Helen Hatzis
Helen Hatzis
October 25, 2016 ·  11 min read

Quebec Maritime Guide: Sea Life, Sea Food, And French Canadian Tradition

Welcome to the generous regions of Quebec maritime!

The maritime regions of Québec combine four of the most scenic tourist regions in Eastern Québec: Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Côte-Nord (Tadoussac to Blanc-Sablon) and the Îles de la Madeleine. Although very different from each other, these regions are united by the sea and a maritime tradition represented by no less than 40 lighthouses.


©Marc Loiselle/Tourisme Côte-Nord – Manicouagan

Between lakes, rivers, and mountains, the Quebec maritime regions are a vast territory of 108 000 sq. mi. on which we can find 10 National Parks, 13 species of whales, and fewer than 400,000 inhabitants. The welcoming land and maritime regions of Québec have been shaped by the cultures and traditions of its various founding peoples:

First nations, French, Normans, Bretons, Basques, Rochelais, Acadians, Jersey Islanders, English Loyalists, Scots and Irish.

The influence of these cultures can still be heard in the accents, vocabulary, and songs of the local people. A number of historic and cultural sites, museums and interpretation centers celebrate the region’s history and talent.

Many road trips invite you to discover the Québec maritime regions by driving on Route 132 or Navigator’s Route for the Bas-Saint-Laurent – Gaspesie Tour, Route 138 or the Whale Route for the Côte-Nord and Route 199 for Îles de la Madeleine.

Many of the hotels, restaurants, attractions and activities in the maritime regions of Québec are wheelchair accessible. To find these businesses, visit the website of Kéroul.

Don’t miss in the Gaspésie region the unique Rocher Percé and Bonaventure Island with the biggest northern gannets colony on the world.

Archipelago park

©Steve Deschênes/Le Québec maritime

The mysteriously shaped limestone monoliths of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve are a must to discover, such as all diversely flavored delicacies of all our maritime regions. By plane, by car, by bus or by train, discover the four seasons through nature getaways, sports, and outdoor activities.

Taste the cuisine influenced by the sea and forests, enjoy playing in the snow, understand the history through cultural and maritime highlights, marvel at the wonderful wild landscapes, and share the joie de vivre with the locals!


Foodies will be delighted to know that the maritime regions of Québec are a fine dining destination.

Regional specialties, especially seafood, are available throughout our regions. Try our fresh or smoked fish and seafood (Smartest seafood program), cheeses, lamb and other meats, beers, wines, fruits, and vegetables. Our innovative chefs also feature these local products and ingredients in their restaurants. Bon appétit!


©Éric Marchand/Jardins de Métis

  • Local delicacies of the 4 maritime regions of Quebec
  • Best restaurants


Enjoy your breakfast with a pastry from Pâtisseries et Gourmandises d’Olivier. Savor smoked fish such as sturgeon or eel, or our excellent snow crab. Local cheeses also offer a unique taste of the region. Taste some of our local recipes at Côté Est restaurant, Auberge du Mange Grenouille or Auberge du Chemin Faisant.

Finish your meal with a delicate final touch: a dessert or alcoholic beverage made with local maple syrup at Domaine Acer or with chocolate at La Fée Gourmande.


Enjoy delicious meals at various restaurants, meet enthusiastic food producers and artisans such as La Galouïne Inn and Restaurant, and harvest your own food!

Hotel Tadoussac’s fine cuisine is composed with seafood, fish, fruits, vegetables and cheeses are featured throughout the region. Don’t miss this opportunity to try cloudberries at Ferme 5 Étoiles holiday resort, a local delicacy.


No visit to the region would be complete without tasting our delicious lobster at the Riotel Matane’s restaurant or La Maison du Pêcheur, smoked salted fish, red deer venison or emu meat. Fresh fruits from Ferme Bourdages Tradition and vegetables, gourmet deli meats, cheeses, jams and pickles will complete your meal as you enjoy the best that Gaspésie has to offer.

Go off the beaten tracks and try edible flowers of the Chef Pierre-Olivier Ferry at Reford Gardens. The Gîte du Mont-Albert offers you fine cuisine in the middle of a National Park.

