Surrounded by three oceans – the Atlantic to the east, Arctic to the north and Pacific to the west – and home to the world’s largest estuary (the St. Lawrence River in Québec), Canada is one of the greatest places in the world to go whale watching. More than 30 whale species traverse these Canadian waters to the delight of revelers hoping to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, and almost half of those species can be found in the Québec waters of the St. Lawrence River and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. While whale watching season in Québec generally begins in early Spring, sightings occur almost daily from June through to October, so there’s no better summer activity to enjoy.

Québec’s Whale Route is an incredible 1000+ kilometre journey between Tadoussac, a village at the meeting place of the Saguenay and Saint Lawrence Rivers, and Blanc-Sablon, the easternmost community in maritime Quebec, just west of the provincial border of Newfoundland and Labrador. Passing through Baie-Comeau, Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Kegaska, Rivière-au-Tonnerre, Pointe-des-Monts and Les Bergeronnes, this coastal excursion visits some of the most picturesque villages in the province, accompanied by beautiful views of the St. Lawrence estuary and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Along the route there are not only whale watching tours available where visitors can observe whales from large cruise boats, zodiaks or sea kayaks, but also informational centres. Visitors can dive even deeper into the wonderful world of whales at the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre (CIMM) which houses life-size sculptures of belugas and a 40 feet skeleton of a sperm whale. The Marine Environment Discovery Centre and Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre both provide opportunities to observe whales from the shore against stunning views of the St. Lawrence.

Thirteen species of whales can be observed when whale watching in Québec, from the Harbour Porpoise, which is the smallest of the cetaceans found in these waters, to the blue whale, the largest animal of all time. The uniquely beautiful beluga whale is the only whale that lives in the St. Lawrence waterway year-round, while other species, like Humpbacks, Fin Whales and Atlantic White-Sided dolphins are annual visitors, popping up to say hello between May and October in the gulf and estuary. Killer Whales, arguably the most recognizable and often the star of any whale watching show, are not the most populous species in the St. Lawrence, but a small pod has been visiting the gulf annually for almost 40 years. 

Although you’re sure to spot cetaceans on your whale watching adventure in Québec, ornithologists and animal lovers will also delight in the other wildlife that you may encounter on your journey. The diverse habitats along the Whale Route are home to a variety of bird species, including Atlantic puffins, northern gannets, bald eagles and razorbills. Other animals that you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of include caribou, black bears, deer, wolves, beavers and seals.

Québec is an incredible province to visit and explore, with a ton of variety in the activities that visitors and locals alike can enjoy. In addition to some of the best whale watching in the country, a world class cuisine scene and incredible outdoor experiences to be had, a visit to Québec will check off all of the boxes on your summer travel bucket list. 

Always follow Canada and local health authority COVID-19 guidelines for travelling or visiting attractions. Learn more about current restrictions and travelling within Canada.

Choice Hotels in St. Lawrence River