Gordon's Bay - Explore the Whale Route
In the Heart of the Cape, just from Gordon’s Bay, you can drive the Whale Route. This scenic route takes you via Clarence Drive (R44) to watch whales, dolphins, swim in natural pools, hike, enjoy tidal pools and meet the penguins in Stony Point.
You starting point can be Gordon’s Bay but you can also drive the route in reverse order via Grabouw. Below we have made a detailed description of the route with all points of interest on the Whale Route.
You can download this route including description in pdf here.
Click on route to enlarge!
Gordon’s Bay backdrop is the Steenbras Water Catchment area. You won’t see it but there is a major dam in these mountains which are part of The Steenbras Nature Reserve.
We have two little secrets where one is where the letter’s GB in the mountain come from and the Danie Miller Hike. The letter’s GB in the mountain do not stand for Gordon’s Bay but for General Botha – the name of the Naval Officers’ Academy in Gordon’s Bay. Now what has that to do with Danie Miller?
The Danie Miller hiking trail is the beautiful route used to gain access to the sign. It is only about a 1km hike to get to the sign, but it becomes quite steep at the end!
It will take your breath away with magnificent view over False Bay, flora and its surroundings!
On a clear day, you will see a panoramic view, all the way to Cape Point!
The Danie Miller hiking trail has no entry fee, and can be accessed at any time.
You can park your car safely in Suikerbossie Road or at Aurora Road. The entrance is marked by an open piece of land on the mountain’s side of the road where there is a sign showing you the hiking trail and what are the Do’s and Don’ts when walking there.
- Whale Lookout Point and Monica Miles Walk
The Whale Walk structure is made from a natural product, namely sugar gum, an extremely durable and long-lasting wood, sourced locally.
This is the start of the Whale Route from Gordon’s Bay, as described below.
- Whale Route from Gordon’s Bay via scenic Clarence Drive to Hermanus
Once you taken the R44 south from Gordon’s Bay to Kleinmond, you are at the start of the Whale Route and one the most beautiful scenic drives in the Western Cape, called Clarence Drive. It will bring you along the magnificent Hottentots Hollands Mountains on one side and the ocean coming ashore in False Bay.
There are plenty of parking spots on the road which makes this tour much safer compared with Chapman’s Peak to give you photo opportunities. You can be lucky spotting whales (in the season) but especially the dolphins who seems to reside in Gordon’s Bay, can give you unforgettable moments to enjoy while they play in the waves. After your start from Gordon’s Bay, you will see the entrance of Crystal Pools just after Sunbird / Pitstop Lodge.
- Crystal Pools, dip in the pool with water falls at the Steenbras River Walk
Always wanted to discover a pool with a natural waterfall? Hike to Crystal Pools also known as Steenbras River Walk and after about 45 minutes you will find the first pool. Next ones are about 15 minutes further.
Crystal Pools is part of the Steenbras Nature Reserve, which is a part of the of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve Find more information at Show Me Helderberg
Watch the video, thanks to Adam Mitchell:
- Dappat se Gat, a sandy beach like on post cards
Your next stop is at Dappat se Gat. About 10 minutes driving after Steenbras River Walk, you will come at Dappat se Gat.
At Dappat se Gat you will find a sandy beach which you can only spot in movies. The ocean waves have come a long way to swell before they crush on the beach here. You can watch surfers here on a daily basis. Don’t let this beauty tempt you to take a swim, there is a dangerous rip tide! There is an official entrance for visitors of the camping place but at the parking place right along the road at the sign for 'Dappat se Gat' (look for the shark flag), there is a path directly down to the beach. You might spot whales or dolphins!
- Sparks Bay Tidal Pool on Clarence Drive
Sparks Bay resort sits as a coastal haven for travellers and leisure seekers.
According to the City of Cape Town this pool is “known as one of the country’s best and most tranquil whale-watching and braai spots”. It’s located on Clarence Drive in Gordon’s Bay, and you can stop over at the nearby Spark’s Bay Beach where you can braai, picnic, and fish. There is an entrance fee.
Opposite Sparks Bay Tidal Pool, you will see the entrance for the Klipspringer Trail (Steenbras Nature Reserve).
