I love whale watching. Growing up in Cape Town, I have always been lucky enough to watch these gentle giants enjoy our ocean. This past weekend I decided to do a whale watching boat trip in Cape Town. I was kindly hosted by The Simons Town Boat Company to join in on a trip near Cape Point to spot some of the common whale species in the False Bay Coast.
From March until October, various species of whales return to South African shores to mate and birth their calves. While the warmer waters toward the Eastern coastline attract bigger pods, they also surround the cooler waters to feed on the rich migrating plankton and sardines that also flock to our waters.
False Bay lies to the east of the Cape Peninsula and is filled with wildlife on land in the water. You can swim with the penguins, watch baboons frolic on the sand and spot amazing marine life on the water’s surface and deep below. I was lucky enough to see large stingrays in Simons Town under the sea while scuba diving in March.
What can you expect to see?
While you can spot many breaching whales from the shores and harbours, going by boat gets you up close to these magnificent creatures.
Over the years I have seen Southern Right Whales Humpbacks, dolphins and the elusive Orca/Killer Whales. They all come close up every year, but spotting them is all about the right place and right time.
Whale Watching by Boat
I chose to go whale watching this weekend in late August on an early spring day. Our boat driver and guide Dave took us out into the bay as their surveillance system scanned the water for whales nearby.
“A whale has just surfaced” says Dave over the loudspeaker on the boat. He quickly turns the boat around so we can view the humpback slowly making his way to the shore. Shortly, after another humpback appears and swims out to sea.
The large humpback starts to swim across Smitswinkel Bay slowly resurfacing shooting loud bursts of spray before it descends.
We passed the famous Boulders Beach and saw basking penguins and seals amidst the rocks. We briefly spotted a Bryde’s Whale before heading back to the harbour.
Where’s my winning shot?
“I was hoping to see them jump today”, I jokingly told Dave when we moored into the harbour. “Well” he said, “we’ve been trying to train them for 20 years now, but still no success”, he replied.
The boat trip was by far the second closest time I’ve been to a whale. The other time was when I was a kid and walking along Fish Hoek and a curious whale swam close by towards the shore.
The boat trip is a great way to explore the bay and hopefully get that winning shot of these extraordinary creatures of the deep.
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