Quebec is a vast province with lots to offer an adventurous traveller, but one of its most interesting areas is known as the Quebec maritimes. Spanning the coastal regions of Bas-Saint-Laurent, Côte-Nord, the Magdalen Islands and the Gaspé Peninsula, the area features 3,000 kilometres of coastline, 40 lighthouses and ten national parks, to name just a few of its stunning highlights. We took a road trip along the Gaspé Peninsula, and this is what we discovered along the way.
Enjoy freshly caught seafood
The Maritimes are known for their fantastic seafood, and eastern Quebec is no exception. At La Maison du Pêcheur, guests get a view of the infamous Percé rock from floor-to-ceiling windows as they dine in the enclosed patio. The Fisherman’s House (as it’s known in English) is known for its freshly-caught seafood, and even has its own lobster trap pen located 60 feet underwater near the Percé rock. Seafood lovers can’t go wrong ordering The Trident, a combination of lobster poached in Cointreau sauce, Scotch-flambéed sea scallops and a perfectly grilled salmon fillet with maple sugar and lemon sauce.
Discover the Percé Rock
On a clear day in Percé, it’s impossible to miss this monolithic rock jutting out from the waves on the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula. One of the world’s largest water-based natural arches, the 88-metre high rock formation is one of the area’s most iconic landmarks. Once you’ve seen it in person, experience the rock in a whole new way through the Tetonik exhibition at the Percé Geopark. A first of its kind in Quebec, this immersive and interactive show uses captivating narration and stunning, high-tech projections to create an unforgettable interactive experience.
Lie on a suspended platform 200 metres above sea level
Prefer something a little more hands-on? At the Geopark you can hike 30 minutes (or jump in a shuttle) to Mont Ste-Anne. At the top, you’ll encounter a suspended glass platform perched on a cliff 200 metres above sea level. The result is a breathtaking view of the Percé rock, the town and the forest. If you’re up for an adventure, you can also zip line back down.
Dine on local specialties
In Percé, Paqbo Restaurant has a beautiful view of the Percé rock. In the modern dining room with nautical accents, you can experience traditional salt cod cakes, as well as an authentic lobster supper. But the real showstopper is Chef Normand’s Bouillabaisse, succulent lobster served atop a savoury fish and seafood stew. The restaurant is located in the Riotel hotel, so once you’ve eaten your fill you can head straight to one of the comfortable and airy rooms to slip into your food coma.
See the tallest lighthouse in Canada
Standing tall at 34 metres, Cap-des-Rosiers is the tallest lighthouse in Canada. Perched on a rugged cliff, the structure has been keeping watch since 1858. The lighthouse is now an official national historic site owned by Parks Canada.
Get up close and personal with 110,000 northern gannets on Bonaventure Island
As you draw nearer to Bonaventure Island, you can see birds circling and swooping on the rugged cliffs near land. This island is actually a bird sanctuary, and home to the largest nesting Northern Gannet colony in the world. Over 110,000 gannets flock here each year from May to October to nest on sandy beaches. Lush with rolling hills and stunning ocean vistas, the island is accessible only by boat. You’ll then need to take a short hike through the woods to reach the colony. The most direct hike is Les Colonies, an accessible intermediate trail that takes about an hour and a half to complete. The landscape changes as you approach the colony, and the cries of the birds begin to swell up around you. Soon you’re greeted by the astounding sight of hundreds of Northern Gannets nesting, fetching building materials, and loudly calling to each other. It’s an incredible sight. Look closely, and you’ll even spot a few baby gannets.
Have a chance encounter with the biggest whale in the world
Forillon National Park is a mountainous region near Gaspé Bay, home to seabirds and other wildlife. Jump on a boat tour to explore the underwater life at the park. Whale watching is a popular activity here, and it’s easy to see why. The waters of the park are home to a variety of whales, including the Blue Whale (the largest whale in the world), Humpback Whale, Fin Whale, Minke Whale and even dolphins. The Baleines Forillon will take you on a whale watching adventure on the nimble and comfortable Narval III. As many as six whale species can be seen, depending on the time of year. Relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery at the park as you keep an eye out for these gentle giants.