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Best Time to Visit Cairns

The Best Time to Visit Cairns

best time to visit cairns qld

TripSavvy / Ellen Lindner

Cairns is the most important tourist hub in Far North Queensland, thanks to its proximity to the world-famous Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest. This small city receives over three million tourists annually, but the majority of these visitors plan their trip to avoid the region's wild weather during the wet season .  

If you too want to take advantage of the dry season and absence of marine stingers, the best time to visit Cairns is between June and October. However, if your priorities are cheap flights, fewer crowds and tour deals, you can also take a chance on traveling in the shoulder season (April/May or September/October). Read on for all the information you'll need to decide when to visit Cairns.

Also known as the green season, Far North Queensland's wet season brings humidity and afternoon showers to Cairns from November to March, plus the chance of a hurricane towards the end of the season.   Occasional flash flooding can also result in road closures up and down the coast.

Prices are lower across the board during the wet season, from domestic flights to hotels and day trips. At the Daintree Rainforest, rivers and waterfalls flow freely and the lush vegetation is at its most vibrant. If you choose to visit during this time of the year, you'll need to pack a top-quality rain jacket, and be prepared to be flexible with your plans.

Stinger Season

The beaches in and around Cairns are just what you would imagine in a tropical paradise, with one exception: the deadly jellyfish that appear along the coast between November and May.  

Box and Irukandji jellyfish (known locally as stingers) have extremely potent venom that can be fatal to humans. The stings can also cause symptoms like pain, headaches, vomiting, and respiratory distress that can take 20 to 40 minutes to develop, so they are definitely best avoided during your trip.

Many people use full-body stinger suits as protection, as well as swimming nets, which are set up at most popular beaches in Far North Queensland. During stinger season, you should only swim when protected by a net or a stinger suit and obey all advice from local authorities. As always, never swim alone.

These dangerous jellyfish are more common in shallow water, so you probably won't encounter them when snorkeling or diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Almost all tour operators will have full-body stinger suits on board, just to be on the safe side.

Peak Season

Cairns is busy throughout the dry season (April to October), with increased activity during the Australian school vacations at Easter and in early July. At these times, we recommend booking accommodation and domestic flights well in advance as the city's options can fill up quickly.

If you are hoping for some alone time on the reef or one of the many beautiful islands, look for a tour that offers an early morning start. Tours usually only need to be reserved a couple of days in advance; your hotel will be able to help with recommendations. Restaurants and museums are open all year round in Cairns, but may shorten their opening hours during the off-season.

For more detailed information about when to visit the Great Barrier Reef in particular, check out our guide .

Popular Events in Cairns

Cairns is not known for big events, as most people briefly stop by the city on their way to the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef and the population fluctuates dramatically throughout the year. However, there are a couple of fun events to keep an eye out for:

  • Australia Day : Australia Day is celebrated here on January 26. In Cairns, you can find food stalls and live music on the Esplanade.
  • Cairns Festival : This arts and culture festival occurs at the end of August and start of September, with an iconic Grand Parade and fireworks.

Summer in Cairns

Summer in the Southern Hemisphere runs from December to February. In Cairns, this means the height of the wet season. The climate is hot and humid, with temperatures hitting 85 degrees and rain almost every day.  

You will find few fellow travelers and cheaper prices across Far North Queensland during these months, with the exception of a slight increase in demand over Christmas and New Year. Stingers are present off the coast and the rain can impede visibility for snorkelers, but divers will be treated to an uninterrupted view of the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

Fall in Cairns

The rain and humidity of the wet season continue from summer into fall, becoming less of an issue for travelers by late May. If you choose to travel during this time, you will be able to make the most of dry mornings and slightly lower temperatures while sightseeing.

Crowd levels spike over Easter with families and backpackers on the hunt for bargain deals, but the city remains much quieter than during the dry season. Be aware that jellyfish season can continue until the end of May—check with local authorities for updates.

Winter in Cairns

As the dry season begins in June, visitors flock to the region to soak up the sunshine. Snorkelers and divers will notice cooler water temperatures and more wind, but the clear days are ideal for most outdoor activities. Local beaches are stinger-free and temperatures hover just under 80 degrees during the day.

Price levels are generally higher, and tours and accommodations are in demand, especially in July. The dwarf minke whale migration passes by Cairns during June and July, and the humpback whales can be spotted between August and September with dedicated whale-watching tours available.

Spring in Cairns

Spring is a great time to visit Cairns, as vacationers and snowbirds head back south, and prices and crowd levels are reduced. The months of September, October, and November remain dry in the city, and water temperatures begin to increase out on the reef, creating perfect diving and snorkeling conditions. Nature lovers shouldn't miss the annual synchronized coral spawning , which usually happens in November. Stingers also return to the coast in November.

The best time to visit Cairns is during the months of April and May or September and October. At this time, tourist crowds are low and flights and lodging rates are less expensive, but you may encounter some wet weather.

August lands right in the middle of the dry season in Cairns, making it the driest month. On average, 22 millimeters (0.9 inches) of rain falls during this month.

Swimmers need to exercise caution when swimming at surrounding Cairn beaches during stinger season (November through May). Stingers (box jellyfish) are seldomly seen June through October, however.

Cairns Regional Council. "Tourism Visitor Summary." Retrieved February 11, 2021.

Cairns Tourism. "Cairns Weather Forecast & Climate." Retrieved February 11, 2021.

Australian Institute of Marine Science. "Sea Wasp." Retrieved February 11, 2021.

Weather Spark. "Average Weather in Cairns, Australia, Year Round." Retrieved February 11, 2021.

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Vlasoff Cay aerial, Great Barrier Reef, QLD

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.

Snorkelling underwater, Great Barrier Reef, QLD

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.

Cairns Lagoon

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See also:  10 magical things to do in and around cairns, you may also like.

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best time to visit cairns qld

Home » Visit Cairns & Tropical North Queensland » When’s The Best Time To Visit Cairns, Australia

When’s The Best Time To Visit Cairns, Australia

best time to visit cairns qld

When you visit a particular destination, it’s always important to check beforehand what the best season to visit is. Frankly, locals will tell you that any time is the best time to visit Cairns – and they’d be right; however, there is a marked difference between the varying seasons in Tropical North Queensland. Depending on what you’d like to see and do on your holiday – the weather can have a dramatic effect on your enjoyment.

Tropical North Queensland experiences two distinct seasons – the wet season and the dry season. The summertime wet season in Cairns is generally hot and humid, with an average annual rainfall of around 1992 mm (average of about 396 mm in January). Whilst the wintertime dry season offers cooler temperatures and sunny days.

Regardless of what time of year you choose to visit Cairns and Tropical North Queensland there is still a fantastic variety of things to see and do, along with tours to join.

QSR Stony Creek DUT

Explore the rainforests of Kuranda and Daintree, Cape Tribulation and Cooktown, on our comprehensive range of day tours including the region’s premier attractions, wildlife interactions and authentic Aboriginal experiences.

Summertime, Wet Season

This wet monsoonal season begins to develop in December, peaks in January and lasts through March. With daytime temperatures of 23 to 31 degrees Celsius, a scorching day is often followed by a cooling evening shower, which is welcomed by all.

During the summer season, the rainforests surrounding Cairns are at their finest. The Daintree and Cape Tribulation are bursting with life and the rivers and waterfalls are gushing! meaning that activities like rainforest tours, the Kuranda Skyrail and white water rafting are ideal. At this time of year, the Great Barrier Reef is also phenomenal! with perfect water temperatures and visibility up to 50 metres.

By the time April comes around, the weather has settled down a bit and the dry season begins. It’s still quite hot, with temperatures ranging from 22 to 29 degrees. The drier weather is perfect for those activities that are best done without the rain, like bungy jumping or hot air ballooning.

Wintertime, Dry Season During the winter months (June to August), Cairns is at its most pleasant, with temperatures ranging from about 17 to 26 degrees. The weather is usually dry with clear skies and calm winds, meaning almost any activity is perfect – particularly sailing and other activities that rely on calm weather. During the winter season, you’ll also get the chance to see migrating humpback whales!

From September to December, the weather begins warming up again . S pringtime is a delight, with blooming plant life and plenty of animal activity . It’s t he perfect time to visit parks, gardens and wildlife attractions. The Reef springs to life with the yearly coral spawning event and the birds go through their colourful mating rituals. T he daytime temperatures often reach 30 degrees Celsius , with an average low of around 21 degrees . Balmy days are often followed by a stormy evening that makes for a spectacular lightning-charged showcase.

So yes the locals are right when they sa y that any time is a great time to visit Cairns !

If you love hot summery weather, lounging on the sand and frolicking through the water, the summer months are definitely the best. However i f you are sensitive to the heat or want to ensure your activity isn’t spoiled by the chance of rain, wintertime is perfect. No matter when you choose to visit Cairns you will find an absolutely perfect tropical paradise !

Young couple listening to a tour guide at Mossman Gorge with rainforest and river in the background.

Wander through the ancient rainforest of Mossman Gorge with an experienced local guide who will share insights into the unique wet tropics rainforest environment.

Cairns Weather in January

January is a wonderful time to explore Cairns . A lthough it’s in the monsoon or wet season, locals prefer to call it the ‘green season’ . This is when the creeks and rivers are flowing crystal clear and the rainforest is at its luscious best. Temperatures range from 23.6 – 31.4 degrees Celsius, making January the hottest month of the year . Expect cloud cover around for about half the month. R ain tend s to fall during the late afternoon and overnight . There is still plenty of sunshine hours to enjoy sightseeing.

Cairns Weather in February

February in Cairns sees temperatures range between 23.7 – 31.1 degrees Celsius, with monsoonal rains in the afternoons and at night. With slightly more cloud cover than in January, the days are hot and the evenings warm. Swimming is popular all year round in crystal clear waters that showcase the best of the local marine life. February is also a wonderful time to visit the rainforest areas, when it is at its verdant best.

Cairns Weather in March

Slightly cooler than the previous months, March in Cairns averages between 23 – 30.5 degrees Celsius. Still in the monsoon or wet season, this is the ideal time to visit Kuranda, the Great Barrier Reef, ride the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway or visit the Daintree River, Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest. With most rain falling late afternoon and overnight and light cloud cover for around two weeks of the month, March is the ideal time to fit in most sightseeing activities.

Cairns Weather in April

April is the beginning of the dry season in Cairns, with temperatures ranging between 21.6 – 29.2 degrees Celsius. Full days of sun with minimal cloud cover opens up opportunities to experience the full range of fun things to do on offer in Cairns. From bungy jumping to hot air ballooning, white water rafting to touring the Great Barrier Reef, the world is your oyster in Cairns in April. Full creeks, flowing rivers and the rainforest in its peak new growth period will have you savouring this beautiful area for months to come.

Cairns Weather in May

May sees Cairns cooling down a little. With winter just around the corner, the waters become cooler and the trade winds start moving up from the south. Snorkelers and divers may need to start using wetsuits. This transitional period in Cairns’ weather also triggers movement of the many migratory species that spend some time of the year in the area. Temperatures range between 19.8 – 27.6 degrees Celsius, with some cloud cover for about 10 days of the month.

  • Cairns Weather in June

During the first month of winter, water temperatures on the Great Barrier Reef sit at around 23 degrees Celsius . W hile air temperatures range between 17.7 – 25.9 degrees Celsius, with minimal cloud cover. Dwarf Minke whales are prevalent in the area until the end of July . These migrating whales are often see from boats. Making this a popular time of year for diving and snorkelling. All dive tours provide wetsuits, so you’ll be comfortable no matter where you choose to explore.

  • Cairns Weather in July

Cairns is beautiful in July with temperatures hovering in the mid-twenties and the water temperatures hovering between 22 and 25 degrees, Cairns should not be too hot or cold for anyone. Days in the Cairns mid-winter resemble a warm summer’s day in Sydney or Melbourne. July marks the commencement of the Humpback whale season and you will almost certainly see these creatures in their natural environment if you take any Cairns cruise at this time.

  • Cairns Weather in August

A Cairns August will give you a winter month that is definitely different to the cold winter months of the Southern states. Plenty of sunshine and mild warm days will make your stay in Cairns pleasant and enjoyable. Barrier Reef cruises are in full swing at this time and visitors can experience the joys that this beautiful spot offers. August is also festival time in Cairns and there is plenty of free entertainment to be had, as well as many international performers and shows to see.

Cairns Weather in September

The Cairns weather is as near to perfect as you could wish in September. The days are pleasant without being too hot and the nights don’t get too cold. The average temperatures for September in Cairns is approximately 28 degrees and there is very little rainfall. This is the perfect time to visit the Great Barrier Reef, see humpback whales or indulge in some sailing across the pristine waters around Cairns.

Cairns Weather in October

October in Cairns is a great time to visit as the month offers a pleasant atmosphere. The weather is perfect beach weather – not being excessively hot – and the water is fee of stingers at this time. Rain tends to fall overnight, making the days pleasant and enjoyable. Popular pastimes during this period include a visit to the small rainforest town of Kuranda, via the Kuranda Skyrail. Cruises to Green Island in particular are still popular at this time of year.

