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INTERVIEW WITH A LOCAL: HERMANUS, SA

What’s unique about Hermanus?

Apart from being picturesque and lying between the mountains and the sea, we have a whale season.

If money were no object, what would you do in Hermanus?

1) Go whale watching by boat (The Whale Watchers is the top company to do it with) or even by plane!

2) Get a massage and spend the day at the Arabella Hotel and Spa

3) Horse riding on Grotto Beach and then lunch at Bientang’s Cave.

4) Food and Wine pairing at Creation Wine Farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.

Which tourist spots in Hermanus that are worth the effort.

1) Fernkloof Botanical Gardens for a picnic, but take your own basket and don’t forget your walking shoes – lots of gorgeous mountain paths.

2) Grotto Beach’s lagoon in summer is fabulous for swimming – safe and very shallow in some parts, great for kids!

3) Onrus Beach, there’s a good laid-back beachy restaurant on the lagoon.

4) Voelklip beach for boogie-boarding and sand-free tanning. Can get quite crowded.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

1) Bientang’s Cave restaurant, just for the setting! Summer and during the daytime only.

2) The Harbour Rock restaurant, for the view and world-class sushi, with excellent Thai food as well.

3) Lizette’s Kitchen: The restaurant is in the suburb of Voëlklip! Lizette worked as a chef in Vietnam for 7 years before she opened the restaurant in Hermanus. She does Asian-style fusion food. Very yummy and in summer nothing better than to have cocktails on the deck – her barmen are generous when it comes to mixing cocktails.

Who has the best happy hour?

The Harbour Rock Restaurant has a bar called The Gecko. It’s a favourite among locals You’ll also be able to watch the rugby or cricket here. Live bands on weekends and crazy specials on Sundays too. Good party vibe as the night progresses.

Where is the best shopping?

Hermanus’s shopping is good but not fantastic – prices are slightly inflated because of Hermanus’s tourist-hotspot status. If you’re looking for beach house – style stuff or want to invest in art you’ll find something here.

Where do the locals hangout?

The Gecko at the New Harbour

On Saturday mornings there are loads of open-air markets about for fresh produce and gourmet food. There’s Hermanuspietersfontein food and wine market which is quite upmarket. I prefer the Saturday Morning Market on the Cricket grounds, though. Much more laid back and a much wider variety of stalls. Come early – seating is limited and it’s very popular in summer. There’s also live music.

Wait! There’s more!

Excellent Travel Tip! The weather in Hermanus can change four times a day, and quite often the weather is bad during peak season, ie December and January. October is a good month, and February to May is good also and airfare will be cheaper. Always take a light jacket with you, even in the midst of summer. You’ll also want to rent a car, as the town centre is far away from picturesque suburbs with pretty guest houses such as Voëlklip and taxis are expensive. I always see foreigners walking miles and miles into town – they obviously did not know how far away from everything they’d be.

Ané is a freelance motoring and health writer / photojournalist living in Hermanus, and occasionally working in Cape Town.

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