If you’re in Cape Town, and you’re looking for an adventure that’s both exhilarating and awe-inspiring, then whale watching should definitely be on your itinerary. Every year, southern right whales migrate from the icy waters of Antarctica to the warmer currents of the Cape coast to mate and calve. This makes Cape Town one of the best places in the world to see these majestic creatures up close. In this post, we’ll explore the best whale watching locations in Cape Town, and give you some tips on how to make the most of your whale watching experience. Let’s dive in!
The 9 Best Whale Watching in Cape Town
- Private Tour of Penguins Cape of Good Hope and Peninsula
- 2 Day Safari Experience
- 2 Day Safari Experience
- Cape Town Coastal Catamaran Cruise
- Table Bay Speed Boat Marine Life Watching Tour
- Cape Town Iventure City Pass
- Cape Town Va Waterfront Champagne Cruise
- Cape Town Marine Big 5 Trip in Gansbaai
- Six Day South Africa Garden Route and Addo Adventure Tour
The 9 Best Whale Watching in Cape Town
1. Private Tour of Penguins Cape of Good Hope and Peninsula
Private Tour of Penguins Cape of Good Hope and Peninsula
Experience the beauty of South Africa with this private tour that avoids the crowds of group bus tours. Enjoy the convenience of traveling with just your group and a private driver as you visit outdoor nature spots such as Muizenberg Beach, Scarborough Beach, and Camps Bay Beach. Take in the spectacular views of Chapman’s Peak Drive and visit the Cape of Good Hope. Stop off at Boulders Beach, known for its African penguin colony, and enjoy photo stops and walks along the way. This tour also includes breaks for lunch or wine tastings. Pickup is available from any hotel, port, or airport in Cape Town. Don’t miss out on this peaceful and scenic adventure. Bottled water, Chapmans Peak Toll Fee, entrance fee at Cape of Good Hope National Park and add ons are included in the price, along with gratuities.
2. 2 Day Safari Experience
Spend two days exploring the Garden Route and embarking on two safari drives with a knowledgeable game ranger leading the way. You’ll have the best possible chances of spotting elephants, hippos, giraffes, rhinos, lions, and other African animals while learning about African flora and fauna through guided commentary. Stay overnight in a game lodge and enjoy an included buffet dinner before setting out on an evening and morning game drive. The tour includes hotel pickup and drop-off in Cape Town, making it easy to get out of the city and into the African bush. The tour also includes breakfast and lunch, but alcoholic drinks and gratuities are not included. Collections start from 6 AM from homes, hotels, guest houses, and backpackers in Cape Town, with collection times emailed to clients 1-3 days prior to departure.
3. 2 Day Safari Experience
Get ready for an unforgettable safari experience with a two-day tour from Cape Town. You’ll have the opportunity to witness the Big 5 in their natural habitat during two exhilarating game drives, while staying overnight at a 4-star accommodation with dinner and breakfast included.
Throughout the tour, you’ll visit several stunning locations, including Hermanus, Betty’s Bay, and Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of the African continent. And at night, you’ll have the chance to bask under the twinkling African sky outside your terrace wooden chalet.
Please note that lunch and drinks are not included in the tour, and entry fees to the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse are also not included. Unfortunately, this tour is not suitable for people with mobility impairments, including wheelchair users.
Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the magic of African wildlife in one of the most beautiful and relaxing settings on the continent. Book your 2-day safari experience today!
4. Cape Town Coastal Catamaran Cruise
Enjoy a leisurely one-hour cruise aboard a power catamaran along the Cape Atlantic Coastline and Table Mountain. Be amazed with the spectacular views featuring some of Cape Town’s splendors. Keep your eyes peeled for marine life such as dolphins, whales, seals, penguins, and more. Your adventure starts at the historic V&A Waterfront area and takes you to the Green Point Lighthouse before returning to the harbor. The tour is inclusive of hotel pickup and drop-off, and a cash bar on board is available for refreshments. Do note that the tour is not suitable for pregnant women, people with back problems, and those with mobility issues. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience one of the best cruises in Cape Town!
5. Table Bay Speed Boat Marine Life Watching Tour
Climb aboard a speed boat and witness the diverse marine life of Table Bay on a 1.5-hour eco-cruise from Cape Town. Marvel at the majestic Table Mountain and Robben Island from the water while keeping an eye out for humpback and southern right whales, depending on the season.
