The beautiful, small seaside town of Hermanus has become world famous for the whale viewing opportunities it offers.
The sleepy town Hermanus with its unparalleled scenic beauty, modern infrastructure and some of the most spectacular whale watching spots in the Southern hemisphere, has got to be on the “bucket list” for 2011. Visitors from all over the globe flock to this unique town to experience the charm and simplicity that the life in the area offers.
It is estimated that an approximate 220 000 tourists descend on the town in holiday season and hotels, guest lodges and self-catering units accommodate the needs and wants of guests to the town. Local restaurateurs offer diners a wealth of culinary ocean delights, including tempting dishes such as barbecued fish and mussels in cheese and white wine sauce. Shop-a-holics will not be disappointed either, as a day at the prestigious Water Front Village Square overlooking the crystal clear waters of Walkers Bay offers the discerning shopper a comprehensive selection of exclusive boutiques, local gift shops and well known restaurants.
Development over the past decade has grown in leaps and bounds. The powers that be, however, have focused on the aesthetic appeal of the town and as such have managed to integrate industry whilst still retaining the original charm and ambiance of this enchanting seaside village. The small craft harbour resembles that of any dock seen along the shores of the quaintest villages in Italy. The spectacular views of the ocean with the southern humpback whales surfacing in the waves just beyond the breakers, makes for perfect sundowners on the beach or lighting a fire and enjoying the company of the locals.
The town is known as the “Riviera of the South” and owing a property here can put a serious dent in the wallet. Seaside property around the world is limited and when the area includes some of the finest scenery in the country, price is bound to become a factor. This coupled with ever changing legislation designed to protect our ecologically sensitive coastline has had an impact on the number of seaside developments being constructed and while coastal property in South Africa is not yet severely limited, it is becoming a scarcer commodity.
Recent statistics released by Lightstone reveal that there have been a total of 35 sales in the area during the past 12 months. Estate living appears to be the most popular choice as 30 of the sales concluded involved sectional title properties. The average price paid for a unit was R1.161m. However, approximately 35% of the sales concluded were priced between R1.5m and R3m. Regarded as a retirement haven, 67% of recent purchasers fell into the mature to pensioner categories of which the majority paid cash for their homes.
From a historical perspective, Hermanus Pieters, a disillusioned school teacher who had turned to farming, discovered a fountain in the area while herding his sheep. It wasn’t long before others were drawn by the beauty of the region and the town started to grow. As with every other town in the country at the time, rail was an important factor and in line with this, a railway station was built. However, it soon became apparent to the then general manager of the SA Railway Services, Sir William Hoy and General Jan Smuts that having stream trains bellowing vast quantities of soot and grime would adversely affect the area. A decision was taken not to put Hermanus on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ so to speak and it was decided not to link the small town with the outside world by rail.
The railway station still exists and holds the record as being the only structure of its type to have no tracks or timetables and it has never welcomed a single train.