18 May Quebec and Newfoundland
The eastern coast of Canada is the centre of the country for whale watchers. There's great coastal roads and national parks, too.
In summers, chances are pretty good to see belugas and blue whales at the eastern coast of Canada. Along the 1.200 kilometer long Whaleroute you can also combine whale watching and a road trip through the fantastic Canadian national parks.
The east coast of Canada is characterized by the mighty Gulf of St. Lawrence, which stretches from Quebec to New Brunswick and Newfoundland to Labrador. This region is rich with fish and one of the best places to watch whales in summer: Minke whales, humpbacks and finbacks often get close to the coast. Most of all, you have good chances of meeting blue whales here in summer and belugas are here even all year long.
Lots of tours are offered along the “Whaleroute” from Tadoussac to Blanc-Sablon (e.g. at Saint-Simeon, Grandes-Bergeronnes, Portneuf-sur-Mer, Sept.-Iles). From the numerous vantage points, you can also spot whales from the mainland. Humpbacks can mostly be met in June and July, finbacks from July to October, minke whales from May to October. There is also a population of belugas at the Saguaney Fjord at Tadoussac all year long, the southernmost place to meet them anywhere in the world. Blue whales are around mostly from August to October, occasionally also from May to July. Doing the whole Whaleroute as a road trip will take you about 13 days.
There are also whale watching opportunities at the Gaspesie peninsula on the east side of the Lawrence Bay. Chances of seeing blue whales are even better there, as they often are the first whales to come here once the ice is gone. You can watch them from early spring to October. During the main season from June to October you can even spot them daily. Finbacks and minke whales can also be seen regularly from June to October, too, humpbacks especially from the middle of June to the middle of July, in the last years again in September. There are no belugas here, though. The Gaspesie tour will take you approximately 10 days as a road trip.
»The other provinces along the east coast – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, New Brunswick and Labrador - are also great for watching whales.«
For whale watchers, Quebec is the centre of Canada with the most whales and tour operators. But the other provinces along the east coast – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, New Brunswick and Labrador – offer a lot of opportunities for whale watching, too.
In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, whales are best watched from Halifax, in the Bay of Fundy and from Cape Breton. In spring, finbacks and minke whales are the first to show up in these waters, followed by dolphins and humpbacks, which arrive in June and stay until the end of August. In the Bay of Fundy, you also have chances of seeing northern right whales, of which there are only a few hundred left. Main season starts a bit later and ends a bit earlier than at Quebec.
Whale watching can be done quite well from the mainland at Newfoundland and Labrador. On many tours whale watching is combined with other sightseeing trips, such as coastal-, puffin-, bird- or iceberg-safaris. Especially in May it’s all about puffins and icebergs until humpbacks, minke whales and finbacks enter the waters and stay until September.
Canada’s rough east coast offers countless coastal roads, dreamy fishermen’s towns and world famous lighthouses. The national parks are home to eagles, moose, bears, wolves and caribous. There is barely a place where you can experience the Indian Summer as well as here.
Around the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland offer more than 40.000 kilometers of coastal roads – enough for a road trip that lasts for months. Especially Cabot Trail in the north of the Cape Breton peninsula is deemed one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the world. This is also where you can find one of the most photographed lighthouses: Peggy’s Cove. There is also an abundance of little fishermen’s towns.
Altogether, the national parks in the east may not amount to the spectacle the ones in the Rocky Mountains or the ones along the west coast offer, but the Gaspesie Peninsula and the Gaspesie Regional Park with their giant rock cliffs and plateaus can keep up with them for sure.
The little coastal town Percé is world famous for the giant Percé Rock right next to it. With some luck you can also see the southernmost caribou herd of Canada in the park at Mont Albert and Mont Jaques Cartier.
Speaking of wild animals: Caribous, coyotes, wolves, lynxes, black bears and sea eagles populate the national parks along the east coast and chances of meeting them on a hike are pretty good. The highest concentration of moose can be found in the Matane Wildlife Reserve on the Gaspesie peninsula and in the Cape-Breton-National-Park in Nova Scotia. The best time to see the shy animals is in the early hours of dawn. The biggest population of puffins lives on Machias Seal Island: About 1.000 couples breed there.
A bit further north is Newfoundland, a remote, raw, inhospitable island – with the most spectacular part of the whole east coast: The Gros Morne National Park, a world heritage site and no less pretty than the other famous Canadian parks like Banff, Jasper or Pacific Rim. Big plus: Due to its remoteness, there are a lot less visitors there.
»In autumn the east coast of Canada is known to be one of the most beautiful places on earth to experience the Indian Summer because of its endless deciduous forests.«
Even icebergs can be marveled at from the coast of Newfoundland, if they make it the 4.000 kilometers from the glaciers of Greenland. This is why the east coast of the island is also called “Iceberg Alley”. Other than at Greenland, it’s hard to see icebergs that up close and direct. Tours mostly start from Twillingate and Saint Johns in summer.
Because of its endless deciduous forests, the east coast of Canada is known to be one of the most beautiful places on earth to experience the Indian Summer in autumn. From the end of September to the end of October, the woods with their maple trees, birches and beeches glow in all shades of green, yellow, orange and red.
In winter, the cold Labrador Stream brings an almost arctic climate to the 50th parallel. There is even pack ice on St. Lawrence Bay in harsh winters, which thousands of seals use to give birth to their snow white pups.