The top thing to do in Walvis Bay, especially if you are interested in animals, is a Dolphin Cruise. It is a great opportunity not only to see the dolphins, but also to get up close and personal with various bird species and the Cape Fur Seals seals, who fearlessly board the boat as if it were theirs :-) They can also be petted and fed - or may also just wetly flop beside you for a short nap.
The guides will do their best to guarantee the sight of dolphins, and will explain about the harbour and other interesting things about Walvis Bay.
You will probably be offered Walvis Bay's famous fresh oysters with sparkling wine at the end of the tour - to wrap up a wonderful half day in good taste and good style.
I highly recommend Mola-Mola cruises - really nice guides and will also pick you up from your accomodation (even in Swakopmund) if needed.
As an attraction per se this is not much of a thing, unless you are an avid birdwatcher. But this seemingly simple little platform is a gold-mine ... not in the real sense of the word of course, but it just makes me stand in awe at what people come up with to become millionaires - and this is a success story!
Many seabirds frequent the area, so someone decided to build a bird island to collect bird guano (guano - sh* - oh I don't think I can say that here ..... eeeemmmm .... poop) to be then sold as a fertiliser. For the first couple of years the birds did not really take to it but after while it seems it got cool for the birds to hang out there and leave their souveniers so the project was a success. Pity that when I was there very little birds were present .....
If you are near Walvis bay, perhaps on route to Swakopmund, make a quick stop to the harbor in Walvis bay and check out the flamingos that hang out in huge numbers. There really isn't a whole lot to do in this town but see the flamingos.
To be honest, I would probably not have bothered with the harbour tour at Walvis Bay if my parents hadn't done it a few months earlier and waxed lyrical about how wonderful it was. And, if I hadn't, I'd have missed out on one of the most fun ways to pass half a day in the Swakopmund/Walvis Bay area - which is saying something given how many marvellous activities are on offer for tourists in this region.
The trip starts with a tour of the harbour, which is surprisingly interesting. There are quite a range of boats at anchor, from the seaworthy to old rusting hulks over which the birds and the seals have long since established squatter's rights. There are also often fishing boats - usually Chinese or Spanish - which have been caught fishing illegally in Namibian waters and have been impounded.
However, by far the most interesting thing about the tour is the wildlife you encounter. When we started our tour, I couldn't work out why there seemed to be so many old tyres floating in the water - until I realised that these were seals, fast asleep with their snouts tucked into their tails! They come in to feed on the outfall from the petfood factory, and gorge themselves to the point where they need to sleep off their gargantuan meal! When we visited, one of the seals who has become habituated to people leapt in to join us in the tour boat, narrowly avoiding catapulting a whole tray of open-faced brotchen (German bread rolls) into the ocean!
The tour then proceeds out past the harbour limits towards a nearby seal colony. As you approach, the sound and smell of the seals becomes overwhelming (better hope that you're upwind!) and the seals and magnificent pelicans gather around the boat hoping for easy pickings - see photo of one slipstreaming in our boat's wake. The reason for their enthusiasm become apparent when you weigh anchor and the captain assuages your thirst by distributing cold beer and sparkling wine before starting to shuck local oysters. When we did the tour, my husband thought that he had died and gone to heaven as the oysters kept coming and coming ... he finally gave up after a couple of dozen (the captain was all set to keep shucking!).
The marine birds are superb, and apparently the tours often encounter dolphins and whales (in season), as well as the occasional leatherback turtle and more exotic creatures such as sunfish.
The tour lasts about 3.5 hours, and may initially seem a little on the expensive side (I don't have a handle on current prices, so consult a recent travel guide or websites). However, when you consider the duration of the trip and the generosity of the catering, it is actually good value for money, and I would highly recommend it. There are several operators who offer boat tours - both of the harbour and the lagoons at the mouth of the Kuiseb River, so I suggest you shop around to see which best matches your interests and requirements.
This is Namibia's most important harbour, and probably of that stretch of southern African coast. So much so that remained in South Africa's grip long after the country's indipendence. The main activities are fishing, imports and exports in huge containers, and occasionally, cruise liners.
