Western Cape Tourist Attractions Whale Watching in West Coast
The West Coast is not only esteemed for its seafood. You are also more likely to spot whales north of Cape Town, than in and around the city. The West Coast gets its fair share of the southern right whale, particularly at Melkbosstrand, Bok Point, Yzerfontein, the Rocherpan Nature Reserve near Dwarskersbos, Lambert's Bay and Saldanha Bay.
Where? Cape West Coast Region, Western Cape
When? Open daily.
Licensed boat-based whale watching is available in Port Nolloth, Lamberts Bay, St Helena Bay and Saldanha Bay.
The advantage to heading up the West Coast to spot whales, other than beating the crowds at Hermanus, is the pairing of the Namaqualand flower season with the arrival of the whales. If the rains have been good, and the whales are in the bay, you are likely to be rewarded with both.
Yzerfontein, just 85 kilometres north of Cape Town on the R27, welcomes southern right whales in groups of between 8 and 10. The seaside town is ideal as it has a number of look-out points to see the whales - at the main beach, above the harbour in Arum Crescent, and at Schaapen Island.
Yzerfontein's famous 16 mile beach connects it to the West Coast National Park near Langebaan. A visit here during August/September reveals some of the most beautiful spring flowers, particularly in the Postberg section of the park - closed until this time of year in preparation for the flowers. To spot the whales head to the viewing points of Atlantic Lookout Point, Tzaarsbank and Plankiesbaai (in Postberg Nature Reserve) and Saldanha Bay.
Paternoster and Cape Colombine protrude into the ocean which translates into ocean swells, huge shoals of pelagic fish, and sightings of humpback whales. Southern right whales come right into the quieter bays of Mosselbank and Bek but you will have to spot them from the beach or on the surrounding cliffs. If you're brave enough, you can kayak out to see them, as there are a couple of companies who offer the service.
Southern right whales move into St Helena Bay, spending between 36 and 100 days feeding, mating and rearing their young here. Food, brought in by the Benguela current, is plentiful.
Rocherpan Nature Reserve, just outside Dwarskersbos, is another good spot where you may sight whales. The reserve is worth a visit anyway as it's particularly beautiful and not all that well known. The Atlantic Ocean off the reserve is a marine reserve. and the sand dunes make a good base from which to see them with binoculars.
Lambert's Bay is another excellent bay in which to sight the whales, and so is Strandfontein from the hilltop lookout point on the south side of town, where there is an information board and seating for this purpose.
To avoid disappointed (for no man can promise that whales are in the bay as you visit) phone individual tourist information offices ahead of time, and make sure to take along a pair of binoculars.