Stretching along the northern shore of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec for almost 900 kilometres—from Tadoussac to Kegaska—the Whale Route is the perfect choice for a road trip for anyone who wants to do some whale watching. It also boasts endless beaches, stunning scenery, gourmet dining options and fascinating marine-interpretation centres. Start your trip with a visit to Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, which offers 1,245 square kilometres of exceptional biodiversity. This protected marine area is home to no fewer than six whale species (there are up to 13 in the region)—including the famous humpback, the fin whale, which is the second-largest animal on earth, and the blue whale, which is the largest—and is known for being one of the world’s best locations for observing these giants of the sea.

Take a comfortable ride on an observation boat or Zodiac with AML Cruises—a leader in whale-watching excursions—to witness the whales’ spectacular annual return to this region. Or join an outing with Écumeurs du St-Laurent or Croisières Essipit and catch a glimpse of the whales’ awesome feats as they hunt for food. These three cruise companies are members of the renowned Eco-Whale Alliance, which works to limit the impact of whale-watching activities in the marine park and ensure they’re being practised sustainably. The alliance also reminds us to follow Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park’s recommendations, particularly with regard to endangered species, such as beluga and blue whales.

Learn more about the whales’ way of life and meet real enthusiasts at the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre in Tadoussac, which also happens to be the oldest village in North America. With a delicious coffee in hand (from Café Bohème or Coop à l’Emportée), soak up the rich cultural history of the village and take in its many places of interest, such as the Little Indian Chapel and the Chauvin Trading Post, and its exceptionally beautiful bay. As you venture further north on your road trip, make a stop at a microbrewery (Microbrasserie Tadoussac, St-Pancrace in Baie-Comeau or La Compagnie in Sept-Îles) or perhaps a distillery (Vent du Nord in Baie-Comeau or Puyjalon in Havre-Saint-Pierre).

Take a vacation to this inspiring place and make memories that will last a lifetime! Book a package combining accommodation and a cruise in the Côte-Nord region from only $99 per person per night.

Catherine Dubé