Bas-Saint-Laurent © TQ/C. Savard

Water and nautical sports

Spend long, lazy days at the beach with your family and rediscover the simple pleasures of frolicking in the waves. 

Close to the city or deep in nature, set off to explore rivers and streams by canoe, kayak or raft and test your mettle against the currents. Water sports? Invigorating!

At 2,100 km2, Lac Mistassini is the largest natural lake in Québec, while the largest artificial body of water is the Caniapiscau reservoir (4,285 km2). Québec boasts 12 waterways that are longer than 400 km, including the St. Lawrence River and the Ottawa River, which is 1,270 km long.

With its multitude of lakes, rivers and streams, and a large portion of its territory set along one of the longest rivers in the world, it is no wonder Québec features so many beaches! 

As plentiful as they are diverse, our beaches are appreciated by sun worshippers and sports enthusiasts alike. There is something for everyone on these stretches of sand found in national parks, resorts, rural areas or on the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Among the many options, families love the supervised areas offering lots of amenities, while others go for the smaller, more intimate beaches to find some peace and quiet.  

Active people especially appreciate beaches that feature a range of activities including volleyball, canoeing, kayaking, catamaraning, pedalboating , windsurfing, water skiing, jet skiing, fishing and more. In addition to swimming, children will love the play areas, animation, picnic/grilling areas and snack bars featured at some locations. The more contemplative types who are looking to relax will enjoy long walks along the sands of less frequented or even deserted locations, including beaches that border the St. Lawrence River in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and  Gaspésie regions. The latter is also home to the Baie des Chaleurs, whose great beauty has earned it a spot in the Most Beautiful Bays of the World Club. The Îles-de-la-Madeleine region boasts 300 kilometres of beaches, with sand dunes as far as the eye can see, red cliffs, and caves that can be explored at low tide.

Water quality

For safe swimming, bathing water quality is closely monitored by a government body, which analyzes the water at nearly 400 public beaches throughout Québec.

Îles-de-la-Madeleine © TQ/ P. Mastrovito
© Saguenay-Lac-Sant-Jean
© TQ/J-F.Frenette

Québec’s innumerable lakes and waterways, long the highways and byways of the explorers and woodsmen of yore, offer today’s paddling enthusiasts an amazing array of rambles and routes. Adventure tour operators provide access to some of the most popular waterways, including the Rivière Bonaventure (Gaspésie), the Moisie and Magpie rivers (Côte-Nord), the Métabetchouane, Ashuapmushuan and Shipshaw (Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean), the Malbaie (Charlevoix), and the Jacques-Cartier and Sainte-Anne (Québec City and Area). Also among this choice selection are the Matawin and Rouge rivers that snake through the Laurentians, Coulonge and Gatineau (Outaouais).

Sea kayaking

Sea kayaking is popular on the St. Lawrence and in the Fjord du Saguenay. Many operators offer guided tours lasting anywhere from several hours to several days. These tours ensure proper training and safe supervision. You can also paddle along the shores of the St. Lawrence all the way from Montréal to Gaspésie and the Côte-Nord via the St. Lawrence water trail.

 

Repertory of canoeing places

Repertory of kayaking places

Lac Opasatica, Abitibi-Témiscamingue © TQ/M. Dupuis
© Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean/S.Turcotte
© TQ/S.Deschênes

Untamed and untameable, Québec's rivers have energy to burn. As you hurtle down a raging river in an inflatable raft, you'll run the gamut of emotions from exhilaration to fear to sheer joy. Whitewater expeditions are usually offered from April to September. Late spring is when the rivers are at their most tumultuous, swollen after the seasonal thaw; in contrast, the summertime waters are noticeably calmer.

Rafting at a glance

Each rafting excursion is led by expert staff and accompanied by kayakers ready to fish rafters out of the water… as needed! Before setting out, choose the appropriate level of challenge. Are you prepped for extreme adventure with a possible dunking and a little body surfing? Or is something shorter, family-oriented and ecotourism-flavoured more your style? You be the judge!

 

Repertory of rafting places

Rivière Rouge, Laurentides © TQ/L. Turgeon

The Laurentians region—a popular summer vacation spot—has water parks in Pointe-Calumet, Piedmont, Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts and Sainte-Adèle. Not to be outdone, Québec City (Valcartier), the Eastern Townships (Bromont) and the Outaouais region (Cantley) also offer fantastic facilities. Thrills for the whole family!

Repertory of places offering waterslides

© Zoo de Granby/A.Poulin/Facing Waves