Where else can you traverse an entire town along its coast? With its extraordinary diversity of scenery, rocky coves, sandy beaches and secluded forest glades, the Cliff Path is unequalled anywhere.
The conservation value of the coastal area has been recognised by its inclusion in 2000 into the Fernkloof Nature Reserve.
The Cliff Path attracts thousands of whale-watchers every year for the best shore-based whale watching in the world, but not only whale watching may be enjoyed on the Cliff Path - it is also a nature lover's paradise.
Originally constructed by the Hermanus Botanical Society and now maintained by the Cliff Path Management Group and the local municipality, the Cliff Path meanders for almost 12km from the New Harbour in the west to the mouth of the Klein River in the east. It takes you past famous fishing spots, whale-watching viewpoints, multimillion-rand homes and the original fishing harbour, now a museum and National Monument. It also winds through a fascinating diversity of vegetation types with an astonishing number of flowering plants to be seen ending with the Piet-se-Bos milkwood forest.
Landmarks to look out for
- Scotsmans Point adjoining the New Harbour where the Cliff Path begins. The harbour was completed in l951 as a safe anchorage for commercial and private craft and now sports restaurants, the National Sea Rescue headquarters and a Boat Club.
- Rietfontein marks the beginning of the Marine Reserve where angling from the rocks is permitted but no other disturbance of marine life is allowed. Explore the fresh water spring, flat rock banks and sheltering cliffs where the first fisherfolk of Hermanus settled in about l856. No trace of their stay remains.
- Hottentotsbank, Tamatiebank, Preekstoel, Platbank - well-known fishing spots where bottom-feeding fish such as Hottentot and the occasional White Stumpnose can be caught, while the Steenbras feeds at Castle rock and Gearing's Point near the Old Harbour.
- Fick's pool, tidal, and the hidden spring of Hermanus Pieters, the shepherd after whom the town is named.
- Windsor Hotel overlooking the wheelchair friendly walkway to Gearing's Point and the Old Harbour. The point is a favourite spot for viewing the migratory Southern Right Whales which visit Walker Bay between June and late November to calve and mate. The Old Harbour has been upgraded to museum status with a whale exhibit and environmental education centre.
- The Hermanus Biodiversity Walk between Hermanuspietersfontein and Gearing’s Point was established in 2015. It is a self-guided walk consisting of a number of stone seated information nodes and a series of signs covering many aspects of the natural biodiversity of this section of the Walker Bay coastline.
- Bientang's Cave named after the last survivor of a band of strandlopers, who died at the end of the l9th century, now houses a seafood restaurant.
- The Marine Hotel, built in the early 1900's, overlooks a public tidal pool.
- Roman Rock, named after the Red Roman (Rooi Man) fish. This section of the path ends at Sea Road, where private properties extend to the high-water mark. The path can be rejoined 800 metres later along the Main Road next to Mollergren Park.
- Mickey, a rocky islet white-sheeted with guano from the flocks of White-breasted and Cape cormorants which roost there. Endemic fur seals often form a ring near the rocks, the better to hunt their prey.
- Kraal Rock, famed for fishing and an ideal spot for whale and dolphin watching together with Die Gang and Sievers Punt close by
- Kwaaiwater, aptly named for the waves that come crashing and thundering over the rocks and into the small shelly beach.
- The Mossel River tumbles out into the sea beyond Kwaaiwater from its source high in Fernkloof. Its course is entirely in a nature reserve. The Cape Clawless otter, often seen hunting for fish in the breakers, uses the stream as a corridor to the mountains where it feeds on freshwater crabs. Galjoen, South Africa's national fish, can be caught in the turbulent seawater.
- Langbaai, Kammabaai, Voelklip and Grotto are popular bathing beaches. On the edge of Grotto's parking area is the cave after which the beach is named. The path runs under ancient forest land where White Milkwood, Wild Camphor, Boekenhout, Cape Holly and Hardepear grow side by side.
- Piet-se-Bos is at the end of the path where a panoramic view of Die Plaat stretches across the mouth of the lagoon and on to Die Kelders on the other side of the bay almost 20 km away.
CLIFF PATH FLORA AND FAUNA
Flowers of all kind abound on the Cliff Path, from the deep pink Cliff Lily Gladiolus carmineus to the rare Green orchid Bonatea speciosa, purple `vygies', yellow daisies and white-starred Boegoe. Rock dassies sun themselves on cliff ledges, the Cape Mole Rat burrows happily in the soft Kwaaiwater sand while overhead the large Kelp Gull and smaller Hartlaub's Gull wheel and dive. The rare red-beaked African Black Oyster Catcher perches on outlying wave-washed rocks. On sunny days aromatic perfume from grey-leaved everlasting healing plants scents the air.
Click here: Cliff Path Management Group