Bientang's Cave Restaurant & Wine Bar is situated in Hermanus, the Southern Cape coastal town with the best land-based whale viewing in the world. The restaurant, partly set in a sea cave, has two-tier outdoor seating that – weather permitting – gives diners all-encompassing views of Walker Bay, and the region’s famous seasonal migrants: the southern right whales.

Did you know?

Bientang's Cave's signature dish is bouillabaisse, a spicy saffron- and tomato-based soup consisting of fresh mussels, linefish, calamari and prawns.

Bientang's Cave Restaurant & Wine Bar allows visitors to view whales while enjoying fresh seafood.

Not the only restaurant in this whale-obsessed seaside village where good seafood and sightings can be enjoyed, Bientang's Cave nonetheless has the distinction of being not more than 10m from the water's edge of the Walker Bay marine sanctuary.

The restaurant is part-built in an ocean cave, once occupied, according to local legend, by a lone Khoi woman, Bientang the strandloper (beachcomber), who had a feisty temperament, alleged supernatural powers, and a penchant for fresh seafood.

Local seafood dominates the menu – seasonal linefish, grilled over an open fire, is recommended, as are the calamari and Cape seafood curry.

From late May to December, the busy restaurant is extremely popular – tourists crowd the wooden deck to watch the mating whales flirt and the mothers leading their calves through the kelp forests, just metres from diners' tables.

On a good whale-watching day, Bientang's Cave takes on a carnival atmosphere, when the giant mammals' antics cause enthralled onlookers to break into appreciative cheers, followed by salutations all round as diners toast the whales with Hermanus's award-winning wines.

Nearby there's also Bientang's Sea World, a whale-watching and educational research centre. Here, among other interesting facts, you'll learn that the whales' annual migration to their Walker Bay breeding grounds is known as the 'starvation migration' because the krill-eating mammals do not feed on their journey.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Bientang's Cave Restaurant & Wine Bar
Tel: +27 (0)28 312 3454

How to get here

From Cape Town, take the N2, and continue until the road splits left. Take the R43 and follow it to Hermanus town. Turn left into Main Road. Follow Main until you reach Broadmarket Street. Turn right into Broadmarket Street and then turn left into Marine Drive. Bientang's Cave will be on your right.

Best time to visit

Late May to December, when the whales are in the bay. The restaurant is open all year round: lunch from 12pm to 4pm – booking is essential; dinner during whale season – by prior arrangement only, from 7pm to 9pm.

Tours to do

Bientang’s Cave’s whale research centre; the harbour; and the Wine Village, in town.

Get around

The flight of steps to Bientang’s Cave is unsuitable for the infirm, elderly, or otherly-abled.

What to pack

Take a weatherproof jacket, camera and binoculars. Table umbrellas are provided, but if you’ll be whale watching from the rocks for an extended period, sun protection is advised.

What to eat

Seasonal line fish, and oysters and mussels, sourced from the Cape coast. Local produce from nearby Elgin, Stanford, and the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is also recommended.

What's happening

Hermanus hosts a number of whale-related events during the year, including the Hermanus Whale Festival in September.

Best buys

Wine from the Hemel-en-Aarde wine district; local olive oil, art and whale souvenirs.