Tadoussac Whale Watching

Considered the best place in Quebec to watch marine mammals, and internationally renowned as a prime location for whale watching, Tadoussac is located on the north-west shore of the Saint Lawrence River, at the junction of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Charlevoix.  At this point, it confluences with the Saguenay River (which brings fresh water from Lac-Saint-Jean) and the salty water of the St. Lawrence, to create a rich marine environment.

Region: Cote-Nord

Drive about 5.30h to 6h north-east from Montreal. In order to reach Tadoussac, board your car on the ferry which is part of Quebec Route 138 (it is free of charge). The ferry connects between Baie-Ste-Catherine and Tadoussac and has a frequent schedule, day and night, all year-round (Ferry Schedule).

Possible to board the ferry with a baby stroller

Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park – Info

The ferry between Baie-Ste-Catherine and Tadoussac (Route 138): 0df33134-05a6-4dad-a362-e80ee88ac57bbe4b60bb-8247-4e85-ba74-228718789cf3

Due to our time restriction, we decided to spend only half a day in this area, mostly for whale watching, on our way to Saguenay and Lac-Saint-Jean. We drove directly from Montreal to Tadoussac area, stayed one night at Baie-Sainte-Catherine and next morning at the whale watching.

This post is about our whale watching experience and not an advertising platform for any company mentioned in this post.

For whale watching in Tadoussac, you can choose a zodiac or a ferry. We bought our tickets with Croisieres AML (ferry) which is operating between May/June and October/November and has several daily departures. The experience takes about 3 hours. With our young kids, we went for the ferry option, although we knew it would be very busy and crowded. However, we could protect against the wind and it was easier as they could move around during the 3h experience. The ferry with its three decks offers a small restaurant and restrooms.

This company is offering a ‘whale warranty’ which basically means that if no whales were seen during the cruise (decided by the captain), you will be offered a free ticket valid for another whale watching cruise (check website for more details). Don’t expect jumping whales, like in the featured photos.

During our cruise, we were very lucky to watch many whales at a very close proximity, mainly the second largest whale in the world, The Fin Whale. We also saw seals and many birds. The specialist onboard will guide you with the details about the area and the whales. During our visit, the specialist was speaking mainly in French and translated some into English.

Tips:

  • Bring a windproof jacket, winds from the St Lawrence river are strong all year long.
  • Consider what is your starting point for the cruise, Tadoussac or Baie-Ste-Catherine. The ferry route, in general, is Tadoussac – Baie-Ste-Catherine – Tadoussac (passengers descending and new are boarding) and returning to Baie-Ste-Catherine (passengers descending and new are boarding). With young impatient kids, it can be challenging. We started our cruise at Baie-Ste-Catherine as we could not find a hotel available in Tadoussac during our visit. I decided to exit the ferry with the kids in Tadoussac and to let my husband return to pick up the car from Baie-Ste-Catherine and to cross with another ferry to Tadoussac.
  • I also brought for the cruise some food & drinks and colouring activities for the kids.
  • The zodiacs get much closer to the whales so if you can, go for this option.

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Tadoussac village is considered one of the most beautiful in Quebec, it has a long history of fur trading and it features the oldest wooden chapel in Canada. It is worth stopping by to admire the beautiful Hotel Tadoussac, to walk along the beach promenade and to enjoy the cool restaurants around.

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The view of Tadoussac from Baie-Ste-Catherine:

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Our whale watching experience:

 

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