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Marine and Coastal Activities

South Africa

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Boat-Based Excursions
Whales and Dolphins (and other species) can be best viewed from a boat at the water's surface. This allows passengers to get close to the animals without actually being in the water with them.
In their own environment these animals are fascinating to watch, and often will approach and interact with the vessel and people on board. Most countries require boat operators offering such trips to be in possession of a Permit to allow them to approach these animals. Boat trips usually also encounter a host of other species that would not normally be seen from land.
With all boat-based whale and dolphin watching, care must be taken not to harm or frighten the animals. It is also not a good idea (and may be illegal) to get into the water with these animals - remember they are wild, and should be treated with respect.

Please note: In most countries of the world, a Permit is required for anyone or any vessel (boat, aircraft, helicopter etc.) to approach whales and dolphins (Cetacea) closer than about 300 metres. There is also encouragement for Operators working under the Permit conditions to have adopted a Best Practice for their business, where they will practice at all times taking first consideration of the animals and environment, in order to minimize the impact on the animals of their presence.

Operators with the following icons show their status in this regard:

best practice This indicates they conform to Best Practice principles. Should you experience or observe something that is contrary to this practice, please e-mail us a Complaint with as much detail as possible (date, time, vessel name, location and names of any operator on the vessel) to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

permit holderThis indicates the operator has the required Permit to conduct Whale & Dolphin Watching Tours and can approach the species closer than the limits imposed on the public, and within the distances specified by the Permit conditions.

Please note that a copy of the Permit and Permit Conditions should be displayed on the tour vessel at all times.

Boat excursions are governed by Laws and Regulations applicable to the species as well as marine laws for operating coastal vessels - please abide by both.

Advantage Tours and Charters

Country: South Africa - Province: Kwa-Zulu Natal - City: St Lucia
Main Activity: Whale & Dolphin Watching (boat based)

Boat based Whale watching from aboard the Advantage I vessel - we are the only licensed operator in St Lucia. The whales migrate past this stretch of coastline between May and December each year, heading north to calve or mate in the warmer Indian Ocean, moving as far as Mozambique and Madagascar, before returning to the Antarctic to feed. Tours take about 3 hours as there is a lot to see - bring camera and warm clothing as it is always colder at sea and there will be a lot to photograph! read more...

Dyer Island Cruises

Country: South Africa - Province: Western Cape - City: Kleinbaai
Main Activity: Whale & Dolphin Watching (boat based)

We offer a 5 star boat-based whale watching excursions from Klein Bay (Small Bay) after Gansbaai on the Dyer Island side of the headland. Each trip is approximately 2 hours in a custom made whale-watching vessel. read more...

Hermanus Whale Cruises

Country: South Africa - Province: Western Cape - City: Hermanus
Main Activity: Whale & Dolphin Watching (boat based)

Hermanus Whale Cruises has been operating in the Walker Bay area since the first permits for boat based whale watching were granted in 1998. The skippers and guides – all of them registered SATOUR guides – are from the local community of Hawston, and their combined experience enables them to provide the visitor with a vast amount of local information, especially in the area of boat based whale watching. Their knowledge of local weather and sea conditions is considerable. The whale watching boat which they operate is named "Whale Cruiser". Hermanus Whale Cruises is operated by the Sandown Bay Fishing Company (Pty) Ltd – owned by shareholders who are all from the previously disadvantaged community of Hawston, an historical fishing village located 12km from Hermanus. Two of the shareholders, Tom Gelderblom and Phillipus May, are the directors of the company. read more...

Ivanhoe Sea Safaris

Country: South Africa - Province: Western Cape - City: Gans Bay
Main Activity: Whale & Dolphin Watching (land based)

We specialize in taking tourists to view Southern Right Whales from close up from our luxury boat Ivanhoe. We utilize only Specialist Whale Guides registered with SATOUR and have the permit for Overberg sub-area 2 of Walker Bay, Walker Bay is world-renowned for having the most Southern Right Whales visit of all the areas of South Africa where Boat Based Whale Watching is permitted. We operate from Gansbaai, on the Southern side of Walker Bay, directly across from the world-famous cliff paths of Hermanus on the Northern side of the Bay read more...

Ocean Blue Adventures

Country: South Africa - Province: Western Cape - City: Plettenberg Bay
Main Activity: Whale & Dolphin Watching (boat based)

Situated in the popular coastal holiday town of plettenberg Bay, Ocean Blue offers a rare and powerful experience through close encounters with whales and dolphins under permission of a Permit.All tours are included with a qualified guide on board who will not only point out the variety of animals you will see, but also some of the coastal landmarks that make this such a popular destination read more...

Ocean Odyssey

Country: South Africa - Province: Western Cape - City: Knysna
Main Activity: Whale & Dolphin Watching (boat based)

Knysna is one of South Africa’s best whale watching destinations, and the ocean adjacent to its sweeping coastline is abounding with whale activity during winter and spring. Many other extraordinary marine species are seen here throughout the year. Ocean Odyssey, Knysna’s only permitted close encounter whale watching operation, skilfully showcases these sentient animals during their whale watching tours. read more...

Ocean Safaris

Country: South Africa - Province: Western Cape - City: Plettenberg Bay
Main Activity: Whale & Dolphin Watching (boat based)

Ocean Safaris started in 1997 taking small trips on an inflatable boat, looking for whales. Since then it has built a reputation in the Tourism Industry for providing unique and exciting Whale and Dolphin Watching Trips as well as eco-cruises to see the abundant sea life available in Plettenberg Bay read more...

Raggy Charters cc

Country: South Africa - Province: Eastern Cape - City: Port Elizabeth
Main Activity: Whale & Dolphin Watching (boat based)

We offer Whale Watching Cruises between June and November when the Southern Right Whales and Humpback Whales enter Algoa Bay. We are the only licensed Boat Based Whale Watching operator in the port Elizabeth area, which allows us to approach these amazing creatures to within 50 metres. read more...

Romonza Boat Trips

Country: South Africa - Province: Western Cape - City: Mossel Bay
Main Activity: Whale & Dolphin Watching (boat based)

We depart every hour on the hour 10h00 till 16h00 daily all year round weather permitting. Whale Watching season is June to November. These are approximately 3 hour trips depending on the proximity of the whales. There is about a 99% chance of seeing whales and dolphins in season. read more...

Simonstown Boat Company

Country: South Africa - Province: Western Cape - City: Simon's Town
Main Activity: Whale & Dolphin Watching (boat based)

Simon's Town Boat Company operates 3 custom designed vessels for a range of pleasure activities. The bay is sheltered from the open ocean, surrounded by stunning views and provides an ideal home for the Southern Right Whales and dolphin and many other marine and bird species. We offer bay sightseeing cruises to Seal Island, Harbour Cruises and Scenic cruises to Cape Point. read more...

Southern Right Charters

Country: South Africa - Province: Western Cape - City: Hermanus
Main Activity: Whale & Dolphin Watching (boat based)

Experience an up close and personal encounter with the ‘gentle giants’ of the ocean that promises to be an ‘experience to be treasured.’ read more...

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