Archive for March, 2010

Hermanus 1

Hermanus was originally named Hermanuspieterfontein after an itinerant teacher from the 1830’s who grazed sheep near a fresh water spring in what is now Westcliff. Fishermen from Hawston started to settle here more than 150 years ago but the town gradually became known as a holiday resort and grew into the main coastal centre of the Overberg.

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I am going to do 2 posts on Hermanus as there is a lot to see and do there and I have taken a lot of photos which I hope you find interesting.

I first started going to Hermanus about 45 years ago and boy has it changed over the years in comparison to a place such as Arniston which is further east along the coast . In those days Hermanus and Arniston had the same kind of feel – holiday, fishing village, sea side places, although Hermanus was even then quite a bit larger than Arniston. Now days Hermanus is a bustling, much larger and more modern town and for me has lost much of the charm that still exists at Arniston.

View of the old harbour from Gearing Point.
View of the old harbour from Gearing’s Point.

Monument housing the roll of honour for those from the area who perished in the 1st and 2nd World wars.

Monument housing the roll of honour for those from the area who perished in the 1st and 2nd World wars.

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Plaque for the Old Harbour which was for many years the centre of a thriving fishing industry.

Hermanus now has a vibrant tourism industry, boasts a large number of art galleries and restaurants and is, amongst others, home to an annual whale festival in September. From June to November, especially the area around the Old Harbour and Gearing’s Point offers excellent opportunities for watching whales which often come to within meters of the rocks.

Gearing's Point which is ideal for whale watching.
Gearing’s Point which is ideal spot for whale watching in season.

Unfortuneatly I was there at the wrong time of the year so this statue had to make do.
Unfortunately I was there at the wrong time of the year so this statue had to make do.

One of the stalls at the thriving open air market.
One of the stalls at the thriving open air market.

There are 3 museums in the Old Harbour area and 1 ticket gets you into all 3.
There are 3 museums in the Old Harbour area and 1 ticket gets you into all 3.

Another of the 3 museums.
Another of the 3 museums.

Part of a whale skeleton at the entrance to the Whale Museum.
Part of a whale skeleton at the entrance to the Whale Museum.

You can hire this guy to give you a guided tour. It was a really hot day and business was slow so he was having a break.
You can hire this guy to give you a guided tour. It was a really hot day and business was slow so he was having a break.

Most of the action takes place around the Old Harbour area and that is where you find all the great restaurants, art galleries and curio shops that Hermanus is well known for.

Some great restaurants.
Some great restaurants.

Part of the main tourist area.
Part of the main tourist area.

There are also many hotels and B&B's in the Old Harbour Area and many more in the older part of Hermanus.
There are also many hotels and B&B’s in the Old Harbour Area and many more in the older part of Hermanus.

As I said at the beginning of this post Hermanus is a really interesting place to visit and there is much to show and comment on. For this first part of my visit I have tried to cover what the average tourist would  get to see if they came for a 1 day visit and will show more in my next post.

Paradise & Onrus Caravan Parks.

In the Hermanus area there are 2 caravan parks, the one at Onrus and the one I stayed at Paradise Park  in Vermont. There was a great camping and caravan park in Hermanus,  I camped there many years ago, but it is no longer open to the public as it has been earmarked for a major development .

The main reason I ended up staying at Paradise Park was price. When I phoned around to check prices I discovered that Onrus Caravan Park, like Kleinmond & Palmiet, who all fall under the same municipality, wanted to charge me R240 per night which is just way over what I am prepared to pay. Fortunately Paradise said that they would charge R130 per night, which I think is still a bit high for 1 person per night. The highest price I paid on the West Coast was at Strandfontein, where I had a private ablution block and fabulous view of the sea, who charged me R85 p/n during the week and R125 p/n over weekends.

The biggest factor against Paradise Park is that it is close to the high way and is therefore a bit noisy at night but not unbearably so. It is, compared to the Onrus park, also quite far away from the beach area which did not bother me as they have a great pool there to cool off in.

Paradise Park just off the R43 in Vermont about 10 km's from Hermanus
Paradise Park just off the R43 in Vermont about 10 km’s from Hermanus. No security at gate.

My set-up. Nice shaded area and the grass was fine.
My set-up. Nice shaded area and the grass was fine.

Had some great companionship as these two decided that my front stoep was the best place in the park durring the day.

Had some great companionship as these two decided that my front stoep was the best place in the park .

The main ablution block which was pretty good. There was also a smaller block nearer to where I was parked but there was something wrong with the hot water in the showers.
The main ablution block which was pretty good. There was also a smaller block nearer to where I was parked but there was something wrong with the hot water in the showers.

The ablutions were kept clean and tidy. You also have your own key to get in and out for which you pay R50 which is refunded when you leave.
The ablutions were kept clean and tidy. You also have your own key to get in and out for which you pay R50 which is refunded when you leave.

The pool and right next to it was a childrens play area.
The pool and right next to it was a children’s play area.

There are quite a number of full time residence in the park who have built there own cottages and pay a monthly levy. There was one very nice one up for sale for R350k and I was tempted but worried about the road noise.
There are quite a number of full time residence in the park who have built there own cottages and pay a monthly levy. There was one very nice one up for sale for R350k and I was tempted but worried about the road noise.

There is also a shop which stocks all the basics and next to it a hall which was used for a wedding reception while I was there.
There is also a shop which stocks all the basics and next to it a hall which was used for a wedding reception while I was there.

All in all I enjoyed my stay at Paradise Park and would definitely stay there again as it gives you a great base from which to go and explore the area.

Onrus Caravan Park.
Onrus Caravan Park. Good security entrance.

To be honest, apart from the price and also the now extended high season to end of April (which is crazy) there was not much wrong with the park and it is right on the shore line so maybe for a family of 4 to pay R240 p/n is not too bad. I still believe that the pricing structures of most parks are wrong in that they have a blanket charge for the site and don’t work on a charge per person p/n as  they do at Chapman’s Peak Caravan Park which works very well.

The ablution block looked clean and tidy.
One of the ablution blocks.

Clean and tidy.
Clean and tidy. I sometimes wonder who designs these things!!

The most popular sites with a sea view were looking a bit the worse for wear.
The most popular sites with a sea view were looking a bit the worse for wear which is understandable.

Davies Pool which is directly in front of the park and is accesable via a gate.
Davies Pool which is directly in front of the park and is accessible via a gate.

I had a long chat to the manager who says that they realise that they have made a mistake with the pricing and extending the high season and that he hopes that by June this year the prices will have come down. For the mean time if you are only going for a weekend and feeling flush this looked a nice park to stay.