460 5568 or jopie@pierneefteater.co.za.
  • Music star Jo Black will be performing his Afrikaans songs in Sandbaai Hall on 22 De-
    cember. Bookings at Computicket or contact 021 981 5010.
  • A special storytelling event will be hosted by Sue Hodson, who relates South African myths, legends and true stories. This family-orientated storytelling time is held in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve every day from 14 to 21 December at 9.30am and 4.30pm. Bring your own picnic and drinks. Bookings are essential; call 082 781 6531 or email hodsonsue@gmail.com.

MARKETS

Several markets are open on Saturday mornings, the oldest of which is the Fisherman’s Village Market on Lem’s Corner in the centre of town. The permanent Curio and Craft Daily Market is close by on Old Harbour Square (and next to the Old Harbour Museum, with its indoor display of sea life and all you ever wanted to know about whales.)

Also in town is Saturday’s Market in the Garden at St Peter’s Church on the main road. The Hermanus Country Market on the Hermanus Cricket Grounds is big, and a popular meeting place where speciality food and wines are available every Saturday between 8am and 12 noon. The Hermanuspietersfontein wine cellar in the Hemel-en-Aarde Village, with its gourmet foods and wine tasting, hosts a market with live music on Saturday mornings as well as evening markets from 5pm to 8pm on 19 and 26 December 2018 and 2 January 2019. The Onrus Craft Market will be open in De Wet Hall, Roos Street, on 1 and 15 December.

HEAD FOR OUTER SPACE!

The South African National Space Agency (SANSA), situated close to Mediclinic in Westcliff, offers visitors a free guided tour every Wednesday at 11am. Learn about South Africa’s space science projects, research and the technological wonders of the SANSA Science Centre and interactive mobile space laboratory.

For more information, call 028 312 1196 or email spacesci-info@sansa.org.za.

UBUMNANDI FESTIVAL: ANNUAL SUMMER PICNIC

This festival takes place at the Zwelihle Sports Field on 16 December from 12 noon to 2am. It is family focused during the day, but after 5pm the show is strictly for adults. More than 15 local artists, including bands and a choir, are lined up to perform. Promoter Siya Master Blacq has more details; call him on 074 418 0543.

Contact William Ntnebe on 076 969 5830 to visit the Rondavel Cake Café on the corner of Nbeki and Zuma streets in Zwelihle.

ART

Artists have been drawn to Hermanus for decades and a tour of local art galleries features on many a visitor’s to-do list. There are more than 20 galleries between Onrus and Voëlklip that exhibit paintings, ceramics, sculptures and photographs. Lidi de Waal will be presenting her art and poems at the Hermanuspietersfontein cellar on 16 and 17 December.

For more information, call 072 352 8046. Visit the Tourism Bureau in Hermanus for brochures or call Frieda Lloyd on 083 305 7319.

BEACHES

Hermanus is especially well known for its pristine beaches, which include Breakfast Bay in Vermont, protected from wind; Onrus Beach opposite the Onrus River, ideal for surfing; Sandbaai Main Beach, with tidal pools for snorkelling; Langbaai in Voël­klip, favoured for body boarding; and Kammabaai, Voëlklip and Grotto beaches, all of which have large expanses of sand as well as waves that make for pleasant swimming and surfing. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer season.

For a swim in seawater without waves, there are also tidal pools: Fick’s Pool on the way to the New Harbour from town, the Marine Tidal Pool below the Marine Hotel and the Jan Rabie Tidal Pool in Vermont.

WINE ROUTE

For wine lovers, holidaying in Hermanus is synonymous with wine tasting in the picturesque Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. This region, on the R320 to Caledon, produces world-class wines such as Hermanuspietersfontein, Southern Right, Bouchard Finlayson, Sumaridge, Hamilton Russell, La Vierge, Newton Johnson, Ataraxia, Creation, Domaine des Dieux, Ashboune, Restless River, the Bosman Family Vineyards and Wijnskool Bartho Eksteen. Several restaurants on wine farms specialise in catering for the discerning diner while offering breathtaking views of the valley. Some of the vineyards reach up to 250m above sea level, whereas others lie low in the valley.

Contact info@hemelenaardewines.com or Facebook Hemel-en-Aarde Wines for more information.

ABALONE FARM

Abagold, in the New Harbour, is open for those interested in the seafood delicacy for which this stretch of coastline is so well known. Join a tour to see how an abalone farm operates, from the hatchery to the feeding and sorting of abalone and the cleaning of the nearly 40 000 baskets in which 12 million abalone are kept for five years until they reach a weight of 250g. The tour ends with an abalone tasting. Contact Johan Hugo at 083 556 3428 or info@heartofabalone.co.za for bookings.

The nearby construction of the first-ever wave energy converter in South Africa is also worth a look.