Home Travel Australia Best Time To Visit The Great Barrier Reef (Coral Sea, Queensland, Australia)

Best Time To Visit The Great Barrier Reef (Coral Sea, Queensland, Australia)


Located in the Coral Sea just off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is well-known to be one of the Seven Wonders of The World. It is referred to as the largest living thing, and also the world’s largest coral reef, containing an awesome blend of coral and marine life. An amazing spectacle indeed, to be seen by everyone. To make the most of your visit to this wonder, you need to know the perfect time and season for a trip.

Best Seasons For Visiting The Great Barrier Reef

It should be noted that in Australia (in the Southern Hemisphere), the seasons differ from that of the Northern Hemisphere. Summer starts December and stays till February, with Autumn following from March to May, and then Winter kicking off from June to August, and Spring from September to November. Well, in Queensland, considering the peculiarities of the Great Barrier Reef and its characteristics as a tropical area, we’ll just call it wet and dry seasons. The wet starts from November till March, and the dry, from May till October.

Both seasons offer an awesome reef experience, but the wet season may have more disadvantages and obstacles. Temperatures during the wet season span between 30 to 40°C, with water temperature at an average of 32°C.

The rains, for instance, cause the reef’s waters to change colors, from a crystal clear, to a murky blue, bringing along an abundance of dangerous box jellyfish. Also, the currents flow faster during the wet season due to the high chances of storms, making it more difficult and dangerous for snorkeling, diving, and swimming in reef spots, with boat trips getting canceled as well.

The dry season offers more pleasant conditions for tourists and visitors. This is because at this time of the year the currents are less intense, with temperatures averaging 25° Celsius, and water temperatures at 24° Celsius, with much lesser rain.

Best Time of The Year To Visit The Great Barrier Reef

All year round, various travel agencies offer excursions and trips to the Great Barrier Reef. But the best time to take a trip to this place is between the months of June and September, during which conditions are more favorable for swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling. This time of the year brings a lot of benefits to its visitors. Hotel prices are also much cheaper at the central as well as Southern parts of the reef during the dry seasons, including Rockhampton and Bundaberg. Some guidelines to help you on your trip include:

  • Make sure to book accommodations in advance because the crowds of tourists are known to swoop in at this time of the year.
  • Take some extra layers of clothing for putting on. After all, it’s the winter season in the southern hemisphere.

Reef Seasons To Witness In The Great Barrier Reef

Jellyfish Season: The Box jellyfish and the “Irukandji” are two types of stinger jellyfish to look out for when the jellyfish season starts. This season starts between November and May, though it has no fixed date. They just arrive whenever nature tells them to, within this period. Stinger wetsuits provide safety from jellyfish stings, so you might want to get one, especially if you’re looking to go towards the deeper parts of the reef.

Migrating Whales / Whales On Transit: One of the most lovely experiences of marine life, watching the whales as they begin their migration from the Queensland coast for their breeding season. A superb event that can be witnessed close and personal from a boat, ultimately becoming a highlight in anyone’s visit to the Great Barrier Reef. Minke whales come visiting during May, while the humpback whales migrate between July and September.

Coral Spawning: A secret wonder of the Great Barrier Reef. Occurs once every year during the full moon it is nature’s way of replenishing its own supply. Very tiny eggs and sperm bundles are released into the water by the corals, creating a multicolored snowfall effect and fertilizing several coral generations. It might be hard to capture this beautiful sight, so you might want to make arrangements to ensure that your trip coincides with a week after the full moon, in either October or November.

Hatching Turtles: Watch several turtles as they begin hatching and make their baby steps. If you are not into snorkeling or scuba diving for Australian animals that’s absolutely fine, you can watch this in HD at the reef’s headquarters coral reef aquarium. You can catch this event anytime, especially between November and May.

Key Events At Different Times of The Year

  • Cairns Chinese New Year Festival (From January till February).
  • Port Douglas Carnivale (May)
  • Burdekin Water Festival (July to September).
  • Whitsunday Reef Festival (August)
  • Audi Hamilton Island Race Week (August)
  • Cairns Festival (August till September)
  • Tropical Journeys Great Barrier Reef Festival in October
  • Airlie Beach Festival of Music (November)
  • Fujifilm Whitehaven Beach Ocean Swim (November)

That said, the best season for a visit to the Great Barrier Reef is during the drier, or winter season when rainfall is relatively low.

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