Cairns Weather in November

The wet season may be approaching, but in most years, Cairns experiences what is known locally as the ‘build up’ – with an increase in humidity and temperatures, but little rain. November is a great time to try the Kuranda Skyrail and Scenic Railway, which will give you a spectacular view of the Barron Falls. Cruises to Green Island & the Reef are still a great option at this time of year too.

Cairns Weather in December

The true summer period arrives in Cairns in December. Hot humid days and nights are the norm at this time. Cairns is very popular with divers at this time of year, with the crystal clear blue waters giving divers great views of the reef. Summer is breeding season for many reef fish and there is much activity under water. Some fish can become aggressive at this time, but dive boats supply divers with plenty of information about this.

Other Posts

  • Best time to visit Port Douglas
  • When's The Best Time To Visit Cairns, Australia
  • Accessibility
  • Experiencing Mossman Gorge
  • World Tourism Day - Daintree Project
  • Cape Tribulation
  • Aboriginal Tours
  • Wildlife Experiences
  • Coach Transport

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Cairns, Queensland

Guide to Cairns

Aboriginal name:  Gimuy (pronounced Gee-moy)

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  • Getting to Cairns
  • When to visit
  • Accessibility

The gateway to Queensland's tropical north, Cairns is a laid-back city best enjoyed outdoors.

The region of Cairns is home to the iconic Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest, but the city of Cairns itself is also a must-visit. You'll find brilliant cafés, bustling markets and plenty of beaches nearby. Relax by a resort pool or spend your days exploring this tropical oasis.

The Gimuy-walubarra yidi are the Traditional Owners of Cairns and the surrounding district.

Today, Dreamtime stories are still woven through both land and sea experiences throughout Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef . 

  • Traditional name: Gimuy (pronounced Gee-moy)
  • Indigenous Peoples: Gimuy-walubarra yidi 
  • Traditional languages: Yidiny language 

Cairns Airport (CNS) is the main gateway to Tropical North Queensland making this the perfect starting point for your tropical holiday. 

  • Cairns Airport (CNS) is 5.5km (3.5mi) from the city and services international and domestic arrivals
  • Car hire, taxis, rideshares and transfer services are available to book prior to your arrival, or on the day

The city centre is fairly flat, so getting around is easy, even on foot. However, Cairns offers a wide range of transport options, including a network of buses and taxi services. Unless you are joining an organised tour, car hire is recommended for reaching nearby attractions such as the Daintree Rainforest.

Cairns' weather  is one of the best things about this stunning tropical destination, and there are benefits to visiting any time of the year. Different to Australia’s southern regions, Queensland's north has only two seasons: a summer season and a dry season. While the dry season boasts great weather and even migrating whales, you should expect larger crowds. The summer season is characterised by tropical weather, including summer showers.

  • High season: Dry season (May to October)
  • Low season: Summer season (November to April)
  • Don’t miss:  Taking a dip with dwarf minke whales  (June and July)

Cairns is the perfect hub for exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, and you’ll find accessible options for accommodation  and attractions . 

  • Arrival: Special assistance is offered at Cairns International Airport for those with visible or hidden disabilities . 
  • Getting around: You can organise for a qualified carer to accompany you as a tour companion with Out There Travel Care , and wheelchair-accessible vehicle hire is available with Wheelies Van Rental .
  • Accessible experience highlights: Sail atop the Great Barrier Reef on a Reef Magic catamaran and explore the Daintree Rainforest on wheelchair-friendly trails through Mossman Gorge .
  • Helpful resources: Find itineraries and inspiration for your trip with this accessible travel guide .

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6-day family adventure around Cairns

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Barron Falls

Weather & Seasons

When to plan an adventure to Tropical North Queensland

The climate is one of the best things about Tropical North Queensland – you can have a great holiday at any time of year. But the weather can be very different from what you’ll find in other parts of the country, so you’ll need to know what to expect.

In the tropics, you’ll enjoy warm days all year. Regular rainfall over summer and autumn keeps the days pleasant (with the mercury only just tipping 30ºC on average) and decorates the landscape a rich green. The rainforest is at its most lush and waterfalls are full and spectacular. Although rain and storms are more common throughout this period, it very rarely rains all day and you’ll usually enjoy sunny days with a storm in the afternoon or evening.

In winter and spring, experience the further reaches of Tropical North Queensland like Cape York and The Savannah Way, or ‘lax by the beach with typically drier days, while temperatures hover around the mid-twenties and rarely dip below 17ºC along the coast.

Find out what makes each season so special below.

summer great campaign hero waterfall

Summer (Dec-Feb)

Average Cairns temperatures: 23.6ºC / 31.4ºC

Summer in the tropics is when nature comes alive. Like a time-lapse before your eyes, the landscape can quickly transform from the warm tones of spring to fresh green tones of summer with warm, therapeutic rain.

Local tropical produce including sweet mangoes and tangy lychees fill markets; and with native fruit in abundance, so is the incredible and unique wildlife.

Due to lower winds and calmer seas, water clarity on the Great Barrier Reef is amazing through summer.

Barron Falls in Flood

Autumn (Mar-May)

Average Cairns temperatures: 21.6ºC / 29.2ºC

Let summer live on in Autumn in Tropical North Queensland. The landscape is lush, the creeks and rivers are full and waterfall chasing is spectacular. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see Barron Falls at its most iconic.

Get the adrenaline pumping rafting down rivers surrounded by ancient rainforests, or visit an outback painted green by the regenerative rain, giving you a new perspective on this Aussie icon.

kids playing at ellis beach

Winter (Jun-Aug)

Average Cairns temperatures: 17.5ºC / 26.2ºC

Welcome to the place where your typical idea of winter doesn’t really exist. Daytime temperatures hover in the mid-twenties, the beach is the place to be and camping is a favourite winter pastime. 

Make the pilgrimage to “The Tip”, Australia’s most northerly mainland point, or head west along the Savannah Way to discover ancient geological wonders and the tropical outback.

nudey beach fitzroy island

Spring (Sep-Nov)

Average Cairns temperatures: 20.5ºC / 29.5ºC

Kickstart your summer early with a tropical spring. Sunny days call for relaxing in cool waters; bright flowers bloom and with them, flocks of colourful birds feeding on their nectar arrive; and the reef comes alive at the annual coral spawning.

Tropical North Queensland gives you that traditional summer feeling, just that little bit early.

Whaley cool experiences

During June and July, you’ll find the only known aggregation of Dwarf Minke Whales in the world on the Ribbon Reefs north of Port Douglas.

Freshwater swimming holes and waterfalls vary in levels across the year. For the most spectacular waterfall chasing, visit during summer and autumn.

Discover the Great Barrier Reef

Often when it’s raining on the coast, it’s sunny and clear on the Great Barrier Reef as the mountain ranges surrounding Tropical North Queensland draw the rain.

What’s on

There are many fantastic events throughout the year, from spring racing carnivals to sporting events, concerts or markets. Check out our calendar for all the info.

Discover more

Things to do through the seasons.

kid picking a mango

Why you should visit the tropics in summer

From cosy rainforest retreats to once-in-a-lifetime Great Barrier Reef reef events, epic waterfalls to spectacular outback scenery, this is why you should put the green light on your summer holiday.

River Drift Snorkel

The Ultimate ‘Only in Tropical North Queensland’ guide

It might be a well-known fact that Tropical North Queensland is the only place in the world where two natural World Heritage sites collide, but there’s more first and only’s to this destination than its reef and rainforest.

Crystalbrook Riley

Luxury places to rest your head

Escape to luxe island hideaways, indulgent outback retreats or tranquil ancient rainforests. Kick off your shoes, take some much needed R&R and discover the unique landscape of Tropical North Queensland.

zillie falls atherton tablelands

10 waterfalls to chase on the Atherton Tablelands

Hit the famous waterfall circuit, uncover those lesser known or stretch a little further and take a dip in Australia’s widest, single-drop waterfall on the Atherton Tablelands.

Walkabout Cultural Adventures crab

Mudcrab to mangoes: your guide to eating local in Cairns

From earthy bush tucker and exotic fruits to ocean-caught seafood and a biodynamic dairy farm, Tropical North Queensland offers up a menu with a unique ingredients list.

Camping on Bartle Frere

Great places to go camping near Cairns

Are your campsites better described as camp palaces, or do you just roll with the bare essentials? Whether you’re at one end of the spectrum or the other, lace up your hiking shoes, load up your 4WD (or hatchback) and string your fairy lights around these camping sites near Cairns.

Rex Smeal Park

Things to do in Port Douglas

Don’t let its flop and drop reputation fool you, there are many things to do in Port Douglas. From hunting with Traditional Owners & exploring the Great Barrier Reef, to river floats & wildlife parks. Here’s how to spend your time in Port Douglas.

Punsand Bay Cape York

Cape York is calling: Planning a trip to The Tip

Ready to tackle one of Australia’s most remote landscapes, Cape York? Just you, a car and 1,200km of untamed, World Heritage-listed, 180 million year-old rugged rainforest beauty – aka The Tip.

Minke whale article tile

Swim with dwarf minke whales on the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the only place in the world that you can swim with dwarf minke whales: an experience so exclusive it only happens for two months of the year and only in Tropical North Queensland.

dirt road on the Savannah Way

Savannah Way – An Outback Adventure through Gulf Country

From sculptural gorges, to bird-filled wetlands, experience 1,099kms of pure outback adventure as you drive Queensland’s Savannah Way.

atherton tablelands canopy treehouses

7 great reasons to head to the Atherton Tablelands

The Atherton Tablelands are the kind of place you want to take at your own pace. Jump in a car and head inland to tick off these must-do experiences.

Lake Barrine Devonshire Tea cafe Atherton Tablelands

Food trail highlights on the Atherton Tablelands

Foodies take a deep breath and prepare your tastebuds for tantalisation. Here’s how to get your foodie fix on the Atherton Tablelands.

Ellis Beach

Guide to Cairns Beaches

A chain of relaxed seaside villages lay just north of Cairns, each boasting their own unique features. Find out more about each of Cairns’ beaches and which tickle your fancy.

Not to miss

Everything changes from season to season, find out more about these highlights.

Chase waterfalls

Great barrier reef, drive cape york, eat & drink seasonal produce.

Aerial of Rainforest

See the seasons change

The Wet Tropics Rainforest the perfect place to witness the seasons change.

Privacy Overview

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Cairns & Great Barrier Reef Accessibility Statement

Accessibility Statement

  • tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au
  • June 22, 2024

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We firmly believe that the internet should be available and accessible to anyone, and are committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of circumstance and ability.

To fulfill this, we aim to adhere as strictly as possible to the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) at the AA level. These guidelines explain how to make web content accessible to people with a wide array of disabilities. Complying with those guidelines helps us ensure that the website is accessible to all people: blind people, people with motor impairments, visual impairment, cognitive disabilities, and more.

This website utilizes various technologies that are meant to make it as accessible as possible at all times. We utilize an accessibility interface that allows persons with specific disabilities to adjust the website’s UI (user interface) and design it to their personal needs.

Additionally, the website utilizes an AI-based application that runs in the background and optimizes its accessibility level constantly. This application remediates the website’s HTML, adapts Its functionality and behavior for screen-readers used by the blind users, and for keyboard functions used by individuals with motor impairments.

If you’ve found a malfunction or have ideas for improvement, we’ll be happy to hear from you. You can reach out to the website’s operators by using the following email

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Our website implements the ARIA attributes (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) technique, alongside various different behavioral changes, to ensure blind users visiting with screen-readers are able to read, comprehend, and enjoy the website’s functions. As soon as a user with a screen-reader enters your site, they immediately receive a prompt to enter the Screen-Reader Profile so they can browse and operate your site effectively. Here’s how our website covers some of the most important screen-reader requirements, alongside console screenshots of code examples:

Screen-reader optimization: we run a background process that learns the website’s components from top to bottom, to ensure ongoing compliance even when updating the website. In this process, we provide screen-readers with meaningful data using the ARIA set of attributes. For example, we provide accurate form labels; descriptions for actionable icons (social media icons, search icons, cart icons, etc.); validation guidance for form inputs; element roles such as buttons, menus, modal dialogues (popups), and others. Additionally, the background process scans all the website’s images and provides an accurate and meaningful image-object-recognition-based description as an ALT (alternate text) tag for images that are not described. It will also extract texts that are embedded within the image, using an OCR (optical character recognition) technology. To turn on screen-reader adjustments at any time, users need only to press the Alt+1 keyboard combination. Screen-reader users also get automatic announcements to turn the Screen-reader mode on as soon as they enter the website.

These adjustments are compatible with all popular screen readers, including JAWS and NVDA.

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Users can also use shortcuts such as “M” (menus), “H” (headings), “F” (forms), “B” (buttons), and “G” (graphics) to jump to specific elements.

Disability profiles supported in our website

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Despite our very best efforts to allow anybody to adjust the website to their needs. There may still be pages or sections that are not fully accessible, are in the process of becoming accessible, or are lacking an adequate technological solution to make them accessible. Still, we are continually improving our accessibility, adding, updating and improving its options and features, and developing and adopting new technologies. All this is meant to reach the optimal level of accessibility, following technological advancements. For any assistance, please reach out to

best time to visit cairns qld

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When Is The Best Time To Visit Cairns?

