Charming Hermanus offers a coastal lifestyle and a host of activities and events for both permanent residents and visitors.
Summer beach living, whale-watching in winter and stunning scenery all year round, the things that make Hermanus such a popular spot for weekend getaways and holidays are also the big attractions for permanent residents.
“It’s a totally beautiful town, with the ocean close by, hiking in the mountains and a lovely wine route extending into the valley,” says Silke Raudzus, who moved to the area 12 years ago to be near family. “There’s always something for kids to do here, and a very good school in Hermanus High School.”
It’s the small-town vibe and strong sense of community that have preserved the charm of Hermanus over the years, with quirky shops and cafes at the heart of the town. The story goes that back in the day, the people of Hermanus objected so strongly to a railway line being built, not wanting their village to be inundated with holidaymakers, that the plan was abandoned, leaving it with a train station but no trains. Nowadays, holidaymakers have found their way there independently but the “village” has grown enough to accommodate them comfortably and the thriving tourist industry contributes greatly to the local economy and the vibrancy of the town.
“Whale festival time (at the end of September) is when this little town hums,” says Soubie van der Merwe who used to visit for weekends and holidays with her children for many years before moving here permanently 19 years ago. “Streets are closed, stalls come out, there's music everywhere and fun things to do.” She enjoys the contrast between the peaceful weekdays and the busy weekends. “The Saturday morning farmers' market is a must. The market is packed and the vibe is something you cannot explain.”
While international tourists include Hermanus on their itinerary for whale-watching, shark-cage diving, paragliding and more, for many Capetonians it’s a favourite weekend getaway.
“I love the diversity, the people, the wine, the amazing cliff path walks and the fact that you can walk out of your home in any direction and always have a beautiful interesting walk,” says Christine de Nobrega, who visits regularly. Her son rates the birdwatching from the cliffs and mountains among the top ﬁve in the Western Cape. Her daughter loves the Whale Museum and the whole family enjoy long walks along the Blue Flag Grotto Beach and sunset picnics on the rocks.
Hermanus’s ﬁrst mall is due to open at the end of 2017. Until now, the growing resident population has driven over the mountain to Somerset West for brand retailers, services and movie theatres. Despite this injection of city culture, the spirited village retains its quirky charm and welcoming atmosphere.
What we love about living in Hermanus is the fantastic weather, the champagne air, the whales, the peace and tranquillity during the week and chaos and fun over weekends when the visitors arrive.
-Soubie van der Merwe, Twistniet B&B.
- Dutchies for the best tapas, kroketten and cocktails
- Burgundy’s for breakfast and first class teas
- Tapas in the market square makes the best small dishes
- Fisherman’s Cottage for good seafood in a rustic setting
- Betty Blue Bistro for fresh cafe meals
- Bientang’s Cave for its quirky setting in a cave with sea views
- Rossis for pizza and pasta
Things to do:
- Farmers market on Saturday mornings
- Whale Museum and Shark museum
- Boat rides and kayaking from the New Harbour
- Watch old movies on a reel projector at Romantiques vintage store
- Wine-tasting along the Hemel en Aarde wine route
- Whale spotting from the cliffs or on boat rides
- Fabulous bird-watching on the cliffs and mountains
- Hike the Fernkloof Nature Reserve for fynbos and spring flowers
- Cornellskop Animal Wrangling Farm near Botrivier to meet animal actors of all species
- Meet dassies on the cliff paths
Agent insight into the neighbourhood:
What makes Hermanus such a popular/great holiday town?
Undoubtedly, the scenic splendour of beautiful Walker Bay with its azure ocean, the magniﬁcent long white beaches, the myriad hidden coves and the backdrop of close-up ranges of majestic Cape Fold Mountains. It's a nature lover’s paradise. Add in the picturesque village seafront with its two quaint harbours, scenic cliff path walks and an atmospheric shopping environment in heritage buildings offering a wide choice of eclectic owner-run shops as well as a ﬁ ne choice of restaurants or quaint coffee shops.
John Leppan: Hermanus Property Sales
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.