The Québec maritime Blog
What better way to fill up on fresh air than a vacation by the sea! As you travel throughout the maritime regions of Québec, you’ll come across a multitude of towns and villages located along the St. Lawrence. Stay in these locations to fully enjoy the scenery and attractions offered by this immense and majestic waterway. Here are a few destinations we recommend you add to your itinerary.
Home to 19th-century houses and a coastline providing access to the St. Lawrence, Kamouraska is sure to charm you: it’s officially recognized as one of the most beautiful villages in Québec! While you’re here, be sure to go for a stroll along the main street, visit local artists and artisans, discover heritage sites, savour regional products (including fish, seafood, fine chocolates and locally brewed beer), and relax on the wharf… In other words, enjoy the good life!
Rivière-du-Loup is known for sunsets that are among the most beautiful in the world—see for yourself by visiting this vibrant city! In addition to discovering local history and sampling delicious delicacies in downtown Rivière-du-Loup, you can also enjoy the St. Lawrence by participating in a whale-watching excursion or exploring one of the nearby islands. Why not spend the night on an island at a campsite or in a cottage, inn or lighthouse?
The city of Rimouski combines nature and culture to perfection! Are you an outdoor lover? Visit Parc national du Bic to explore the coast and coves on foot or paddle around the park’s islands in a sea kayak! Are you more of a history buff? Don’t miss the Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site where you can visit a lighthouse, a submarine and a museum dedicated to the tragic sinking of the Empress of Ireland ocean liner. There are also many other activities you can enjoy at the heart of this city. One that’s a must is a stroll at the end of the day along the Promenade de la Mer, a seaside boardwalk!
Located in Haute-Gaspésie, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts invites you to fill up on fresh sea air while strolling along 1re Avenue or enjoying a craft beer on a patio overlooking the St. Lawrence. Would you like to learn about the little-known marine life found in this immense estuary? Stop by Exploramer, a fascinating museum and aquarium where you can even taste some of these marine species! For hiking enthusiasts, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts is also the gateway to the Chic-Choc Mountains via Route 132.
At the tip of the peninsula, the town of Gaspé borders the Gulf of St. Lawrence and proudly bears the title of “Birthplace of Canada.” There’s no shortage of activities in and around the centre of town, including museums, historic sites, lighthouses, nature excursions, local flavours and much more! Located nearby, Forillon National Park offers spectacular maritime landscapes to admire while hiking or out at sea (where you can also see whales). The park also hosts a yearly magical show at sunrise during the Festival du Bout du Monde, a world-music festival.
Famous worldwide for its legendary pierced rock, Percé has a timeless charm. Facing the gulf, this destination offers you an unparalleled opportunity to commune with the sea, whether you visit the colony of northern gannets on Bonaventure Island, savour fresh local seafood, discover exceptional geosites during a hike in the Percé UNESCO Global Geopark, or take a stroll along the shore. And while you’re at it, be sure to visit the many boutiques, galleries and artisans’ workshops where you’ll find unique souvenirs inspired by this maritime atmosphere.
Located along the shores of Chaleur Bay, Carleton-sur-Mer has been a popular resort town for over a century. The bay’s waters are an ideal temperature for swimming as well as a great place to enjoy many outdoor activities, including kayaking, sailing and fishing. Climbing Mt. Saint-Joseph is a must to admire a breathtaking view of the bay and the barachois, which can be explored from one end to the other by bike or on foot!
Nestled at the heart of one of the most beautiful bays in the world, the village of Tadoussac is a world-renowned whale-watching destination. Several species can be admired at sea or from the shore, including fin whales and humpbacks. If you’d like to be close to the water’s surface, you’ll love paddling on the St. Lawrence or the Saguenay Fjord in a sea kayak. History buffs will want to learn more about Tadoussac’s role as a hub of the fur trade between Europeans and the Innu, starting in 1600!
Located in a vast region, the city of Baie-Comeau will charm you with its rich natural environment and clear waters. To admire the beauty of the St. Lawrence and Saint-Pancrace Bay, take part in a sea kayaking, SUP or rabaska canoeing excursion with Attitude Nordique. Looking for bigger thrills? Soar along a zipline over the water or explore glacial grooves on a via ferrata! To complete your maritime experience, what could be better than savouring tasty fish and seafood or even a crab-flavoured microbrew?
Sheltered in the hollow of a vast bay, the city of Sept-Îles offers vacationers activities for all tastes. Offshore, the Sept Îles Archipelago is ideal for hiking and watching seabirds such as razorbills. Along the coast, you’ll enjoy discovering the history of the region, especially at the Old Trading Post and the Maison de la Culture Innue (Innu cultural centre), as well as feasting on seafood in restaurants and fish markets. Bordering the St. Lawrence, Parc du Vieux-Quai gives you the opportunity to observe fishers and boaters as well as discover local artists.
The village of Natashquan, where the great Québec poet and singer/songwriter Gilles Vigneault was born, welcomes visitors with the salty air of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. To make the most of your stay in this area, go for a stroll along the boardwalk or the long golden-sand beach, swim in the gulf’s shallow and temperate waters, enjoy various water activities or relax at the Café de l’Échouerie. Be sure to also visit the Les Galets heritage site, a cluster of fishermen’s cabins that bear witness to life in the days when cod fishing was the main source of income in this area.
The Lower North Shore is dotted with small, remote villages accessible only by boat, including Harrington Harbour, which is known for its system of wooden boardwalks that connect the village’s buildings to each other. Made famous by the film Seducing Doctor Lewis, this small community of some 250 souls is a favourite destination among outdoor enthusiasts. On the agenda: hiking (the view from the top of the hill overlooking the island is well worth the detour), whale and seabird watching as well as sea excursions (to see icebergs, among other things!). And, of course, you’ll want to meet the locals!
ÎLES DE LA MADELEINE
Surrounded by the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the communities found in the Îles de la Madeleine archipelago offer an ideal destination for a maritime vacation. Over 300 km (190 mi.) of beaches, breathtaking views of the sea, a host of water activities and plenty of seafood await you here! Whether you meet them in fishing harbours, art galleries or at local producers, the friendly Islanders will be happy to chat with you and share their culture—don’t hesitate to say hello!
Have you ever visited any of these towns or villages along the St. Lawrence? Which ones will you add to your itinerary when planning your next vacation?