Wet season? Dry season? When it comes to choosing the best time to visit Cairns and the rest of Far North Queensland, anytime is a great time.
Like most of the Australian tropics, Cairns and its surroundings have two rather than four seasons: the Wet season and the Dry season. The Dry happens during what the rest of the country calls autumn and winter and the Wet loosely translates to the southern summer and spring. Both seasons have their charms.
In the hot, humid Wet, the average temperature is around 31°C at the peak of the day. This is when the rains come so the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation are rich with renewal: dense, bright foliage and raging rivers and waterfalls.
Spring (September to November) is best for watching wildlife and birds, which begin their mating rituals then. In the Daintree, especially around Mission Beach, you may even spot a male cassowary with his brood of chicks (be cautious as they are known to attack).
Water temperatures are gorgeous all year round but be aware that October to May – which coincides with the summer school holidays – is stinger season, when box jellyfish and Irukandji are active in the water. Stings are very rare and it’s still okay to dive and snorkel during this time; dive companies will provide special stinger suits that help protect you from the potentially deadly marine animals.
Winter is the time to visit if you prefer temperatures that are less stifling; average peaks are around 26°C between June and August. Head out to the Great Barrier Reef – the water is still pleasant – or get into adventure activities that require calm weather, such as hot air ballooning and sailing. It’s also the best time to spot migrating whales. In June and July there’s a chance to swim alongside dwarf minke whales as they migrate around the Ribbon Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, between Port Douglas and Lizard Island.