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Hermanus itself is not a particularly attractive town -- walking along the streetscape away from the sea, it resembles any other sprawling suburb -- but its position as the whale-watching capital has meant an unprecedented increase in new places to stay, the best of which boast grand sea views and are described below. If you'd prefer a more rural option, base yourself near the charming village of Stanford, a 15-minute drive inland, at a little gem called Blue Gum Country Estate (tel. 028/341-0116; www.bluegum.co.za). A 52-hectare (130-acre) farm, this retreat has only 12 rooms, each with private verandas and idyllic views of the mountains and gardens; its comfortable country styling is very Martha Stewart. Rates are R900 to R2,300 ($125-$319/£64-£164) including breakfast, a sumptuous high tea, and dinner.

If the thought of self-catering at De Hoop sounds like too much work, Buchu Bushcamp borders De Hoop, allowing for day trips into the reserve, with five simple two-bedroom thatched and timber chalets (R930/$129/£66 per chalet) and restaurant. Owner Colin offers guided walks in the reserve. Contact the camp at tel. 028/542-1602 or visit www.buchu-bushcamp.com.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.