Road trip to an unforgettable whale-watching holiday in Tadoussac

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Updated: May 14, 2019

whale-watching-in-Tadoussac-Quebec Photo by Julen Arabaolaza/Shuttertock

To shine a light on Canada’s most incredible weekend destinations, we partnered with Chevrolet to create the Blazer Index, an exclusive lineup of our favourite luxury experiences. Tadoussac is just one of these essential excursions for when you’ve regained a sense of freedom in your life and you’re ready to explore the absolute best our country has to offer.

This summer, put a scenic road trip to the Côte-Nord region of Quebec on the books, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the best aquatic wildlife in the world. The historic village of Tadoussac, one of the most beautiful in Quebec, is the ideal base for your Canadian whale-watching adventure. Located where the Saguenay Fjord meets the St. Lawrence River, it offers unbeatable whale-spotting opportunities even from shore, thanks to its unique geography.

The nutrient-rich waters of the St. Lawrence Estuary are a big draw for marine mammals. “The water is very productive here because there’s a lot of freshwater coming in and mixing with the salt water and there is phytoplankton, zooplankton, and fish for the whales to feed on,” says Marie-Ève Muller, the communication officer for the Tadoussac-based Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM). “From May to October, we get up to 13 species of whales that visit the Côte-Nord region. The most common to see would be minke whales, humpback whales, fin whales, and blue whales, as well as harbour porpoises and belugas.”

Belugas are the one species that can be spotted year round in Tadoussac. Although most beluga whales live in the Arctic, there’s a population in the St. Lawrence Estuary, the southernmost place where you can find these endangered mammals. “This is probably the only place in the world where you can watch belugas while wearing a T-shirt,” says Muller.

In the Tadoussac region and within the protected Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, there are a number of ways to see these magnificent creatures up close: Zodiac boat tours, cruise ships, and kayak tours. Many operators work with the local Eco-Whale Alliance to offer educational and scenic outings that are also environmentally responsible. You can also spot whales without leaving land, from many spots in the village. “There are cliffs on the side of the water, so the whales can go really close to the shore,” says Muller. “Sometimes you can even see them closer than when you’re on the water, because the whales can come to you at their own pace.”

While you’re in Tadoussac, you’ll want to visit the educational Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre (CIMM), explore the picturesque village’s historic sites—it’s home to the oldest wooden chapel in North America and the first fur-trading post in Canada—and go for a hike in nearby Saguenay Fjord National Park.

Stay at the waterfront Auberge La Merveilleuse for its charming Québécois hospitality, panoramic views of Tadoussac Bay, and central village location that’s also just steps away from the national park. The inn offers whale-watching excursions, Saguenay Fjord boat cruises, and, during the winter months, dogsledding on private forest trails.