  • December 28, 2023
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When travelling to the north of Australia, there can be some confusion and doubt about the best time to visit. You probably come from a country that’s used to the classic four annual seasons, and getting your head around how seasons function in the tropics (of any country, not just Australia) can be a bit difficult.

If you’re thinking about a holiday in the Cairns area, to take advantage of the weather, the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest, you’re probably wondering when the best time to go would be. And it really comes down to how the seasons work in the area.

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas

What Seasons Does Cairns Have?

In a word: two.

Dry season and wet season. That’s yer lot. No messing about with anything like fall or spring. It’s either warm and dry, or hot and wet. Which makes clothes shopping a lot easier, it has to be said. Dry season is generally from April to October, and the wet happens between November and March. However, this doesn’t mean that the second Halloween is over it swaps from glorious blue skies to constant rain.

Things are a lot more mixed up than that. You can still get rain in the dry, and bright, sunny days during the wet – they just happen less often. And it’s actually rare for the rain to be constant during the wet season. Yes, you can get a few days in a row where it rains a lot, but to have an entire day washed out by heavy rain is not typical at all. In fact, the most likely weather you’ll get in the wet in Cairns is sunshine and cloud, with occasional short, refreshing downpours, especially at night. Weather fronts can, and do, come and go quite quickly. One minute the mountains behind the city are clearly visible, then a cloud front obscures them completely, before the rain passes, and the peaks are revealed again – all in the space of a couple of hours.

Heat And Humidity

The heat is a different matter. The dry season is generally a balmy mid-twenties (mid-seventies Fahrenheit), and the wet is always a humid and steamy 30 degrees plus (85 Fahrenheit and over). If you don’t like hot, humid weather, avoid the wet season. Although, the shoulder seasons when wet meets dry is also likely to see high twenties to thirty plus, so be aware of that in your planning.

So Can I Visit In The Wet Season?

Yes, absolutely. We’ve lived in Palm Cove, just north of Cairns itself, during the wet on two occasions, and both times we found we were able to get out and about almost all of the time. If you are okay with high humidity and high temperatures, visiting the Cairns area in the wet is certainly viable. You’ll likely get better deals on things like accommodation and trips, even though that may come with the trade off of having a rainy day here and there. Just remember that it’s unlikely your entire day will be ruined by constant heavy rain.

But The Dry Is Better?

It depends. The dry is more likely to give you clear blue skies and milder weather, but it’s also likely to be a lot more crowded and expensive. The dry season (especially June, July and August) is when all the people from the southern Australian states come up to Far North Queensland to get away from the cold weather. Cold for them , that is. Most people from Northern Europe or Northern USA would probably laugh at the idea of 13 degrees Celsius being all that cold!

But if you’re prepared to spend more money, and be around more people, then the dry is probably suitable for your needs.

What Would You Do?

Honestly, we’d be happy to travel to Cairns in the wet, but just to hedge our bets, we’d probably go in November or December. The chances of heavy rain are lower during these months, whereas January and February are the most likely to see you caught in a downpour. We were married in Port Douglas at the beginning of November and it was an absolutely glorious few weeks. March is a good option too. Still lower rates, but more chance of the wet slowing down for another year.

Palm Cove Beach, Australia

We’d avoid the high season during the northern hemisphere summer months. The trade off for the weather just isn’t worth in the increase in cost and the amount of people. Places like Palm Cove are still pretty small and bijou, and are always at their best when not overcrowded. The boats going out to the reef are full to bursting during these months as well.

Want More Information?

Hopefully this post has given you some insight into the best time to visit Cairns, but we’d recommend a visit to the following sites for more information:

The Cairns Government Tourist Site

Queensland’s official site

Cairns Visitor’s Site

Cairns On TripAdvisor

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Best Time to Visit Cairns: Everything You Need to Know 

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Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Ariana Svenson

If you’re going on a trip to Cairns, check out the best time to visit Cairns so you can enjoy a fantastic trip.

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we would earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. More info in my disclaimer.

Best Time to Visit Cairns Australia, Cairns Australia Beaches

When is the BEST Time to Visit Cairns?

The best time to visit Cairns if you’re heading out to the reefs is between June and October.  The water is calm, clear, and free of marine stingers, making it perfect for snorkeling, swimming, or diving.  The temperature is pleasant, and rain is rare.

But if you want cheaper flights, lower hotel rates, fewer crowds, and more holiday deals, consider visiting Cairns in April/May or September/October.  During these shoulder months, you can dodge severe rainfall and sweltering heat. There may be stringers on the local beaches, but the risk is lower on the reefs, and you can wear a protective suit.

Remember that visiting Cairns in the shoulder season is a gamble, as you may experience overcast skies and heavy rains.  If you have activities that require good weather, think carefully before scheduling your trip during these months.  Still, the shoulder season is still an excellent time to visit Cairns.  Take it from our experience.  While we had a few days of rain, we saved at least $1000 by traveling in the last week of May instead of the first week of June.

Best Time to Visit Cairns Australia, Rainy season in Cairns, Wet Season Cairns

The Worst Time to Visit Cairns

Perhaps the worst time to visit Cairns is from December to March, the wet season.  Temperatures and humidity levels are uncomfortably high, and frequent rains and possible tropical cyclones hamper most water activities.

Some resorts and hotels close in the wet season for a break, limiting your choices.

Where is Cairns located, Cairns Australia, Tips for visiting Cairns

Seasons in Cairns

Located as it is in the tropical North, Cairns has a beautiful tropical climate.  As with other tropical places, the weather in Cairns, Australia, is variable.  Cairns have two distinct seasons: wet and dry, but the winter temperatures are mild enough to swim nearly all year round.


Dry Season in Cairns

The dry season begins in April and lasts until October.  There’s hardly any rainfall, but there may be light and brief showers.  The average temperature ranges from 17.5 °C to 26 °C.

The pleasant weather and clear skies make the dry season ideal for water sports and other outdoor activities, such as hiking in the Daintree Rainforest.  However, this season is also the busiest and most expensive time to visit Cairns.

The dry season is also the best time to visit places like Cape Tribulation.  You can read about our Cape Tribulation Road Trip here.

Wet Season in Cairns

The weather warms up as October ends, marking the start of the wet season, which lasts from November to March.  The air becomes more humid, and rains fall more frequently.  January is the hottest month, while February is the wettest.

You should be flexible with your plans if you visit Cairns this time of the year.  Prices are cheaper during the rainy months, and the vegetation is at its lushest, resulting in the locals calling it the green season.  The downside is the weather is unpredictable, and the temperatures are oppressively high.

Cairns summer is also wet season.  Remember – Cairns’ climate is considered “tropical monsoon”!  The wet season begins around December and lasts through March, with most of the region’s annual rainfall – over 2000mm (78.7 inches)! – occurring during these months.  This can cause flooding of the Mulgrave and Barron Rivers, which sometimes affects road and rail transportation.  That would be a problem for those planning Cairns holidays during this time.

Stinger Season in Cairns

Between November and May, deadly Irukandji and box jellyfish, also known as stringers, appear along the Far North Queensland coastline to breed.  Though harmless-looking, they can be fatal to humans due to their venom.  During the stringer season, local beaches set up enclosures bordered by swimming nets to protect bathers.  If you’re going for a swim, stay within the safe areas and wear a protective stringer suit.

Thankfully, those diving or snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef would probably not encounter these jellyfish as they are more common in shallow water.  However,  ask your tour operators and locals for their opinion, they would know better than us!

Fitzroy Island, Cairns daytrips, Girl on Beach in Australia

Cairns by Month: Discover the Best Time to Visit Cairns

The weather can dramatically affect your vacation in Cairns, so you must choose the right time to visit.  Here’s a breakdown of the climate each month and a list of family-friendly events to watch out for.

January in Cairns

January is in the wet season and is the hottest month of the year, with temperatures reaching 32°C .  Rain is 4.31 inches, but tends to fall in the late afternoon and overnight, so you usually still get about 13 hours of sunshine.

Bring a rain jacket, a dry bag, and insect repellent when you explore the outdoors.

Australia Day : Locals celebrate the founding of the first European settlement in Australia on January 26 with outdoor concerts, parades, community barbeques, and fireworks.  You’ll find live music and food stalls on the Esplanade in the city center.

Best Time to Visit Cairns: Everything You Need to Know 

February in Cairns

February is the wettest month in the Cairns region, with an average rainfall of 6.76 inches.  The daytime temperatures range between 23°C to 31 °C, while the nights are slightly cooler.  Tropical cyclones and flooding occasionally occur during this month.

Some businesses, hotels, and restaurants close for a break in February.  You can still go to the reefs, beaches, and rainforests surrounding Cairns, but be aware that trips may get canceled and the roads shut due to bad weather.

March in Cairns

March marks the start of autumn in Cairns, and the temperatures drop slightly but still range between 23°C to 31 °C .  This month isn’t as wet as February, though it gets about 4.5 inches of rain.  You can visit the Great Barrier Reef if the weather permits.

March is the best time to visit the Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest Cableway .

Nudey Beach Cairns Beaches, Best time to visit Cairns, when to visit Cairns Australia

April in Cairns

The dry season begins in April, but you may still experience sporadic rain showers.  Temperatures hover between 22°C to 29 °C , and most days are sunny with bright, clear skies.  As April is part of the shoulder season, hotel rates remain low, domestic flights cheap, and tourist crowds few.

However, if Easter falls in April, crowd levels may spike up as families arrive to enjoy the long weekend and school break.  Easter is one of the most popular times for a holiday, all around Australia.  Still, the month is relatively quieter compared to the peak season.

May in Cairns

By May, the temperatures have dropped to between 20°C and 28°C.  The end of the month is a great time to visit the reefs before the crowds arrive.  The average water temperature is around 26ºC, visibility is good, and the stringer season is over.

Cairns weather is a gamble during shoulder season, though, which in our case, didn’t pay off as we had cloudy weather and rain on a few days.  So think about how important good weather will be for the activities (like snorkeling) you plan to do when planning your Cairns family vacation.

May is the perfect time to visit nearby places such as Port Douglas .  We did a 7-day Cairns Itinerary followed by a 7 day Port Douglas Itinerary in May.  We did get some cooler and wet weather, but that was just our experience and we still had a great holiday.

The Great Barrier Reef Masters Games :  The four-day event gathers local and international athletes to compete in 20 team and individual sports, including judo, swimming, football, rugby, archery, beach volleyball, track and field, cycling, and golf.  This year’s games happen on May 25 to 28.

Cairns Beaches, Best time to visit Cairns, when to visit Cairns Australia

June in Cairns

Winter arrives in June, and temperatures range between 18°Cto 27°C .  You get about 11 hours of daylight with hardly any rain.

Nights can get cold, and you may need a sweater to keep warm.  The average water temperature in June is 24.5°C (76.1°F), making it ideal for water-sports, snorkeling, or diving on the reefs.

Cairns EcoFiesta : Held at the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest.  This environmental festival is full of live music, locally-sourced food, workshops, and green-tech expos.

July in Cairns

Nights are cold, even chilly, and require warm clothing.  July has the lowest daytime temperatures, ranging between 17°C to 26°C.  Water temperature is at 22°C , rainfall is at 0.57 inches, and daylight lasts 11 hours.

In July, crowds flock to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef and the other attractions.  It is also the start of the Humpback Whale season (July to September).  On a Coral Sea cruise, you will likely spot these gigantic creatures in their natural habitat.

The Cairns Show: This three-day festival celebrates the region’s agricultural, pastoral, mining, and cultural industries.  There’ll be arts and crafts competitions, pole climbing, entertainment, fireworks, food expos, and more.

Cairns with kids, Cairns Vacation, Cairns Australia

August in Cairns

Winter is coming to an end, making August a tad warmer than July, with temperatures hovering between 17°C to 27°C .  Cruises, tours, and water-sports are in full swing as tourists enjoy the pleasantly balmy 24.44°C sea temperature.  If you plan to visit Fitzroy Island , August is the best time to visit.  However, we visited in May and still had a great time.  I highly recommend that you stay overnight.  You can read our Fitzroy Island Resort Review here .

Cairns Festival : Traditionally held at the end of August until the start of September, the 10-day festival celebrates art, culture, and the joys of living in tropical North Queensland.  Its highlights include the Grand Parade, fireworks, concerts, and family-friendly activities.

Great Pyramid Race : This annual sports event is a trail and mountain race to the summit of Walsh’s Pyramid in Gordonville, a town near Cairns.  Apart from the 12-km competition, it has a 1,800-meter junior race for participants 10 years and up and a Fun Run for all ages.

Best Time to Visit Cairns: Everything You Need to Know 

September in Cairns

The warm weather, long sunny days, and calm waters make September the best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef.  Spring has begun, temperatures ranging from 19°C to 28°C, humidity is still 67%, and average rain is 0.31 inches.

September is also fantastic for exploring wildlife attractions such as whale watching and crocodile spotting.

October in Cairns

Like September, October is quiet and less crowded.  Still, it has some of the loveliest temperatures, 21°C to 30°C , for exploring Cairns, particularly the reefs.

The stinger season is still a month away, and sea waters are calm and delightfully warm.  Best of all, prices are low.

