Kayaking, Canoeing and Stand-up Paddleboarding

Équipe édito
Editorial Team
Updated on April 25, 2024
Two women canoe in the river at the bottom of the valley, in Jacques-Cartier National Park.
Jeff Frenette Photography

Getting out into nature is the perfect way to take a break from the everyday and reconnect with the things that really matter. Surrounded by lakes and rivers, Québec City has endless ways for you to get out on the water and enjoy the great outdoors. If you’re in town, why not take the opportunity to go canoeing, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding?  They are all great for exercise or as a kind of meditation in motion. Whether you’d like to go paddling on the St. Lawrence or one of the many lakes and rivers in the area, you’ll find all the information you need below to enjoy good times on the water.

The Best Places to Go Kayaking, Canoeing and Stand-up Paddleboarding

Note : The following spots have boat launches for personal watercraft as well as kayak, canoe and SUP rentals for independent exploring unless otherwise indicated.

Jacques-Cartier National Park

Kayaks dans la vallée de la Jacques-Cartier
Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier, Mathieu Dupuis

The green hills and gorgeous river valley in Jacques-Cartier National Park have made it a favourite with nature lovers. A navigable 26 km (16‑mile) stretch of river takes you past cliffs that rise as high as 500 metres (1640 feet). The water is mostly calm, except for a few easy rapids. If you aren’t comfortable with white water, that’s okay—the park has portage trails for those sections. As for the SUP, only a short, quieter section is accessible.

Rafting down the river is the perfect activity for families with children between the ages of 5 and 12, since the rafts you can rent at the park are designed not to submerge. Kayak and canoe rentals are open to children age 12 and over, and the park also offers a shuttle service to take visitors and their watercraft to the launch areas.

Vallée Bras-du-Nord

Vallée Bras-du-Nord
@fredboutet, Vallée Bras-du-Nord

Kayakers and canoers in search of a quiet place to paddle will love the winding river in Bras‑du‑Nord Valley. This is a great spot if you’re just starting out, since there are only two sets of Class I rapids (the easiest kind) along the 17 km (11‑mile) stretch of river that runs through this recreation area. Not only will you get to admire the wild beauty of a lush forest, you’ll also find plenty of little beaches along the way, perfect for a quick break or a picnic. If you like, you can also disembark and walk up a short path (about 15 minutes) to the lovely Delaney Falls. To make the most of your adventure in this magnificent valley, plan to spend between three and six hours going down the river. Equipment rental (canoes and kayaks only) includes a shuttle service. For visitors with their own kayak, canoe or SUP, a taxi service is available.

Station touristique Duchesnay

Swimming and paddle boards in the lake of the Station touristique Duchesnay.
Sépaq - Station touristique Duchesnay

Located on the shores of the magnificent Lac Saint-Joseph, Station touristique Duchesnay is a favourite place to learn to paddle board. As the bay is protected from the wind, the water is often very calm. In addition to the little beach, a brand new rental center allows the rental of several types of equipments to enjoy the lake and have fun in the water.

Saint-Charles River 

Canots Légaré - Summer rental center
Magnifilm

Rent a canoe, kayak, or stand‑up‑paddleboard from Canots Légaré and head out onto the Saint Charles River, just 15 minutes from Québec’s city centre. With 20 km (12.5 miles) of calm waters, it’s perfect for a half‑ or full‑day getaway. If you’re inclined to pack a picnic, by all means do! Halfway down the river there’s a sandspit perfect for a well‑deserved snack break.

Marais du Nord

Couple kayaking in the fall season at the Marais du Nord
marais du Nord, Francis Fontaine

Less than 20 minutes from Québec’s city centre lies Marais du Nord, a marsh area beloved by birdwatchers. Rent a canoe or kayak onsite and spend time exploring the marsh’s hidden treasures. With a bit of luck and patience, you’ll spot some of the 160 species of terrestrial and aquatic birds that have been recorded here. Paddling along the Des Hurons River and Saint Charles Lake, you’ll be treated to beautiful views of the Laurentian foothills.

Canoe-Camping

Canoe-camping dans le Parc national de la jacques-Cartier
Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier, Steve Deschênes

For those who like to find themselves in an almost wild nature, canoe-camping is just perfect. Here are the main parks where it is possible to go canoe-camping in the Québec region.

Sea Kayaking on the St. Lawrence River

Popular across Québec, sea kayaking is a wonderful way to see marine life in the great outdoors. The Québec City area offers a variety of sea kayaking opportunities on the St. Lawrence River. It can be intimidating to paddle on the St. Lawrence (and rightly so), so it’s best to go with a guide. Quatre Natures is a wilderness adventure company that offers a number of outings led by professional kayak guides, including an exploratory paddle to Île d’Orléans at sunset.

Best Time for Kayaking and Canoeing

Most kayak and canoe rental companies operate during the high season, from mid‑May to the end of September. Of course, it’s always a good idea to check the company’s website or get in touch before you firm up your plans.

Ice Canoeing

Ice canoeing used to be how people travelled between Québec City and Lévis in the winter. These days, it’s a competitive sport you won’t find anywhere else. Sign up for outing with Ice Canoeing Experience and try this unique activity (combined with a moment in the comfort and warmth of their Nordic sauna!) in the company of expert guides. 

If you’re intrigued but don’t feel quite ready to venture out on the icy St. Lawrence in a canoe, check out one of the three ice canoeing races in the Québec City area. Every year, the sport’s best paddlers put on one heck of a show!


Équipe édito
Editorial Team

As proud ambassadors of our beloved city, we’re delighted to be sharing the things and places we love most in the Québec City area. What a joy for us to help you discover everything this vibrant and welcoming city has to offer!

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