Driving along the Whale Coast Route – South Africa

The Whale Coast Route

If you have a few extra days in Cape Town, why not make the leisurely drive to Hermanus?  The Whale Coast Route (road along the coast) starts from Gordon’s Bay, 40 minutes east of Cape Town.  You start your journey along the N2 to the east and then make your way along the coastal route (R44) or the R43 highway.  The R43 continues to Cape Agulhas, the most southern point of Africa.

The route crosses a truly magnificent landscape with cliffs and fine white sand beaches.  You should spend about 2-3 days traveling along the coast which includes the drive along the route and an overnight stop in Hermanus.

If you have a chance, make a stop at Stony Point Penguin colony within Betty’s bay (about one hour drive from Cape Town).  Jackass penguins are the permanent residents.  Oh the name still makes me chuckle.  Cost is about 10 ZAR (about $1.5 USD).


The best time to visit Hermanus (112 Km/69 mi east of Cape Town) for whale watching is during Autumn to Spring (April-November).  Many come to Walker Bay for a view of the whales near the shore.   Unfortunately, we missed the whales as we started our journey in December.  When we arrived to our hostel in Hermanus, the owner said to us, “There is one whale right now.  It might be hard to spot.”  Sadness.  I expected I would not see any whales, but one could wish right?

Another popular tourist attraction is shark diving.  Ever wanted a close encounter with a shark?  Well, you can have your chance in the town of Hermanus.  Boats leave from Gansbaai, a coastal town near Hermanus, and then head to Dyer Island Nature Reserve.  Travelers can also book these excursions from Cape Town as it usually includes transportation, meals, and shark diving.  We did not have a chance to experience this death defying experience, but many travelers along the way highly recommended it.

Cape Agulhas

Cape Agulhas (220 km/136 mi east of Cape Town) is the geographic southern tip of Africa and the official dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian oceans.  The drive is quite easy with signs along the road leading you to the southernmost point.  Near the cape is a lighthouse with red and white stripes. Inside the lighthouse you will find a museum and restaurant, which could be quite a nice spot after the long driving day.

Although the drive to the southern tip of Africa was quite easy, we somehow found ourselves on a dusty road before we reached the R43.  We were driving from Hermanus and decided to take the back roads.  We did not have the best map as it did not show the smaller roads.  Instead, we used my trusty compass and kept going southeast.  We figured that we would one day reach the southern tip.   Luckily, we did.


About Jan

In 2004 and 2010, I set aside time to travel the world in 3 parts. In 2004, I traveled to Thailand, Europe, and Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. In 2010, I traveled to 3 continents: Asia, South America, and Africa. I am not sure if I have a fascination with the number 3, but I seem to be constantly traveling by numbers.
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