Québec City at its Best

A Whale Watching Excursion from Québec City

Credit: Catherine Dubé

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I’d been meaning to try the whale watching day trip offered by Old Québec Tours in partnership with Croisières AML for awhile now. I finally set aside a day to go and had such a great time that I wanted to share the experience.

We boarded the bus in Québec City and at 9 a.m., off we went to the beautiful region of Charlevoix. It’s great not having to drive. I got a chance to relax and admire the scenery on what I consider to be one of the most beautiful routes in the province. I just love the view of the mountains and the vast St. Lawrence River below. I also enjoyed our stop at the Baie-St-Paul cheese shop, where I picked out some delicious local products for my lunch.

« The whole trip was really well organized and made great use of our time. »

On our arrival at Baie-Sainte-Catherine, near Tadoussac, we were greeted by the Croisières AML crew, who had our ship all ready and waiting. I’d selected the three-hour boat tour, but there’s also a zodiac package for those who want to be closer to the water, rorquals, and belugas!

Whalewatching Credit: OTQ Zoom

We headed out to the very middle of the St. Lawrence and were utterly thrilled and amazed. 3 different species of whales breached just minutes apart, and some seals kept popping up to say hello. It was exciting just knowing that we might spot a blue whale or, rarer still, a humpback. We also explored the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord—a view that is simply breathtaking.

The tour guide on the excursion was excellent; I found his descriptions of the marine wildlife and their habitat genuinely engaging. His stories added a lot to our oceanic adventure. He explained everything in both French and English and even spoke a few words of Spanish for the Spanish speakers on our trip. I appreciated the crew’s obvious respect of the whales and their environment. The whole trip was really well organized and made great use of our time.


Whalewatching Quebec Credit: OTQ Zoom

Here’s my advice on making the most of a whale watching trip:

  • Bring a fleece or wool sweater and a windbreaker; it’s usually quite cool on the St. Lawrence (expect around 15o Celcius cooler than what you feel on the shore).
  • Don’t be afraid to go even if the weather isn’t perfect.
  • Keep in mind that the animals are in their natural habitat and might not make an appearance when you do.
  • Don’t go with sky-high expectations—it’s rare to see a whale’s tail. You’re more likely to see their backs or blowholes or see them feeding, which is impressive in its own right.
  • The best time to see whales is in the fall (September–October); there are more of them around at that time and they’re more active, apparently. July and August are also good months.
  • Take the time to put down your camera and take it all in. The experience is thrilling and will make a lasting impression, and that’s the very best kind of picture :-)

Whalewatching Quebec Credit: OTQ Zoom

There are only about 15 sites in the world where you can see whales in their natural environment. So make the most of your time in Québec City and book a tour! 

It’s definitely worth the trip.

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