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, beluga whales, minke whales, blue whales, humpback whales and sperm whales frolic in this special place.
Whale Watching Québec – The Best Place For Whale Watching
Without a doubt, Tadoussac is one of the best places in the Eastern part of Canada for whale watching.
In this guide you will learn all about how to get there, when is the best season for whale watching, tips for the whale watching tour, and things to do in Tadoussac besides whale watching.
How To Get To The Whale Watching Paradise Tadoussac in Québec
There are two options to get to Tadoussac.
You can drive there, which I did, or you can book in Québec City whale watching tours (day trips).
From Montreal it’s a 5 ½ hours drive up to Tadoussac.
From Québec City you will arrive in Tadoussac in about three hours.
Before you arrive at the pretty little town of Tadoussac, you will have to take the ferry, which is connecting 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.
The ferry connects the 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 beluga whales while being on the ferry. (I took the ferry to Tadoussac at noon. I didn’t see any whales because they were already farther out at the feeding grounds.)
Why Tadoussac Is So Special
Tadoussac is 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.
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 brings 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, they are not constantly found here, like the beluga or minke whales.
The stars in Tadoussac are definitely the white beluga whales.
Whale Watching Tour – Watch Whales Up Close
The best cruise for whale watching is a Zodiac trip with AML Croisières. I was lucky enough to see beluga whales and their babies. The adult beluga whales 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 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. 🙂
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.
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 a 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.
What To Pay Attention To While Whale Watching
Because of the wind it is very cold. Wearing a beanie and warm clothes is definitely a good idea. Every passenger gets dungarees and a jacket to wear because you will get a bit wet during the tour.
Because so many whales live in Tadoussac, the company provides 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.
The beluga whales 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 Tours Québec City
In case you don’t want to drive all the way to Tadoussac yourself, you can also book a whale watching tour starting at Québec City.
Whale Watching Season: This Is The Best Time For Whale Watching In Québec
Especially popular for whale watching 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 beluga whales are found here all year long.
Book the whale watching tour in advance here
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 in walking distance. I really enjoyed it here and next time I would plan to stay at least two nights.
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.
The center is open from noon to 5 pm 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.
The researchers, who also work here, take time to explain everything to the visitors. Every day the current research results are shared with the visitors (= current photos of whale sights, etc.)
Pointe De l’Islet Trail
Besides whale watching and the Marine Mammal Interpretation Center, the most beautiful spot in Tadoussac is the Pointe de l’Islet Trail. From here I saw Beluga whales in the late afternoon.
They swim from the feeding grounds back to the Fjord-du-Saguenay, where they spend the evening and night.
The Pointe de l’Islet is a short circular walk along the water and through the forest. I love water and nature.
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 (about 17 degrees on my visit), but still pleasant here.
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
Small, fine craft beer bar, which opened three years ago and also offers beer tasting.
Small cafe where they also serve vegan dishes.
Hotels in Tadoussac
As Tadoussac is a small town, there are only a few Tadoussac hotels. Among the hotels, this is the most popular hotel to stay:
The eye-catcher in Tadoussac is the Hotel Tadoussac. With its red roof and the white front, it can be seen from the other shore and offers direct views of the water.
Find other hotels, B&B’s, lodges and more here.
Conclusion: For me, Tadoussac and doing a whale watching tour was one of the highlights during a Canada road trip through Québec and Ontario.
The place 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.
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
You can find more travel guides, itineraries and travel tips here.
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 in mine.