Whale Watching in Les Escoumins
Spend two hours on the Saint Lawrence
in a Zodiac searching for whales!
By Serge Larose & Elisandra Buges
Our Whale watching Zodiac tour in Les Escoumins.
When in Discovering Destinations mode, we gravitate toward beautiful views and settings. Although Canada doesn’t have the long history, forts and ruins, we do have lots of nature! Luckily we have lots of nature discoveries in the large province of Quebec.
“Every summer, Whale watching Zodiac tours are sought out activities by many Canadians.”
Les Escoumins is located in the Côte-Nord region of Quebec, more specifically on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River. It’s a 30 minute drive past Tadoussac, which we consider the main touristic hub for whale watching cruises. Having already done a cruise in Tadoussac in the past, we wanted to go a little further up north hoping to see more whales :). We had also heard great things from Les Escoumins, where tourists could see whales from the shore.
This region is quite far from cities like Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, so we encourage you to break up the drive.
Estimated time from various cities
- 507km & 6h05 minutes from Montreal
- 703km & 8h03 minutes from Ottawa
- 253km & 3h33 minutes from Quebec City
- 109km & 2h55 minutes from Rivière du Loup
(with the Saint-Siméon ferry)
Where to stay ?
We stayed a few nights in Hotel Tadoussac a few years ago, however we opted for the cruise instead of the whale watching zodiac. We booked the hotel with the help of Hotels.com, which is now our new affiliate partner. As you might already know from our recommendation page, we chose Hotels.com because it’s easy to use, you get competitive rates, they price match plus have a very interesting rewards program!
Consider spending a night in Tadoussac or any of the following great places along the Saint Lawrence River and plan a Whale watching Zodiac or cruise !
(Saint Siméon, Grandes Bergeronnes, Les Escoumins)
Bear in mind, these locations are usually Motels and Bed and Breakfast. Establishments on the more simplistic scale, which is fine because you’ll spend most of your time outdoors anyway.
Plan your time
Staying in the Côte Nord region gets you first access to the sites as tourists make their way over. Plus, if you’re coming all this way, you’ll want to spend a few nights in this region anyway!
If you’re planing a whale watching boat tour, you’ll need anywhere between 1h30 to 3h for the cruise alone. It’s possible to select from cruise ships to zodiacs. This doesn’t factor the driving time and potential traffic. Plus it’s highly recommended to arrive roughly 45-60 minutes prior to your cruise departure. As mentioned earlier, Les Escoumins is roughly 30 minutes from Tadoussac. FYI, the highway is inland, so you won’t get coastal views 🙁 we know..
Other local places to visit
You may want to consider adding some of these destinations to your list of discoveries while visiting Tadoussac/Les Escoumins.
- Pointe de la Croix
- Poissonnerie Les Escoumins
- Kiboikoi (Qui Boit quoi)
- Tadoussac village
Where to eat ?
We arrived in Les Escoumins around lunch time and a few hours before our Zodiac boat departure. The lady at the reception was kind enough to recommend a restaurant located 5-10 minutes away called Poisonnerie Les Escoumins. It’s hard to miss as you’re driving along the main highway, but feel free to add it to your GPS in case.
With ‘Poissonnerie’ in the restaurant name, you know there’s something fishy there! They have the traditional dishes like lobster rolls (guedille au homard), crab legs, calamari, etc. When in doubt, you can always ask them for the seafood poutine. Even the locals didn’t know it existed once I told them what I ordered. Simple warning, it’s a large bowl of fries topped with small shrimps, lobster, scallops and hollandaise sauce. Yep, a hearty meal ! Beware to those heading on a boat cruise shortly after.
What to do in the village ?
Les Escoumins has a small feel to it. We didn’t have much time to spend since we simply planned our zodiac boat tour. However, we did notice a cool looking spot called ‘Pointe de la Croix’ which is a kind of lookout. It was quite windy the day we visited, so we’ll recommend that you bring layers. Because even during the summertime in Canada, you need to plan for all 4 seasons!
We absolutely recommend going to Les Escoumins for the boat tour. We booked in advance online and highly recommend everyone to do so. The name of the company is called Les Écumeurs.
Great for the family
We noticed many groups of families and all appeared to have a great time. Also, our guide was quite knowledgeable and interacted with everyone.
Firstly, the boat driver / guide will explain for those who potentially get seasick to stick closer to the cabin.
The whales are usually feeding in packs closer to the middle of the Saint Lawrence River, so you can expect a good 20-30 minutes of riding in the wind. Once the boat reaches a good spot, there will be a few adjustments to various types of whales and sea creatures.
A little more time
We heard that visitors and locals were able to see whales from standing on the shore. So if you plan to stick around Les Escoumins, be sure to spend some relaxing time on the waterfront.
What to bring / wear ?
On a sunny summer day, be sure to bring comfortable shoes and also be sure to bring sunscreen and a water bottle for hydration.
You will get properly suited once your group is about to set sail. Les Écumeurs will provide you with the waterproof gear you need (pants and jacket). The large jacket also serves as a safety floating device.
You may not already know this, but the temperature on the water is usually 5-10 degrees lower than on land. That being said, you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing warm clothing. Yes, even on those warm sunny days! So forget the short shorts and the muscle shirts because you’ll freeze on the water and it’s a 2 hour ride!
The staff at Les Écumeurs will be able to give you an accurate recommendation of what you should wear on a given day.