If you are really interested I believe you can go and visit the harbour (but due to smells I would discourage it). But if you go on a dolphin cruise the guide will be happy to tell you and show you around the harbour.
Pelican point is basically the sandy outer peninsula ebracing the Walvis Bay lagoon. I don't know about the pelicans here, but there surely is a colony of Cape Fur Seals, by far not as large as the one at Cape Cross, but still quite a sight. You will definitely visit here if you go on a Dolphin cruise. Oh I remember oysters and nice sparkling wine when I visited here ;-)
The Walvis bay area is a good place for birdwatching ... in season, the Walvis Bay Lagoon is full of flamingos and there are also other birds to be seen such as pelicans, herons, gulls, skuas, waders, cormorants etc.
The dolphin cruises offered in Walvis bay are also a great opportunity to birdwatch, especially the pelicans and gulls. I also managed to see a young jackass penguin :-)
Another interesting birdwatching point is Sandwich bay, along a 4WD only road out of Walvis Bay. It is not recommended to attempt this without a guide.
In how many places in the planet can one see ancient desert embrace the sea?? I guess this is one of very few places where this is possible. Best experienced from a boat, or driving on the trans-Kalahari Highway connecting Walvis Bay with Swakopmund. It is something amazing, especially on a wonderful day like we had here :-)
I guess the main feature of Walvis Bay is the lagoon, the birds are there and the promenade and the nice houses are there too. The Walvis bay lagoon has a population of thousands of birds such as pelicans, gulls, waders, skuas etc - this population swells up during migration time with migrants from the Arctic and other parts of Africa such as Flamingos.
The lagoon is over 5000 years old and is the only one of its type in Namibia - but the lagoon as we see it today may disappear in just a few years ... construction works, the saltpans and a diversion of the Kuiseb river nearby will eventually cause it to fill up with silt and disappear altogether. Maybe it being designated a Ramsar Site and the work of the Coastal Environmental Trust will help to change its dismal fate...
Actually, despite the name, these are sealions - as they have ears, and move much better on land than seals as they raise themselves on their front flippers (not to mention they wriggle their rear sides seductively too HA HA). Anyway, take a dolphin cruise in Walvis Bay and these playful, intelligent creatures will swim up to the boat and also climb up - making for a special close encounter. A colony of these seals in the are can be found on Pelican Point, but a much more numerous one can be found in Cape Cross, a 2.5hr drive from Walvis Bay.
Worried you will not be able to tell the male apart from the female?? No worries, the male is 3-4 times larger!! If in doubt - it is a female :-)))
Pelicans are amongst the largest (and heaviest) flying birds and their sight always amazes me - and how always I have to remark at how large they really are :-) The species seen here is the White Pelican, and it is, of course, a very talented fisherman. Still it is not that proud to refuse titbits offered :-)
Wondering about the size of that pouch in the beak? Well, some say it may hold more water volume than it's stomach can!
This is the only species of penguin to be found on the African continent, and as one would expect, it is endemic. It is found on the Westren Cape of South Africa and in Namibia. It is not usual to see a Jackass Penguin in Walvis bay, but I did - so maybe if you keep your eyes peeled you may catch a glimpse of one too.
Why the name Jackass Penguin? This is due to the fact that when courting the penguins bray like donkeys ... at very high volume, thus the name Jackass Penguin.
We took the morning tour with Mola Mola and I can only give compliments for the great tour, arrangements, and most of all to the great knowledgeable guide that was pleasure listen to as well as to laugh with.
This is a fast-growing town with current population at around 65,000. The nicest place to hang around is the Esplanade where there is a long promenade facing the Walvis Bay Lagoon. Both the lagoon as well as the beautiful houses lining the promenade are very, very interesting. When I grow up I want to live here in one of the magnificent villas :-) But I know it will never happen, because I will never grow up!!!
It is not exactly the kind of beach that you might think, especially with the cold water of the Atlantic Ocean here, but it is a beautiful place to walk by the beach, for sea bird watch and to watch over the sunset if you can stay that late.