When to Go to the Great Barrier Reef

people snorkelling above a turtle in Nigaloo Reef at the Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef by season

The weather in northern Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef is warm and sunny year round, and the air temperature rarely drops below 20°C, whatever time of year you travel. Being in a tropical region, there are just two seasons here – the wet and the dry. To help you decide which is best for you, we’ve summarised them below:

Whitsunday Islands beach in the sun
Dry Season

May to October

The dry season brings warm, bright days and calm seas, making it the ideal time to try diving and snorkelling or to laze on one of the Great Barrier Reef’s many beaches. Temperatures sit at around 26-28°C, and the sun is strong, so don’t forget your sunscreen, sunhat and sunglasses. This is peak season, so don’t expect to have the place to yourself.

Go for:

Beaches: the endless sunny days of the dry season make it the ideal time to grab your cossie and hit the beach, perhaps cooling off with the occasional swim.

Diving: the Great Barrier Reef’s waters remain calm and warm (around 25°C) in the dry season, so it’s a great time to have a go at diving or snorkelling among the corals.

Turtle hatchling
Wet Season

November to April

The Great Barrier Reef’s wet season is hot and humid, with temperatures often surpassing 32°C. Showers are sporadic, and water visibility is reduced. The box jellyfish arrives at this time, making swimming out of the question, but that doesn’t stop sunseekers arriving over Christmas and New Year, keen to escape the cold European winter.

Go for:

Turtles: green and loggerhead turtles come to the Great Barrier Reefs beaches to breed in the wet season, with most hatching occurring between December and March. Heron Island is a great spot to witness this amazing natural phenomenon.

New Year: if you don’t mind the crowds, spending New Year in the Whitsundays is a fun-filled experience, featuring fireworks and lively beach parties.

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