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 countless lakes and rivers, Québec has made quite a splash among swimmers! Many of the national parks feature drop-dead gorgeous beaches—and even Montréal and Québec City have surprises in store for those desperate for a dip! Fans of salt-water swims will love the sandy shores of the Côte-Nord, Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Chaleur Bay (Gaspésie).

Water parks

The Laurentides 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!

Good clean fun

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

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 Laurentides, 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.


Lac Opasatica, Abitibi-Témiscamingue © TQ/M. Dupuis

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!


Rivière Rouge, Laurentides © TQ/L. Turgeon