Îles de la Madeleine

A fresh craft À l’Abri de la Tempête beer is the ideal start to a maritime feast of lobster, mussels, scallops or fish as you can have on the islands by booking a diner at Chateau Madelinot’s restaurant, Auberge Chez Denis à François, Domaine du Vieux Couvent or La Table des Roy.

You can complete your gourmet experience with a plate of delicious local cheeses. Discover the home made fine products of Gourmande de Nature.


  • 15 National Parks and Wildlife Reserves
  • 13 species of whales
  • Local events
  • 4 seasons destination
  • Thousands of islands

The maritime regions of Québec are home to some of the best whale-watching sites in the world at the Saguenay – St. Lawrence Marine Parc. Enjoy an exciting whale-watching cruise from May to October in a boat, a Zodiac or sea kayak, whether you are at Côte-Nord or Gaspésie. In some places, you can even observe one of the 13 species of cetaceans from the shore.


©Marc Loiselle/Le Québec maritime


Cycling on the Route Verte along the St. Lawrence River or on the Petit-Témis cycling trail will lead you to amazing landscapes. Have fun up in the air at the Domaine Valga’s treetop trekking.

Discover the various outdoor activities like sea kayaking with seals at Parc national du Bic or paddling on Touladi Lake at Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata. For a more active adventure, Canyon des Portes de l’Enfer invites you to walk on the highest suspension footbridge in the province of Québec.

Participate in local events : «Concert aux Îles du Bic» Chamber Music Festival, Rimouski Festi Jazz International, Les Grandes Fêtes Telus (music), or Noël Chez Nous à Rivière-du-Loup (cultural). When the winter comes, enjoy ice fishing on the lake with Pohénégamook Santé Plein Air.


Anticosti island is home to about 166,000 white-tailed deer and its striking scenery and diversified natural environment make it the place for very exotic discoveries! Admire and photograph the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve’s unusual limestone monoliths, lighthouse stations, rare plants and puffins.

Go back in time at the Jardin des glaciers and discover the impact of the latest glacial era. Doing a sea kayaking activity with Mer et Monde Écotours or a Zodiac excursion with AML Cruise or Essipit cruises to watch the whales will be the icing on the cake. Have a long musical weekend at Tadoussac Song Festival.

Take a deep fresh breathe, and explore the winter scenery of the region during dog-sledding excursions with Ferme 5 Étoiles holiday resort.


Follow the 400 mi. length path of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) that will lead you to Forillon.

Many animal species can be observed during outdoor activities such as the biggest northern gannets colony in the Parc national de l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, caribous in the Parc national de la Gaspésie, moose in the Réserve faunique de Matane, black bears in the Forillon national park and more.

Do a snorkeling excursion guided by Nature Aventure to observe the Atlantic salmon in rivers or a sea-kayaking meeting with the seals with Cap Aventure a Forillon National Park. The Géoparc de Percé invites you on a suspended glass platform with a breathtaking view.

Enjoy the events of Gaspésie: Festival Musique du Bout du Monde, Petite-Vallée Song Festival (music), Festival La Virée (culture), International Garden Festival (art) or Raid international Gaspésie, TDLG on foot in fall or on skis in winter (sport).

Refuel your energy by doing winter activities such as alpine skis, meta skis and split boards at the Auberge de Montagne des Chic-Chocs and cat skiing, snowmobiling and heliskiing in Chic-Chac.

Îles de la Madeleine

Aérosport Carrefour Aventures is a mecca for kite-surfing enthusiasts from around the world. Explore the red caves of the islands with La Salicorne. Discover the Îles de la Madeleine’s landscapes from earth by cycling or from sea by kayaking at the Parc de Gros-Cap.

Live a unique winter experience: observe the baby seals on the ice with Chateau Madelinot’s excursion.


  • The Lighthouse Trail
  • Museums and maritime heritage
  • Relaxing islands
  • Spa treatments

Discover our maritime heritage and start exploring more than 40 lighthouses by following the Lighthouse Trail. All along your trip meet and share the passion of the numerous artists and artisans that have chosen to live in the regions (from the painters to creators or jewelry makers). Quebec by the sea is relaxing!


