Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec

Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec.jpg

A Perfect Day For Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec

After a busy few days in the Saguenay region in Quebec, we headed back down to the St Lawrence River for whale watching from Tadoussac in Quebec.

We did whale watching in many places – California, British Columbia and the Azores in Portugal. But we never saw Beluga whales. So we could not pass on the chance to see some in the Tadoussac area.

We were glad we booked our whale watching on the smaller, faster zodiac boats. The boat ride was fun as we zipped along on the flat waters. Our boat captain was on the alert and made sure we saw whales in many places on this trip.

Getting Ready For Our Whale Watching Excursion

We booked our whale watching excursion with AML Croisiere Aux Baleines on their smaller zodiac boats. When we arrived in Tadoussac we were not really sure where to meet so we ended up at the end of the long dock where we saw the large AML boat.

We gathered all of our stuff before we tried to check in. And were told we passed the zodiac centre on the way in. But since we paid to park for the day, we left the car and rushed back to arrive the 30 minutes before our tour that was required.

AML Whale Watching Shop.jpg

AML Whale Watching Zodiac Boats - Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec.jpg

We waited for a bit and then were checked in. Everyone got bright orange wet weather suits. We wriggled into the bibbed pants and put on a warm sweater. Even though it was very warm on land, we were warned it would be cold on the water. We kept off our jackets until we were on the boat.

AML Whale Watching Water Suits.jpg

Sadly, we need not have rushed at all. Despite many emails to the participants about timing for travel into Tadoussac across the ferry, people showed up very late. And we got stuck in the last group that waited for all of the late arrivals and it was more than 30 minutes later getting we got on the boat.

Heading Out On The Water

Once the laggard group had all assembled, we marched up the hill and over the sand to the dock with the zodiacs. We were sure glad we carried our coats! The sweat suit worked well.

There were about 24 people on the boat. We initially wanted the front seat for a view straight out. But that was the windy seat. There were good views from every seat. And the boat captain turned the boat when needed.

The boat moved out the harbour and into the St. Lawrence. The waters were remarkably flat but we saw the distinct tide lines. We wondered if these were the areas where fish and feed accumulated. But we saw no whales close to the harbour.

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Our last zodiac headed out to the spot where the other boats all sat. Everyone waited to be whale watching from Tadoussac.

Calm Waters Boats Wait - Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec.jpg

First Signs Of Life On Our Whale Watching From Tadoussac

Everyone got excited when they saw the first signs of life in the water. As we got closer, we saw a large group of seals as they floated at the surface and dipped down. Occasionally we got a flipper wave.


People with binoculars looked out on the horizon and occasionally saw splashes or water spouts. But those whales were too far away.

Lazy Fin Whales

The whales came to this area of the St Lawrence because there was lots to feed on at the mouth of the Saguenay River. When we finally saw our first fin whale, it swam lazily just under the water. We saw a bit of the back fin. But they never dove deep to feed.

Fin Whales - Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec.jpg

The captain moved the boat several times as we saw larger groups of fin whales. At any one time, we saw more than half a dozen whales lazily swim by.

Fin Whales.jpg

The whales got quite close the boats as they sat still in the water. It was always fun to see everyone move from side to side to catch the closest view.

Fin Whales With Boat - Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec.jpg

Fin Whales With Boat.jpg

When one whale finally dove and flipped his tail, everyone on our boat cheered. We learned that these fin whales rarely raised their flukes (tails) out of the water.

Fin Whale Tail.jpg

Larger Humpback Whales

After watching the lazy fin whales, our boat captain had us all sit down and he sped out further in the channel. Soon we joined a group of boats. And were rewarded when we saw the first humpback whale in the distance. Then the second one blew. And another.

We never got very close to the humpback whales. Although we moved to get closer every time somebody saw a whale blow.

But we must admit to being a bit bored with the lazy antics of these humpback whales. On our last whale watching adventure in Campbell River in British Columbia a pair of humpback whales performed acrobatics for our group for hours!

