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Garden Route

Dolphin & Whale Watching

Our most recommended Garden Route Dolphin & Whale Watching

Hermanus: Boat Based Whale Watching Experience

1. Hermanus: Boat Based Whale Watching Experience

Board your vessel for the day and receive a safety briefing before starting your whale watching adventure. In good weather conditions travellers will be allowed on the top-deck before departure for great unobstructed views, otherwise they will be allowed on top only after the whales have been found. Travel out onto the ocean taking in great views as you go.  Once the whales have been spotted, the vessel is allowed to move closer to the whales where it stops and the engines disengage is to prevent the whales from being injured by the propellers. Experience for yourself the astonishment of being so close to these majestic creatures.  As the whales are curious creatures, they might move up to the vessel for some 'people watching'. See a variety of other marine wildife such as dolphins and seals as you coast along the water. As you travel through the day and spot these beautiful creatures learn more about them from your crew, before they take you back to land after a once in a lifetime experience. 

Plettenberg Bay: Whale Watching Boat Cruise

2. Plettenberg Bay: Whale Watching Boat Cruise

Start your 2-hour adventure with an adrenaline beach launch into the sea on a 400 horsepower speedboat. The purpose-built cat style boat has been designed to conquer the ocean without compromising on safety or comfort. Knowledgeable guides and skippers will treat you to close encounters with some of the whales that visit the shores during the months of June to November. You could be graced with sightings of the Southern Right Whale in the Bay or Humpback Whales travelling along the coastline. You may experience the joy of seeing them breach or even view a mother and calf as they enjoy the safety the bay offers. Take a closer look at a vast seal colony and the many pelagic and coastal birds. Other possible sightings include sharks, big fish, penguins, and octopus in their natural habitat.

Gansbaai: Whale Watching Trip by Boat

3. Gansbaai: Whale Watching Trip by Boat

Launch from the quaint fishing harbor of Gansbaai and travel along the cliffs of De Kelders. Enter a nature reserve with the highest concentration of whales in South Africa. Look for southern right whales in their natural environment, along with dolphins, Cape fur seals and sharks. Keep an eye out for humpback, minke and Bryde's whales frolicking in the ocean. Catch a glimpse of the beautiful orcas, False killer whales and enchanting African penguins. Return back to the harbor at the end of your boating adventure.

Plettenberg Bay: Fair Trade Accredited Dolphin & Marine Tour

4. Plettenberg Bay: Fair Trade Accredited Dolphin & Marine Tour

Arrive at the marina in Plettenberg bay where you will board the boat. Prior to departure, get equipped with life-jackets (and ponchos, if necessary) then listen to a short safety briefing. Once passengers have boarded their boat, begin the trip with an exciting beach launch through the surf. While the routes may vary, depending on weather, animal distribution and sea conditions, the typical trip runs as follows: First, head East past the bird sanctuary and make your way along Keurbooms Beach towards Arch Rock. Along this stretch,  encounter Bottlenose and the rare Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins, as well as some shark species. From Arch Rock, cross the bay where you might see pelagic seabirds which are normally found some 7km from the shore. Keep your eyes peeled for Bryde’s Whales as well as Common Dolphins. Having crossed to the point of Robberg Peninsula, venture out to the Wild side, occasionally seeing groups of whales and pods of dolphins. After this, cruise back along the inside of Robberg to see the unique geology from an unusual perspective. Also, observe the growing Cape Fur Seal Colony. At certain times of the year, it is also possible to see numerous Great White Sharks, which frequent the area. Finally, head back along Robberg Beach as you listen to a brief run-down on the history of the area. After passing the Beacon Island Hotel, built on the site of an original Whaling Station, conclude the tour with an exhilarating James Bond-style landing on Central Beach.

Plettenberg Bay: Whale Watching Excursion

5. Plettenberg Bay: Whale Watching Excursion

Depart from Central Beach in Plettenberg Bay with an exciting beach launch. Sail eastwards past the bird sanctuary and Keurbooms Beach to Arch Rock. Here, you may see Bottlenose and the rare Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins as well as some shark species. From Arch Rock, head out into the middle of the bay where pelagic seabirds are normally to be found about 7 kilometers from the shore. Try to spot the resident Bryde’s whales and common dolphins or Southern Right and Humpback whales during their breeding season. Then, travel towards the Robberg Peninsula and try to spot groups of whales and pods of dolphins. Cruising back along the inside of Robberg, admire the unique geology of the region and observe the growing Cape Fur Seal colony. Finally, sail back along the Robberg Beach, and learn about the history of the area. After passing the Beacon Island Hotel, built on the site of an original Whaling Station, finish the experience with an exhilarating landing on Central Beach.

Gansbaai: Shark Dive & Whale Watching Combo Boat Trip

6. Gansbaai: Shark Dive & Whale Watching Combo Boat Trip

Take advantage of a combo package that features 2 incredible activities which can be split over 2 days if you'd prefer.  Shark Dive Begin the adventure with the shark cage dive which takes place off the coast of Dyer Island, roughly 15 minutes by boat from Kleinbaai Harbour. Discover how this island is home to a colony of over 50 000 Cape Fur seals – the great white shark's favorite food and primary source of nutrition. Arrive at the channel of the ocean which runs between Dyer Island and the neighboring Geyser Rock. This area is so frequented by great white sharks that it has been dubbed 'Shark Alley'. Anchor up here for an up-close encounter with great whites. As the cage is dropped at the diving site, get kitted up with diving gear. Take consecutive turns in the 8-man floating cage to experience thrilling underwater views of this majestic predator. When not in the cage, enjoy sightings of the sharks and other sea life from the viewing deck of the boat. Gansbaai is one of the only places in the world where these rare creatures congregate close enough to the coastline to offer you the best opportunity for potential sightings. That being said, please bear in mind that seeing a great white shark is a privilege, not a guarantee. Whale Watching Trip The whale watching trips take place from June to December however, should the whales change their migration schedule (arrive early and leave later) the schedule will be adjusted accordingly. Generally the trip last 2 hours, but can be longer depending on how quickly you find the whales. Climb aboard a boat which launches twice daily at 10 AM and 1 PM. During the main season (August-October) an extra morning trip is available at 7 AM. From September onwards, an extra afternoon tri runs at either 3:30 PM or if a good sunset is forecasted, at 5 PM. The sunset trip is a truly magnificent experience as it provides the opportunity to watch the whales bask in the shallow waters with the Walker Bay sunset behind.

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What people are saying about Garden Route

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 64 reviews

Brilliant trip even though we were early in the season. Our Skipper and crew were helpful and friendly, and we had a thorough safety briefing. We sat ‘upstairs’ next to the Skipper, he was very knowledgeable, stopped the boat frequently to show us and explain about marine animals. We saw Sunfish, seals, jellyfish, treated to a spectacular display from a huge pod of dolphins and then finally, a wonderful sighting of a Bryde whale and her calf. Beautiful trip around the bay with great views of the beaches. I loved that the crew are so conscientious and that we stopped to pick up large plastic litter…

We had lovely Tourguides, with a lot of background knowledge, who showed us a female whale with her baby. I was hoping to be able to see the whales from a short distance, but the whales have their own will and weren’t that curios to come nearer to the boat. A very recommendable tour!

Everything worked out wonderfully. The tickets were valid and the ship crew was nice - we saw everything we wanted, from a distance, not close like some great photos that you usually see. Was good.

Great staff, provided lots of interesting facts and took care of our safety. We saw two wales even it is late in the season. Thank you!

Brilliant day and truly humbling to see the whales close up. Everyone at Ivanhoe was great and their passion rubbed off on us all.