Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park

Parks Canada (administration)

182, rue de l'Église
Tadoussac (Quebec) Canada
G0T 2A0
Phone:
+418-235-4703
Fax:
+418-235-4686
Toll free:
+1-888-773-8888
Email:
info.parcmarin@canada.ca

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Do you dream of seeing the whales and admiring Québec’s vast landscapes? The Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park is one of the best places in the world to observe whales.

From May to October, you can admire magnificent whales throughout the day, regardless of the tides. Get your camera ready: the whales can appear at any moment! Since the wind coming off the sea is cold (around 5°C), dress warmly and wear closed shoes, even if you plan to stay on land.

Whale watching by boat

From late April to late October, private companies offer 2h to 3h whale-watching excursions in the marine park. Departure points, schedules and rates vary from one company to the next. Regardless of the size of the vessel, captains must comply with certain regulations regarding marine mammals. Plan your sea excursion by clicking on the “Visit” tab on the marine park’s website.

Whale watching from the shore

Whales and other marine mammals can be observed from the shore at several easily accessible sites bordering the park. The best time to do so is from May to October. How likely you are to see a particular species of whale depends on the location and the species.

From mid-June to mid-October, visit the Parks Canada centres that border the marine park (see links below): the Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre in Les Bergeronnes and the Marine Environment Discovery Centre in Les Escoumins.

From May to October, be sure to also explore the Pointe-de-l’Islet trails (Tadoussac) and the Baie-Sainte-Marguerite trails (Sacré-Coeur) in Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay.

What else is there to do?

Make your visit even more memorable by participating in a guided activity (sea kayaking, sailing, scuba diving or a whale-watching cruise on the Saguenay Fjord or around the islands in the St. Lawrence) and by visiting interpretation centres and historic sites (light stations, old Basque whaling station, fur-trading station). Be sure to also take in the many views of the sea. Plan your stay using the marine park’s website.

For more information, consult the Visitor’s Guide (which you can download from the marine park’s website or find in tourism information offices).


Opening dates

Sea excursions: late April to late October
Coastal sites (observation sites, museums and hiking trails): May/June to October (some sites are open year-round)
Consult the Visitor’s Guide for more information.


Schedule

Varies depending on the site and activity. Consult the Visitor’s Guide for more information.

Cost

Varies depending on the site and activity. Consult the Visitor’s Guide for more information.

Reservations

Reserve your sea excursion directly with the excursion company.

Activities available

National Parks
The Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park is managed by both Parks Canada and Parcs Québec. The park protects marine life in a region known as one of the best places in the world to observe whales.
Whale Watching
Listen to the explosive sounds of whales blowing as they surface after a dive. From May to October, you can observe several whale species in the park, including porpoises, belugas, fin whales, minkes and blue whales, all of which return every year.
Sea Kayaking
Experience a thrilling maritime adventure: accompanied by an experienced guide, discover the pleasures of sea kayaking in the marine park. Inquire about your options from the sea kayaking companies operating in the waters of the marine park.
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
Go diving with or without a guide at the Marine Environment Discover Centre in Les Escoumins. Admire starfish in a stunning setting. You will experience magical moments in one of the most beautiful diving sites in North America.
Sea Excursions
Choose your own adventure! Enjoy a memorable experience whether you opt for a sea excursion aboard a sea kayak, Zodiac or sightseeing boat. Many types of excursion are offered in the waters of the park.
Wildlife Observation
The Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park is a true paradise for nature lovers. In addition to observing whales, seals and seabirds, you can also discover astonishing creatures such as sea urchins, starfish, anemones and sea cucumbers.
Interpretation Sites
Have fun while learning about nature and the history of this area by visiting the interpretation centres that border the marine park. Discover the history of the people in this area and learn about marine life. It is a whole new world to discover!
Lighthouses
Seven lighthouses stand guard over the marine park, each with a fascinating history. Still today, lighthouses guide vessels to safety. Learn more about the history of local lightkeepers; you may also want to spend the night in a lighthouse!
Maritime Heritage
A place of meeting and exchange between European settlers and Indigenous people, the Tadoussac area is an important historic place. Explore the vestiges of the past from yesteryear to today.
Indigenous Heritage
Visit the Archéo Topo Centre in Les Bergeronnes to learn more about how Indigenous peoples lived on the banks of the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay Fjord some 8000 years ago. This rich history is an important part of Québec and Canadian heritage.
Hiking
Enjoy hiking in nature and vacationing by the sea! The hiking trails offer excellent viewpoints of the Saguenay Fjord and the St. Lawrence Estuary. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!
Bird Watching
Amateur and expert birdwatchers will be interested in the marine terraces, where the Tadoussac Bird Observatory (OOT) counts no less than 300,000 birds every year, including 15,000 birds of prey!


How to get there

The Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park covers an area of 1245 km2 (480 sq. mi.), the equivalent of two and a half times the size of the Island of Montréal) and protects parts of the St. Lawrence Estuary and the Saguenay Fjord. You can get there by water or drive to the shores of the marine park. Its borders are only visible on maps.

By road:

  • Take Route 138 from La Malbaie in the Saint-Fidèle sector of the Charlevoix region to Les Escoumins in Côte-Nord.
  • Take Route 170 from Saint-Siméon to the town of Saguenay or Route 172 from Tadoussac to the town of Saguenay.
  • Take Route 132 or Highway 20 from Rivière-du-Loup in Bas-Saint-Laurent to Trois-Pistoles.

By water:

Visitors travelling by boat can stop in any of the 10 marinas that border the park.

In the St. Lawrence:

  • Cap-à-l’Aigle port
  • Rivière-du-Loup yacht club
  • Trois-Pistoles marina
  • Les Bergeronnes yacht club

Affiliations and distinctions

Affiliations

  • Parks Canada network
  • Parcs Québec network (SÉPAQ)
  • Tourisme Côte-Nord
  • Tourisme Bas-Saint-Laurent
  • Eco-Whale Alliance (members commit to responsible whale-watching practices in the marine park)

Distinctions

  • Québec’s first marine protected area and one of the first in Canada, created in 1998
  • Jointly managed by the governments of Canada and Québec in partnership with local community representatives
  • Protects an exceptional marine region, including over 1800 species, from the surface of the water to the seabed
  • Has the mission to preserve marine life while promoting scientific research and educational and recreational activities for the sake of today’s and tomorrow’s generations

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