The Québec maritime Blog

Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Trip to Côte-Nord
  • Tadoussac Bay
    Photo Plein Ciel / Tourisme Côte-Nord - Manicouagan

Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Trip to Côte-Nord

Are you planning a vacation in Côte-Nord, in the province of Québec? Read on to find out everything you need to know to plan a memorable trip in this region!

Côte-Nord (which literally means “north shore”) covers an immense, wild and fascinating territory. From Tadoussac to Blanc-Sablon and from the St. Lawrence Estuary to northern Québec, Côte-Nord will offer you larger-than-life scenery throughout your trip. This is a region known for its whales, northern lights and wide-open spaces, but it’s also home to cultural and historic gems you won’t want to miss.

How to get there

To get to Côte-Nord from Québec City, take Route 138, which is also known as the Whale Route, and soak up the stunning landscapes that will unfold before your eyes.

You can also fly to Côte-Nord and rent a car once you’ve arrived.

Finally, one of the most interesting ways to get to Côte-Nord is by ferry. If you’re travelling from Bas-Saint-Laurent or Gaspésie, four ferries can take you from these regions to Côte-Nord, a journey that can be incorporated into any of the St. Lawrence road trips.

You should also know that part of the Lower North Shore between Kegaska and Blanc-Sablon has no road access. To get there, you can board the MV Bella Desgagnés, a supply ship that stops in the remote villages of this area. The ship departs from Rimouski (in Bas-Saint-Laurent), and you can also board it in Sept-Îles. The crew will ensure you’re comfortable for the duration of your voyage.

To plan this segment of your journey, you may want to consult Voyage CoSte, a tour operator that can help you organize activities and excursions along the way.

Nature’s playground

The Whale Route runs along the coast of the region and offers many whale-watching opportunities. You can also learn more about cetaceans by visiting the Marine Mammal Observation Centre (CIMM) in Tadoussac, the Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre in Les Bergeronnes and the Marine Environment Discovery Centre in Les Escoumins. You can also go on a whale-watching excursion in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park to admire these impressive marine mammals up close.

Côte-Nord offers many observation sites for wildlife enthusiasts, especially bird lovers. You can head out to the Sept Îles Archipelago to admire razorbills on Corossol Island; visit Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes, a nature park where you can observe several hundred species of birds; or explore the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve (selected as one of “52 Places to Go in 2024” by the New York Times) where you can see exotic-looking Atlantic puffins, among other species.

The vast landscapes of Côte-Nord also offer the opportunity to enjoy many outdoor activities, including sea kayaking. For example, you can go paddling in Saint-Pancrace Bay with Attitude Nordique or explore the waters of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve with the guides at Noryak Aventures. You can also discover mysterious monoliths during a hike on the islands of this archipelago or admire the majestic Saguenay Fjord during a hike in Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay.

To contemplate the scenery of Côte-Nord from a completely different angle, go on a tourist flight with Totem Aviation. From the air, you can watch maritime traffic on the St. Lawrence and even spot marine mammals!

Side trip: Anticosti Island

To extend your stay, you may also want to go explore the flora and fauna of Anticosti Island. Sixteen times the size of the Island of Montréal, this landmass of a thousand treasures is home to over 115,000 white-tailed deer!

Regional culture and heritage

Côte-Nord has a unique geological history that was marked by the impact of a meteorite about 214 million years ago, which formed the Manicouagan impact crater: the resulting reservoir can be seen from space! Located on the edge of the Manicouagan Reservoir, the Uapishka Station offers an immersive experience in the Innu culture on a territory that has been home to this First Nation for thousands of years. Packages can include hiking, kayaking, interpretive activities focused on Innu heritage, lodging and more.

Further south, you’ll be impressed by the architecture of the Manic-5 dam, the world’s largest multiple-arch-and-buttress dam. You can also visit the Manic-2 dam on your way back to Baie-Comean via Route 389. Another dam and generating station to visit is La Romaine-1 in Havre-Saint-Pierre.

All along Route 138, you’ll have many opportunities to admire the St. Lawrence, sunrises and impressive scenery. As you travel, detour off the main road to visit the region’s many lighthouses. Proud witnesses to Côte-Nord’s maritime history, several are open to the public. To find out more, consult the Lighthouse Trail travel itinerary.

Throughout Côte-Nord, you’ll also come across many sites that will immerse you in Innu history and culture, including the Chauvin Trading Post in Tadoussac, the Centre Archéo Topo in Les Bergeronnes, the Atikuss maskisin economuseum in Uashat, the Old Trading Post in Sept-Îles and Apenepehekat Island in Unamen Shipu (La Romaine).

In Natashquan, which is the birthplace of famous Québec singer/songwriter and poet Gilles Vigneault, be sure to visit the Les Galets heritage buildings (former cod-fishing warehouses), which will welcome you in a stunning setting. You can also immerse yourself in Innu culture by attending the Innucadie Storytelling Festival.

Local artisans: A feast for your eyes and taste buds

Given the region’s geography, it’s not surprising that regional specialties come from the sea and forest. Sample delicious seafood delicacies including snow crab, scallops, northern shrimp, sea urchins and Stimpson’s surf clams, along with wild berries, such as cloudberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. You’ll also want to try Labrador tea, which First Nations people drink as herbal medicine to treat ailments such as rheumatism or headaches.

During your stay, you will also have the opportunity to meet local artisans. Inspired by the natural world that surrounds them, by Innu traditions and/or by the materials they use, they’ll be happy to share their passion for their work with you. Studios, workshops, boutiques and art galleries will open their doors to introduce you to the region’s many talented artisans.

Where to stay in Côte-Nord

Côte-Nord offers accommodations for all tastes, including hotels, inns, campgrounds and more. If you’re looking for a unique experience, take your pick from treetop cabins, bubbles, yurts, teepees or giant birdhouses! Consult our directory to see all your options.

Further adventures

Home to vast landscapes, rich flora and fauna, and friendly people, Côte-Nord is truly an enchanting destination. By the end of your trip, if you’re not quite ready to head home, you can continue your adventures in Labrador on the Expedition 51 Loop, which will requires a bit more planning.

So, are you hearing the call to adventure in Côte Nord? Visit our webpage for the region and start planning your trip today.

Post a comment

(0) comment