Whale and Dolphin Watching

Whale Watching South Africa

“Whales grazed the waters as if they were seagoing cattle, straining the nutrient-rich surface of the ocean through the bushy plates of baleen in their perpetually grinning mouths.”

Nathaniel Philbrick

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Looking for the best Whale Watching in South Africa?

Join us on a whale watching tour!

Come whale watching in South Africa with us! Oceans Africa 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 Southern Africa.

Whale Watching South Africa
Humpback whale 'sailing' in South Africa

Whale Watching South Africa

Watch Whales & Dolphins in South Africa

Whale watching in South Africa can be simply spectacular as every year thousands the worlds largest animals make the migration to their breeding grounds in the temperate and tropical waters of southern Africa.

Southern right whales and humpback whales are the main migratory species. Their numbers increasing with every passing year to create a natural spectacle that can be enjoyed from almost any coastal town along our coastline.

More that 40 species of cetacean can be found in the waters of the southern Africa sub-region, so whatever the season, there are always whale and dolphin watching opportunity’s to explore in South Africa.

Land-based Whale Watching

Whale watching from the cliff-tops

The high cliffs of the Western Cape provide an ideal vantage point for seasonal whale watching of southern right whales and the seaside town of Hermanus holds it’s annual whale festival in September in celebration of all things cetacean.

Hermanus is an ideal place for the seasonal, observation of southern right whales. From the cliff-top elevation the whales often lie just beneath you in the coves and bays, allowing us to enjoy them without disturbance of any kind.

Although Hermanus is widely regarded as the whale watching capital of South Africa, the more adventurous traveler may want to head further east to De Hoop.

Land based whale watching1
Watching whales from the De Hoop Cliffs

The De Hoop Nature Reserve with its whale trail and nearby St Sebastian Bay, boasts the highest concentrations of southern right whale mother and calf pairs. Whale watchers who make the extra effort to visit this area are seldom dissapointed.

Cape Town itself, is a city  surrounded by sea, so almost any tour of the area will take you to a potential whale-watching area. Spending time at the lookout points around the Cape Peninsula and on Chapman’s Peak Drive will often reward the patient observer with a whale blow or breach. 

Boat Based Whale Watching South Africa
Boat-based whale watching Hermanus

Boat-based Whale Watching

Close encounter whale watching tours

Boat-based whale watching in South Africa is a regulated activity so it’s important to choose a reputable and licensed whale watching operator.

Whale watching charters are available in most coastal areas. Charters are generally about two hours and provide your best opportunity for a close encounter with whales.  

The chances of encountering different species of whales and dolphin, are also considerably increased by taking a boat-based whale watching tour.

Hermanus Whale Watching Tour

Whale Watching Hermanus

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.

Southern Right Whales

Southern right whales in South Africa

Southern right whales are perhaps the most commonly sighted whale in the Western Cape. Coming close inshore to calve and mate, they were once considered the ‘right’ whales to kill.

They must now be considered the right whales to watch as they may often be seen just behind the breakers where they are  easily observed from the shore.

Active whales are easy to spot an may  seen breaching and tail slapping in many areas from Cape Town to East London.

Southern Right Whale
A southern right whale 'yawning'
Humpback Whale Migration
Humpback whale breaching in False Bay

Humpback Whales

Watching Humpback Whales

Humpback whales are also seasonal visitors to the waters of South Africa. As they pass us on their migration to and from the tropics, they can often be seen breaching and tail slapping offshore in all regions.

The Wildcoast is perhaps one of the best places for observing humpback whales in South Africa as literally hundreds of  whales pass by daily.

These migrating whales use the inshore currents to their advantage and can be easily spotted from the  high cliffs of the Wildcoast. The winter migration of humpback whales also coincides with the annual sardine run, so booking a sardine run tour with us is one of the best ways to see them.

Best Time for Whale Watching

When to find whales in South Africa

The best time for whale watching in South Africa is during our winter months from June to November, when the migratory whales arrive in force.

There are however year round opportunities to find other species, as well as the relatively recent discovery that some whales gather in super-groups to feed on krill along the west coast during the summer months – whale watching Cape Town

With land-based, boat-based and aerial whale watching options in most regions, South Africa offers some of the most accessible and rewarding whale and dolphin watching opportunities in the world.

Whales from the air
Humpback breach seen from the air
Dolphin Watching tours
Dolphins jumping out of the waves on the Garden Route

Dolphin Watching Tours

Dolphin viewing tours and charters

Outside of whale season there is still so much to be seen on any marine tour. Dolphins are found the year round and dolphin watching tours and charters are available in most coastal areas. 

Bottlenose dolphins can be found in large groups in all areas East of Cape Town. Common dolphins are also found in most regions where they tend to stay further offshore, in search of anchovy and sardine. 

Other  species of dolphin found in South Africa include humpback dolphins, Heavyside’s, spinner and dusky dolphins.

Whale Watching Wildcoast

The humpback whale migration

The Wildcoast is perhaps one of the best places  to see humpback whales from the shore in South Africa.

This annual humpback migration is nothing short of spectacular as literally hundreds of  whales pass by daily. The whales often travel close inshore using the coastal currents and can be easily spotted from the many high cliffs of the Wildcoast.

The winter migration of humpback whales also coincides with the annual sardine run, so booking a sardine run tour with us is one of the best ways to see them.

Humpback Whale Migration
Humpback whale migration along the Wildcoast

Whale & Dolphin Watching Tours

Join Oceans Africa on a whale watching 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.

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