All about the Abalone

Come and join us for a tour of a working abalone farm in the heart of the South African abalone industry, in the coastal town of Hermanus. Learn more about abalone, see it, feel it, and even taste it.

Once upon a time abalone was as common in the rock pools of the largest part of South Africa’s coastline as sheep in the Karoo. Recreational divers spent their free time taking out their quota of abalone and preparing it in various delicious forms.

The South African abalone species, haliotis midae, is traditionally known for its great taste and is called “perlemoen” in Afrikaans and Dutch, referring to its beautiful mother-of-pearl shell. It is not only seen as a delicacy by South Africans who are accustomed to the tradition of recreational diving, but also by Chinese who regard it as a special gourmet treat served at celebratory events such as weddings and birthdays.

As the demand for abalone started to surpass the supply, unfortunately not all divers and consumers followed the restrictions for quotas set by Government to preserve this precious resource.

Poaching became a big threat to the sustainability of the South African abalone species.

In 1984 Dr Pierre Hugo, a veterinarian from Hermanus, started to experiment with the breeding of abalone in tanks on land. The first experiments were done in small fish tanks at home. His two boys, only a few bricks high at the time, helped carry buckets of water from the sea to their home, for the animals to have fresh aerated seawater. Experimental feeds were produced with his wife’s kitchen mixer and their boys’ potato guns!

What Dr. Hugo did not realise, was that his fun home experiment was actually pioneering work for the commercial South African farmed abalone industry that today exports more than 1,000 tonnes of abalone a year to the Asian market. Dr. Hugo founded Abagold in 1995 and today this public company is one of the largest abalone farms in the country, located at the New Harbour of Hermanus.

The story of Abagold from its humble beginings to a profitable, well-diversified company is a success story that needed telling. Abagold pursues an ambitious strategy which will grow its abalone interests internationnaly and venture into related industries such as feed formulation and renewable energy.

Heart of Abalone is a tourism company that provides visitors with the opportunity to experience, learn about and contribute towards the abalone industry as it celebrates and showcases many of the achievements of Abagold. But more than that, it is aimed at bringing cultures together, helping people return to nature and fostering appreciation for life coming from the ocean. It is about reconnecting through shared experience against an established backdrop of upliftment, good corporate governance and values.

So Boot-up and walk through a working abalone farm. See the abalone up close in their natural and farmed environment. Enjoy a tasting of this delicacy in various forms, soon to be paired with our selection of local wines.

For more information please contact + 27 83 556 3428 or email


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Arabella Country Estate