4. Port Elizabeth: Whale, Dolphin and Penguin Boat Cruise
The tour departs from Algoa Bay Yacht Club at Port Elizabeth Harbor in the early morning. Board the catamaran with your guide, and then set sail onto the waters where the adventure begins. As you sail around the coastline, watch out for the vast array of marine life that lives here, as you learn about their mating and migration patterns.
The best time for whale spotting begins in June when humpback whales move along the coast as they head up the east coast of Africa towards their breeding grounds. Humpback whales can be spotted in Algoa Bay between June and early January, reaching peaks in July/August, and then again in November/December when they make their return journey with newborn calves in tow. Southern right whales are also usually seen very close inshore nearby to the harbor during July to October as they enter the safety of the bay to give birth. These whales are the most frequently observed whales along the South African coast.
Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins also call the bay their home and can be spotted all year round in groups from 10 to 400. These playful dolphins are mostly found in shallow waters either near the beaches or around St. Croix Island, and tend to come right up to the boat and ride along in the bow waves. Common dolphins are also a spectacular sight as they are seen in groups of 1000-2000, swimming along at great speeds. There’s also the chance to see humpback dolphins in Algoa Bay, which usually occur in much smaller groups, anywhere between 1 and 20, and are most commonly seen during the summer months.
On the tour, the boat will also sail around St. Croix Island, home to over 20,000 breeding pairs of African penguins, the largest breeding colony found in Africa. Enjoy a close-up encounter with these comical birds and learn about their breeding habits on the island. As well as African penguins, both St. Croix and Brenton Island are inhabited by the endangered African black oystercatcher, white-breasted cormorants and Cape cormorants.