It was still fun to see so many at once when we went whale watching from Tadoussac. And we loved the zodiac boat experience being so close to the water.

Our First Sight Of Belugas

It was easy to know when we finally caught sight of the first Beluga whales. The white heads poked above the flat seas. We were not sure how visible they were in rougher waters.

Beluga Whale Pod - Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec.jpg

Beluga Whale Pod - Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec.jpg

The beluga whales also just lazily swam by in groups of three or four. We got excited when a group headed towards the boat. I was so excited I could not even get a picture!

Up The Saguenay River

As we raced back along the St Lawrence River, we got brief glimpses of the land. After our whale watching from Tadoussac, we travelled north back up along the Whale Route (Route des Baleines) on the Cote Nord to our ferry at Les Escoumins.

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We went past the town of Tadoussac and saw the Hotel Tadoussac with its view out over the bay. Unfortunately we booked our accommodations in this area too late to get into this hotel.

Hotel Tadoussac - Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec.jpg

We thought that most of our whale watching from Tadoussac would be around the mouth of the Saguenay River because the belugas often came into the river. In fact, on some days, the whales were apparently quite visible from shore.

But we only rushed up the river at the very end of our whale watching excursion. We were sure that our 30 minute late departure short-changed us on the river part of our excursion. We saw some beluga whale heads off in the distance.

Saguenay River Belugas.jpg

The ferries crossed back and forth as we watched for the beluga whales. We saw the long line up the hill waiting for the ferry. One of the reasons we stayed in Saguenay and avoided the ferry trip. And being late for our whale watching trip!

Saguenay River Ferry - Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec.jpg

Having expected beluga whales in the Saguenay River, we ended our whale watching from Tadoussac a little disappointed. And wondered if our late departure shortened our fun.

Back On Shore

The zodiac headed back to the dock and we all climbed out. It was chilly on the water and we needed the sweater and wet weather suit. But we peeled off two layers before we walked back to the shop and returned our gear.

Our whale watching excursion included a few other tickets. On our stay in Montreal, we got our Montreal harbour cruise for free. In Tadoussac we did not get free entry to the whale museum with our tickets. We looked at the whale statues outside the museum but did not go in. We had a ferry booked to cross the St Lawrence River to the south shore and we did not want to be the late ones for that!

Museum and Belugas - Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec.jpg

Museum and Belugas - Beluga Whale Watching From Tadoussac Quebec.jpg

More Whales When We Crossed The St Lawrence

When we got on the ferry across the St Lawrence on our way to New Brunswick, we spent much of our time on deck. We saw a few lazy fin whales by the dock before we left. And we knew there were whales in the middle of the St Lawrence River.

Several times we saw whales in the distance. And once we even had a pod of belugas swim by. Although only those with zoom lenses or binoculars really saw the white heads as they bopped along. It was the perfect end to our day whale watching from Tadoussac.

Saguenay Cote Nord Les Esoumins Ferry Belugas.jpg

Plan To Go Whale Watching From Tadoussac

We were glad we booked to go whale watching from Tadoussac on our travels in Quebec. We had the perfect flat calm sea conditions for whale watching. Although the grey skies did not make the views dramatic. We were surprised at how lazily the whales moved. But then, with plentiful food in the area they did not have to work too hard to feed! It was great to see three different kinds of whales and especially good to see belugas!

When we drove around the coast in New Brunswick and then later in Newfoundland, we kept a watchful eye out for more whale sightings. Whale watching we definitely we looked forward to on our road trip in Eastern Canada.

Have you gone whale watching from Tadoussac Quebec? Did you get a great whale show?

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  1. What a fun experience to get to see all the marine life here, I’ve never seen a white beluga whale so that really is unusual. I love the tour experience you mentioned since your practically right on the water and seeing things as close as possible. This area around the Tadoussac looks really beautiful and the coastlines quite scenic.

  2. What an amazing experience! I never even knew there were tours to see wild belugas, and I am not even sure I realized where they could be found in the wild. This sounds like an awesome opportunity.