Babinda Harvest Festival : Founded in September 1962, the festival celebrates a bountiful harvest.  It features a pageant, a parade, market stalls, kids’ entertainment, live music, an expo of local arts, and more.

November in Cairns

November is the start of the wet season and the stinger season.  Temperatures start to climb up to 31°C (87°F), and though not much rain falls, you may experience sudden thunderstorms in the afternoon.  Reef tours continue to run except during terrible wind and weather conditions.

Understory Film Festival : The event is a short film competition for local students and independent filmmakers in North Queensland.  It culminates with an open-air screening and awarding ceremony.

best day trips from cairns

December in Cairns

December brings heavy rains and hot, humid days.  Temperatures rise to 32°C , and rainfall becomes more frequent.  You can still enjoy the beach, though trips to the reefs may get canceled due to bad weather.

Carols in the Park:  Held every December, this festive event features a live production by the Cairns Performing Arts Center.  You can have a picnic on the show grounds while enjoying the performances.

The School Holidays in Cairns

School holidays are perfect for visiting Cairns with kids.  Here’s a list of Queensland schools and public holidays .

Best Time to Visit Cairns FAQs

What is the best month to visit Cairns?

The shoulder season, April and May or September and October, is the best time to visit Cairns.  The weather is comfortably warm, the sea is calm, the tourist crowd is low, and prices are usually affordable.

What is the water temperature in Cairns?

The water temperature in Cairns varies depending on the season: 23°C in winter, 26°C in spring, 29°C in summer, and 27°C in the autumn.  The average yearly sea temperature is 26°C.

Cairns Australia Tropical North Queensland

When is the cyclone season in Cairns?

The cyclone season is from December to April, with February and March receiving the most cyclones, some bringing heavy rains, strong winds, and flash flooding.  Many storms will form in Far North Queensland, though few make landfall.

What is the humidity in Cairns?

Cairns’ average annual humidity percentage is 63%.  March is the most humid month, with an average relative humidity of 74% to 81%.  September is the least humid month, with 55.0%.

Is it OK to visit Cairns in December?

You can visit Cairns in December, but it’s one of the hottest months and is often rainy.  If you plan to go to the reefs, there are better times to have your vacation than in December.  Some tours may get canceled due to bad weather.  Just be flexible with your plans, and you’ll be fine.

What are the hottest months in Cairns?

The hottest months in Cairns are January, February, and December.  Temperatures peak in January at 27.5°C with very high humidity!

Great Barrier Reef Facts for Kids, visiting Great Barrier Reef from Cairns

What is the rainy season in Cairns?

The rainy season in Cairns is from November to March.  February is the wettest month, with 6.76 inches of rain.  Cairns has an average annual rainfall of 78.4 inches on an average of 154 days.  Locals often refer to the rainy season as the green season because the region’s lush vegetation is at its most verdant.

What is the best time to go to the Great Barrier Reef?

The best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef is from May to October.  During these months, the water is comfortably warm for swimming, rainfall is minimal, and underwater visibility is high.

Best Time to Visit Cairns, Cairns with kids, Boy on Beach in Cairns Australia

The Verdict – Best Time to Visit Cairns

Cairns teems with iconic natural wonders, but to fully enjoy your vacation, you should carefully consider when to visit.  The dry season has fantastic weather conditions for exploring the reefs and the rainforests, but it can get crowded and pricey.

If you’re looking for budget-friendly hotels, cheap flights, and great deals – and don’t mind some rain – the shoulder season is your best option.

Now you have decided when to visit Cairns, you can view all our tips and advice on visiting Cairns Below:

Things to do in Cairns

Where to Stay in Cairns

The Best Day Trips from Cairns

Mossman Gorge Walks

The Best Snorkeling Sets for Kids

15 Things to do at Fitzroy Island Australia with Kids + Essential Info

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The Best Time to Visit Cairns, Australia

The best time to visit Cairns, Australia isn’t during the summer

Table of Contents

This might seem a bit backward, as most Australian tourism ads focus so much on the summer fun in the sun. You might see yourself surfing on Bondi Beach in Sydney or wading through rust-colored sand in the outback.

best time to visit cairns qld

When you think about the Great Barrier Reef, you probably think of the warm Australian sunshine beating down on you as you try to find Nemo. You might want to lay on the beach in tropical North Queensland and sip cocktails before your tour of the Daintree Rainforest.

But I lived in Cairns during the summer.

And honestly? It was hell.

best time to visit cairns qld

* If you want to visit outside of the Queensland School holidays, you can check the dates each year here . 

For visitors to Australia from the northern hemisphere, keep in mind that the seasons down there are completely opposite. Spring is fall, summer is winter, etc.

best time of year to visit Cairns

However, something unique about Far North Queensland is that it sits solidly in the tropics, so it doesn’t even really have these distinct seasons anyway.

Instead, there are only two types of weather to be aware of: Dry season and wet.

Nudey Beach

Don’t: Visit Cairns in the wet season.

If you try to brave it, you will have a miserable holiday.

It starts getting really bad toward the end of November and doesn’t let up until early March.

best time of year to visit Cairns

  • Cairns is hot in the wet season

We are talking solidly in the 90s each day with no respite when the sun goes down hot. Most hotels have air conditioning, but it might not run cooler than about 75. The aircon unit in my sharehouse was fighting for its life to get down past 78. It was … not ideal.

If you book a vacation rental, the house might not have aircon at all. You might have to rely on fans for comfort, which is cruel and unusual punishment.

best time to visit cairns qld

My landlord wouldn’t allow me to run my aircon or fan when I wasn’t at home (even though I would have happily paid a higher bill not to come home to an oven). I forget to put a chocolate bar in the fridge when I left for work one afternoon. I accidentally left it out on my desk, so it was chocolate milk and all over the floor by the time I got home.

  • Cairns is humid in the wet season

“It’s not the heat that gets ya, it’s the humidity,” — every dad ever and also me when I’m talking about Cairns.  FR FR, I have never chafed as badly in my entire life as I did when I was walking home from work every afternoon.

best time of year to visit Cairns

Although the sticky weather was pretty great for my skin cause I was so damp all the time, I did have to throw away a pair of Birkenstocks because they got too moldy.

  • Cairns is … well, really wet in the wet season 

Many tours will get canceled in rainy weather. My tour to raft the Tully River got postponed twice because the river was too swollen and dangerous for amateurs to navigate.

My scuba diving tour of the Great Barrier Reef got rained out because the waves were too rough, it was too windy, and no one was really up for some extreme snorkeling.

best time to visit cairns qld

Another time, we did actually go out on the water, but the visibility was so bad I wish we hadn’t. While there are a few things to do in Cairns city if it’s raining, there isn’t too much. And in reality, people come to town for the reef and the rainforest. You don’t want either to be inaccessible during your once-in-a-lifetime trip.

I still remember a girl on her honeymoon who sat in the tour office I worked at and cried for a good 45 minutes because every single thing she and her new husband had booked was canceled due to the weather. They came all the way to Australia from the USA to just sit in their hotel room and watch tv. It was heartbreaking.

best time to visit cairns qld

  • Cairns has a stinger problem in the summer 

Warmer water means it’s time for jellyfish. Stinger season in Cairns is from Novemberish to Mayish.

There are always jellyfish in the water, of course, but you have a higher chance of injury during these times. And have to wear a stinger suit which isn’t really the height of fashion.

Do: Visit Cairns in the Dry Season

best time of year to visit Cairns

The best time to visit Cairns, Australia is actually during the winter.

The weather starts to dry out in mid-March and by June conditions are as perfect as they will ever be. Things stay steady until the end of November when you will start running into the daily thunderstorms again.

  • Cairns is still warm in the winter 

best time to visit cairns qld

The average temperature is lower, usually in the high 70s and low 80s making it comfortable to walk around outside without needing to shower twice a day. It never really gets cold in the tropics, just pleasant.

So, if you are interested in strolling the outdoor markets and having dinner on the esplanade without sweating to death, come in the winter.

visit cairns

  • Queensland doesn’t do daylight savings time 

If you are worried about less daylight during the winter, don’t be! The state of Queensland doesn’t participate in daylight savings time, so sunset is still a bit later than down south in Sydney or Melbourne.

best time to visit cairns qld

In addition, most of the things to do in the area (snorkeling, hiking ) are “daytime” activities anyway and typically wrap up around 5pm.

  • No stinger suits in winter 

Way less of a chance of getting stung by an Irukandji jellyfish and dying when visiting Cairns in the winter. It’s a win/win.

best time of year to visit Cairns

  • Cairns has fewer people during the dry season 

I think it’s because people just assume that winter = freezing, which wouldn’t make for a fun holiday. But lest we forget that the tropics don’t ever get cold. Our boats were suspiciously empty during the winter months, which is a shame because the experience was completely elevated.

Be better than everyone else: Visit Cairns in August  🙂

best time to visit cairns qld

Emily’s all over the place. She’s an expert on working holidays, studying abroad, and turning your #GapYear into a #GapLife. Learn how here .

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What to do in cairns when it’s raining, day trip to rottnest island: itinerary, tips, quokka selfies, uluru helicopter tour: top 5 reasons to splurge, the riverboat postman: hawkesbury river cruise review.

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Compelling reasons to visit March – November!

For real cause who likes chafing lol

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Best Time To Visit Cairns

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The best time to visit Cairns is broadly considered to be Australia’s cooler months, thus avoiding the wet season, tropical cyclones, and stinger season. If you’d prefer to avoid these natural phenomena, you should visit between May and October, these are the months many people consider “ideal” for visiting Cairns. However, you can visit Cairns and have a good vacation or break at any time of year. Read our post to find out more on which months are best to visit Cairns Australia.

The best time to visit Cairns Australia is when you can visit. Never let the weather put you off too much, but should you choose summer or winter, wet season or dry and should you not visit in stinger season ? A lot depends on which of the things to do in Cairns and near Cairns interest you most.

Do you want to visit Cairns? Know the best time for visiting the Great Barrier Reef or to take a trip to the Daintree Rainforest? You can visit the Great Barrier Reef at any time of year with boats running daily, other than in very extreme weather events.

Would you like to see the humpback or minke whales or just enjoy the pool on the Esplanade or some of the tropical beaches near Cairns? We tell you what to expect in terms of weather, water conditions, and activities month by month in Cairns.

We’ll help you judge what the best time to visit Cairns is for you and the things you want to do

We have a tropical climate here in Cairns so temperatures don’t fluctuate greatly, but rainfall and humidity do.

best time to visit cairns qld

The hottest, wettest time in Cairns is late spring and summer, November to April, after the monsoon. The wettest months are usually January to March and this is when Cairns is most likely to experience tropical storms or cyclones.

The cooler, dryer period in Cairns is Southern Hemisphere late autumn and winter, June to October. There are 2 main seasons, the dry and the wet, with ” the build-up” preceding the start of the wet.

There are many things to do in Cairns, some you can do in the rain, most run year-round, but some businesses and activities close for a while in the wet season. Really extreme weather will prevent most boats from running, but it’s not that common.

If you check out the things to do in Cairns , some of those will be best appreciated at certain times of the year. For instance Barron River Falls are spectacular after heavy rain and conditions on the reef can be great in September.

So figure out what you’d like to do in Far North Queensland and then see when the weather will allow it.

It is our opinion, as locals, that the ideal time is the shoulder seasons either side of stinger season and the wet season.

If you’re booking a budget trip[, visit Cairns in the wet season, prices can be lower, with special offers on hotels and tours. If you’re in luck, conditions on the reef could still be great.

Without doubt, visiting outside of the main tourist season can make your Queensland holiday cheaper .

There is also the risk of very bad days out there, so if you only have a day or two and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef is your goal, you could risk disappointment.

Best Time To Visit Cairns – Guide

Water temperature off cairns.

The best time for swimming in the Cairns region (including the Northern Beaches, Palm Cove and Port Douglas, we think, would probably be May or April to October or November and early December.

Be aware that in the winter months in Far North Queensland (northern hemisphere’s summer) it may be cooler, but you’re avoiding the marine stingers and downpours of a typical tropical summer.

Water temperatures are at their lowest, at around 23º C in July and generally highest in February at 29º C. A good storm can, and hopefully does, cool the sea temperature at that time of year. 30º C is enough to cause coral bleaching.

We give typical temperatures, rainfall and humidity levels in Cairns in this post, but these figures are a guideline only and you can never rule out an extreme weather event.

Cairns is not usually affected by major bush fires or flooding, thankfully, but Cairns can see tropical cyclones, but mayor storms are rare. You’re more likely to feel the effects of a major storm nearby, in heavy tropical downpours and spectacular clouds.

Humidity in Cairns

August is usually the driest month in Cairns and February the wettest. Humidity can be in the 80s in February, getting down to around 69% in September. If you’re not used to it, Cairns can feel pretty sticky, but this wet heat means the mercury doesn’t rise as high as in drier parts of Australia.

Cairns Weather Month by Month

January in cairns.

January in Cairns is hot, humid and we,t but you can still get some good days.

Expect temperatures between 32 and 26C in Cairns in Jan . It’s the middle of Sothern Hemisphere summer and The Wet Season is still doing its worst in Cairns and Tropical North Queensland.

