The Best Time of Year to Visit the Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Best Time to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and for good reason. It is the largest coral reef system in the world, home to an incredible diversity of marine life. Cairns is a great base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, and it’s no surprise that it’s a popular tourist destination year-round. However, there are certain times of year when the conditions are better for snorkelling, diving, and other activities. 

The best time of year to visit the Cairns Barrier Reef is during the dry season, which runs from May to October. During this time, the weather is generally sunny and warm, with little rainfall. The water visibility is also at its best during the dry season, making it ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving. 

However, the Great Barrier Reef is beautiful year-round, and there are some advantages to visiting during the wet season (November to April). During this time, there are fewer crowds, and the prices for accommodation and tours are often lower. The water temperature is also slightly warmer during the wet season, which can be more comfortable for swimmers.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of visiting the Cairns Barrier Reef during each season:

Dry season (May to October):

Pros: Sunny and warm weather with little rainfall 
Cons: More crowded 

The dry season is generally considered the best time to visit the Cairns Barrier Reef. During this time, the weather is sunny and warm, with clear water visibility. This makes it ideal for snorkelling, diving, and other water activities. For those interested in encountering Minke Whales, both Divers Den and Spirit of Freedom in Cairns offer excursions to observe these magnificent creatures. 

Wet season (November to April):

Pros: Fewer crowds, warmer water temperature 
Cons: More rainfall, potentially lower visibility 

The wet season is characterised by heavy rainfall and humid weather. While the water temperature is still warm during this time of year, the water visibility can be lower due to the runoff from the rain. 

Despite the lower water visibility, the wet season can still be a good time to visit the Cairns Barrier Reef if you prefer less crowds or don’t mind a few rainy days. Tusa Reef Tours offers the same great snorkelling and diving trips during the wet season, and we still operate even in rainy weather – you won’t notice it underwater!. We also offer a complimentary stinger suits onboard during the wet season, which guests are required to wear, so you can enjoy the reef without having to worry about these marine creatures. 

So, which season is best for visiting the Cairns Barrier Reef?

It really depends on your personal preferences. No matter what time of year you choose to visit, be sure to book your tour in advance, especially if you’re travelling during the peak season. Tusa Reef Tours offers premium snorkelling and intro or certified diving activities to choose from, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you. 

Check the Cairns tourism calendar: There are a number of events and festivals held in Cairns throughout the year. If there’s a particular event you’re interested in attending, be sure to check the calendar before you book your trip!