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

When purchasing from our site, we may earn commissions. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

America's 15 Coolest Ghost Towns to Visit

From Kentucky to California, the U.S. is filled with eerie abandoned cities.

Lyn MettlerAugust 22, 2019

The 7 Best New Orleans Plantation Tours

Learn about the Big Easy's history through one of these daytrips.

Holly JohnsonAugust 21, 2019

22 Top Sonoma Wineries to Visit

Sip world-class wines while enjoying vineyard and mountain views.

Gwen PratesiAugust 19, 2019

30 Beautiful Caribbean Islands to Visit

It's time to plan your next tropical getaway.

Holly JohnsonAugust 8, 2019

The Best Travel Rewards Programs for 2019-20

See which airline and hotel loyalty programs come out on top.

Erin ShieldsAugust 6, 2019

20 Surprising Ways to Earn Loyalty Program Points or Miles

Branch out beyond hotel stays and flights to maximize your earnings.

Christine SmithAugust 6, 2019

The 12 Best Cancun Tours

These excursions will show you what lies beyond the city's bright beaches.

Lyn MettlerJuly 26, 2019

Traveling With Toddlers: 16 Tips to Make Your Vacation Go Smoothly

These expert travel hacks guarantee a happy trip for the whole family.

Kyle McCarthyJuly 25, 2019

The 11 Best New Orleans Ghost Tours

Hear chilling tales of the city's paranormal activity on one of these guided tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 25, 2019

The 10 Best Seattle Boat Tours

Take in the Emerald City's top sights from the water.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 24, 2019