“Look ahead,” says Captain Julie. “We might be coming up on a small pod of belugas.”
We’re in Quebec on a yellow zodiac, zooming across the St. Lawrence River in search of whales with Croisières AML. Captain Julie has taken us into the heart of the Saguenay-St Lawrence Marine Park, a protected region so rich with whales that marine researchers come here from around the world.
Sure enough, six beluga whales in the distance, their white backs reflecting in the Quebec sunshine as they surface.
Whale Watching in Quebec
Quebec may be known for its rich culture, unique history and excellent food, but it’s also one of the best places in North America for whale watching. Thirteen species of whales, including blue, fin and humpbacks, can be found in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The mighty St. Lawrence, one of the world’s longest rivers, bisects southeastern Quebec. Maritime Quebec has more than 3000 km of coastline, 40 lighthouses, 10 national parks and dozens of small towns and cities. Life is centered on the river, with ferries playing an important role in transportation.
Though the whales have drawn me to this region of Quebec, our travels here have been just as pleasant. After flying into tiny Mont-Joli Airport, my friends and I began our road trip in Maritime Quebec with a 140 km-drive to Rivière-du-Loup.
Like all good road trips, this one included pit stops. Our first one was at Centre d’art, Auberge & Restaurant Marcel Gagnon in Sainte Flavie. The Marcel Gagnon art installation here reflects Quebec’s pride in its maritime heritage, with dozens of figures literally “coming from the sea”.
It was evening by the time we reached Rivière-du-Loup. Our base for the night was Auberge de la Pointe, a beautiful riverside hotel that has been in the same family since 1957. Now owned by third generation family member, Marc-Antoine Côté, the hotel has been nicely updated.
Many visit the hotel just to eat at L’Espadon, the popular onsite restaurant, or to enjoy the view from the terrace. This region is known for its beautiful sunsets, and sure enough, Mother Nature put on a nice display over the river that evening.
Continued on next page