Tips for Spotting Whales in South Africa

Whale watching in South Africa is of the best in the world. Below are some tips for spotting the whales on your whale watching adventure in South Africa.

Did you know? Well over 100 000 whale watching enthusiasts arrive just in the little Western Cape seaside village of Hermanus, during their annual September Whale Festival, for the best land-based whale watching in the world.

Whale watching in South Africa is so popular that whales have joined the ranks of lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard. Collectively they make up the 'big six' of African game viewing.

Below are a few tips to help you spot the whales. Also see our Whale Watching Infographic which depicts the different whale behaviours, a diagram of a whale's anotomy and a handy map showing you exactly where the best whale watching spots are in South Africa.

You can download the full version of the infographic as a pdf document for your personal use right here (this is a larger, clear version of the online version).

Tips for spotting whales

  1. When looking for the whales out at sea, look for white patches - these white patches are usually indicative of waves breaking over the bodies of the whales.
  2. Sometimes rather than a white patch, you can sight a fin briefly as the whale rolls - this is a really sure indicator of whale action.
  3. Any giant splash out of the corner of your eye could be whales breaching, continue to look in the same direction for a while.
  4. When whale watching in these areas, Check in with the whale crier in Hermanus, or the shark spotters on Boyes Drive for latest updates.
  5. Be aware that if you take a boat-based whale-watching trip it is highly likely that you will get seasick, so be prepared.

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