The Marine Hermanus, Western Cape, South Africa

As far as wildlife watching experiences go, few can feel as decadent as gazing at whales frolicking in the ocean, arching high out of the waves and then crashing back down into the salty waters - from the comfort of your hotel room. But at The Marine in Hermanus you can do exactly that.

As far as wildlife watching experiences go, few can feel as decadent as gazing at whales frolicking in the ocean, arching high out of the waves and then crashing back down into the salty waters - from the comfort of your hotel room. But at The Marine in Hermanus you can do exactly that.

This stretch of South Africa's Western Cape is prime whale-watching territory. Every year around May the Southern Right whales return to the shallow waters of Walker Bay to calve. And with them come thousands of whale watchers for some of the best land-based whale-watching in the world.

The Cliff Path stretches the length of what was once the little fishing village of Hermanus - and is now the self-proclaimed whale capital of South Africa, with all the gift shops and tourist tat that that implies. It's still a pleasant little place, however.

The path follows the craggy coastline for about 10km from the New Harbour in the west (where there's a telescope to survey the bay) to the Klein River in the east. This pretty path passes rocky coves, shell-strewn beaches and shady forest tracks. There are numerous benches or rocky outcrops on which to perch amid the wild flowers to watch the Southern Rights, who are sometimes joined by humpbacks and Bryde's whales, and which often bask just metres from the shore. The best time to see the whales is from September to November when sightings are almost guaranteed. There is even a whale watching hotline (00 27 28 312 2629) - and a whale crier who walks along the coast with an old-fangled kelp horn.

Landmarks along the path include the elegant white Marine hotel which dates back to 1902. In 1998 it was acquired by Liz McGrath, whose group The Collection also includes the luxurious Cellars-Hohenort just outside Cape Town and The Plettenberg on the Garden Route's Plettenberg Bay. She gave this historic hotel a designer facelift.

Now its bright white façade conceals an airy orangery - all wicker furniture, stone-flagged floor and lush potted plants and two restaurants: the lively Seafood at the Marine with its open kitchen theatre and the more formal Pavillion with picture window views of the ocean. There is also a swimming pool in a sheltered courtyard and a spa. As well as traditional treatment rooms you can opt for an exfoliating Sea Salt Scrub or a massage down the steep stone steps next to the public Tidal pool where you can listen to the waves crashing on the rocks and the call of the whales.

LOCATION

The Marine, Marine Drive, Hermanus 7200 Western Cape, South Africa (00 27 28 313 1000; www.marine-hermanus.co.za). The hotel is perched on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the mountains rising up behind the town.

Time from international airport: Cape Town International airport is 110km away, around a one-and-a-quarter hour drive.

COMFORT

There are 42 individually decorated rooms and suites with views either over Walker Bay or out across the courtyard and manicured gardens to the Overberg mountains beyond. Our room had a sea view through big sash windows, and fresh blue and white décor.

Freebies: traditional toiletries in the marble bathrooms.

Keeping in touch: direct dial phones in the rooms.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Single rooms cost from SAR1,250 (£110), Doubles from SAR2,050 (£180) including breakfast.

I'm not paying that: the Hermanus Backpackers , 26 Flower Street (00 27 28 312 4293; www.hermanus.com) is in a bright two-storey house just a couple of blocks from the ocean with doubles with bathroom from SAR200 (£17.50) or a bed in a dorm from SAR70 (£6) including breakfast.



Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker