Tadoussac – Whale Watching on the St. Lawrence River

Categories: Travel reports, North America, Canada

Our motorhome trip took us from Québec City over the Canyon Sainte-Anne further north to the small village of Tadoussac. In Tadoussac, which is located at the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord into the St. Lawrence River, we were looking forward to a very special animal encounter: a whale watching tour.

Tadoussac Whale Watching Header Image

Things to know about Tadoussac

Tadoussac is a small coastal town located about 210 km northeast of the city of Québec. It is located at the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord into the St. Lawrence River and forms the gateway to the Côte-Nord region. In the 16th century, fishermen began to trade here. Around 1600, the first permanent French trading post in New France was established in Tadoussac. The bay, which is one of the most beautiful in the world, was once the starting point for research trips and a center of whaling. Today, Tadoussac is one of the best places in the world to watch whales.

Tadoussac, Canada, Location, Map

The location of Tadoussac in eastern Canada

Our drive along Quebec Route 138

The drive along Route 138 towards Tadoussac was actually not that spectacular. The road is relatively hilly and from time to time you have fantastic views of the St. Lawrence River.

The ferry to and from Tadoussac

With dusk we arrived at the ferry in Baie-Sainte-Catherine and joined the queue. From here, the ferry runs at regular intervals across the Saguenay Fjord to Tadoussac. By the way, the ferry ride to Tadoussac is completely free of charge! The departure times for the ferries can be read online on the website of the ferry provider.

Our campsite in Tadoussac

In Tadoussac we had booked a pitch at the Essipit Campground Tadoussac for 2 nights. Located on the mountainside, the campsite has 193 pitches, some of which offer breathtaking panoramic views of the Saint Lawrence River and the Saguenay Fjord. This also included our pitch 🙂 On the pitch we were again well equipped with water, electricity and sewage connections as well as a picnic bench, a fire bowl and Wi-Fi. The campsite was not fully booked, but there were some campers there. A red fence and a slightly higher hedge served as a “privacy screen” to the respective neighbor.

The small town of Tadoussac

From our campsite it took us about 15 minutes to walk down to the village. The most striking building in Tadoussac is the magnificent white-and-red Hotel Tadoussac from 1864, which still dominates the townscape today. In addition, there is still a Presbyterian church, an old chapel and some beautiful colorful houses on the Rue du Bord de l’Eau. With its almost 800 inhabitants, Tadoussac is a rather manageable, but very idyllic village.

We particularly liked the wooden boardwalk, which runs directly above the beach and from which you have a beautiful view of the bay and the port of Tadoussac. There are also various seating and picnic facilities, which were actively used. Near the port is the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre Museum and Research Centre where marine mammal life is illustrated in multimedia form.

Whale watching on the St. Lawrence River

The real highlight of the day followed: a whale watching tour with Croisières AML on the St. Lawrence River. We were really looking forward to it in advance. Although we have already done some whale watching tours on past trips, such as Monterey Bay in California and Juneau in Alaska, it is always something special and fascinating when you can observe these large animals in nature.

Tickets for the 3-hour whale watching tour cost $85 CAD per adult which is about 60 EUR. Our boat, the AML Grand Fleuve, departed punctually at 1 pm at Tadoussac Pier, then collected some guests at the port in Baie-Ste-Catherine and then drove out onto the St. Lawrence River. And then it was time to open your eyes!

And lo and behold, in the distance we could already see the first water fountains and tail fins of whales. Wow! Throughout the trip, a certified naturalist guide gave plenty of information and hints about the whales, which was super interesting. Of course, she always got in touch immediately when a whale was spotted and then told (in English and French) which whale species it is, etc. On our tour we saw humpback whales, blue whales, fin whales and minke whales. At the end of the tour we drove a little bit into the fjord and looked for white beluga whales – but unfortunately these did not show up. Luckily, we were able to see them in Alaska in Anchorage.

What should not be underestimated is the cold temperature on the boat or on the river in September – even when the sun is shining. Especially when a strong wind blows, it can be really uncomfortable (around 0 degrees). But luckily there are also enough places to stay, where you could warm up from time to time.

A hike to Islet Point

Around 4 pm we were back at the harbor from our whale watching tour and walked from there directly over a beautiful hiking trail to Islet Point, a stony headland that is great for whale watching. At this point, the organisms that the whales hunt are concentrated and therefore make this place a true feeding place for whales. Although we did not see any whales from here, we still found the 1.3 kilometer long path very beautiful, as it offers great views of the St. Lawrence River and the Saguenay Fjord. The trail leads almost to the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre and from here it was another 20-minute walk to our campsite.

All travel reports from our camper round trip through Canada

Vacation with the camper or motor home in Canada - for many probably quite normal, but for us it was actually the first time. We have never been on the road with a camper, but always wanted to try it. In total, we drove almost 3,300 kilometers with our camper and explored beautiful regions and cities in eastern Canada.
Reiseberichte Kanada Our Holiday in Canada 2021 - Flight, Entry & Itinerary
Camping in Canada - Our Questions, Experiences & Tips
La Mauricie National Park - A hike on the Les Cascades Trail
Québec City - Things to do, Sights & Photo Spots
Canyon Sainte-Anne - Waterfalls, Cascades & Suspension Bridges
Tadoussac - Whale watching on the Saint Lawrence River
Parc Omega - Drive-Through Safari in Quebec
Ottawa - The capital city of Canada
Algonquin Provincial Park - Lakes, forests and magnificent viewpoints
Bruce Peninsula National Park - Dreamlike bays at Lake Huron
Niagara Falls - The world famous waterfalls
Toronto - Things to do, Sights & Photo Spots
Thousand-Islands National Park - 1.864 Islands in the Saint Lawrence River
Montreal - Things to do, Sights & Photo Spots