A car is ideal in Hermanus. It's cheap, and easy (particularly if you're British: they drive on the left side of the road), although you will need to reserve a car well in advance. It's worth noting that it is South African law to carry your international driving licence at all times. Also, some driving tips: at roundabouts, there are four-way stops where the rule is, whoever gets there first, leaves first. Minibus taxis have right of way - let them go ahead.
Cape Town International (+27 (0)21 937 1200) is the nearest airport, 90 minutes north of Hermanus. Flights take 11.5 hours from London; Virgin Atlantic, BA and South African Airways operate direct flights from London.
Country code for South Africa: +27. Hermanus: (0)28.
The Whale Caller by Zakes Mda; Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
Do go / Don't Go
Hermanus has mild climate and even the blustery winter season has plenty of sunny days. Summers months are dry and hot, although the sea breezes offset the temperature. Early March is perfect, with afternoon mists known as 'champagne air'. The all-important whale-watching season is from July to late November, with activity peaking from August to October.
The food on the coast is excellent, with mouthwatering freshwater fish and seafood a particular favourite. South Africa's diverse influences include Cape Malay cuisine that consists of semi-sweet curries, bredie (stew, usually mutton), bobotie (spicy minced beef with a custard topping) and sosaties (marinaded kebabs). The locals are also dedicated to the braai or barbecue, from the Afrikaans for 'roasted meat'. The nearby Stellenbosch and Franschhoek regions are world-famous for their exceptionally good wines.
Taxis are plentiful and cheap; ask your hotel to call you a cab.
The accepted average is 10-15 per cent. Service always seems to be excellent.
The South African rand (ZAR) - the exchange rate is roughly R14 to £1; R7 to $1.
A pair of binoculars for a close-up view of the marine wildlife and a windcheater for blustery southeasters.
Hermanus has attracted a large community of writers and artists, and there are several galleries in town that are definitely worth a browse, such as Gallery Hermanus (+27 (0)28 312 1418) on Main Road. There's an amphitheatre on the cliffs above the old harbour; it regularly stages open-air concerts and drama in summer.
Several galleries sell works by local artists. For souvenirs, head to Market Square on Saturday morning to peruse the stalls; there's lots of local crafts and, of course, plenty of whale memorabilia.
There's a cliff path that runs for eight miles along the coast, from Scotsmans Point next to the New Harbour down to Grotto beach and Piet-se-bos - the path offers lots of whale-watching vantage points. There are also telescopes at the Old Harbour Museum that allow you to see the whole of Walker Bay. Betty's Bay, Kleinmond and De Kelders are also excellent viewing spots.
If you come across a man standing on the shoreline blowing into a trumpet made out of seaweed don't be alarmed; you've just met the Hermanus whale crier.
Second half of September The Hermanus Whale Festival takes place annually, as the whales fluke alongside the cliffs. Visit www.whalefestival.co.za for details.