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.



News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence