It's not advisable to go swimming in the ocean during stinger season which generally runs from November to May however, if you are taking your holiday between those months, there are stinger-resistant swimming enclosures at various local beaches that offer a high degree of protection against Box Jellyfish. They aren't 100% 'stinger proof' though so most locals wear full-body lycra suits for added protection. This is also recommended for tourists who wish to swim during these months to avoid being stung.
It is also common for officials to close beaches when stingers, crocodiles or any other potentially dangerous animals are present so make sure you look out for signs that advise against swimming.
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What are stinger suits?
Often made out of nylon or spandex for ultimate comfort when in the water, stinger suits not only offer a high level of protection against the harmful stings of jellyfish but can also help to keep out the sun's UV rays while you're swimming, surfing or undertaking a number of different water sports.
More breathable and lightweight than wetsuits, these full body stinger suits are perfect for use in the tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef as they have been specifically designed to confuse jellyfish and prevent their tentacles from latching on to parts of your body.
Having said that, you should always try to avoid swimming in waters with jellyfish where possible. The suit provides an extra layer of protection but that doesn't mean it's 100% full proof when it comes to preventing jellyfish stings.
What type of stingers are in Cairns?
There are many types of jellyfish present in the water in Cairns throughout the year including blue bottles and other common jelly blubber but the Summer season is the worst when it comes to encountering jellyfish you want to avoid.
In the Summer months, lethal jellyfish such as the box jellyfish and the lrukandji come out in full force, and you'll want to be extra careful when going swimming without adequate protection. This means always swimming between the red and yellow flags, looking out for signs that advise against swimming, wearing a stinger suit, only going into the water when the beach is being patrolled and entering the water slowly to give any jellies lurking around time to float away.