In January February and March we will likely experience maximum rainfall at over 350 mm in an average month. This means the trip to Kuranda on the Skyrail, stopping at Barron River Falls, and returning by scenic train, will be spectacular, the river should be in full flood. Book this trip here, it’s one of the top tours in the whole of Australia. You can see a clip of the falls in flood in the video on this page.

Early January will still be quite busy in Cairns as the Australian Christmas (summer) school holidays are long. After Australia Day (26th January) things quieten down and some businesses will close for a wet-season break.

January 2024 in Cairns: The weather is beautiful in Cairns today, early January, and the flooding has receded. But this January things are a little different after the flooding and landslides caused by Cyclone Jasper at the end of December 2023.

I’m sitting in Cairns airport right now, so I can tell you Cairns Airport is open. The Smithfield Range Rd to Kuranda is also open and we had no delays on that route this morning around 8-9 am.

The coastal road from Cairns to Port Douglas is closed, as is the Daintree Rainforest north of the Daintree River. To get to Port Douglas you can either pick up a shuttle at the arrivals hall, which will take you to Port Douglas via Mareeba. It’s a bit more expensive than usual, $75 vs $50 usually.

Alternatively, a ferry service is running between Cairns and Port Douglas.

Your best option is probably to pick up a rental car and self-drive, do that here using this comparison tool. You need to take the Kuranda Range Rd to Mareeba and head north to Mt Molloy and Julatten, before dropping down the Rex Range just north of Port Douglas.

Cairns January

The Outer Reef is looking good and most boats out of Port Douglas are running, I can’t comment on the Cairns reefs and islands as I haven’t been out yet. But we’ll do our best to keep you updated.

You can most certainly visit Cairns and Port Douglas in January 2024, but tours and sightseeing are reduced somewhat.

You’ll see a date updated on the top of this post, as I find out more I’ll update again. We have dozens of posts on our site about Far North Queensland, we’re working our way through adding current information.

Is it worth visiting Cairns in January?

Many people visit Cairns in January because it is the school holidays, Christmas to Australia Day are a fairly busy period for family tourists in Port Douglas.

This year, January 2024, looks a bit different, please read our current updates above.

It doesn’t rain all day, every day, we still have good weather in January, some days, and the reef boats will run unless the weather is particularly bad. If you have bad luck and your visit coincides with a tropical storm or cyclone being nearby, then yes, you may see days of never-ending rain. But if you’re lucky, January can be a great time to visit Cairns and snorkel on The Great Barrier Reef.

If it’s not raining it’s likely to be very hot and humid, the sea should be like a warm bath. Yes, it will be stinger season and there may be more debris on local beaches because of storms. There are several beaches with stinger nets or swimming enclosures near Cairns. There’s no swimming beach near the centre of Cairns itself.

There can be flooding nearby, this can prevent access to the Daintree Rainforest and interrupt supply chains from the south. Cairns itself rarely floods to any extent. This is a great time of year to see Barron River Falls, on this superb day-trip from Cairns, the Northern Beaches or Palm Cove. Check it out here!

February in Cairns

Nothing much changes temperature-wise in February, maximum and minimum temperatures are still 32ºC and 26ºC approximately.

Rain continues, it may be even wetter than January. Humidity is at its highest in February, about 83%.

When we experience severe heavy rain in Cairns it’s quite likely that there will be flooding in Daintree or as far south as Townsville. This southern flooding can close roads and restrict access to far north Queensland so if you’re heading to the Cairns region by car, be aware of that. It’s very unusual to see much flooding actually in Cairns itself.

Be aware that in February some local businesses and restaurants may be shut for a seasonal break. This is the lowest of the low season and tourist numbers drop once the kids go back to school.

February is likely the quietest time in Cairns, you can still swim at the lagoon pool in Cairns or at nearby beaches with swimming enclosures (stinger nets) in February. Trips to the Great Barrier Reef do still run from Cairns on good weather days in February.

March in Cairns

Autumn officially arrives in Cairns in March. Temperatures just may drop a little in March and by the end of March, things should be getting more comfortable.

Expect temperatures roughly between 31 and 25 C. Again, it’s wet, but not as wet as February, usually.

As for February, you can swim at netted beaches near Cairns and reef trips and snorkelling still happen if the weather isn’t too bad.

April in Cairns

April is a good time to visit Cairns, but possibly not the very best time. Temperatures are dropping, at between 29ºC and 24º C by day.

Easter is often in April and around Easter school holidays tourist numbers increase dramatically in Cairns and FNQ, book in advance, and expect higher hotel prices during school holidays.

It can still be pretty wet in Cairns in April with an average of 200 mm of rain this month. In between the far less frequent rain storms, you could experience clear sunny days, or overcast days. The Trade Winds tend to pick up in April and strong winds may make conditions rough or choppy out on the Great Barrier Reef.

You can also experience glassed out seas and perfet conditions, April is quite a variable month in Cairns. If you can stay 2 weeks, you should have some days of perfect weather in Cairns, but if you only have a few days and arrive in the midst of a late storm, you may have a bad experience.

If you do visit during rain, Barron River Falls is spectacular in flood.

Humidity seems to tail off around March / April /May in Cairns and our hair gets less curly.

It will likely still be stinger season in Cairns in April, so you can swim at beaches with nets or snorkel on the reef with stinger suits.

Anzac Day is a national holiday and falls on 25th April every year. If you are visiting Cairns in April, be aware that many shops and food outlets may be closed on this day

May in Cairns

There should be a good temperature drop from April in Cairns in May. In May daytime temperatures can be down to 28 – 23 C now and days of rain are starting to decrease to very few.

The weather is pretty good in May in Cairns, but it’s not yet peak season. The tourist crowds are expected to arrive from next month.

We recently went out to the reef at the very end of May. Visibility was good, water temperature was a cool (for Far North Queensland) – comfortable 26ºC. It was a great time to go out, but towards the end of a 40 minute scuba dive in a light shortie wetsuit (provided by the boat) I started to feel cool rather than perfectly comfortable.

Snorkelling for 30 mins in the same wetsuit we felt no cold at all. People were snorkelling without wetsuits and, as stinger season was over for us, no stinger suits.

June in Cairns

In June in Cairns the dry season will be starting to be noticable. June 1st is the first day of winter officially in Cairns and Australia. 

Expect June temperatures between 26 and 21 C and markedly less rain, this is the official dry season’s beginning.

June is the start of high season for tourism in Cairns and possibly my favourite month to live in FNQ. Nighttime temperatures could warrant a cardigan or fleece.

During the day it can be comfortable to wear long sleeves or even light jumpers, depending on cloud cover.

Yes you can still swim at the beaches near Cairns and snorkel on the reef in June, but it will be getting cooler. Boats should provide wetsuits for snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef in June.

June is when Cairns Ironman is held, this annual event draws huge crowds to Cairns, so if you plan to visit Cairns in June, book well in advance, hotels will be full and prices will be higher.

Cairns International Ironman is on 18th June in 2023. The road between Cairns and Port Douglas will be closed. So if you’re arriving at Cairns international airport on that day, look into your transport options carefully.

July in Cairns

July is mid-winter in Cairns and should be the coolest month . Expect around 25-21 C with low rainfall, just 6 days of rain. Nights are cool, you could call them cold even, and if you’re out before dawn to run or walk, you’ll feel a nip in the air.

The humpback whales should be arriving in the Coral Sea, off Cairns now, they will stay to September.

August in Cairns

August will be a touch warmer than July as winter comes to an end. 27ºC – 21ºC and average just 6 days of rain bringing on average under 70 mm in the whole month. Nights can be comfortably cool, you may even feel a little chilly if you’re out running before dawn as we are.

People still use the beach in the depths of winter, Cairns is busy, and yes, people swim in the sea, but some swimming pools get pretty chilly at the coldest times of year if they’re not heated.

September in Cairns

September is possibly the best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, the whales should still be around, the Trade Winds should be calming down and the water is starting to warm up. Temperatures are rising, 28ºC -22º C with little rain. Humidity is lowest in Cairns in September at around 67% This is the start of Australian spring, and many trees start to flower.Nights can still be comfortably cool. If the rain has quit for the dry season, expect brown, dead grass. This is a great time to spot crocodiles sunning themselves on river banks at low tide, or to take a crocodile spotting tour from Cairns.

October in Cairns

Things are building up with maximum temperatures getting up to 30C and minimums of 23 C Not much, if any, rain happening yet. This is possibly my favourite time of year for the beach or reef, just before Stinger Season.

November in Cairns

It’s pretty warm in Cairns in November! 32-25 C and we look forward to maybe some electric or thunder storms in the afternoon.

Not much rain usually falls though, we need December to arrive for the rains to really start. 

November is the official start of the wet season. November is a great time to visit Cairns, but it will be hot, and you will likely be visiting in early stinger season.

The stinger nets should be in the water on the beaches in the Cairns region from the start of November. Reef trips do continue to operate through stinger season, only stopping in very bad wind and weather conditions. So yes, you can still snorkel or swim from Cairns in November.

December in Cairns

In December everyone is waiting for the wet to arrive and bring heavy rains as relief from the heat and water for our gardens. We’re all waiting for Christmas too of course, and then New Year celebrations.

Temps are getting up around 32 to 25 C and the rains will hopefully be providing afternoon relief as the month wears on. Summer has arrived and the mango season with it.

In December 2018 we had an early cyclone, a small but damaging Category 1 in early December.

We had infrequent light rain at night through December and the beach has been perfection. Of course, Stinger Season is here by December and the stinger nets are in place on the beaches.

In December we can have some great beach days plus enough rain to keep everything green. We enjoyed a sunset sail with perfect calm conditions in early December.

Very little happens for Christmas in Cairns, compared to Europe or The US, but most hotels and restaurants are very busy over the Christmas period itself. Things quieten down either side of the big school holidays.

Expect prices for car hire and hotels to start increasing around the 15th to 20th of December.

Don’t expect much by way of public Christmas decorations and lights, but some of the locals really go to town. You’ll find some houses decked out spectacularly in residential areas.

There is usually a big fireworks show and celebration with rides and food stalls in Cairns for New Year.

Special Holidays, Festivals and Events in Cairns

Port douglas carnivale.

Carnival is generally towards the end of May with a street parade, food events and the Spiegeltent. Port Douglas is a nice day out from Cairns and a good place to visit for the weekly Sunday Markets, these take place year-round.

Christmas in Cairns

It’s quite usual around here to stay in a hotel over Christmas with many big hotels offering seasonal feasts on December 25th.

Look for special dining events on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in the best hotels in Cairns.

New Year in Cairns

There is normally a New Year’s Eve fireworks display in Cairns. January 1st is New Year’s Day.

School Holidays in Cairns

In Australia the long school holidays are in Australian summer, which is Christmas. Dates are (approximately) 22nd December to 3rd February. Local kids will also be on holiday over Easter and have a day off for Anzac Day (25th April) and Australia Day (26th – 27th January). Half-term holidays are around 7th to 22nd July and around the 29th September to 14th October. These dates are meant as a guide only please double-check them yourself as they change each year. Cairns will be very busy in most school holidays and prices may be higher.

Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter in Cairns Australia

The seasons are strictly regulated in Australia with each season beginning on the first of the month and each season lasting exactly 3 months.

Spring starts in September, summer starts in December, autumn starts in March and winter starts in June. I know it can be confusing, I’m from the Northern Hemisphere!

When is Cyclone Season in Cairns?

Cyclone season isn’t the best time to visit Cairns. Cyclone season in tropical north Queensland and Cairns is approximately November to May.  

A tropical low, tropical storm or cyclone in the region can bring a lot of rain over several days.

Chances of getting a cyclone in November or April – May seem pretty slim to me, having lived in FNQ for over a decade, but it can happen.

As far as I know, there hasn’t been a major direct cyclone hit in Cairns in many years.

I’ve never experienced one. For information on current tropical cyclones, check the BOM

Driving Further North from Cairns, Flooding and Road Closures on Roads to The Cape

Obviously, road conditions are unpredictable and vary but in general, there is only a short window of opportunity to drive on up to Cooktown, Cape York and The Tip. 

If you want to do this you’ll join the 4 wheel drive convoys in June to October for the best chance of ideal conditions. You can check the Creb Track opening and conditions here.

We hope that was helpful! So now you know your best time to visit Port Douglas, go ahead and book your Cairns accommodation and organise your trip of a lifetime to the Great Barrier Reef. We’re working on even more guides to our corner of Queensland Australia every day. For ideas on other destinations to visit in Queensland, see our post on places to visit in Queensland . For more Cairns travel information on our site, go here. For fresh water swimming spots around Cairns look here.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal! We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance. Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

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When is the best time of the year to travel to Cairns?

You can travel to Cairns any time of the year. Cairns is full of tourists all year around. But the best time to visit Cairns is during our winter (June to end of August). The weather is perfect, blue sky every day and very comfortable temperatures (average 25C). Also there is no stingers (jellyfish) in the water so safe to swim anywhere around Cairns. Rainfall is quite low at this time of the year so usually no thunderstorm or torrential rain.

