Guide To Whale Watching In Tadoussac Quebec + Best Tour 2023

So you want to go whale watching in Tadoussac and take a whale watching tour?

While visiting Tadoussac I enjoyed a whale watching cruise. Before booking the best whale watching tour in Tadoussac I did some extensive research.

I can show you exactly which tour is the best, why I chose this specific tourand what you should know before booking a tour.

In this Tadoussac whale watching guide, you will also learn how to get to Tadoussac, when the best season for whale-watching is, tips for the whale watching tour, and things to do in Tadoussac.

* contains affiliate links

This is my favorite whale sightings tour

Whale Watching In Tadoussac

In the eastern part of Canada, where the St. Lawrence River and the fjord of Saguenay meet, is the whale-watching paradise, Tadoussac.

In the province of Québec, some species of whales live here permanently.

Others only come to the area around Tadoussac at specific times.

Among them are beluga whales, minke whales, blue whales, humpback whales, and sperm whales.

No wonder that watching the mammals is one of the most popular things to do in Quebec.

Guide To Whale Watching in Tadoussac, Canada

The Top 3 Whale Watching Tours

1. Whale Watch Zodiac or Boat Tour2.5 hoursTadoussac or Sainte-Baie-Catherinecheck pricebook ticket
2. Whale Watching Boat or Zodiac TourFull DayQuébec Citycheck pricebook ticket
3. Whale And Bear Wildlife TourFull DayTadoussac or Sainte-Baie-Catherinecheck pricebook ticket


How To Get To Tadoussac in Québec

There are two options to get to Tadoussac. You can drive there, which I did, or you can book a guided tour to Tadoussac from Quebec City.

You can book this whale-watching tour (day trip) here.

  • Driving to Tadoussac

Drive from Montreal: It’s a 5 ½ hour drive up to Tadoussac

Drive from Quebec City: It will take you about three hours from the north of Quebec City to reach the Tadoussac area

Before you arrive at the pretty little town of Tadoussac, you have to take the ferry, which connects Baie-Sainte-Catherine with Tadoussac.

There is also a road around the fjord (heading to Saguenay) so that you don’t have to take the ferry, but it will take about half an hour more to reach your final destination.

  • Day Trip with Whale Watching from Quebec City

If you visit Quebec City and don’t want to drive, you can join a whale watching tour. You can book it here

Taking the Tadoussac Ferry  – You might Already See Whales

The ferry connects road number 138, which continues further north.

The ships operate 24 hours a day and the ferry ride is free.

Plan about half an hour to 40 minutes for the whole ferry ride, including getting on and off the ferry.

The view from the ferry to Tadoussac and the fjord of Saguenay is impressive and sometimes you can even see the whales while being on the ferry.

(I took the ferry to Tadoussac at noon. I didn’t spot whales because they were already farther out at the feeding grounds.)

Guide To Whale Watching in Tadoussac, Canada
the Tadoussac ferry seen from the Pointe de l’Islet Trail

1. The Best Whale Watching Tour Tadoussac (Zodiac vs. Ship) 

The best cruise for whale watching is this Zodiac whale watching tour with AML Cruises. You cannot get closer to the animals as on this inflatable boat.

It is smaller, faster, and able to get very close to the whales. 

The ship is a lot larger in comparison and they are further away from the animals.

I was lucky enough to see beluga whales and their babies in the Lawrence Marine Park.

The adults are white, while the babies have a greyish-brown tone.

As the belugas swim in groups unlike the minke whales, they are also easier to spot.

During the boat tour in a Zodiac (inflatable boat), we saw one minke whale.

They are easily recognized by the dorsal fin. They are as long as two elephants and are loners.

When we saw the first beluga whale the woman behind me in the boat was so excited that she dropped her cell phone into the water. 🙂

We also were lucky enough to see one whale swim right underneath our boat.

This can only happen while doing the whale watching experience on a zodiac.

Before returning to Tadoussac after the 2 ½ hour-long boat tour, we went into the fjord of Saguenay.

I have never been in a fjord and found it very scenic. 

Guide To Whale Watching in Tadoussac, Canada
Fjord du Saguenay

The waterfall that flows directly into the fjord and the seals that lay on the rocks are the highlight here, in addition to the whales, of course.

I can recommend this boat tour with the Zodiac 100%.

