Shark cage diving requires nerves of steel

There’s one last public holiday coming up before the festive season bonanza - Heritage Day. It falls on a Sunday, which means you get the Monday off, and there’s plenty to be done in three days. So, if you don’t want to stay at home for a braai, take advantage of the long weekend to try out some new things.
 
And if you want to get full relaxation out of your down time, then hitting up some of South Africa’s smaller towns comes highly recommended. Avukile Mabombo, Group Marketing Manager of Protea Hotels by Marriott, is a seasoned traveler, and he rates Hermanus as one of his favourite small town destinations. It’s just an hour and a half from Cape Town, but you’d be surprised what’s on offer. From its own wine route, to whales, to being home to South Africa’s version of Nasa, here’s what Mabombo recommends you check out.
 
Heaven and Earth – Food and Wine

Just before the actual town of Hermanus, take a short left onto the R320 into the Hemel-en-Aarde (heaven and earth) wine route. The route boasts 15 farms spread out over an easily-manageable 20 kilometres, boasting some of the most scenic views the Overberg has to offer.
 
Taste some prize-worthy Pinot Noir at one of South Africa’s top wineries, Bouchard Finlayson. Their flagship wine is called Galpin Peak, which has won many of the top wine accolades. Keep heading up the valley, and you’ll see a wall of bright pink. That’s La Vierge, the winery that invites you into temptation, with their Garden of Eden theme. Definitely try some ‘Original Sin’, be seduced by their ‘Jezebelle’, and round it off with a bit of  ‘Last Temptation’.
 
When on a wine tour, sampling some of South Africa’s finest, make sure that when you break for lunch, the tasting continues. Creation Wine Farms is perfect for this. The Tasting Room at Creation pairs all their lunch offerings with their wines. 

So, if you’re having the pork fillet, burnt caramel and sage, spinach, and king oyster mushroom, it will be paired with the Creation Reserve Pinot Noir 2015, described as  ‘Gleaming garnet with an inviting bouquet of spice - peppercorn and clove - supplemented by a delicate whiff of dried apricot’. 

For the more adventurous, there’s an entire tasting menu where all of the eight courses are expertly paired. Finish things off, by trying the chocolate and wine pairing, combining two classic favourites.
 
Of course not everyone enjoys a delicate Sauvignon Blanc. For the beer lovers, head out to the Birkenhead Brewery to sample a wide array of craft beer.
 
Shark Tale or Shark Tail?
 

The movie Shark Tale might make the ocean’s apex predators look strangely warm and friendly, but for those of us brave enough to get up close and personal, it’s a bit of a different story. Shark cage diving requires nerves of steel, but experiencing these magnificent creatures in the deep blue is something you’ll never forget.
 
Whale whale whale, what have we here?

Bad puns aside, Hermanus is probably best known for its whale watching. The usual time for their arrival starts around May/June, and the stragglers can be seen as late as January. So, September is peak whale watching time. There’s even a whale crier, who sounds the trumpet when a whale is in sight. You can view them from the cliff path, or get right up close on a boat. Seeing these majestic beings is awe inspiring, and will make you want to come back year upon year.