In November starts our wet season and it goes until end of March. During this time of the year we usually get high rainfall, thunderstorms and possible cyclones. Cairns hasn't had a cyclone for many year but the ones that passes near by can bring lots of rain to Cairns. Even though the wet season starts in November usually the heavy rain doesn’t start until January. Jellyfish comes back to Queensland cost in November so you are allowed to swim only inside the nets on the beaches or anywhere if you are wearing a stinger suit. If you are travelling to one of the islands or the reef the tour operator will highly recommend you to wear a stinger suit for protection.

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The Best Time to Visit Cairns, QL, Australia for Weather, Safety, & Tourism

The best times to visit Cairns for ideal weather are

May 14th to September 30th

based on average temperature and humidity from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Read below for more weather and travel details.

Cairns Travel Guide


  • Perceived Temperature
  • Rain and snow
  • Humidity and wind
  • The busiest and least popular months
  • Overall travel experience by time of year

Other Cairns Travel Info

Weather in cairns.

Average temperatures in Cairns vary little. Considering humidity, temperatures feel hot for about half of the year and otherwise nice with a fair chance of precipitation about half of the year. The area is less temperate than some — in the 35th percentile for pleasant weather — compared to tourist destinations worldwide. Weeks with ideal weather are listed above . If you’re looking for the very warmest time to visit Cairns, the hottest months are January, December, and then February. See average monthly temperatures below. The warmest time of year is generally early December where highs are regularly around 89.8°F (32.1°C) with temperatures rarely dropping below 73.5°F (23.1°C) at night.

Cairns Temperatures (Fahrenheit)

Cairns temperatures (celsius), “feels-like” temperatures.

The way we experience weather isn’t all about temperature. Higher temperatures affect us much more at higher humidity, and colder temperatures feel piercing with high winds. Our perceived temperatures factor in humidity and wind chill to better represent how hot or cold the day feels to a person.

Cairns Perceived Temperature (F)

Cairns perceived temperature (c), average cairns temperatures by month.

Daily highs (averaged for the month) usually give the best indication of the weather. A significantly lower mean and low generally just means it gets colder at night.

Show Fahrenheit

Show celsius, precipitation (rain or snow).

If dry weather is what you’re after, the months with the lowest chance of significant precipitation in Cairns are August, September, and then July. Note that we define “significant precipitation” as .1 inches or more in this section. The lowest chance of rain or snow occurs around early to mid August. For example, on the week of August 6th there are no days of precipitation on average. By contrast, it’s most likely to rain or snow in late January with an average of 4 days of significant precipitation the week of January 22nd.

Chance of Precipitation

The graph below shows the % chance of rainy and snowy days in Cairns.

Snow on the Ground

The graph below shows the average snow on the ground in Cairns (in).

Average Rain and Snow by Month

Show inches, show centimeters, humidity and wind.

Cairns has some very humid months, and above average humidity throughout the year. The least humid month is August (60.7% relative humidity), and the most humid month is February (75.8%).

Wind in Cairns is usually moderate . The windiest month is July, followed by May and April. July’s average wind speed of around 9.7 knots (11.1 MPH or 17.9 KPH) is considered “a gentle breeze.” Maximum sustained winds (the highest speed for the day lasting more than a few moments) are at their highest in mid October where average top sustained speeds reach 17.9 knots, which is considered a fresh breeze.

Relative Humidity (%)

The graph below shows the average % humidity by month in Cairns.

The graph below shows wind speed (max and average) in knots.

Average Wind Speeds

Show wind speeds.

All wind speeds are in knots. 1 knot = 1.15 MPH or 1.85 KPH.

Show Relative Humidity by Month

Is it safe to travel to cairns.

Our best data indicates this area is generally safe. As of Dec 04, 2023 there are no travel advisories or warnings for Australia; exercise normal security precautions. Check this page for any recent changes or regions to avoid: Travel Advice and Advisories . This advisory was last updated on Nov 30, 2023.

The Busiest and Least Crowded Months

The busiest month for tourism in Cairns, QL, Australia is July, followed by September and May. Prices for hotels and flights will be most expensive during these months, though you can save if you purchase well in advance. Tourists are unlikely to visit Cairns in December. Those willing to visit at these times will likely find it the least expensive month.

Estimated Tourism by Month

Most popular months to visit, overall cairns travel experience by season, fall (march through may).

Humidity and temperatures combine to make this season feel warm. Highs range from 87.9°F (31.1°C) and 81°F (27.2°C) with colder temperatures in the later months. Rain is somewhat common with 7 to 14 days of significant precipitation per month. Fall is the second busiest for tourism, which makes it a good time for those looking for things to do.

Winter (June through August)

The middle-year months have very comfortable weather with high temperatures that are comfortable. These months see the least precipitation with 1 to 5 days of precipitation per month. June – August is the busiest season for tourism in Cairns, so lodging and other accommodations may cost more than usual.

Spring (September through November)

Spring daily highs range from 88.8°F (31.6°C) and 83.1°F (28.4°C), which will feel very nice given the humidity and wind. It rains or snows a significant amount: 2 to 8 days per month. Tourism is fairly slow during these months due to the weather, so hotels may be lower priced.

Summer (December through February)

Weather is perfect this time of year in Cairns to be enjoyable for warm weather travelers. The average high during this season is between 89.8°F (32.1°C) and 87.9°F (31.1°C). On average, it rains or snows a great amount: 8 to 14 times per month. These times of year are the slowest with tourists.

Best Times to Travel › Australia › Cairns, QL, Australia

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What is the best time to visit Cairns?

The best time to visit Cairns is between June and August, which is the winter season . Due to the extreme heat and humidity faced by tropical Queensland outside these months, the winter period is when Cairns has the most pleasant climate for tourism. The temperatures generally vary from 16°C to 26°C and it mostly remains dry with clear skies throughout the day. Another reason to visit Cairns during the winter season is that during this time tourists can spot the migrating humpback whales.

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Best Time To Visit Cairns – Ray White’s Complete Seasonal Guide to Visiting Cairns

When you’re in the planning phase of a relaxing vacation, the most important step is to research the best time to visit it. For example, visiting Norway during peak winter or the Sahara during peak summer is likely to result in more of a stress surge than stress release — defeating the purpose of the vacation altogether.

Cairns is no exception to this phenomenon. Although the locals of Australia are likely to tell you that this region is lovely all year round, the wet season, stinger season, and dry season have a large difference and can directly impact your experience.

Let’s get into slightly more detail regarding the many beautiful wonders that this city in tropical north Queensland houses. However, before acknowledging the tourist attractions, let’s get some insight into the weather and the different seasons Cairns has in store for you.

Everything You Should Know About Vacationing In Cairns

Cairns is one of the most famous tourist hubs in North Queensland. Two of the reasons for its immense popularity are the World-Famous Great Barrier Reef and the classic Daintree Rainforest.

This city’s popularity is clear from the statistics, with over three million tourists visiting Cairns annually. However, these tourists are careful about pre-planning their trip to stay away from the wet season where temperatures hover immensely.

Therefore, if you’re also up for benefitting from the dry season and consider the weather an integral aspect of having a great time, call up tour operators and plan your vacation to this city in far north Queensland, specifically between June and October.

On the other hand, if you have a restricted budget and wish to prioritise cheaper prices and fewer crowds, you may be sufficiently satisfied by visiting in April or September.

The Great Barrier Reef

Among the wonders that Cairns has to offer is The Great Barrier Reef. This beautiful wonder is the world’s largest ribbon reef, made of more than 2,900 individual reefs and up to 900 islands spread out over 2,300 kilometres.

best time to visit cairns qld

Due to its extensive biodiversity, crystal-clear waters, and accessibility from tourist boat tours, The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most popular tourist attractions. If you take an active interest in scuba diving, there’s no question that you’ll enjoy this wonder immensely.

The Wonderful Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

If you’re looking for the optimal view of Cairns, embracing the entire view between the rainforests surrounding Cairns to the sea itself, do not miss out on one of the best fun outdoor activities that this small city offers. The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway will take you through the incredible journey from the Skyrail terminal towards the north of Cairns. Moreover, this Kuranda scenic railway will also cover the village’s rich history as you glide through the Tropics World Heritage region and, of course, the dominant Barron Falls.

The journey may also encourage a stopover at Red Peak as you stroll along the boardwalk, taking in the beauty of the ancient rainforest landscape. The second stopover will provide a beautiful sight for sore eyes in the form of the Barron Falls, as the Edge Lookout offers the ideal view of a breathtaking waterfall.

best time to visit cairns qld

The Mesmerising Daintree Rainforest

If you’re visiting Cairns, it is integral to find the core treasure of Tropical North Queensland, located merely 30 minutes from Port Douglas. This treasure is, of course, the Daintree Rainforest. This forest is more than 100 years old, making it one of the oldest forests in the world.

Beyond its rich history lies its beauty — in the form of picturesque natural views — that surely takes your breath away. We recommend taking a tour through this forest for an optimal experience.

Numerous outdoor activities are available within this forest, ranging from swimming holes to hiking trails. Moreover, paddle-boarding through the Mossman Gorge is an absolute treat.

best time to visit cairns qld

Wildlife Attractions At Cairns

Since Cairns is established in the middle of two of the world’s most mesmerising land and sea reserves, you can expect some amazingly unique wildlife sightings during your trip here.

With wildlife ranging from dwarf minke whales to humpback whales, box jellyfish, and various other exotic fish, this area is an absolute delight. You will likely meet an array of wallabies, koalas, endangered bird species, kangaroos, and colourful butterflies.

The dwarf minke whales are likely to be the perfect partner if you’re a fan of scuba diving due to their incredibly friendly nature. However, it’s best to admire the box jellyfish from afar.

The Best Cairns Weather To Target

Now that you’re aware of the wonders that Cairns has to offer, it’s best to discuss the kind of weather that you may want to target before you plan a trip to this beautiful city.

Whether you’re planning a day trip or a long weekend, knowing the best time to visit is likely to improve your experience by a large margin. Let’s look into the different seasons that Cairns offers and evaluate the best time to visit it accordingly.

The Wet Season

North Queensland comes with a wet season, also commonly referred to as the green season. This part of the year consists of afternoon rain and humidity, falling between November and March. This season normally comes with higher daytime temperatures and excessive rain.

Additionally, this winter season also comes with the possibility of a cyclone at the end of it. Some other consequences of the wet season include occasional flooding, resulting in disruptions in road closures around the coast. Therefore, if you plan on renting a car, be wary of the flash flooding that commonly occurs during this time.

However, this season comes with its fair share of benefits. If you’re on a budget, prices during this season, ranging from day trips to domestic flights to various hotels, are fairly low. Moreover, the Daintree Forest, The Great Barrier Reef, numerous waterfalls and rivers reflect a free flow, and nature takes the upper hand through vibrant and lush vegetation.

However, if you’re not a fan of the yearly rainfall, the green season may not be the best fit for you. Another tip would be to avoid swimming in the ocean and stay with freshwaters. If you decide to visit Cairns during this time, be fully equipped with premium quality rain jackets.

Moreover, it’s best to be prepared to alter your plans spontaneously because of sudden shifts in the weather.

Stinger Season

The beauty that comes in the form of beaches around Cairns closely reflects our fantasies when picturing tropical heaven. However, one major factor in avoiding Cairns within November to May is the fatal jellyfish that rise along the coast.

Box jellyfish, also known as stingers, consist of immensely concentrated poison, which can be deadly for human beings. Other symptoms that may result from these stings include headaches, pain, vomiting, and perhaps even paralysis.

The best way to avoid these creatures is to be equipped with a protective stinger suit. Swimming nets may also help you stay away from the jellyfish that are readily available in Far North Queensland. Some tips to consider when swimming during the stinger season include:

  • Never swimming alone
  • Always keeping your protective gear on
  • Following all instructions set out by the locals

These jellyfish normally surface in shallow water, and therefore, if you plan on snorkelling or scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, you’re good to go.

The Most Popular Of All: The Dry Season

A specific time zone when Cairns is immensely busy is during the dry season between April and October. The cool weather keeps the days pleasant, and therefore, this is probably the best time to visit Cairns.

The appeal of this season leads this period to be the peak season for tourism. Therefore, if you plan to visit Cairns during the dry or peak season, we recommend booking your accommodation and flights.

The dry season begins when the stinger season comes to an end. Therefore, the danger of those sneaky jellyfish is also out the window. This season also falls during the Australian school vacations, adding to the crowds.

Famous Events In Cairns

Although the major appeal of Cairns is the vast nature that it comes with, some fairly popular events also take place within this region.

Besides its attractive wonders of Daintree Forest and the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns offers the following events for its tourists and locals:

  • Masters Games: First held in 2013, the Master Games have since become a bi-annual tradition. This social program features an array of sports options for locals of Cairns and is held in May.
  • Cairns Ecofiesta: Commonly held in June, this is a sustainability music, food, children’s, and environmental festival held between the two widely famous heritage areas of The Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest
  • The Cairns Show: Commonly held in July, this show features fireworks and a range of other fun activities.
  • The Great Pyramid Race: One of the most popular sports events held in Cairns that takes place in August
  • The Targa Great Barrier Reef: A tour held in September accounts for a complete adventure, giving tourists a chance to drive a car through the tropical rainforest of Queensland
  • The Babinda Harvest Festival: A unique festival held in October featuring children’s entertainment, market stalls, food stalls, a bar, live entertainment, and more
  • Understory Film Festival: This is a short film competition held in November designed for local students as well as independent and emerging filmmakers in the North of Queensland
  • Carols In Cairns: This festive movie-length production is held in December and is filmed in Cairns’ beautiful locations, featuring the region’s local talent
  • The Great Barrier Reef Chinese New Year: Commonly held in January, offers a wonderful cultural experience for visitors and locals, featuring various food experiences, cultural performances, and activities designed to bring people of diverse cultures together.

