A grey and white whale splashes out of the ocean, in the Wilderness, near George, South Africa.

Whale Watching in the Wilderness, South Africa

South Africa is without a doubt one of the best places in the world to watch whales and dolphins in their natural surroundings. With more than thirty different species of whale and dolphins seen off our pristine coast, South Africa is a premier destination for viewing these gentle giants of the ocean. Thousands of people travel to South Africa annually for this exciting and unique bucket list experience.

A blue-grey Southern Right whale splashes out of the ocean in Knysna South Africa

Every year, whales migrate through the waters off the Garden Route in search of food and warmer weather. This makes for some spectacular viewing opportunities, particularly along the coast between George and Knysna, where you can often watch southern right whales breaching from the shore. Their migration also coincides for a few months with the Sardine Run, which happens between May and July. The Sardine Run is an annual phenomenon whereby billions of sardines spawn in the waters of the Agulhas Bank, and move northward along the east coast.

Which whale species can you see in the Wilderness?

At least 37 species of whales and dolphins can be found in the waters of South Africa! However, whale watching traditionally focuses on the migratory routes of the 'spectacular species', the leviathons of the ocean. Popular species to look out for in the Wilderness are the Southern Right whale, Humpback whales and Bryde's whales.

Southern Right whales

A Southern Right whale breaches out of the ocean in Knysna South Africa.

The Southern Right whale is a big attraction (pardon the pun) and a frequent visitor to our shores, often migrating here to mate and to calve.

Humpback whales

A Humpback whale breaches out of the ocean.

Humpback whales traditionally migrate from Antarctica, along the southern coast of South Africa and up to the coast of Mozambique and Madagascar in search of warmer waters to calve and breed.

Bryde's whales

A Bryde's whale breaches out of the ocean.

Bryde's whales are regarded as one of the "great whales", and have a life span of 50 - 70 years. They're the only baleen species that prefers to stay in warmer waters all year round instead of migrating, so they can be seen off our shores at any time of the year.

When is the best time for whale watching in South Africa ?

The best time of the year for whale watching in South Africa is between June and October, sometimes even stretching as far as December if you're lucky! Though at times it might start as early as May, the majority of migrating pods travel up around late June, early July.

The best place for whale watching

Perched on top of the cliff overlooking the warm Indian Ocean, our houses - Bee's Knees and Cat's Whiskers - are uniquely positioned for an optimum whale watching experience. These majestic creatures can be seen from any of the large ocean-facing windows or from the oversized wooden deck.

Book your stay at Cliff Top Houses, and experience the excitement of watching whales so close you can almost reach out and touch them.