Great Barrier Reef Travel Guide

Australia  #2 in Best Beaches in Australia
Credit

Courtesy of Jeff Hunter/Getty Images

Best Times to Visit Great Barrier Reef

The best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef is from June to October. This peak season offers some key advantages for travelers. Temperatures hover in the low 60s to mid-80s, and rainfall is uncommon, which means clearer waters and better diving conditions. Along with the ideal weather, these winter and spring months offer cheaper prices at hotels near the central and southern parts of the reef, but keep in mind that accommodations and diving excursions in Cairns tend to fill up quickly due to the influx of tourists to the region. Meanwhile, the area's low season (known locally as the wet or stinger season) takes place between November and May and brings more rain, resulting in poorer water visibility and an abundance of deadly box jellyfish.

Weather in Great Barrier Reef

Switch to Celsius/MM
Average Temperature (°F)
88.9
75
88.3
75.2
87.1
73.6
84.9
71.4
82.2
68.4
79.3
64.8
78.6
62.8
80.1
63.5
83.1
65.8
85.6
69.6
87.4
72.5
88.9
74.7
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Average Precipitation (in)
14.91
17.64
15.3
8.48
3.5
1.61
1.22
1.14
1.37
1.9
4.27
7.14
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

June-October

Balmy, 70- to 80-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 and spring 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, especially in Cairns. You may also find higher room rates at hotels in Cairns, so book in advance. If you're looking for more elbow room and cheaper accommodation prices, head south to Rockhampton or Bundaberg.

Key Events:

November-May

This is the Great Barrier Reef's wet season, with average daytime 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 the Capricorn Coast and Fraser Island), where temperatures are cooler and the water is safer. You can also rent stinger or Lycra suits to keep yourself protected while swimming. Hotel prices in Cairns are generally lower at this time, but vacationing Aussies flock to Queensland in summer and fall, so plan accordingly.

Key Events:

Popular Times to Visit Great Barrier Reef

Average Tourist Volumes
Average Hotel Prices   Search Hotels
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sept
Oct
Nov
Dec

Tourism volume is estimated based on in-market destination search query interest from Google and on travel.usnews.com in 2015-2016. Hotel prices are sourced from a sample of U.S. News Best Hotels rates through 2015-2016.

Find Flight and Hotel Deals

FLIGHTS
HOTELS

Press the down arrow key to interact with the calendar and select a date. Press the question mark key to get the keyboard shortcuts for changing dates.

Press the down arrow key to interact with the calendar and select a date. Press the question mark key to get the keyboard shortcuts for changing dates.

Explore More of Great Barrier Reef

Recommended

The World's 30 Best Places to Visit in 2019-20

Using reader input and expert analysis, U.S. News identified the latest can't-miss vacations.

Tilly PeckerJune 25, 2019

The 16 Best San Diego Tours

Take advantage of the adventures this coastal city has to offer with a guided trip.

Lyn MettlerJune 24, 2019

12 Top Napa Valley Wineries to Visit

Set your sights on these can't-miss wineries during your next visit to California's wine country.

Lyn MettlerJune 24, 2019

The 6 Best Denver Brewery Tours

Discover the buzz about Denver's craft beer scene with these tours.

Holly JohnsonJune 21, 2019

The 10 Best Charleston Walking Tours

Experience true southern hospitality as you explore Charleston on one of these strolls.

Claire LawtonJune 20, 2019

The 15 Best Charleston Tours

See everything this historic South Carolina city has to offer on one of these guided excursions.

John RodwanJune 19, 2019

The 5 Best Kauai Helicopter Tours

See the Garden Island's far-reaching beauty from the air.

Holly JohnsonJune 14, 2019

The 6 Best Las Vegas Helicopter Tours

Get a thrilling look at the lights and sights of Sin City and its surroundings with one of these tours.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

20 Road Trip Essentials for Your Vacation

These road trip must-haves can help you save money, travel more comfortably and ensure you stay safe on the open road.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

13 Top Charlottesville Wineries to Visit

Sip a glass of Virginia's signature viognier as the sun sets over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Gwen PratesiJune 12, 2019