by Tamlin Wightman on August 12, 2011
3 min read

Most people travel to South Africa and further on the continent to see the Big 5. The land based Big 5, that is. But becoming more and more popular are the Marine 5. They include whales, sharks, seals, penguins and dolphins, ocean creatures particularly popular at the southern tip of Africa.

For more about the Marine 5, watch our latest video:

The best places for spotting all five of these ocean dwellers is along the Garden Route in the Western Cape.

We recommend staying at Birkenhead House and/or the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve to ensure not just a luxurious and comfortable stay, but also great opportunities to spot the Marine 5.

One of the most impressive hotels is Birkenhead House. This boutique hotel is a firm favourite of Rhino Africa, with its unique décor, service and food. Another of our favourites is the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, situated just outside of Gansbaai, with over 750 species of fynbos.

Grootbos Special!

Combine a Big 5 and Marine 5 experience with our exclusive to Rhino Africa special, that includes a stay at Grootbos, Cape Town and either the Kalahari or Kruger National Park. Click here for more!

Also, if you stay for 2 or more nights at the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, whether in the Grootbos Forest Lodge, Garden Lodge or Villa, you will get two Shark Cage Dives or two Whale Watching Trips for the price of one (saving over R1,500)! Spot humpbacks and southern right whales and the other members of the Marine 5 on board the Whale Whisperer.

Grootbos also includes three delicious daily meals and incredible activities such as horse riding on the beach, botanical safaris with expert guides, exploring the De Kelders caves and visiting Grootbos’ sustainability projects. For the brave, you might even want to go diving with great white sharks!


Watch the Grootbos video here:

Meet the Marine 5

1. Sharks

The Marine Big 5 includes shark The great white shark forms part of the Marine 5.

Brave enough to go shark cage diving? Contact us and we’ll hook you up with an experience of a lifetime!

2. Whales

Whales are another of the must-see Marine 5 animals

For more about these big ocean creatures, read our blog about Whale Season and get savvy with whale lingo. Also, be sure to explore South Africa’s Whale Route. Flanked by some of the most spectacular coastline, the Whale Route will keep you captivated. Between June and November Southern Right Whales come to these shores to calve and makes for some great viewing.

Spot whales along the Garden Route

3. Penguins

Cape Town is a great place to spot penguins


The African penguin is classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust, dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of marine animals, has started a penguin nest project, aiming to improve the breeding success of the penguins and to reverse their population decline on this island.

Cost: You can by a penguin nest for R400 each, which goes towards nest box construction and placement, conservation, monitoring and penguin research.
Receive: Certificate of recognition via email, penguin information, name on website, access to website updates.
Contact: +27 82 907 5607/ +27 28 384 3273/

Kayak through the water with penguins by your side at Boulders Beach

4. Dolphins

Watch these beautiful creatures swimmingly in their habitat These marine animals are favourites among tourists

5. Seals

Spot seals and their pups The marine mammal, the seal, forms part of the Marine 5

For more information about tours and accommodation along the Garden Route, where you can spot the Marine 5, feel free to contact us. We are experts on the area!

You can also see three of the Marine 5 – seal, penguin and shark – at Cape Town’s Two Ocean’s Aquarium and dolphins at Sea World in Durban’s uShaka Marine World, the largest aquarium in the southern hemisphere.