Watch Whales on the Mighty St. Lawrence

Saguenay St. Lawrence Marine Park, near Tadoussac, Canada
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humpback whale
ALMIGHTY STRETCH: A humpback whale lets it all hang out (Corel)
Whale of a Good Time
Ten places around the world where you'll catch a wondrous glimpse of mighty oceangoing cetaceans.

Watching one of the earth's largest creatures burst out of the water and plunge back into the deep is an experience you and your children will remember forever. And one of the best vantage points for families to see whales is near Tadoussac, a two- to three-hour drive northeast of Quebec City.

Here, icy saltwater carried up the St. Lawrence River from the Atlantic Ocean meets warm freshwater flowing out of the Saguenay Fjord. As the two currents mix, they give rise to a rich harvest of plankton and krill that draws eight species of whales in summer and fall. Unlike many whale-watching trips, there's no long boat ride to get to where the whales are located, while the relative calmness of the St. Lawrence River eliminates the danger of seasickness caused by ocean swells. On our cruise, it was only a matter of minutes before two black minkes rose out of the water and a fin whale approached.

The whales usually arrive between May and October. In August, you might be lucky enough to spot a rare blue whale—at 98 feet and 140 tons, the largest animal on earth. When a blue whale breathes, its blowhole is so large and powerful that you can actually smell the creature's fish breath. Other species you might spot include belugas, humpbacks, and harbor porpoises. From May to mid-October, whale-watching boats leave daily from the Baie-Sainte-Catherine wharf or from the town of Tadoussac. A ferry connects the two communities.

For more: +1-418-235-4703,'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 15 Sep 2006 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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