There is also the option of doing a whale-watching tour with a ship instead of the Zodiac. 

I would recommend the Zodiac tour as it allows you to get closer to the whales and also to explore the fjord.

Getting into the fjord is only available on the Zodiac.

You can book this tour from Tadoussac or Baie-Sainte-Catherine.
You can also book this option when you do a whale watching trip from the city of Quebec.

2. Whale Watching Cruise Tadoussac From Quebec City

Whale Tours Québec City

In case you don’t want to drive all the way to Tadoussac yourself, you can also book a whale watching trip starting at Québec City.

You have the same options as mentioned above.

You can either do a tour on a ship or on an inflatable boat. 

This tour is a full-day tour. You can learn more about it and book whale tours from Québec City here.

3. Tadoussac Whale Watching And Bear Wildlife Tour

This full-day tour combines the best of the wildlife that this location has to offer.

In the morning you go on a boat cruise. In the afternoon you can spend some time at a 5-star farm.

You can relax here and see deer, lynx, wolves, bison, and moose. You can also pet small farm animals like goats.

At dusk, the next highlight of the wildlife tour starts in the forest. You join a guide and watch black bears in their natural habitat.

Learn more about this combined wildlife tour here

4. Tadoussac: VIP Lounge or Upper Deck Whale Watching Cruise

In this small group experience, you can watch whales from the upper deck of a cruise ship.

This tour starts in Tadoussac or Baine-Sainte-Marie and you have the option between the VIP lounge or to see whales from the upper deck.

If you drive from the southern part of Canada it is better to book the tour from Baie-Sainte-Catherine. This way you save yourself the ferry ride to Tadoussac.

The tour is 3 hours long and includes besides the boat trip a guide, wines, beers, spirits, and local bites if you choose the VIP option.

Book your VIP whale watching tour

What To Pay Attention To While Whale Watching

Because of the wind, it is very cold. Wearing a beanie and warm clothes is definitely crucial.

If you choose the Zodiac tour as I did, every passenger gets dungarees and a jacket, because you will get a bit wet during the tour.  

Because so many whales are in Tadoussac, the company Croisières Aml gives a whale-watching guarantee.
Which whales you might see depends on the season. 

I was traveling to Tadoussac in late May and beluga whales and minke whales were there at that time. 

Guide To Whale Watching in Tadoussac, Canada
beluga with baby

The belugas recently had young ones and so there were also whale babies.

Taking Photos And Film Whales – Things To Know

Since you can get pretty close to the whales in the Zodiac, it is possible to take pictures with your phone.

Better of course is a camera with a zoom or a telephoto lens.

In any case, you should bring a waterproof bag.

There are no big waves when the weather is fine, but during the trip, it often happens that the slightly salty water splashes on you and the equipment.

Whale Watching Season in Tadoussac: The Best Time For Whale Watching In Québec (Saguenay area)

Especially popular for whale watching in Saguenay is the time from late June to September

Here you will find the most whale species to watch.

In addition to the beluga whales and minke whales, there are also humpback whales, blue whales, and some sperm whales, as well as a few smaller whale species.

The white belugas are found here all year long. During my stay in late May, I was able to see minke whales and belugas during the whale watching trip.

Book the whale-watching tour in advance here

Why You Can See Whales In Tadoussac

The area and the bay are so special due to the fact that it is not located directly at the ocean, but at the mouth of the Saguenay River and the St. Lawrence River. 

497 miles (800 kilometers) further northeast begins the North Atlantic.

The current of the Atlantic Ocean flows towards the St. Lawrence River and brings salt water to Tadoussac.

Even in the fjord of Saguenay (Fjord-du-Saguenay) is still a little sea salt included in the river water.

In addition, there is a special current in this area due to underwater elevations and canyons, which bring a lot of krill.

The perfect area for whales to feed. 

Even the largest whales in the world, the blue whales, come here to feed. However, like the beluga or minke whales, they are not constantly found here.

The stars in Tadoussac are definitely the white beluga whales.

Attractions In Tadoussac: Things To Do And See Besides Watching Whales

Most visitors come to Tadoussac because of the whales.

The place is small and everything is within walking distance.

I really enjoyed it here and next time I would plan to stay at least two nights.

