Best Times to Visit Great Barrier Reef
The best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef is April through May. This small window between the region's high and low tourist seasons offers some key advantages for savvy travelers. Temperatures hover in the 70s and 80s, and rainfall is uncommon, which means clearer waters and better diving conditions. Along with the ideal weather, this in-between season sees fewer crowds and better hotel rates than peak tourist season, which runs from June through October. The Great Barrier Reef region welcomes a larger number of visitors during this time because of the weather. Australia's winter season (summer in the United States) is also the region's dry period, offering comfortable temperatures and excellent diving conditions. The area's low season, November through March, brings lower hotel rates, but you'll encounter some fickle weather in the north. Sporadic showers and temperatures in the high 80s are the norm on the mainland. The wet climate reduces water visibility and attracts deadly box jellyfish, meaning you'll have to avoid swimming off of mainland beaches.
This shoulder season offers some notable advantages for visitors. Not only are there fewer tourists and lower hotel rates than there are during the dry season, there's also a smaller chance that you'll encounter rain. While temperatures in the north can climb into the mid-80s, the south sees more comfortable daytime temps in the high 70s.
Balmy, 70-degree days, clear waters and refreshingly cool evenings are characteristic of the region's dry season. Temperatures are a little cooler during this period (after all, it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere), but they rarely dip below the 60s. To be comfortable, plan on packing some warmer layers. Since this is prime diving season, expect to encounter crowds and higher hotel prices in the north. If you're looking for lower rates, head south to Rockhampton or Bundaberg. Though temperatures may be on the chillier side, your wallet will be a lot happier.
This is the Great Barrier Reef's rainy season, with average temperatures in the north hovering in the high 80s. Intermittent tropical downpours are common, meaning water visibility is blurred and conditions are muggy. The cloudy water not only poses a problem to divers, but it can also put swimmers in danger: Deadly box jellyfish roam the waters off of mainland beaches. To avoid any life-threatening stings, head to the southern part of the region (between Rockhampton and Bundaberg), where temperatures are milder and the water is safer. Just note that this is the Southern Hemisphere's summer season; plan for higher hotel rates and throngs of vacationing locals.