  3. I love whale watches! Mostly, I’ve taken them off Cape Cod, MA, and seen humpback and right whales. I didn’t realize the opportunity to see beluga’s even existed. What a treat it must have been to see these white-bodied creatures emerge from the calm waters! Another thing that’s fascinating to me is that the belugas and other whales are in on a river. My experience has always been out on the ocean, so this would be a first for me. Quebec is not all that far from Boston and I’ve been meaning to take a trip – a beluga whale watch is now high on my list. What fun! (Also, the seals are always so cute – like big labradors.)

  4. So interesting! I’ve been whale watching this year a few times (and I always thought it would be orcas, you know??), but I saw humpback and gray whales. I’d love to see the belugas. How cute that you had to wear waders — although it’s obviously a great way to not get wet. It looks like so much fun!

  5. I would love to see Beluga Whales! I would have been really frustrated with having to wait on the late comers and missing some of the time I paid for being on the water, that really unfortunate. Weve only whale watched from larger boats, but I think being in the zodiac would be so much fun.

  6. What an amazing experience! I’ve never had the opportunity to go whale watching, I seem to always be in “off-season” and low chance of seeing them. I didn’t know that this area of Quebec waters would allow you to see beluga whales, better yet, 3 types of whales. I will have to keep this in mind for the next time I’m headed there or on my way to the East Coast.

    • If you are headed to the east coast of Canada, Tadoussac is worth a stop. Just plan for accommodations in advance. Although we did love our side trip into the Saguenay region for a place to stay.

  7. Wow, what amazing photos! I love beluga whales, they are such playful, engaging creatures. I would absolutely love to go beluga whale watching in Quebec! Thanks for sharing this idea with us.

  8. What an amazing experience! You got to see so many different marine animals, and so many different types of whales. I would love to experience this at some point. I have been on a whale watching tour the other week, in Madeira, but we only saw dolphins. I am yet to see a whale in real life.

    • It is always disappointing when you go looking for whales and get only dolphins – however fun they may be! We were lucky on this trip to see many different kinds of whales. The St Lawrence at this spot is perfect.

  9. So – orange is the new black?! 😀 I never had the chance to go whale watching but it seems to be a one in a lifetime experience. It’s amazing how close you got to the whales – therefore your pix are so amazing, I assume. I’ve only seen dolphins in the wild and that was already quite impressive. Whales must be a whole different story.

  10. This is something i have been dreaming about! Thanks for sharing all the important info! Saved for later!

  11. Whale watching is a fantastic experience. I had the opportunity to admire them in Hawaii. Whale Watching from Tadoussac, Quebec, is a perfect trip idea. I haven’t seen Beluga whales yet. They are spectacular. Good to know where I can spot them!

    • The Beluga whales were definitely a big draw for heading to Tadoussac in Quebec. Fun to know the belugas came right into the river and we could see them.

    • I am happy to share the info that there are whales in the St Lawrence. We have travelled along the river before and been disappointed to not see whales. So our whale watching trip sure did show us how many there are in the water.

  12. So sorry you didn’t get as much sightings as you had expected.
    Your late departure may or may not have contributed to it. But first time I got a closer look at belugas! They are lovely white…I have seen only humpbacks. Thanks.

  13. How fun! Beluga whale watching from Tadoussac, Quebec looks like quite the outdoor adventure. Great photos!

  14. This looks so cool! I would love to go whale watching and this looks like a place to be. I would certainly bring my zoom lens to capture this experience 😍😍

  15. What a cool activity! We’re headed to Quebec in April.. I’m wondering if the tours are open that time of year? Also, the ledge on the edge of that boat looks a little scary- but fun for thrill seekers!

    • I think that different times of the year are better for different whales. The Quebec web sites are pretty good at helping to know what sightings are in the area when. We have missed them on the St Lawrence on other trips we did at the wrong time of year.

  16. That looks amazing! I’ve thought about whale watching but am not sure I can make it in one of those small boats! I’ve been fortunate to see some in larger ones, and the experience is pretty amazing.

