The good news for holiday-makers looking to travel to beloved areas such as Cairns, Port Douglas, and the Great Barrier Reef, is that there is no best time to visit, with various Far North Queensland destinations providing great weather and plenty of activities throughout the whole year. This is thanks to Queensland's sub-tropical humid climate that features two distinct seasons rather than the four traditional seasons experienced by other Australian states.
However, just because there's no best time to visit Far North Queensland doesn't mean there isn't a popular time to visit. The dry season sees thousands of travellers every year flock to its tropical regions and with that comes larger crowds and increased prices so be sure to pre-book flights, accommodation, and any activities that are likely to sell out way in advance to avoid any disruption to your travel itinerary.
When is the best time to visit Port Douglas?
Like other parts of Far North Queensland, you can travel to Port Douglas at any time of the year with the best time to visit largely depending on what weather patterns you're comfortable experiencing and what kind of holiday you want to have. During the typical summer season (December, January, and February), the temperatures can get quite high - we're talking 30°C+ - and the humidity levels can make it feel even hotter.
If you're not keen on sharing Port Douglas with thousands of other travellers, visiting the tropical destination during March-May or September-November is a good way to go as the weather is also cooler and accommodation prices tend to be lower.
When is the best time to visit Cairns?
While you can visit Cairns at any time of the year, some months are better than others with the dry season offering nicer weather - lower temperatures, lower humidity levels, and less chance of rainfall. As this weather is more conducive to experiencing a better holiday, the months from May-October are the busiest and most expensive so prepare to share popular attractions with thousands of other travellers and pay an increased price for flights and accommodation.
The dry season in Far North Queensland
Best for: camping, snorkelling, and hiking
The dry season in Far North Queensland is actually considered to be the 'winter' season from May through to October which differs from other Australian states. Because there is less chance of frequent rainfall and tropical storms during these months, as well as lower temperatures and low humidity levels, they're considered to be one of the more popular times to visit.
Temperatures tend to reach a cool but nice average of 25°C, making it perfect weather to explore the beautiful natural landscapes of the region. The dry season is also great for adventuring through Far North Queensland's marine terrain with coral spawning a common occurrence during the months of September, October, and November. This means oceanic environments such as the Great Barrier Reef come alive during this time and you'll be treated to a breathtaking marine show full of colourful fish and coral life if you choose to go swimming or snorkelling.
The wet season in Far North Queensland
Best for: dining on local cuisine, visiting waterfalls, learning about Aboriginal culture
While this season might not be the most popular to visit Far North Queensland, it doesn't mean you can't still have a great holiday with plenty of upsides to travelling through the region between the months of November-April. Due to the increased rainfall experienced during the wet season, regions such as the Daintree are super vibrant and luscious, and other natural attractions like rivers and waterfalls are full and back to their impressive best.
If you want to decrease the chance of experiencing heavy rainfall and potential cyclones, try travelling in March or April as you're more likely to have clear days so you can go out and explore. However, the average temperatures during this time can climb to a swelteringly hot 30°C+ with extremely high humidity levels so you might find it somewhat uncomfortable to spend long periods of time outside.
Because of the heat, you might be tempted to take a dip in the region's beautiful waters but just be aware that you'll be sharing it with potentially harmful marine life. Animals such as stinging jellyfish (box jellyfish, blue bottles, etc) are more present during the wet season and will leave you in a lot of pain if you get stung. If you are planning on spending time in the water, make sure you're wearing a stinger suit to help protect you, however, we recommend sticking to pools and sectioned-off ocean enclosures if you want to cool off.
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