- Penguins spotting at Stoney Point in Betty’s Bay
After you went up the hill at Rooi Els you will pass Pringle Bay. Pringle Bay is a small village with some nice restaurants and beautiful views over the ocean. The entrance for Hangklip/Brodie Link Trail is also here. A strenuous walk to the top of hangklip should take you around 1 hour. Reward is uninterrupted views of Cape point. Hangklip trail is part of CapeNature Reserves. CapeNature is a public institution with the statutory responsibility for biodiversity conservation in the Western Cape.
Your next stop is Betty’s Bay for the penguins. Cute little creatures but endangered.
The African penguin, also known as the jackass penguin and black-footed penguin is fighting for existence since industrial fishing started around the Cape. You can see the penguins in Stony Point (also CapeNature) via the boardwalk from close. Compared with Boulders Beach (Simons Town), which is very pretty but touristy whereas Stony Point is a much more natural setting. Guests experience is that there were a lot more penguins at Betty's bay and it was full of penguin activity with lot of penguins nursing their babies in the nests. It is also more of an experience to walk between them on the board walk. The experience also counts for the smell ? Time to move on, there is sill a lot to see!
- Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Kleinmond, discover the Leopard Walk
The Harold Porter Botanical Garden is owned by SANBI, the South African National Biodiversity Institute. Almost in the heart of the Kogelberg Reserve, this lovely garden full with coastal fynbos where the flora is at its richest. It encompasses mountain slopes with wind-clipped heathlands, deep gorges with relict forests, flats and marshes with restios, sedges and bulbs, as well as dunes adjacent to the beach with specialised salt-adapted plants. The Garden is renowned for its waterfalls and amber pools. They have a modest restaurant where you can have coffee or lunch.
Experience the Leopards Kloof Trail, Leopard’s kloof trail is special. The final waterfall is a photo moment in the making. Read this blog about Leopard’s and other trails in Harold Porter to get in the mood. Harold Porter is also reasonably priced at almost half the Kirstenbosch rate.
You are close to Kleinmond but there is one more place that deserves to be nominated.
- Palmiet River Hike and swim in the pools
Between Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond you will see the sign for another entrance of the Kogelberg Nature Reserve for the Palmiet River, Kogelberg and Oudebosch to Harold Porter Trails. Follow a (paved) jeep trail to Kogelberg Oudebosch Reception where you can buy tickets for the Palmiet River Trail. This four hour walk is one that should not be missed. The trail follows the river where swimming is possible in some of the first few pools.
The incredible scenery and floral wonders make this four hour walk very worthwhile, and you will possibly come back and do it again. Find additional information here.
- Kleinmond and Hermanus
This little village Kleinmond is your last stop before Hermanus. You will see a sign harbour road once you are in Kleinmond. They even have their own website for this cosy part of Kleinmond where you will find fine restaurants and little shops.
After Kleinmond, you just follow the Whale Route / R44. A little further is the famous Arabella Golf Estate, with a wide range of five-star amenities. An award winning spa and their signature golf course is ranked in the top 10 in all of South Africa.
At the intersection, you can turn right to Hermanus and on to Gansbaai famous for shark cage diving and whale viewing cruises. Just Google Hermanus or Gansbaai and you will find all relevant information.
- Elgin Valley
You can also turn left, back to Gordon’s Bay over the N2 over Botrivier in the direction of Grabouw. This route will bring you over the Houwhoek Pass through a part of Elgin Valley.
Elgin Valley falls into the UNESCO protected Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve and is very much geared for life in the outdoors. There are private game reserves, incredible hikes, birding, mountain bike routes, bass and trout fishing, kloofing, fly-fishing - the list of tours, trails and things to do is endless. The Elgin Valley, which is part of the Four Passes Fruit Route, is famous for its cool-climate wines, fruit trees and roses.
- Sir Lowry’s Pass / Steenbras Lookout Point
Just when you pass Grabouw you will come at the Sir Lowry’s Pass which brings you down to our guest house and Gordon’s Bay. Just before you go down (after signs Steenbras Dam) there is a viewing point with marvellous views over False Bay.