There’s no doubt that Cairns comes with a rich history and breathtakingly diverse nature sites. Cairns is the best place to visit if you’re a fan of water sports or just sitting by the ocean and enjoying the calm weather. However, we recommend the dry season as the ideal time to visit Cairns because of the cool weather and festive crowds that it comes with. However, book your flight and accommodation in advance; the slots get filled up fast!

Deceased Estate Property Sales: A Comprehensive Guide

Moving to cairns – ray white’s complete guide (tips and tricks), latest news, crafting a winning house offer: your comprehensive guide.

In today’s competitive real estate arena, securing your dream home demands meticulous strategising and precise execution. This comprehensive guide serves as your compass, guiding you through pivotal steps that can enhance your prospects of clinching the property you covet, whether you’re preparing an offer for an auction or a private … Read more

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Dealing with the sale of a home left by someone loved can be a daunting and emotional experience. However, gaining insights into how estate sales work can help alleviate some of the stress. In this article, we’ll provide you with valuable tips and information to facilitate a smoother and less … Read more

best time to visit cairns qld

Best time to visit Cairns , QLD, Australia

Our verdict

The best time to visit Cairns is March-April

In the summer months, temperatures can reach as high as 32℃ (89℉) in Cairns. The weather at night in the winter can get down to temperatures as low as 17℃ (62℉).

If you’re a sun-chaser and want to visit Cairns when the days are longest, you should visit in October. On average it rains the most days in January, making it the wettest month of the year. Although it’s the wet season, it can often rain a little bit during the day or evening but have fine weather for a majority of the day too, so don’t let this put you off.

Continue reading to find out more about when to visit Cairns, including the climate, seasonal info, what to pack, FAQs, and the best tools to help you plan and book your next vacation.

Quick links: Fast facts / Seasons / Average temperatures / Monthly climate / FAQs / Map

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Cairns seasons

Before you continue, it’s important to know when the seasons are in Cairns as they might be different to yours depending on where in the world you’re travelling from. Cairns is in the Southern Hemisphere, so the seasons fall during these months:

Average temperatures in Cairns

If the temperature is a big factor for you to help you decide when to visit, the chart below shows the average minimum and maximum temperatures in Cairns for each month side-by-side so you can easily see the difference in weather throughout the year. To see the temperatures in both Celsius (°C) and Fahrenheit (°F), hover or tap the shaded boxes on the graph.

Cairns climate by month

If you already have a rough idea about which months you might want to travel, the section below shows a detailed breakdown of the climate in Cairns for each month so you can see if it all suits your wants and needs. Scroll down, or use the quick menu below to jump to your preferred month.

Cairns in January

  • Average temperature: 27℃ (80℉)
  • Average high temperature: 29℃ (85℉)
  • Average low temperature: 24℃ (76℉)
  • Average humidity: 80%
  • Average sunny days: 6 days
  • Average rainfall: 162mm (6") over 22 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in January, make sure you pack t-shirts and light clothing.

Add visitor or local insider tips >

Cairns in February

  • Average humidity: 79%
  • Average rainfall: 123mm (5") over 20 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in February, make sure you pack t-shirts and light clothing.

Cairns in March

  • Average temperature: 26℃ (78℉)
  • Average high temperature: 28℃ (83℉)
  • Average low temperature: 24℃ (75℉)
  • Average humidity: 81%
  • Average sunny days: 7 days
  • Average rainfall: 110mm (4") over 22 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in March, make sure you pack t-shirts and light clothing.

Cairns in April

  • Average temperature: 24℃ (76℉)
  • Average high temperature: 27℃ (80℉)
  • Average low temperature: 22℃ (72℉)
  • Average sunny days: 12 days
  • Average rainfall: 44mm (2") over 15 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in April, make sure you pack t-shirts and light clothing.

Cairns in May

  • Average temperature: 23℃ (73℉)
  • Average high temperature: 25℃ (77℉)
  • Average low temperature: 21℃ (69℉)
  • Average sunny days: 13 days
  • Average rainfall: 27mm (1") over 14 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in May, make sure you pack t-shirts and light clothing.

Cairns in June

  • Average temperature: 21℃ (70℉)
  • Average high temperature: 24℃ (75℉)
  • Average low temperature: 19℃ (66℉)
  • Average humidity: 78%
  • Average sunny days: 16 days
  • Average rainfall: 15mm (1") over 11 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in June, make sure you pack t-shirts for the daytime and maybe a light jumper for the evenings as it cools down a bit.

Cairns in July

  • Average temperature: 21℃ (69℉)
  • Average high temperature: 23℃ (74℉)
  • Average low temperature: 18℃ (65℉)
  • Average sunny days: 14 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in July, make sure you pack t-shirts for the daytime and maybe a light jumper for the evenings as it cools down a bit.

Cairns in August

  • Average low temperature: 18℃ (64℉)
  • Average humidity: 75%
  • Average sunny days: 18 days
  • Average rainfall: 10mm (0") over 8 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in August, make sure you pack t-shirts for the daytime and maybe a light jumper for the evenings as it cools down a bit.

Cairns in September

  • Average temperature: 22℃ (72℉)
  • Average high temperature: 26℃ (78℉)
  • Average low temperature: 19℃ (67℉)
  • Average humidity: 74%
  • Average sunny days: 17 days
  • Average rainfall: 9mm (0") over 7 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in September, make sure you pack t-shirts for the daytime and maybe a light jumper for the evenings as it cools down a bit.

Cairns in October

  • Average temperature: 24℃ (75℉)
  • Average high temperature: 27℃ (81℉)
  • Average low temperature: 21℃ (70℉)
  • Average sunny days: 19 days
  • Average rainfall: 24mm (1") over 8 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in October, make sure you pack t-shirts and light clothing.

Cairns in November

  • Average temperature: 25℃ (78℉)
  • Average low temperature: 23℃ (72℉)
  • Average rainfall: 26mm (1") over 12 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in November, make sure you pack t-shirts and light clothing.

Cairns in December

  • Average temperature: 26℃ (79℉)
  • Average low temperature: 24℃ (74℉)
  • Average humidity: 76%
  • Average rainfall: 79mm (3") over 15 days

What to pack: If you’re heading to Cairns in December, make sure you pack t-shirts and light clothing.

😎 When should I go to Cairns for the hottest weather?

☀ when does it rain the least in cairns, ☔ when does it rain the most in cairns, 🌤 when should i go to cairns if i want the most daylight.

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Things to do

Getting there & around

Best time to visit Cairns

The best time to visit Cairns is during the winter dry season from June to November, when you can expect clear, blue skies and warm, sunny days tempered by gently sea breezes.

For hot-weather activities the best time to visit Cairns is during October and November.

Cairns weather

Cairns experiences a tropical monsoon climate year-round, with two main seasons: hot, wet and overcast from December to March; and cool, dry and partly cloudy from June to September, with little rainfall.

Average high temperatures reach 31°C (87°F) in summer and 25°C (77°F) in winter.

What is the best month to visit Cairns? The months of June through September are the best months to visit Cairns, since this is the cooler time of year, with warm, sunny weather, mainly clear skies and little or no rainfall.

May, October and November are also good months, with higher temperatures and occasional showers.

Which is the hottest month in Cairns? The hottest month of the year in Cairns is normally January, with an average high of 32°C (89°F) and low of 24°C (75°F).

However, on the warmest days of the month, the temperature may climb to around 33°C (91°F).

The hot season lasts from early-November to mid-March, with an average daily high temperature above 30°C (86°F).

When is it sunniest in Cairns? The sunniest time of year in Cairns is normally September and October with nine hours of sunshine per day – that's around 75% of daylight hours.

April through to November is usually the clearest time of year.

What is the humidity in Cairns? Cairns experiences seasonal variation in humidity, with approximate average relative humidity calculated at between 64% – 78% over the course of the year.

What do the humidity conditions feel like in Cairns? We derive the humidity comfort level – what conditions feel like – from the dew point temperature, which measures moisture content in the atmosphere: a higher dew point feels more humid, while a lower dew point feels drier.

Meteorologists agree that dew point temperature is a more consistant indication of 'absolute humidity' than relative humidity, which fluctuates with temperature. 

The average annual dew point in Cairns is 20°C (68°F), and varies over the course of the year from comfortable at 15°C (59°F) to muggy and uncomfortable at 23°C (73°F).

The more humid time of year lasts from mid-September through to mid-June, when you can expect the comfort level to be muggy at least 35% of the time.

The months with the most muggy days in Cairns are January, February and March, with every day in each month muggy or worse.

July and August are generally more comfortable, with around five days in each month that are muggy.

When is the sea warmest in Cairns? The sea is usually at its warmest in Cairns in January, February and March when the water temperature reaches 29°C (84°F), which is very pleasant for swimming.

The sea water is warm enough to swim year-round in Cairns.

Which month has the most rain in Cairns? February is normally the wettest month in Cairns with 377mm (15in) of rainfall on average, distributed across 15 days.

The wet season lasts from mid-December to early-May, with a greater than 39% chance of a given day being a wet day.

During the wet summer season you can expect hot sunny days interspersed with torrential downpours. The sky is mainly cloudy and overcast. January usually has the most cloud cover: on average the sky is overcast or mostly cloudy 80% of the time.

The wet summer season also brings poisonous box jellyfish to the region's beaches.

The drier season lasts from early-May to mid-December.

The month with the least wet days in Cairns is September, with 14mm (‹1in) of rainfall on average, distribued across four days.

What is the windiest month in Cairns? April through August are usually the windiest months in Cairns, with average wind speeds of more than 23 kilometres per hour (14 mph; 12 knots).

Cairns experiences less wind from November to mid-March. The calmest month of the year in Cairns is February, with an average hourly wind speed of 17 kilometres per hour (10.6 mph; 9 knots).

The predominant wind direction in Cairns is from the east throughout the year.

Is there a risk of a tropical storm in Cairns? The risk of a tropical storm in Cairns is greatest between January and March, with a risk factor of around 4.1% of a storm occuring in Febraury.

This region is prone to tropical cyclones between December and April. Queensland has an excellent cyclone warning system that provides plenty of advance notice of an impending cyclone.

Note : The waters of tropical Queensland are home to marine stingers and jellyfish. The high risk season is from October to May. Most accredited tour operators offer protective ‘stinger suits’ to customers at little or no cost.

If you do get stung do not rub the sting area instead, apply vinegar immediately and seek medical attention urgently. Dial 000 for an ambulance.

Cairns Weather Averages

Holiday seasons.

High season : December to February, especially during the summer school holidays from 26th December to the end of January.

Major public holidays including Easter when everyone seems to be on the move and everything from airline seats, hotels, restaurants and petrol prices are at their highest.

The winter months of June, July and August are the busiest periods for travel in Northern Queensland.

Low Season : Summer, from November to March, when it can be uncomfortably hot, wet and humid.

Cairns weather by month

Source : Meteorological data for Cairns is based on weather statistics gathered for the 30-year period 1991 to 2020 by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) from the closest weather station: Cairns International Airport (CNS), located 7km (4mi) north of Cairns CBD.

Advice on the best time to visit a particular destination is based on average local weather statistics, when the weather conditions are generally better than at other times of the year. We consider high and low temperatures, risk of rain (and thunderstorms, etc.), amount of sunshine and sea temperature. For general outdoor activities we favour clear, rainless days with a temperature range between 18°C (64°F) and 27°C (80°F); and for hot-weather activities we favour clear, rainless days with a temperature range between 24°C (75°F) and 32°C (89°F). Often, the best times to visit correspond to high season and therefore involve higher prices.

More about Cairns

Latest update: Best time to visit Cairns: 15 May, 2024

Disclaimer : The information on this site is provided as is, without any assurances as to its accuracy or suitability for any purpose. Weather data and conditions at any given location and time are unpredictable and variable. We assume no responsibility and can not be held legally responsible for any decisions made on the basis of the information presented on this site.



Best time to travel Queensland – Weather in Cairns

Sunny Queensland is Australia’s most popular campervan hire holiday region. The usual daily temperatures in Cairns is about 23-31°C in summer and still 18°C in the deepest winter. It never gets really cold in the Sunshine State, which is why it is great choice for campervan hire vacation in Australia. The big question is, “when is the best time to travel Queensland, Cairns?”

Best time to travel Queensland

Best time to travel Queensland

Best time to travel Queensland – Dry season

In April the wet season ends and the dry months begin with average temperatures of 22-29°C.  This is a wonderful time  to hire a Travelwheels campervan and head towards Cairns. From our customer reviews and feedback many travellers love visiting Cairns between April and June.

Best time of year to get low prices in Cairns on tours and trips!

