Plettenberg Bay made world headlines recently when it was certified as an official Whale Heritage Site (WHS), one of only three in South Africa. Plettenberg Bay joins The Bluff and Algoa Bay as the third Whale Heritage Site in South Africa, and one of only seven fully accredited Whale Heritage Sites worldwide where local communities ‘celebrate, respect, and protect cetaceans and their habitats’.
The Plettenberg Hotel, widely recognized as the ‘best address’ for visitors to stay in Plett, says it has noted an increased demand from guests wanting to experience whales and dolphins in their natural habitat in an authentic and natural way. The hotel is part of The Liz McGrath Collection and a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, attracting nature enthusiasts locally, and from across the globe seeking to witness thewonders of the natural world.
Plettenberg Bay is situated between two Marine Protected Areas (Tsitsikamma and Robberg) on the Garden Route and supports a wide diversity of ocean wildlife, including iconic species like Humpback Whales, Southern Right Whales, Bryde’s Whales, Killer Whales (Orcas) and Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. The area is well known for its terrestrial and marine diversity surrounded by the Tsitsikamma Mountains, Indian Ocean coastline, indigenous forests and endemic fynbos vegetation. This Marine Protected Area serves as a crucial feeding and nursery ground for a wide variety of resident and migratory cetacean species, with the Southern right whale being one of the most notable and representative inhabitants.
Some of the most significant trends in travel seen post-Covid is a renewed interest in sustainable travel and nature-based experiences, as people become more aware of the impact of tourism on the environment and local communities. Melissa Theron, the General Manager of The Plettenberg says that the new-found Whale Heritage Site status is set to further elevate marine tourism in the Garden Route town, as it provides a clear marker for discerning guests wanting to support sustainable practices in marine culture, heritage, and biodiversity.
‘We are very proud of this accolade and look forward to more guests drawn to Plett as a responsible marine tourism destination. Apart from whale watching boat excursions, here at the hotel, our guests take great delight in dolphin and whale watching on site – from their rooms, the two pool decks or the restaurant terrace during meals. For many guests, the highlight of the day is being the first to spot a marine sighting and being able to ring our brass whale-watching bell to announce a sighting off-shore – an unforgettable experience for young and old!’