On this tour, get the opportunity to witness acrobatic displays of dolphins breaching up close, Cape fur seals lazing on the jetties, and other unusual species like sunfish. Watch African penguins diving to catch fish and take back to their breeding colony on Robben Island. Encounter impressive bird species such as terns, gannets, cormorants, and mighty black-browed albatross.
If you choose the option, enjoy a convenient pick up and drop-off from your accommodation. Please note that this tour is not suitable for people with mobility impairments. Join us for an unforgettable experience as we explore the rich marine life of Table Bay.
6. Cape Town Iventure City Pass
Explore the best of what Cape Town has to offer with the City Pass. This is an opportunity not to be missed if you want to experience over 80 of Cape Town’s top attractions and experiences. With the City Pass, you can enjoy free entry to many attractions, fast-track entry to selected attractions, and free transport on the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus. What’s more, you can experience many attractions that are unique and exclusive to this pass. Get peace of mind with 2 in-destination information and help centers. The pass is available in 2, 3, or 5-day options to suit your schedule. You’ll find there’s something for everyone, including Table Mountain Aerial Cableway and sunset champagne cruise. Get your Official Cape Town City Pass now and start exploring!
7. Cape Town Va Waterfront Champagne Cruise
Experience an unforgettable champagne cruise along the Atlantic coastline of Cape Town’s iconic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Relax and take in spectacular views of Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range while sipping on your complimentary glass of sparkling wine. You may even spot some of the incredible marine life in these waters including seals, dolphins, penguins, and even whales. Soak up the sun on the foredeck or snuggle up under a blanket on the cushioned seats. An onboard bar is available for additional purchases. Hotel pickup and drop-off are included in the tour but food and tips are not. Don’t miss this chance to experience the beauty of Cape Town from the waters of the Atlantic.
8. Cape Town Marine Big 5 Trip in Gansbaai
Join this amazing Cape Town Marine Big 5 Trip in Gansbaai for an unforgettable experience. Spot whales, seals, sharks, dolphins, and penguins all in one trip while relaxing in a spacious and comfortable whale-watching boat with an observation deck. Learn about the different species from an on-board Marine Biologist and enjoy 5-star service from the friendly staff. The tour also includes a visit to the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, a rehabilitation center for sick and ill seabirds. The highlight of the tour is the chance to visit the Dyer Island ecosystem and see the Marine Big 5. From June to December, southern right whales come to this area to mate and calve. The tour includes return transportation from Cape Town or Hermanus, coffee/tea and muffins on arrival, light lunch after the trip, 1 safety briefing before the trip, and 1 debrief after the trip. Don’t miss this opportunity to witness the beauty of the Marine Big 5 on this unforgettable tour.
9. Six Day South Africa Garden Route and Addo Adventure Tour
This six-day tour takes you on an unforgettable adventure through South Africa’s Garden Route and Addo Elephant National Park. Starting in Cape Town, you’ll explore the charming coastal town of Hermanus before making your way to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa. After a wine tasting along the famed Route 62, you’ll visit the Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn and have free time to explore.
In Wilderness National Park, enjoy a scenic kayaking excursion before making your way to Sedgefield for some relaxation. Take in the breathtaking views from Bloukrans Bridge before entering Tsitsikamma National Park for a thrilling hike. Then, it’s off to Addo Elephant National Park for a game drive to spot majestic elephants, lions, and other wildlife.
On the way back to Cape Town, stop in Mossel Bay for more incredible views and hiking opportunities along the Cape St. Blaize Hiking Trail. If you’re feeling daring, try sandboarding for an additional fee. This popular tour is the perfect way to experience the beauty and excitement of South Africa’s Garden Route and beyond.
Whale Watching in Cape Town: The Most Frequently Asked Questions
Whale watching is an exciting adventure that many people look forward to during their trip to Cape Town. However, the activity can be confusing and daunting for first-time visitors. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about whale watching in Cape Town.
1. When is the best time to go whale watching in Cape Town?
The best time to go whale watching in Cape Town is between June and November. During this time, the southern right whales migrate to the warmer waters of the Cape from the Antarctic. Humpback whales can also be seen during their migration from July to December.
