Everyone who goes to Tadoussac, goes whale watching. Why not? There are humpbacks, minkes, rights, belugas, fins and more right off the shoreline! But the whales are smart you see. They know we come to watch them, and sometimes, they get a little shy. So where do you go and how do you best see these beautiful animals in their natural (and shrinking!) environment? Well, I’m your gal!
1) Go close to sunrise and sunset
Whales seem to be most active during sunrise and sunset. Maybe it’s their feeding patterns, maybe it’s because there are less people out on the water at this time, I’m not really sure. But if you are checking them out yourself from the shorelines, either sunrise or sunset are perfect! If you are going on a boating excursion to see the whales, go just before sunset. The guides have been following the pods all day and so they know exactly where they are.
2) Leave Tadoussac for a nearby village
Tadoussac is full of whale watching boat tours. If you have access to a car and want better luck (and a better price), try going north to a smaller village with less tourists. I went to Les Escoumins and used the group Les Écumeurs. They charged only $48 per adult, with discounts for seniors, students, children and early morning excursions. I had the best luck, seeing many different species and getting quite close to a surprise humpback that we didn’t know was almost right beneath us!
3) CHECK OUT THE ROCKS BY THE CIMM
The CIMM (Centre d’interprétation des mammifères marins) is a great whale museum and discovery centre to check out before going whale watching, but the rocks behind the museum are also a great place to watch them! The giant rocks jut out from a small bay tucked in from the St. Lawrence River. Cargo and cruise ships sometimes dock across the bay, but it seems that small whales like to come here to play as well! I have had luck seeing two belugas and a minke whale within half an hour just by sitting on these rocks near sunset.
4) RELAX BY THE FAR EDGES OF THE BEACH
Another great spot for shore-watching is from the beach in Tadoussac. The beach is shaped like a giant horseshoe, with the marina to the right and a nature reserve bordering the left. If you walk towards the left, along the shore to the far reaches of the beach and the beginnings of that nature reserve, you will find yourself in a quiet little haven with virtually no people. Although the nature reserve is off-limits to civilians, the rocks, seaweed and sand along the border give you a wonderful view of sunrise, sunset and the occasional whale sighting. On my visit, I saw a small minke whale surface only 15-or-so yards from shore. Since the seabed drops so quickly at this part of the beach, the water is quite deep at that distance, giving a great close-up experience for the landlubbers among us.