Facilities include an inviting spa with two scented
Lavender and Cinnamon Rooms offering massages and yoga.
Candlelit contemporary African dining is outstanding
at Birkenhead House and daily menus feature locally
caught marlin, Red Roman, mussels and crayfish cooked
with French, Italian and Thai influences. Meals are
served on the broad patio overlooking the sea, in the
glass-fronted dining area, in courtyards or in rooms
for a touch of exclusive privacy.
terms of activities in and around Hermanus other than
whale and dolphin watching, scuba diving and shark cage
diving are popular watersports. The celebrated centre
of this is Dyer Island’s ‘shark alley’
at nearby Gansbaai (see H.M. S. Birkenhead story below).
Otherwise, one can deep-sea fish, sea-kayak, surf, paraglide,
play golf, quad-bike or enjoy a winelands wine-tasting
tour. Mountain trails afford birdwatching opportunities.
The two bathing beaches, Voelklip (Afrikaans for ‘bird
rock’) and Nanny’s or Kamma Bay are complemented
by the Blue Flag Grotto Beach reached via an attractive
Birkenhead House is named after the ill-fated Royal
Navy frigate shipwrecked in 1852 two miles from shore
at Danger Point near Gansbaai. This disaster entered
both British and South African maritime folklore as
giving rise to the ‘Birkenhead Drill’ of
gallantry under extreme circumstances and of the ‘women
and children first’ protocol. Not one woman or
child perished; yet of 643 aboard, only 193 survived.
Of the dead, the majority shared the same fate as the
jettisoned horses as reported in eye-witness testimony:
being taken by hundreds of circling great white sharks.