For centuries, the waterways of modern-day Quebec have been central to the development of its landscape and culture. With one of the largest reserves of freshwater in the world, tens of thousands of rivers and some three million bodies of water, it’s a paddler’s paradise. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a half-day family-friendly tour or a multiday whitewater excursion, you’ll find tour operators and outfitters that will help you make it happen.
We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite kayak tours, each designed to immerse you in La Belle Province’s culture, nature and history.
See bioluminescence by sea kayak with Mer et Monde
Imagine your kayak gliding across the water in the dark of night, while whales call out to one another below. Your only guiding light? Bioluminescence, which lights up the water with each stroke you take.
On a guided night tour with Mer et Monde Ecotours, you’ll spend three hours exploring the waters of the St. Lawrence by double kayak, witnessing the magic of bioluminescence and getting the opportunity to listen to whales through a hydrophone. Tours run out of Les Bergeronnes, a town located about a four-hour drive northeast of Quebec City.
Kayaking the St. Lawrence River in this area in the summer is idyllic, as the waters are calm and the surrounds peaceful.
Glamp and sea kayak along the Mingan Archipelago
If you’re looking for a truly tranquil and relaxing getaway, then look no further than Noryak Adventures. The tour operator runs full-day and multiday sea kayaking expeditions within Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve; a region known for its limestone outcroppings, seabird colonies—including Atlantic puffins—and wildlife such as whales and gray seals.
On Noryak’s four-day sea kayaking adventure, you can explore the area’s thousands of islands and islets from your base camp at Grande Ile, and spend each night sleeping in tents with comfortable inflatable mattresses. Other luxe touches include hot showers, a mosquito net shelter and a full camp kitchen, where you’ll be treated to meals cooked using local produce and seafood.
Start ‘em young just outside Quebec City
Are you a beginner paddler or maybe even a keen kayaker who wants to share your love of the water with your kids? There’s no better way to do so than on a tour meant for families with children aged three and up.
Quatre Natures’ guided two-hour family kayak Québec City tour from Île d’Orléans is designed especially for little ones. There’s no distance goal, and timing is based around when the tide is highest—and therefore the currents are the weakest, making this the ideal St. Lawrence kayak excursion for kids.
Kayak Saguenay Fjord and watch the sunrise
Early birds may get the worm—but they also get to see the best sunrises, as the world shifts from night to day. If you’re an early morning enthusiast, check into Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux—an eco-camp with treehouses, log cabins, geodesic domes and unbelievably futuristic hanging spheres—and then set your alarm for 4:30 a.m. That’s when your 2.5-hour Saguenay Fjord kayaking adventure will start, where calls from the common loon will signal the beginning of a new day. You could also visit Fjord En Kayak, a two-time winner of the GOLD MEDAL AWARD of the Grand Prix of the Tourism, where you can have your pick of sea kayaking excursions, from one hour tours to six day trips. With options for groups, families, and experienced paddlers you’ll be sure to find an adventure to suit your needs.
Get an introduction to whitewater kayaking on the Matapédia River
Nature Aventure offers guided tours ranging in skill level and length from two hours up to a full week. But if you only have a day to spare, their Matapédia Package offers a taster of kayaking the Gaspé Peninsula and provides a great introduction to whitewater for beginner and novice paddlers.
The 20-km guided river journey can be completed by canoe, kayak or even SUP—if you’re ambitious, as there are class I rapids along the way—and includes a lunch stop. Keep an eye out for salmon pits, beavers and river otters on your journey.
Hear ghost stories on the water in Sherbrooke
Even if you’re not a history buff, you’ll likely be enthralled by the tales shared aboard a kayak on the Magog River and Lac des Nations. Sherb-History offers an unusual combination of history and aquatic adventure on its guided kayak tours in Sherbrooke, including its night tour.
Over the course of 2.5 hours, you’ll learn more about the area’s culture, environment, biodiversity and, of course, history, with lanterns and light-up armbands shedding some more light on the situation.
Kayak Riviere du Diable and explore Quebec’s largest park by water
The Diable River in Mont-Tremblant National Park—Quebec’s largest and oldest protected area—has long been a go-to destination for canoeists and kayakers, with plenty of outfitters offering rentals along the river’s edge. DTour Tremblant, for example, offers single and tandem kayak rentals as well as shuttle services for a half-day self-guided trip.
Despite the river’s foreboding name, this is an easy and meandering excursion that’s suitable for families, with chances to spot great blue herons, kingfishers, beavers and white-tailed deer along the way. This family-friendly activity is suitable for children who weigh more than 20 lbs.
Paddle from island to island in Parc Regional Kiamika
Drive roughly three hours northwest of Montréal, and you’ll discover one of the largest bodies of water in the Laurentides: the Kiamika Reservoir. In addition to the reservoir, Kiamika Regional Park is home to 10 lakes, 40 islands and ancient trees that are centuries old. Both the Kilby sector and the Barrage sector are suitable for kayaking, with Ecolodge Kiamika offering single and tandem kayak rentals.
While the kayak excursions are self-guided, the campground—which features glamping tents and cabins—does offer Aboriginal-guided canoe trips. The overnight experience is led by an Innu ambassador and includes a night spent in a traditional tepee. SUPs, canoes and rabaskas—capable of carrying up to 10 paddlers—are also available for rent.
Have an epicurean adventure experience at Baie-Comeau
Yes, this is a sea kayaking trip. But as operator Attitude Nordique Plein Air explains, it’s intended to be casual—and, more importantly, fun! You’ll get kitted out to paddle in a tandem kayak, but you’ll also have the opportunity to try out ziplines that fly across the waters of the St. Lawrence—a one-of-a-kind opportunity within Quebec.
Then, once you return to shore, you’ll be treated to a barbecue of grilled meats, served alongside locally produced beer and gin.
Look for Atlantic Salmon along the Bonaventure River
Boasting some of the clearest water in the world, the Bonaventure River on the Gaspé Peninsula is known for its Atlantic salmon, class I and II rapids, and pristine wilderness. On the 20-km self-guided “Famous Tour” with Cime Aventures, you can choose to descend the river by kayak, canoe or SUP—although experience is highly recommended for the latter two options, due to the sections of rapids.
A shorter 9-km version also exists for families, bypassing the rapids and featuring a combination of calm and fast-flowing water.