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Garden RouteDolphin & 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: Guided Sea Kayak Tour

4. Plettenberg Bay: Guided Sea Kayak Tour

After a thorough briefing on kayaking techniques and safety, paddle from Central Beach and back. The direction will be dependant on winds, swells and paddling abilities. The knowledgeable guide will explain the wonders of the ocean, as you take in the views of the Tsitsikamma mountains and the Robberg Nature Reserve. Enjoy sightings of Cape fur seals, bottlenose and humpback dolphins, whales (July – October), cormorants, and other sea birds and marine mammals. Whatever time of the year, this is an experience not to be missed by beginners and experienced kayakers alike.

Gansbaai: Shark Dive & Whale Watching Combo Boat Trip

5. 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 on wards, 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.

Plettenberg Bay: Whale-Watching Cruise

6. Plettenberg Bay: Whale-Watching Cruise

Please arrive at the Ocean Blue Adventures Shop 30 minutes prior to your allotted departure time to check-in, before you will be issued a life jacket (and poncho, if required). A short pre-trip briefing covering safety at sea and what to expect on the trip will then be presented by your guide. We rely on our experience and shared reports of species in our effort to secure sightings. Due to the free-roaming nature of the species involved, we cannot guarantee sightings. For your own safety, we ask that you disclose any medical conditions (including pregnancy, recent surgery and pre-existing neck or back issues), and reserve the right to deny passage in some circumstances. After a short walk to the launch site, you will board the boat and the trip commences with an exciting launch through the surf. No two trips are the same, with routes depending on sea and weather conditions, along with recent sightings of whales. The two migratory species we view (Southern Right and Humpback Whales) often frequent different areas, with the former species generally seen close inshore, and the latter typically several miles offshore. The crew will determine where they feel there is the highest likelihood of sightings. If Southern Right Whales are present, we generally travel northeast along the coastline, adding the possibility of seeing the inshore dolphin species. Alternatively, we’ll head southwards to the “Humpback Highway”, hoping to intercept humpback whales on their migration. If time permits, we will visit the Cape Fur Seal colony on the Robberg Peninsula, and possibly get a sighting of the Great White Sharks that frequent the area between May and October. From time to time, your guide may point out other species or places of interest. Returning to our starting point, the trip concludes with an exciting high-speed landing on the beach, after which you’ll be escorted back to the shop where your life jacket can be returned.

Knysna: Dolphin Watching and Garden Route Coastline Cruise

7. Knysna: Dolphin Watching and Garden Route Coastline Cruise

Experience the three most iconic sites of Knysna on a 1.5-hour eco cruise of the Knysna estuary. Cruise along the rugged headlands and encounter the abundant marine life of the coastal waters.  Navigate the amazing estuary and pass the picturesque Knysna Heads. Venture further out into the expansive Indian Ocean to look for dolphins, seals, penguins, and Bryde's whales in their natural environment. Learn more about the geological features and wildlife you encounter for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Plettenberg Bay: Fair Trade Accredited Dolphin & Marine Tour

8. 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.

Half Day Ocean Safari

9. Half Day Ocean Safari

From June to January, you can spot humpback whales as they migrate to and from their breeding grounds, sometimes with their calves. From July to October, you can see southern right whales near the shore, where they come to give birth. They are the most common whales in South Africa. You can also see different kinds of dolphins, such as the friendly bottlenose dolphins, the large groups of common dolphins, and the rare humpback dolphins. Don’t miss the chance to visit St. Croix Island, where you can see the largest colony of African penguins in Africa, with 10,000 breeding pairs. They are very funny and cute. You can also see penguin chicks from March to May, when they breed the most. St. Croix and Brenton Island have other birds too, like the rare black oystercatcher and two kinds of cormorants. The islands are part of Addo Elephant National Park, where rangers protect the penguins from threats. *You can’t go on the islands because they are Marine Protected Areas.

Garden Route 14day Xclusive Tour

10. Garden Route 14day Xclusive Tour

You will explore some of the best attractions that South Africa has to offer, from the iconic Table Mountain in Cape Town to the thrilling private game reserves. You will enjoy wine tasting in Stellenbosch, whale watching in Hermanus, safari activities in Botlierskop and Buffelsdrift wildlife reserves, and kayaking in Tsitsikamma National Park. You will also have the chance to spend some time getting to know elephants, cheetahs, penguins and seals in their natural habitats, visit the spectacular Cango Caves, and taste some of the local delicacies. You will also have plenty of free time to discover the hidden gems and local flavours of each destination. This itinerary is perfect for travellers who want to experience the beauty and diversity of South Africa in a comfortable and memorable way.

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What people are saying about Garden Route

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 64 reviews

The guide was very friendly, funny and accommodating. We always felt safe and were able to fully enjoy the tour. They know exactly where the whales are and tell exciting stories about the animal. Thanks to a bit of luck we saw dolphins and a sea lion. We would book the tour again in a heartbeat.

Whales to pet! We were lucky enough to see three whales, some of which came straight to the boat and swam around. The information before and during the trip was very interesting and the crew was very friendly! A perfect trip!

Loved it every apprehensive but such a wonderful experience and would definitely do it again. Very safety conscious.

Top Crew, very professional tour. Saw lots of whales. Great experience!

It's very nice! We saw some whales up close. We can only recommend!