The Whale Route

| 13 days |1730 km (1075 mi.) + 4 days by boat | from Tadoussac to Blanc-Sablon

Côte-Nord borders the St. Lawrence for 1250 kilometres (775 miles), from Tadoussac to Blanc-Sablon. The coastline of this region has been designated the Whale Route, since 13 different species of whales, including the blue whale, can be found in the waters of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, very close to the shore. From several locations, you can therefore participate in sea excursions by boat, Zodiac or even sea kayak to observe these fascinating mammals. Whales can also be seen from the shore in several places. Here is further proof that this region is one of the best in the world for whale watching: three world-renowned research groups are based here, some of which offer sea excursions with their researchers.

The Whale Route will take you across a land of extremes, where distances, rivers, forests and even the hearts of the residents are larger than life.

The itinerary described below is a return trip; however, if you prefer, you can take a ferry to the “south” (as we say here) on your return journey to give you a taste of the regions of Gaspésie and Bas-Saint-Laurent.

Travel Itinerary



Tadoussac Bay is a member of the select Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club. The site of Canada’s first trading post (built in 1600), Tadoussac is also recognized by the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of Québec (in French only). The many attractions and friendly accommodations in the area make Tadoussac a great place to stay. Visit the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre (CIMM), which provides an excellent introduction to the fascinating world of the whales and is the perfect complement or alternative to a whale-watching cruise.

The Tadoussac sector is also at the heart of the Saguenay – St. Lawrence Marine Park. Visit the park’s interpretation sites to learn more about the region’s maritime environment.

Two such sites are the Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre, which is a great place to observe whales from the shore, and the Marine Environment Discovery Centre, where you can interact with diving naturalists as they explore the underwater world.

Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay also offers several interpretive and outdoor activities. One of the major attractions of Northeastern North America, this park’s hiking trails are filled with stunning views of the Saguenay Fjord.


Take Route 172 to the Ferme 5 Étoiles holiday resort in Sacré-Coeur (20 minutes north of Tadoussac). The farm offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including the opportunity to observe the many animals in its wild animal refuge: moose, wolves, cougars, bison, deer, etc.

Sea kayaking enthusiasts may want to head to L’Anse-Saint-Jean (a 2h15 drive from Tadoussac via Route 170) and paddle down the Saguenay Fjord back to Tadoussac with Fjord en Kayak.

230 km (145 mi.)Baie-Comeau to Sept-Îles


In Baie-Comeau, discover local products by visiting, for example, a microbrewery or soap factory!


From Baie-Comeau, you can head north on Route 389 to visit Manic-5, the largest multiple-arch-and-buttress dam in the world—you won’t believe your eyes!

Those who love the north will want to keep driving all the way to Fermont and Labrador. Enjoy unique activities in this exceptional environment: hiking in the taiga, observing northern lights and more!

220 km (135 mi.)Sept-Îles to Havre-Saint-Pierre


Further east is the Sept-Îles Archipelago where you can enjoy sea excursions, hiking, bird watching and whale watching. To find out more about what daily life was like in a trading post in the 19th century, visit the Vieux-Poste de Sept-Îles.

250 km (155 mi.)Havre-Saint-Pierre to Kegaska


In Havre-Saint-Pierre, explore the wonders of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. Several companies can take you to the islands where hiking and interpretive activities await you. Home to many different species of seabirds, the archipelago is the best place in Québec to observe the famous Atlantic puffin.


Offshore is Anticosti, an island the size of a small country, which is home to one of Québec’s magnificent national parks. Almost uninhabited by humans, this island features breathtaking landscapes, such as the Vauréal Falls and Canyon. White-tailed deer are so abundant that in Port-Menier, the island’s only municipality, they are spotted on the streets and even on people’s doorsteps! Several package tours to the island are available, with departures from Montréal, Québec City or Mont-Joli.

Kegaska to Blanc-Sablon and back


Route 138 ends in Kegaska. Here is where the most unique part of the region begins, in what is known as the Lower North Shore. The MV Bella Desgagnés cargo-passenger ship will take those who want to get off the beaten track from village to village all the way to Blanc-Sablon, Québec’s easternmost town, on the Labrador border. The round trip takes four days and is offered from Wednesday to Saturday only.

Contact Voyages CoSte, which specializes in this destination, to plan your stay on the Lower North Shore.

300 km (185 mi.)Kegaska to Rivière-au-Tonnerre


Be sure to make a stop in the charming village of Natashquan where you can enjoy beaches with swimmable waters, taiga and rivers. Visit Les Galets, a heritage site made up of warehouses that were used when the cod fishery provided the major source of income for local residents. You will also want to stop by the Vieille École, a schoolhouse that has been transformed into a museum paying tribute to famous Québec poet and singer/songwriter Gilles Vigneault, who was born here.

260 km (160 mi.)Rivière-au-Tonnerre to Pointe-des-Monts


Considered one of the most picturesque villages in the region of Côte-Nord, Rivière-au-Tonnerre (which means Thunder River) owes its name to the roar of its river. Go see the Manitou Falls, which are 35 metres (115 feet) high, and visit the impressive wooden church. Its 8-metre (26-foot) vault decorated with hand-carved motifs is worth the detour!

270 km (170 mi.)Pointe-des-Monts to Les Bergeronnes


In Pointe-des-Monts, one of Québec’s most beautiful lighthouses awaits you in an enchanting setting. Exhibits within tell the stories of the lightkeepers and their families. Rooms and meals are available in the lightkeeper’s house.

Further east, in the Innu community of Essipit or in Les Bergeronnes, you will have the opportunity to go on a whale-watching excursion by Zodiac or sea kayak. You may even be woken up by the sound of the blows of the whales!


Now that you have finished exploring the Whale Route, you may want to keep driving west or take a ferry across the St. Lawrence to tour the Gaspésie. The ferries are found in Saint-Siméon (about 40 km/25 mi. west of Tadoussac), Les Escoumins, Baie-Comeau and Godbout.