©Michel Bonato/Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine


Whether in a seaside inn, hotel spa facilities or urban spa with Nordic baths, you will be given the royal treatment at the Hôtel Universel/Centre de Congrès – Rivière-du-Loup, Auberge de La Pointe, Auberge du Portage or Hôtel Rimouski – Centre des Congrès. The Pointe-au-Père Maritime Historic Site will suit to everyone with the visits of its lighthouse, submarine Onondaga and Empress of Ireland museum. Appreciate the chamber music at Concerts aux îles du Bic. Unplug and relax in the natural tranquility and splendor of Île Verte.


Recharge your batteries with a wide variety of treatments in a spa center in nature such as Ferme 5 Étoiles holiday resort, or overlooking the St. Lawrence at Hotel Tadoussac. Come meet the whales at Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre (CIMM) before watching them from the shore.

Bring your picnic and make a stop at one of the various whale observation sites along The Whale Route such as the Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation Centre and Centre de découverte du milieu marin.


Many types of care are offered in the spa centers, just experience it at Auberge l’Ambassadeur, Le Gîte du Mont-Albert in the middle of a National Park or front to the sea at Riôtel Matane.

Don’t miss these three must-see attractions: Exploramer (discover fauna and flora of the St. Lawrence), Bioparc de la Gaspésie (meet about 40 indigenous gaspesian species) and Reford Gardens (enjoy walking in a multi-sensory garden).

Îles de la Madeleine

Enjoy a massage or relaxing experience in a spa center or sauna in the enchanting Auberge Havre-sur-Mer. Catch the Magdalen beat and take a sandcastle pause at L’Échouerie or Sandy Hook beaches before admiring the unique handcraft sculptures of Artisans du Sable.

Chill out during Happy Hour at the microbrewery À l’Abri de la Tempête.


To get off the beaten path, here are a few options of unusual accommodations in our regions.


©Canopée Lit


If you always wanted to be a lighthouse keeper, you can either stay in the Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie lighthouse (on an island) or in one of the rooms of the B&B Maisons du Phare de l’Île Verte.

Enjoy waking up in a cozy bubble at Pohénégamook Santé Plein Air, a yurt in Parc national du Bic (all year-round) or in a «ready-to-camp» Huttopia tent in the Parc national du LacTémiscouata. Rent a fully equipped mobile eco-cottage in front of the St. Lawrence River at Domaine Floravie.


If you like glamping, you will enjoy the oTENTik tent at the Mingan Archipelago Park Reserve, the «ready-to-camp» Huttopia tents with a view on the Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay, a unit at Mer et Monde Écotours or a cabin at Domaine des Dunes.

Discover treetop cocooning experience in the Canopée Lit’s bubble located in the middle of the forest. Enjoy your night at Ferme 5 Étoiles holiday resort in a yurt or a trapper’s camp. Feel like a bird in one of the five shelters designed to resemble giant birds nesting boxes of Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes.

Discover a new place every day and spend your night on the sea aboard NM Bella Desgagnés with Relais Nordik.


Mix your outdoor activities with a night in a teepee, eco lodge or yurt at Cime Aventures. Experience a night in a «ready-to-camp» tent in the Forillon National Park (oTENTik tent) or Parc national de la Gaspésie (Huttopia tent).

Îles de la Madeleine

Have a rest in the Parc de Gros-Cap’s «ready-to-camp» Salines, rustic and comfortable cottages. Feel the Magdalen way of life and sleep in a cabin for a week on the CTMA Cruises.


  • It is generally recommended to make reservations for the first two nights of your stay in the maritime regions of Québec, especially if you are traveling from June to September. Be sure you ordered your Tourist Official guide of the region before starting to plan your trip.
  • Don’t forget to bring a map with you, it can be useful as the cell phone network is not working everywhere if your cellphone supplier is not Bell or Telus.
  • In the maritime regions of Québec, the Lighthouse Day is celebrated on July, 13.
  • If somebody invites you to a «5 à 7» it means that you are welcome to join them for Happy Hour.
  • Consult the weather before coming up in our maritime regions because according to the period of your holiday, temperatures are really different from day to night. That will help you to decide what to pack.
  • If you plan to discover one of the hundred islands located in the St. Lawrence River and Gulf, don’t forget to have a look at the tide schedule.
  • Bring your binoculars with you if you plan to do wildlife observation.
  • In the maritime regions of Québec, ferries serve as an extension of the road network.