    • Our other whale watching trips have been in bigger boats. Good if the transit time is long for a bit more comfort. But this was a relatively short trip so it was fun to be closer to the water for the whale show.

  17. I’m going whale watching for the first time in Alaska in a few weeks. I hope we are lucky to get a glimpse of a few humpbacks. I can’t imagine how great it would be to see belugas in the wild. So lucky!

    • I hope you have a great whale watching trip in Alaska. There should be lots of whales around at this time of year. We have had mixed success on previous trips. But we are always hopeful.

  18. What an awesome experience! Thanks for the tip on going with a smaller zodiak boat. I didn’t realize there were different boat sizes – I would definitely prefer the smaller more nimble boats.

  19. Wow, I would love to go whale watching! I’m impressed you saw so many of them on your excursion. Canada is such a beautiful country. Now I want to go to Quebec!

    • Our stop in Tadoussac in Quebec was a great one for whale watching. We were glad we saw so many in one trip. I was so glad we were there at the right time of year.

  20. Did this trip a few years ago and loved it but at the same time I was terrified the whole time as hate boats lol. I loved Tadoussac. I really hope to get back to Canada one day and see more of this country.

  21. Whale watching is one thing I still long to do, and now that I’m staring an empty nest in the face, it’s something I can start to plan. I’ve pinned this guide for reference as your trip sounds fabulous!

  22. That’s quite a unique whale watching experience you had at Tadoussac, Quebec.It’s so fascinating to see these larger than life creatures up close that too in a river! I have seen dolphins swimming in river but a glimpse of whales blowing in Catalina island. Watching three different types of whales including white Belugas and fin whales is truly amazing!

  23. How exciting that you got to see a variety of whales! I’ve always wanted to see beluga whales in the wild so this would be something I’d love to do. I’m glad you got to see them even if you got on the last boat!

  24. What an experience – so stunning you had a pod of belugas swim by! I´ve only done whale watching in Iceland, and the whales didn´t approach that much!

  25. What a treat to get to see belugas! And I love the idea of seeing them from a small boat with great views!

  26. I’ve never been whale watching before, so this tour appeals to me. I believe taking a boat trip while admiring the majestic panoramic views would be an unforgettable experience. You were fortunate to witness the fin whale raise and flick his tail out of the water. The seals are adorable, and I’m excited to see beluga whales in the future. What a thrilling adventure!

  27. I have only done whale watching once in Sri Lanka and I loved the experience. Your post got me all nostalgic about it – the intent watching to spot the blow, the boat racing towards it so that you get a good look when the whale comes out and the cheers that goes with that appearance. I loved the seals that you spotted along the way. I hope I get to do this experience once more and that too, with the Beluga whales.

    • Whale watching sure is a fun experience. A few times we have been surprised when the whales came to us. But as you say, most of the time it is racing to the blows to catch up with the moving whales. Hope you do get to see belugas one day.

  28. That’s exciting! Though they did not do much, I guess being close to these creatures makes it worth the experience. It’s cool that your excursion had a few other tickets.

    Thank you for sharing your experience in Tadoussac.

  29. I’ve only been on a whale watching excursion once and it was a lot of fun, but we didn’t see belugas, nor did we get those heavy-duty wet suits! The belugas’ lighter color in the water is really unique! It’s too bad the boat was delayed due to late arrivals, but good to know that’s an issue to be aware of. The views you got from the trip are also stunning, especially of the Hotel Tadoussac!

    • We were definitely well dressed to stay dry and warm on the fast boat. Although the walk to and from the boat was a bit hot! The small boat got us some great views on our whale watching day in Tadoussac.

  30. Little do you know how this made my heart pitter pat! I’ve lived Belugas since I was a child and first saw them In our local zoo. Amazing to see them in the wild. I would love to do this. Adding it to my long bucket list. Also that beautiful hotel! Wow! Reminds me of the historic Del Coronado in San Diego!

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