Hermanus, which (perhaps thankfully) no longer goes by its original name of Hermanuspietersfontein, bills itself as the best land-based spot in the world from which to watch whales. This genteel community, backed by impressive hills and located in a gorgeous Indian Ocean spot, also has the world's only whale crier, rather like a town crier but who announces sightings of whales instead of telling the news. Hermanus event venues include some museums that chronicle its whaling history.
The closest international airport, 65 miles to the west, is Cape Town International Airport (CPT), which is one of the two most important, busiest and well-served airports in South Africa, with direct flights from Europe, the Middle East and all around South Africa itself, but not from North America.
Chief among conference venues in Hermanus' nearby area, the Cape Town International Convention Centre has 100,000 square feet of exhibit space on its ground floor, big enough to host 10,000 persons, as well as two auditoriums, the first seating 600 persons, the second, 1,500, 33 meeting rooms and a 20,000-square-foot ballroom.
Hotel venues in Hermanus include the oldest hotel in the city, the 70-room Windsor Hotel, which has three meeting rooms for up to 120 persons; the luxurious, 42-room Marine, which has the Terrace Room for up to 60 persons; the 18-room Harbour House Hotel, which has meeting space for 40 persons; the angular, very whitewashed Quarters Hotel, which also has 18 guest rooms, as well as conference space for up to 45 persons; and the 12-room Misty Beach Chateau Boutique Hotel, which includes as one of its guest accommodations the oldest fisherman's cottage in Hermanus and has two conference space for up to 30 and 60 persons, respectively.
Unique gathering spots here do take advantage of all those Southern right whales and other species. Nature lovers can choose between Hermanus Whale Cruises, which can take private groups on two-hour trips to get closer to these majestic mammals (note that there are far more whales and chances of seeing them at certain times of the year), and, for the truly adventurous, Shark Lady Adventures, which organizes boat trips from nearby Gansbaai – which is to the Great white shark what Hermanus is to whales – for small groups to go cage diving to see the world's greatest predator. More urbane ideas include hosting events in the different rooms of the Old Harbour Museum, which still features whales and has a lecture hall and an exhibition hall containing a whale skeleton, or going to two local wineries – La Vierge, which occupies the pretty Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and has a tasting gallery, gorgeous vineyard grounds and a restaurant for up to 70 persons, and, farther along the same valley, Ataraxia, which was begun in 2004, commands the highest position of the valley and has a wine lounge.
Dining in Hermanus and its surroundings should be contemplated at Lemon Butta, which is known for sushi and seafood; Burgundy, which has a large events patio overlooking the ocean; definitely memorable Bientang's Cave, a seafood spot that can be rented out in its entirety, occupies a cave right on the shore (and bills itself, with not much hubris, as "the most spectacular setting at the edge of the world"); and the Class Room Restaurant, which is at the beginning of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and has an inventive meat and seafood menu and can host up to 100 persons in a private venue. Farther up the valley, the fantastic Heaven restaurant at the Newton Johnson winery, has a tasting room and can open beyond its normal hours for groups of 15 or more.