*Disclaimer: I didn’t explore the entire Garden Route; in fact, I barely scratched the surface, but I want to share my experiences so that every time I read this I remember one of the most restful holidays I’ve ever had.*
Romonza boat trips in Mossselbay offer guided trips to Seal Island on the hour, every hour between 10:00 and 16:00, weather permitting. Occasionally dolphins and whales are also sighted during these outings, so I had to do this during my holiday.
Unfortunately, seeing as it was out of season, there weren’t all that many tourists around on a Thursday, and understandably the boat can’t do a trip for just one passenger. Fortunately, there was a whale sighting trip scheduled for later in the day if I was interested. Of course I was interested! It was a lot more expensive than the trip to Seal Island, but this included a trip to Seal Island, and a partial refund if no whales were spotted. As I was doing my holiday on an extremely tight budget, I was in two minds about whether or not I actually wanted to see whales, because money, but also because whales.
Clever me with my tendency to motion sickness made sure I took something for it while I enjoyed a large cappuccino at Blue Sheds Coffee Roastery, reading by the fireside while waiting for the time to pass.
Then, finally it was time to report to the harbour and go on this adventure. I expect I’d have been very green around the gills if I didn’t take that little pill, as at some stage the boat was moving up and down, and rocking from side to side simultaneously. With the bright sun up high, it wasn’t easy to see what was going on on my phone screen, but that didn’t stop me from taking pictures and capturing video footage of the two large Southern Right whales we spotted.
The captain of the Romonza shared some facts about the whales with us and we quietly drifted nearby for a lovely long time. Then, it was off to Seal Island. And because seals are the preferred food of Great White sharks, we came across a vessel taking tourists out for cage diving not too far from the island. We even saw the sharks a few times when they cast out bait and pull it back up.
Again we were told some facts about seals as we went around the island. They’re very fussy eaters and prefer the soft white fish further afield from the island. This means groups of about 20 leave the island for about a week at a time to go feed. Not all 20 return to the island, falling prey to the sharks, but once back at the island they will chill in the sun or play in the water around the island for about another week. Seal Island is protected, and people are prohibited from getting onto the island. Be warned, the smell from down-wind of the island will make your eyes water.
The tour lasted around two hours, and I was glad I did it after all.
Do remember to take a jacket since it can get a bit chilly and windy out in the middle of the ocean. Most importantly, make sure your camera or phone is fully charged, and don’t forget your sunscreen. Or motion sickness meds.
For more info and activities along the Garden Route, download the Garden Route and Klein Karoo app.