Established in 1991, you can find Bientang’s Cave Restaurant in an ancient grotto in Hermanus, one of the best land-based whale watching areas in the world.
The cave got its name from Bientang, a Khoi Strandloper, who lived there at the turn of the 19th Century. According to legend, she possessed the ability to communicate with animals. Perhaps we can credit the spirit of Bientang for the whales who continue to visit the same spot every year.
Bientang lived in harmony with nature and was self-sufficient in her home. She dined on seafood which she gathered from the surrounding zone and grew edible plants in an outside garden. In the restaurant, you may ask to have a look at the original parts of the cave where you can see the walls blackened by fires of long ago. You might even see Bientang’s source of running water which came from an ever trickling stream near the entrance.
Their tagline, ‘Bientang’s Cave is more than just food, it’s an adventure’ couldn’t be truer. Where else can you feast in a cave on the rocks just metres from the ocean with spectacular views and plenty to explore in the locale?
The large upper deck features multiple tables with ‘window seats.’ The lower terrace is so close to the sea that on a choppy day, take heed of the waiter’s friendly greeting, ‘Welcome to the wild side’ and anticipate sea spray splashes. On a calm day, it’s beautifully serene. The scene stretches along the mountains and beaches in Voëlklip, across Walker Bay, and all the way to Gansbaai. Every year, during whale season (August to November), you stand an excellent chance of dining in the company of these majestic mammals.
My partner and I sipped on MCC and Rosé from the impressive wine list and shared a smoked Halloumi starter. We tucked into ‘fish of the day’: generous portions of salmon and sole with a choice of sides. Tasty and well presented; it couldn’t be fresher. Traditional Malva pudding ended things sweetly before we headed off to check out the area nearby.
I spotted the perfect place to indulge in the bar menu: some of the more rustic parts of the establishment are decked out with bean bags and bar stools. Inside, they also have a couple of large screen TVs – the ideal place to watch the game with a cold one! I found out that they occasionally host live acoustic bands or DJs, and I imagined dancing on the rocks as the water lapped the coast.
We took a moment to observe seabirds on Piet se Klip, a rock where numerous species flock to rest and recuperate. Dassies (rock rabbits) darted from the cliff paths as they foraged for food. I was blown away by the bounty of natural beauty squeezed into such a small area.
Bientang’s is committed to sustainable tourism and is involved in and supports some conservation initiatives. Just metres away from the cave, the Old Harbour is a great place to explore in the day. You can access activities including a museum, viewing platforms, guided tours and more.
Even though I grew up in Hermanus, it’s still an absolute gem and a treat to come back for a visit. Be sure to stop at the award-winning Bientang’s Cave Restaurant; it makes for an excellent outing that never disappoints.
When Lunch: seven days a week, 11 am – 4 pm (year round, weather permitting), Dinner: by arrangement for groups/special occasions/events
Where On the rocks, below Marine Drive, central Hermanus (100m from the Old Harbour) (map and directions)
Cost Menu and wine list
Contact +27 28 312 3454, [email protected], www.bientangscave.com
Photography courtesy author