Set against an extraordinary section of coastline that peers down the eastern sweep of the Cape peninsula, you’ll find a self-catering villa called Whale Huys. Here, it is silent in a way that is restorative, with the gentle white noise of the waves crashing against the rocks all of 50 meters away and the occasional yelping of seabirds as background music. This three-storey, four-bedroom guesthouse perches on the west-facing cliffs in De Kelders, a tiny seaside community, affording guests spectacular sunset views, unparalleled whale sightings, and very little distraction from what most of us are in terrible shortage of: quality R&R away from work, stress, and the constantly plinking of technology.
Whale Huys is a place to get away from “it all” and with relaxation (and perhaps just a little bit of kuier) firmly in mind, we came up with a weekend itinerary that included going for walks along the coast, fireside social games, lots of red wine and hearty, slap-up meals, all enjoyed with great friends willing to embarrass themselves for a laugh: what more could you truly want?
The grand tour
Whale Huys is beautiful…so beautiful, in fact, that it affects you. As you walk in, all eyes are drawn to the panoramic ocean view that occupies the entire northwest-facing side of the villa. After a brief existential crisis (how did I get so lucky? Where are my car keys? Who am I?) I took myself on a grand tour of the villa, starting in the living area, which is the floor on which you enter.
A fully kitted-out open plan kitchen with a stove-topped island (Smeg, nogal) looks out over a combined lounge and dining room furnished with a gorgeous solid wood 8-seater dining room table, an enormous tan leather sofa, a fireplace with plenty of wood, and the most divine ocean-facing chaise lounge that I imagine will make my inevitable red wine headache all the more tolerable. The living area even has a little conservatory with cosy couches and a telescope; the perfect spot for morning coffee and whale watching.
Country chic with comfort front-and-centre
Whale Huys’ décor theme leans towards country chic, employing natural woods, earthy tones, and plenty of organic textures, and the overall effect is a feeling of integration with nature. I appreciate that the focus inside Whale Huys is on comfort and robust, generously proportioned furniture (without being inelegant) and not flashy, distracting, uber-modern furnishings. Who cares for those anyway when you have the entirety of False Bay and the majestic sweeping arm of the Cape peninsula to stare at?
Quite smug that I was the first to arrive and would therefore get the first pick of the bedrooms, I headed upstairs to appraise the sleeping quarters. Whale Huys has four bedrooms, each of which has its own full bathroom and – here’s the clincher – ocean views. This means that not one guest is robbed of the opportunity to crack an eyelid first thing in the morning and watch the ocean waves thunder against the coast and, if you’re lucky, a whale cavorting in False Bay.
Again, the décor is executed with sophistication, great comfort, and restraint with few distractions or fancy embellishments, save for some African artwork. Every bedroom has ocean-facing views, mosquito-net shrouded beds dressed with crisp white linen, and all the modern conveniences and comforts you’d want and expect from luxury lodgings.
Finally, the downstairs level has a well-kitted gym (yeah, that didn’t happen), a kitchenette, and a pool deck complete with modest braai area.
Whale watching and wildlife
If you’re not up for the crowds and costs of Hermanus, De Kelders and its big sister Gansbaai are much better options for whale watching, especially given the elevation and unobstructed ocean views enjoyed from Whale Huys. But aside from the bus-sized cetaceans that frequent the southern Cape coastline between June and November, there are other, more permanent residents to be spotted in this heavily natured neck of the woods.
Thick, green marine scrub and bushes proliferate on the narrow swath of land between the villa and the coast, with a private walkway winding its way down from the pool deck to the rocks below. This connects to a coastal path, which is quite lovely for morning or afternoon strolls.
If you’re vigilant and just a little bit lucky, dolphins, seals, and the occasional great white shark can be spotted in the bay. Mongoose and dassie (rock hyrax) are very common and will even approach you if they smell food. The birdlife here is rich: as I write this, a rock kestrel hangs suspended, almost motionless in the stiff onshore breeze, while rock martins wheedle and swoop, and black-backed gulls patrol the coastline looking for something vulnerable to bully. Endangered African black oystercatchers also grace the rocky outcrops at the foot of Whale Huys, and, further out to sea, you can spot Cape gannets diving and kilometre-long trains of Cape cormorants making their way from one end of False Bay to the other.
South Coast Wine Route
Aside from whale-watching and nature appreciation, De Kelders is located right off one of the Cape’s under-appreciated wine routes – I say “underappreciated” simply because Stellenbosch and Franschhoek have a tendency to steal the limelight. And yet, the cool maritime climate of the Overberg region gives rise to some spectacular wines, particularly white wines and lighter style reds.
The closest winery to Whale Huys is Lomond wines but if you’re up to explore the area and drive 30-45 minutes away, there’s Springfontein Wine Estate, Bouchard Finlayson, Creation Wines, Hamilton Russell Vineyards, and a whole lot more. In other words, this is prime wine country and, depending on whom you ask, it is here that you’ll find the Cape’s most delicious pinot noirs!
Lots to do but do you really want to do it?
The towns of the southwestern Cape coast might be considered “small” and “quaint” but that is certainly no limit on the region’s thrilling activities. From whale-watching tours, wine tasting, and wildlife viewing to birdwatching, outdoor exercise (hiking, biking, etc.), fabulous dining, and more. There’s much do to in the area but in a stunning location like Whale Huys, your greatest challenge is wanting to step foot outside to do it. We had a wonderful weekend and managed to fulfil every item on that itinerary (and then some), sending us all home with endearing, fond memories of Whale Huys in De Kelders – a true retreat for all seasons.
For bookings and enquiries, please fill out the contact form at www.whalehuys.com/contact-us/ or call manager Leigh on +27 (0) 73 871 6723.