Best Time to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

coral reefs underwater

The “best” time to go diving in a certain place doesn’t just mean it’s the time when the sights are the prettiest. Experienced divers know that technical questions, such as water temperature and weather, are a large part of knowing when to dive where. Let’s explore the different reasons that make June to October the best months to dive in the Great Barrier Reef. 

What Seasons are June to October?

Because Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, its seasons are flipped from those in the Northern Hemisphere. In other words, if you go to Australia for the summer, you will arrive during their winter.

June to August is their winter; September to November is their spring. In the winter, you can expect temperatures between 43 and 59 degrees, and in spring you can expect 51 to a still rather cool 75 degrees. There is snowfall only on the alps, but dress as you would for the fall season.

Best Time to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

Less Rainfall

Yes, you are already in the water and don’t need to worry about getting wet, but less rainfall (in Australia there’s almost none from May to October) forms part of the ideal conditions for diving. More rainfall washes or stirs up mud and sediment from the ocean floor and coral reefs, affecting overall visibility. It can also affect your safety if rain blocks the dive boat from seeing you.

You might also have observed, from land or from a boat, that ocean swells rise and become more aggressive because of the winds that usually accompany rain. You will definitely feel that in the water. It can make swimming more difficult, and of course, you can’t focus as much on the sights if you’re struggling to stay in one place. 

There are Fewer Box Jellyfish

The Australian government keeps what they call “stinger” nets up year-round to help keep out migrating box jellyfish, who love to visit in the warmer November to May months. However, especially in the Cairns area of the Great Barrier Reef, there are some jellyfish that do live in the reef, and you need to take the proper precautions. 

What diving in July to October gives you is the off season of box jellyfish, some of which can have fatal stings. They can even be small enough to slip past the stinger nets. Generally, in the winter and spring, all you would really need to deal with are the milder, non-fatal Cairns jellyfish, and a good stinger or Lycra wetsuit with instructions from your dive instructor can keep your dive generally sting-free.

There are Lower Hotel Prices

Because most come to Australia for the sunny tropical beaches, tourist season is actually November to May. From June to October, hotel prices are in a dip, particularly from late July to early September. Not only will you share the dive with less snorkelers and first-time divers, you will share the shores and hotels with much fewer tourists as well.

Dive the Great Barrier Reef

“What’s there to see in Australia in the winter?” Nothing less but the largest coral system in the world, and the best visibility and prices that you need to experience. 

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