For the Best Whale-watching Cruises

Tadoussac is known as one of the best places in the world for whale watching. Passengers often see two or three marine mammal species, sometimes more, in a two- or three-hour tour. Embark on a tour boat to observe these giants and live an unforgettable experience.

A dozen whale species visit the Lower Estuary. Some are abundant, while others are endangered and can only be observed from a distance of 400 m. Rorqual whales (minke whales, humpback whales, fin whales and blue whales) come here to feed over the summer from May to October. The beluga whale is the only cetacean species to live in the St. Lawrence year round.

The first whale-watching excursions were organised in the Tadoussac and Les Bergeronnes area in 1979. This activity eventually expanded to the point where it now represents a major portion of the regional tourism offering and socioeconomic livelihood.

You Are in the Whale’s Pantry

Unique underwater topography stimulates the accumulation of whale prey: krill and small fish. The leviathans hunt all summer long in what amounts to a food storage area. Here they accumulate reserves before undertaking a several-thousand-kilometre-long fall migration to more temperate, but less nourishing waters, where they spend the winter.

To Prepare for a Cruise

  • When is the best time to see whales?

    The answer can be found… in a crystal ball! Whales are constantly moving. Sightings vary over the course of a day, from week to week and from year to year. Rain, wind, high or low tide, morning or afternoon? None of these factors have much of an influence on whale behaviour; whales must continuously surface to breathe.

    Browse the Whales online Website and read News from Afield to learn where the whales are this week . Or, better yet, head over to the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre (CIMM) front desk and ask to see the Weekly Sightings Map. 


  • What Type of Boat to Choose?

    You have the choice of boarding the type of boat that suits you best. Inflatable vessels carry 12 to 24 passengers for an excursion near the water’s surface and the sea spray; an inflatable, 60-passenger vessel; while large 200- to 600-passenger boats are very comfortable and are equipped with several open or closed decks.

    Naturalist-captains work aboard the inflatable vessels, while the larger boats have a dedicated naturalist on board. All are qualified and passionate. Their role is to guide your outing and to share their knowledge about marine mammals and their environment.

  • What Companies Offer Whale-watching Tours?

    From Tadoussac: Croisières AML and Tadoussac autrement. Visit their Websites for more information, reservations and ticket purchases, or make your way to one of their sales outlets in the village (shops, hotels, youth hostel).

  • Will We See a Lot of Whales?

    Every outing is an unpredictable experience. Don’t expect to see the same thing shown in documentaries; these often require hundreds of hours or even years to film. It is almost certain that you will encounter whales. You must keep in mind that you are visiting the natural environment of wild animals: their habitat is vast and they sometimes move very rapidly over great distances. Captains do all they can to offer you the best observations possible.  

    Some St. Lawrence species are abundant, while others, such as the beluga whale and the blue whale, are endangered. Boats are not allowed to approach within 400 metres of these two species. The Marine Activities in the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Regulations regulate whale-watching activities. They were developed in collaboration with tour operators. Captains must respect regulations concerning speed, approaches and distances from the whales, as well as time spent observing them, with respect to each species and its protection status. The regulations encompass all vessels from sea kayaks to inflatable vessels to large boats. A small vessel will not approach whales any closer than a large one.

    A whale-watching tour remains a privileged moment of discovery. Read the answer to the following question.

  • What is there to See Besides Whales?

    Seals, the beauty of the coastal scenery, the dunes in their entirety, the Prince Shoal lighthouse, seabirds, the architectural heritage, ships travelling the Seaway, the confluence of saltwater from the North Atlantic and freshwater from the Saguenay and St. Lawrence rivers. Naturalists and captains will take time to showcase this bountiful and exciting area and its history.

  • What to Bring?

    Warm clothing, windbreaker and raingear:

    • sweaters, pants, coats, toques, gloves, scarf, socks, closed-toed shoes with good soles.
    • Don’t forget that St. Lawrence Estuary is very cold and that it influences the layer of air just above the surface; it is much colder at sea than on land, with the difference being as much as ten degrees Celsius.Sunscreen.



    Cameras with protection from sea spray and rain.

  • Where do I go to Learn More About Whales?

    Visit the Whales online Website. You will learn how to identify each species on the water according to specific characteristics. Here, you can read about the most recent scientific discoveries concerning whales from here and afar and better understand how they live. You can even ask the naturalists questions online.

    A visit to the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre (CIMM) prolongs your whale sightings and your offshore cruise. This is a great place to gain a better understanding of these fascinating animals, scientific research and whale conservation. 

  • Are Whale-watching Cruises Ecologically Responsible?

    You are in the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park. It was created to protect the ecosystems of the Saguenay Fjord and Lower Estuary while encouraging educational, recreational and scientific activities. All activities undertaken in the Marine Park are regulated by the principles of sustainable development.

    The Eco-Whale Alliance has ensured ecologically responsible and sustainable whale-watching activities in the Marine Park since 2011. Its members are tour-boat operators, Parks Canada, Parcs Québec and the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM). A portion of funding for the Eco-Whale Alliance is destined to ensure ongoing training for captains and naturalists.

  • How do I Take Good Pictures?

    First of all, observe whale behaviour: breathing frequency, swimming motions, movements.

    Track one whale instead of several at a time. The onboard naturalists will indicate in real time the best time to snap your shot, particularly when a whale is about to dive as it arcs its back or brings it’s tail out of the water.

    Opt for the camera adjustment that allows for rapid shooting, otherwise you may not see the whale in your photo.

    Remember that the best shots are those that are fixed in your own memory. If you spend all of your time aiming at whales through your camera lens, you could miss out on a special encounter with these free and wild animals as they move through their natural environment.