Learn about Whales At The Marine Mammal Interpretation Center

In addition to whale watching, it is very interesting to visit the Center d’Interprétation des Mammifères Marins Tadoussac and learn more about marine mammals. 

Guide To Whale Watching in Tadoussac, Canada

The center is open from noon to 5 p.m. and with a visit, you also support the non-profit company.

The Marine Mammal Interpretation Center is designed to allow you to touch things and interactively learn about the whales and the Quebec maritime life.

You can see whale skeletons and learn more about the Quebec’s whale route, and whales in Quebec.

The researchers, who also work here, take their time to explain everything to the visitors.

Every day the current research results are shared with the visitors (= recent photos of whale sights, etc.)

They also showed me the places where I was able to spot a whale.

Pointe De l’Islet Trail

Besides whale watching and the Marine Mammal Interpretation Center, the most beautiful spot here is the Pointe de l’Islet Trail.

From here, you can see whales from the shore. I saw Belugas in the late afternoon.

They swim from the feeding grounds back to the Fjord-du-Saguenay, where they spend the evening and night.

In the morning and late afternoon, you have the best chance to spot whales from the shore.

The Pointe de l’Islet is a short circular walk along the water and through the forest. I love water and nature. 

Guide To Whale Watching in Tadoussac, Canada
Pointe d’Islet Trail in Tadoussac

That’s why I felt particularly comfortable here.

Benches invite you to linger and watch the water.

It is still a bit cool here at the end of May (62.7 degrees Fahrenheit or 17 degrees Celsius on my visit), but still pleasant here.

Guide To Whale Watching in Tadoussac, Canada

Otherwise, there is the possibility at low tide (the St. Lawrence River is influenced by the sea and thus has ebb and flow) to take a walk along the sandy beach or to walk along other trails.

Eating and drinking in Tadoussac

Microbrasserie Tadoussac

A small, fine craft beer bar, which opened three years ago and also offers beer tasting.

Guide To Whale Watching in Tadoussac, Canada

Café Bohème

A small cafe where they also serve vegan dishes.

Places To Stay in Tadoussac: Hotels in Tadoussac

Tadoussac is a small village. There are only a few hotels. Among them, this is the most popular hotel with the best view to stay at:

Tadoussac Hotel

The eye-catcher in the village is the Hotel Tadoussac.

With its red roof and white front, it can be seen from the other shore and offers direct views of the water and overlooking Tadoussac Bay.

The companies that offer whale watching excursions (Croisières Aml and Tadoussac Autrement) are within walking distance.

Book your stay here

Guide To Whale Watching in Tadoussac, Canada
the hotel Tadoussac

Find other hotels, B&Bs, lodges, and more here.
If you are looking for budget hotels or hostels check out Hostelworld.

Whale Watching Québec – Tadoussac Is The Best Place To Go Whale Watching

For me, doing a whale-watching tour was one of the highlights during my Canada road trip through Québec and Ontario. 

The town is small and tranquil and the rough landscape, as well as the whales, are exactly what nature lovers are looking for.

I would go back immediately, albeit a little later in the year to be perhaps lucky enough to see the world’s largest whales.

There are several ways to see whales.

Besides watching them from the free ferry, you can also watch them from the shore, or use your own kayak.

I recommend having this compact, waterproof binocular or a smartphone zoom lens.

The best way to go whale watching is by booking a tour, which starts at the Tadoussac Marina, by booking a tour from Québec City, or by starting the tour in Baye-Sainte-Catherine.

In any case, it is definitely necessary to book the whale-watching tour in advance.

You can book the whale watching tour here:

Whale-watching tour from Tadoussac or Bay Ste. Catherine
Whale-watching tour from Quebec City

Without a doubt, Tadoussac is one of the best places in the world, especially in the Eastern part of Canada to go whale watching.

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Guide To Whale Watching in Tadoussac, Canada

You can find more travel guides, itineraries, and travel tips here.

About the Author

Christina Leutner is an experienced travel blogger and author specializing in road trips, city trips, luxury travel, and outdoor adventures.
She has been sharing her travel experiences on CitySeaCountry for over 10 years.

Learn more about Christina

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links are affiliate links. I receive a small commission when you book via a link but you don’t have to pay more for it.

I was invited by Québec Maritime. The opinion is mine.

zuletzt aktualisiert am September 19, 2023

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