2. Which areas in Cape Town are best for whale watching?
The two best places to view whales in Cape Town are Hermanus and False Bay. Hermanus is known as the whale watching capital of South Africa with some of the best land-based whale watching spots in the world. False Bay is also a popular destination for whale watching, with whales being spotted along the coast and from boats.
3. What types of whales can be seen in Cape Town?
The most common whales that can be seen in Cape Town are the southern right whale, humpback whale, and Bryde’s whale. Dolphins, seals, and penguins also inhabit the waters of Cape Town and can be seen during the whale watching tours.
4. How long do whale watching tours last?
Most whale watching tours in Cape Town run for approximately 2-3 hours. The length of the tours may vary depending on the operator and the location.
5. What should I bring on a whale watching tour?
It is recommended to bring warm clothing, a windbreaker, and comfortable shoes. Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are also important to protect from the sun. Binoculars can also be helpful for a closer view of the whales and other marine life.
6. Can I go whale watching if I suffer from seasickness?
If you suffer from seasickness, it is recommended to take medication beforehand or consult with a medical professional. Whale watching tours can be bumpy, especially in windy conditions.
7. Are whale watching tours safe?
Whale watching tours in Cape Town are generally considered safe. However, it is important to choose a reputable operator that follows safety regulations and guidelines. It is also essential to listen and follow the instructions given by the guide during the tour.
8. Can I swim with the whales during a whale watching tour?
Swimming with whales is not allowed in Cape Town. It is important to maintain a safe distance from the whales and other marine life to avoid disturbing their natural habitat.
9. How much does a whale watching tour cost in Cape Town?
The cost of a whale watching tour in Cape Town can vary depending on the operator and location. Expect to pay anywhere from R900 to R1500 per person for a 2-3 hour tour.
10. What if I don’t see any whales during the tour?
Whale sightings are never guaranteed, but operators will usually offer a partial or full refund if no whales are spotted during the tour. It is important to check with the operator regarding their refund policy beforehand.
How to do whale watching in Cape Town
If you’re looking for a thrilling and unforgettable experience, whale watching in Cape Town should be at the top of your list. During the Southern Hemisphere winter, which is between June to November, southern right whales migrate from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to the shores of South Africa for mating and calving. Here are some things you need to know before embarking on a whale watching tour:
Step 1: Choose the right tour operator
Choose an ethical and reputable whale watching operator. Some tour operators prioritize profit over the well-being of the whales, causing distress and harm to marine animals. Research tour operators beforehand and read reviews from previous customers to ensure you minimize any negative impact on the whales.
Step 2: Choose the right location
Even though whales can be seen in many locations off Cape Town’s coast, there is no guarantee that you will see whales on your tour. Hermanus, a small town located 120 km southeast of Cape Town, is known as the whale-watching capital of South Africa. This location guarantees regular sightings of the southern right whales in season. There are also other great whale-watching locations such as False Bay, Simon’s Town, and Hout Bay.
Step 3: Timing and Seasonality
The best time to go whale watching in Cape Town is from July to November, during the southern right whale’s calving season. During this time, the whales come very close to the shore, making for great viewing opportunities. It is best to go on a whale watching tour during the morning hours when the sea is calmer and less windy, providing a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
Step 4: Dress appropriately
Whale watching tours go out to sea on an open boat, and the weather can be quite unpredictable. It is recommended that you dress warmly for the tour, and wear shoes with non-slip soles. You may also want to bring a waterproof jacket as the boat can get wet.
Step 5: Keep a respectful distance from the whales
While whales are friendly creatures, it is important to keep a respectful distance of at least 100 meters from them. Getting too close can cause the whales distress, possibly causing them to change their behavior. It is also illegal to approach whales closer than this without a permit, and you may be fined if caught.
Step 6: Observe the whales from a safe distance
When watching the whales, stay quiet and avoid any sudden movements or loud noises that can startle them. Always observe the whales without disturbing them, and never feed or attempt to touch them. Keep in mind that while you may be excited about seeing these magnificent creatures, whale-watching tours are all about minimizing impact on the whales.
Book Your Tour Now
Whale watching in Cape Town is an experience that should not be missed. It is a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with these stunning marine creatures in their natural habitat. Remember to choose an ethical and reputable tour operator, dress appropriately, keep a respectful distance from the whales, and observe them without disturbing them. With the right preparation and knowledge, you are sure to have an unforgettable whale watching experience in Cape Town.
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