Whale and Dolphin Watching Cape Town

Whale Watching Cape Town

“They watched the whales float in the murk, blowing spray into the air. After a minute, the mother showed them her eye again, unblinking and huge. Then she and her calf dipped back under the surface. It was an impossible thing: so many tons of flesh, disappearing in an instant.”

― Robbie Arnott, Limberlost

Page Index:

Looking for the best Whale Watching in Cape Town?

Join us on a Whale Watching Cape Town tour!

Come whale watching in Cape Town with Oceans Africa! As a Cape Town based company, we have been crafting specialist whale watching tours in South Africa and Mozambique for over 20 years. Having worked the in the whale watching industry in guide and skipper roles, we know the industry from the inside – so let us help you plan your whale watching tour in the Cape Town area.

Whale Watching Hout Bay Cape Town
Humpback whale Hout Bay, Cape Town

Whale Watching Cape Town

Watch Whales & Dolphins in Cape Town

Cape Town, with its spectacular coastline and rich marine biodiversity, is one of the world’s premier destinations for whale and dolphin watching.

The convergence of ocean currents and up-welling makes Cape Town a hot-spot for cetacean sightings. Whether you’re a seasoned whale watcher or a curious first-timer, Cape Town offers many different opportunities to observe these magnificent animals from land, boat and air.

This guide will explore the best places, times, and species of whales to watch in Cape Town, including information on the spectacular phenomenon of  humpback whale supergroups feeding in the summer months.

Whale Watching Seasons

Best time to watch whales in Cape Town?

Most people don’t realise that Cape Town is in fact a year-round whale watching destination. However the timing of your visit to Cape Town will significantly impact your whale and dolphin watching experience. 

Southern right whales arrive during the winter months from June to November. These whales migrate from the southern ocean to the South African coast to breed and calve in warmer waters. These migratory whales reach their peak numbers in September and October. There are however, also frequent observations of southern right whales along the west coast during the summer months and sightings of this feeding population seems to peak in Table Bay in Feburary and March.

Whale Watching Cape Town South Africa
Whale Watching Cape Town

Humpback whales can be seen in Cape Town’s waters during three distinct periods. The first is during their northward migration in May, June and July and the second is their southbound migration from October to January . The third is the summer feeding phenomenon of humpback whales along the west coast between Cape Point and and St Helena Bay which may occur anytime from November to February – more on this below!

Bryde’s whales are residents of South African waters and can be found year-round, although sightings are more common in the late summer months when these whales can be seen feeding on bait fish in False Bay and around the Cape Peninsula.

Whale Watching Cape Town to Hermanus Day Tour

Whale Watching Cape Town Tour

Join Oceans Africa for a fully guided whale watching tour from Cape Town to Hermanus. This full day tour offers you the best of both land-based and boat-based whale watching in the Western Cape.

Best Whale Watching Areas

Where to watch whales in Cape Town?

Cape Town is a city defined by mountains and surrounded by the sea, so almost any tour of the Cape will take you to a potential whale-watching area.

False Bay, on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula, lies in the lea of the prevailing westerly winds in winter. The bay is a prime location for whale watching and is particularly known for sightings of southern right whales and humpback whales during the winter months while Bryde’s whales are found throughout the year.

The scenic coastal drive from Muizenberg to Cape Point passes many elevated vantage points that are perfect for land-based whale watching. Take the elevated route over Boyes Drive for views over Kalk Bay towards Seal Island and contue further south all the way to the Cape Point nature reserve.

Land Based Whale Watching Cape Town
Land-based Whale Watching Cape Town

Boat tours in False Bay depart from the Naval port of Simon’s Town offering close encounter whale watching tours, scuba diving and seal snorkeling charters as well as the opportunity to see other marine life such as dolphins and seals and penguins.

Hout Bay, on the western side of the Cape Peninsula, is another  spectacular location for whale and dolphin watching. Chapman’s Peak Drive winds its way around the cliffs to the south of Hout Bay and features many lay-bys and viewpoints overlooking the ocean. These elevated positions offer breathtaking views over the bay and spectacular sunsets, so take your binoculars and spend some time on this world famous scenic route!

Boat tours from Hout Bay Harbour offer all year round whale watching options as well as a high sucess rate of finding dusky, common and Heavyside’s dolphins. This stretch of coastline is also one of the hotspots for feeding humpback whales in summer.  

Whale Watching Cape Town
Humpback whales on the West Coast

Feeding Whale Supergroups

Humpback Whale Supergroups

The humpback whale supergroup feeding phenomenon has only recently caught global attention. It seems that the increase in humpback whale populations over the last two decades has seen a return to the feeding grounds of the Benguela upwelling system.

It is now possible to find humpback whales in Summer months almost anywhere along the West Coast, between Cape Point and St Helena Bay.

These groups of feeding whales can quite quickly build from a gathering of only a few animals into super-groups, comprising as many as 200 whales!

Thought to be among the largest gatherings of Humpback whales in the Southern Hemisphere, the sight of these massive creatures lunging, diving and tailing in unison, amidst a frenzy of seabirds and seals is one of the most spectacular marine life spectacles there is. 

These feeding aggregations can occur anywhere there are high prey concentrations of krill and mantis shrimp, as the whales engage in coordinated feeding marked by lunges, bubble blowing, repetitive diving and the distinctly fishy aroma of whale breath hanging in the air! 

Although difficult to predict there are a few areas that are regarded as hot-spots, notably the Dassen Island to Robben Island area and the stretch of coast from Lllanduno to Hout Bay, Kommetjie and Cape Point.

Dolphin watching Cape Town
Dolphins under Chapman's Peak Drive

Dolphin Watching Cape Town

Dolphin encounters Cape Town

Dolphins are found the year round in Cape Town and there are more species of dolphin found here than any other location in South Africa.  

False Bay marks the Eastern edge of the inshore Bottlenose and Humpback dolphin ranges. While Common dolphins are the most frequently found dolphin with large groups of over 500 animals  around the cape peninsular and Table Bay where they hunt for shoals of anchovy and sardine. 

Other  species of dolphin found in Cape Town include, Heavyside’s dolphins which are endemic to the Cape and the energetic and inquisitive dusky dolphins.

Whale & Dolphin Watching Tours

Join us on a Whale Watching Cape Town tour!

Oceans Africa is the only South African tour company that specialises in whale and dolphin watching tours and charters, throughout South Africa – from Cape Town to KwaZulu Natal and into Mozambique. Our tour guides and associates are among the best in the local industry and are always on hand to ensure that you experience the best and most informed whale watching South Africa has to offer.

Scroll to Top