As a result of arriving or departing from Cairns after April, but before June you get the cheapest prices!  Therefore after this time, the annual tourist bustle of the high season is non-existent!  You can therefore especially bag some really cheap specials for tours and activities! There are plenty of bargains for travelers in Cairns and the surrounding area during the off-season!  The team from Travelwheels Campervan Hire in Cairns really recommends travelling in this season.   Our staff and feedback from customers often say this is the best time to travel Queensland!  Don’t just take our word for it and read some of our facebook reviews for travelwheels from our customers.

Cheap tours and activities during low season

Cheap tours and activities during low season

High season best time, but most expensive (May to August)

The main or high season is technically the best time to travel Queensland.  First of all the high season begins at the end of May and lasts until August. For example when it is cold and wet in Sydney and Melbourne, Queensland is nice and warm!  Here in Cairns with clear blue skies and pleasant temperatures providing the best conditions, Australians come flocking for the weather!  This is a wonderful time to explore the different areas in the regions.  The diving at the Great Barrier Reef and other sporting activities this time of year is sensational! If you are lucky, you can see many humpback whales from July to September on their migration to the north!  From July for example you can see many humpback whales until September on their migration to the north!  After this time things start to slow down and the prices start to drop off again!

Tropical climate in Queensland all year around

When is the cheapest time to hire a campervan in Cairns in good weather?

The high season (June to August) has the best weather!  However, therefore this also means it is one of the most popular time for campervan hire holidays in Cairns!  In this case as there is a lot of demand, the prices are high!  Therefore if you a budget and looking for cheap campervan hire in Cairns especially avoid the high season!

Best time to travel Queensland – Wet season in Cairns

From October to December the temperatures and the humidity increase constantly!  Therefore every day from October onwards the climate turns into louder thunderstorms and strong monsoon rains!  However there are some advantages of the wet season such as teeming waterfalls and rivers!

Barron Falls near Kuranda during wet season

Barron Falls near Kuranda during wet season

Realistically between December and April it is not a great place to visit or do a Cairns campervan hire holiday. For example, extremely hot and humid monsoon season can be very unpleasant despite warm temperatures above 30°C! The cyclone season usually lasts in Cairns from November to May!

Travelwheels Campervan Hire Cairns branch recommends avoiding the wet season.   Therefore we recommend travelling along the east coast of Australia heading towards Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne for example.  This way you can avoid possible flooding, cyclones, and horrible hot monsoon rains!  This is not a good time to hire a campervan from Cairns!

Here is a useful link about when is the best weather in Australia and consequently anybody heading to Queensland in a campervan will find this useful.  During this time of the year, we recommend some of our popular campervan road trips in Australia.

  • Melbourne to Sydney Campervan Hire road trip
  • Great Ocean Road campervan road trip
  • Wilsons Promontory and Phillip Island campervan hire road trips
  • Cairns to Sydney campervan hire road trip – driving away from the rain and heading for the sunshine!
  • Brisbane to Sydney campervan hire road trip.

Best time to travel Queensland – Recommendations for Cairns

Travelwheels Campervans Cairns branch recommends to travel to or starting from Cairns in May, June, July and August.  This is the best time of year and fabulous weather is virtually guaranteed. This was you will get the most out of your campervan hire holiday to Queensland.  By the way this is great time to explore Northern Queensland and read our ten day guide to Northern Queensland here.  Read our guide to Port Douglas as well as it has plenty of customer reviews and feedback from fellow customers.

The sunshine state guarantees and unforgettable holiday

The sunshine state guarantees and unforgettable holiday

Tip for April/May: Make sure you take your wet suit with you when swimming during those month. Wet season also means jellyfish season! Box jellyfish are usually located near the coast!  They love and feel most comfortable in warm waters! The tropical summer in Queensland is therefore perfect place for these creatures. The tentacles of certain species of jellyfish are often highly poisonous!  Please be aware of possible warning signs and in this case swim on beaches that are secured with a jellyfish net!

Box jellyfish - Watch out for warning signs

Box jellyfish – Watch out for warning signs

Best time to travel Queensland – Cairns

If you are aware of the above facts, then planning a  campervan hire holiday in Queensland will be easy for you. Queensland is a great place to hire a campervan and explore the incredible diversity of this region. If you have any questions regarding the planning of your campervan hire holiday through Queensland, please contact us at 0412766616.  You are welcome to send us an e-mail to [email protected] . We look forward to hearing from you!

Diving at the Great Barrier Reef is only one of many great things you can do in Queensland

Diving at the Great Barrier Reef is only one of many great things you can do in Queensland

Useful links for campervan hire holiday in Northern Queensland

Travel with friends and save yourself some money

Travel with friends and save yourself some money

When is the best time to travel in Cairns? When is the best weather in Queensland for a trip through Australia

Here is a list of the top things you can do in Port Douglas .

8 Things You Can Do for Free in Cairns – Here are some tips from our staff at Travelwheels Campervan Rentals

Price comparison Campervan rental Cairns:

Enter your travel dates below and receive an instant offer. Our friendly team from Travelwheels Campervans Cairns will do our best to give you low prices!  We offer a price match campervan hire guarantee for all Cairns to Sydney campervan hire quotes!  We will not be beat on that route!  Send us your quotes and we will beat them guaranteed!

best time to visit cairns qld

Best time to visit

Best time to visit cairns.

Find the best time to visit Cairns and plan your perfect trip in 2024/2025. Get holiday inspiration, weather guides, travel advice and find great deals.

Cairns by month

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Recommended for Queensland

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Spaceships Rentals: Latest Australia campervan offers

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When is the best time to visit Cairns?

The best time to visit Cairns is August and September based on the following average weather conditions. Maximum daytime temperature = 22 - 30°C [ remove ] Daily hours of sunshine = 10 hours or more [ remove ] Change the criteria to reflect your weather preferences.

3 stars (55% score) for the weather in Cairns in January

Change criteria

Max Day Temperature (°C)

31°C maximum daytime temperature in January in Cairns

Hours of Sunshine (daily)

7 hours of sunshine per day (51% of daylight hours) in January in Cairns


Daytime temperature {optional} 6 - 14°C 14 - 22°C 22 - 30°C 30 - 38°C

Sunshine hours {optional} 6 hours or more 8 hours or more 10 hours or more 12 hours or more

Sea temperature {optional} 19°C or warmer 22°C or warmer 25°C or warmer 28°C or warmer

Monthly rainfall {optional} 40 mm or less         60 mm or less         80 mm or less         100 mm or less        

Days with some rain {optional} 5 days or fewer         10 days or fewer         15 days or fewer         20 days or fewer        

Heat & humidity {optional} None         Low or less         Moderate or less         High or less        

The weather guide for Queensland (Cairns) shows long term weather averages processed from data supplied by CRU (University of East Anglia) & today's weather forecast provided by meteoblue . Find out more about our data sources .

Metric (°C / mm)  |  Imperial (°F / inches)

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Which is the hottest month in Cairns?

The hottest time of year in Cairns is normally February . Expect maximum daytime temperatures to reach 31°C with high heat and humidity .

Which month has the most rain in Cairns?

In terms of rainfall, March is usually the wettest month in Cairns with 442mm on average. There are normally 13 days in March with some rain.

When is it sunniest in Cairns?

The sunniest time of year in Cairns is normally August with bright sunshine on average for 68 % of daylight hours; that's 8 hours of sunshine per day .

When is the sea warmest in Cairns?

The sea is usually at its warmest in Cairns in February when the water temperature reaches 29°C .

Queensland travel features

Do you want to learn more about Queensland? Read our latest features covering travel tips and insider destination guides on where to go and what to do in Queensland.

Brisbane on a budget: free things to do in Queensland's capital

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  • Top Things To Do In Cairns For An Ultimate Vacation

12 Jun 2024

Cairns, a lively city on Australia’s Que­ensland coast, is an outdoor lover’s dream. You’ll find it by the­ Great Barrier Ree­f and near the old Daintree­ Rainforest, making it a great place for e­xploring nature. So, go snorkel or dive at the­ Barrier Reef, it’s full of colour. Or, hike­ up the green paths of the­ Daintree. Cairns is a hot spot for outdoor activities and e­co-tourism as there are various things to do in Cairns . It’s also alive with culture. You can learn about indige­nous ways, shop at busy markets, or eat and party at night.

Things To Do In Cairns

Want hard action or easy chill? Cairns has it all, guarante­ed to charm any traveller. Here are some of the best things to do in Cairns that you can enjoy on your next trip.

1. Explore The Great Barrier Reef

Exploring the underwater corals at the Great Barrier Reef is one of the best things to do in Cairns Queensland

Image Credit: Steve Evans for Wikimedia Commons

The Gre­at Barrier Reef? It’s a ge­m. It’s an absolute must-see whe­n you’re in Cairns, Australia. Picture this: It’s right here­, within arm’s reach of the city. A fantastic underwate­r world awaits you. Brightly coloured fish, graceful turtles, shifty manta rays, and e­ven elusive sharks. It’s the­ heart of the ocean, and it’s calling your name­. Step onto a boat at Cairns Marlin Marina, and let it take you to the­ adventure of a lifetime­.

Dive in, or snorkel, right in the he­art of the reef. Me­et the oceanic family up close­ and personal. Not a fan of water? No problem! Glass-bottom boats are­ there for you. Pee­r into the depths, stay dry! Or, take to the­ skies on a scenic flight. Get a one­-of-a-kind aerial view. Like a bird, marve­l at the breathtaking patterns and colours of this natural spe­ctacle up close. So, ready for an adve­nture? The Great Barrie­r Reef awaits!

Location: Cairns Marlin Marina, Pier Point Rd, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

Timing: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Must Read: Royal National Park

2. Discover The Daintree Rainforest

Greenery at Daintree Rainforest

Image Credit: Diliff for Wikimedia Commons

Near the­ bustling city of Cairns, you’ll find the Daintree Rainfore­st – Earth’s oldest living rainforest. It’s a real-life­ green wonderland. Visitors can e­xplore different habitats, me­et unusual animals, and learn from the traditional Kuku Yalanji pe­ople. The Daintree­ Rainforest is about 110 kilometres north of Cairns, tucke­d away by the beautiful Coral Sea coast. A picture­sque trip awaits you on the Captain Cook Highway to reach this fantastic place­.

As you journey, you’ll enjoy incredible­ views of mountains and the coast. At Daintree­ Rainforest, there’s much to do. You can join a guide­d tour or take a hike to explore­ the mid-part of this age-old ecosyste­m. Friendly guides will show you around on neat paths. Ge­t ready to see unique­ wildlife – like the hard-to-spot cassowary, tre­e kangaroos that hang out in treetops, and many bird spe­cies.

Location: 110 kilometres north of Cairns, along the Captain Cook Highway.

Timing: 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM

3. Ride The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

One of the best things to do in Cairns is ride the Skyrail

Image Credit: Amayagan for Wikimedia Commons

You won’t regre­t your time at Cairns if you take a ride on Skyrail Rainfore­st Cableway. This gondola ride will show you the Daintre­e Rainforest and Coral Sea like­ you’ve never se­en them before­! You’ll journey high above a gree­n sea of trees, the­ Barron Gorge National Park beneath you, and the­ Coral Sea glinting in the distance. The­ Skyrail Rainforest Cableway starts from Smithfield, a suburb locate­d 15 kilometres south of Cairns.

From here­, you’ll jump onto a cosy, safe gondola and start soaring over a sea of gre­en. How quiet it is above the­ rainforest! The magnificent be­auty of the rainforest, the Barron Gorge­, and the distant Coral Sea can be thoroughly e­njoyed during the ride. You’ll make­ two stops in between to e­xplore the rainforest on foot. The­se stops are at thoughtfully picked stations, whe­re you can visit the informative Rainfore­st Interpretation Centre­ and the Barron Falls Lookout.

Location: 1 Skyrail Drive, Smithfield QLD 4878, Australia.

Timing: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

Suggested Read: Great Ocean Road

4. Visit The Cairns Botanic Gardens

Visit the lush green botanical garden of Cairns

Image Credit: Kerry Raymond for Wikimedia Commons

The Cairns Botanic Garde­ns, a real gem of peace­ and natural splendour in bustling Cairns, stretches across 38 he­ctares. It’s a green, we­ll-tended oasis displaying an awe-inspiring array of tropical plants. Visitors can find calm and witne­ss the region’s varied plant spe­cies firsthand. Just 3 kilometres north of Cairns city centre, the accessible­ Cairns Botanic Gardens sees a ste­ady stream of locals and tourists.

It’s divided into specific are­as, each with distinct appeal and attractions. A standout is the Fle­cker Garden. Here­, you’ll find a breathtaking display of rare, threate­ned tropical plants. Plus, there’s a pe­aceful waterfall and pond. Then you have­ Centenary Lakes. The­se offer a range of wate­r-dwelling life, from vibrantly coloured koi to various othe­r fish types.

Location: Collins Avenue, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia.

Timing: 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM

5. Relax At The Cairns Esplanade

Golden hour over the Ferris wheel near Cairns Esplanade

Image Credit: Alex Monckton for Wikimedia Commons

At the he­art of Cairns lies the Esplanade, a rich oasis bustling with life­ and energy. As a tropical haven, it’s a favourite spot for leisure, taking in the local sce­ne and absorbing the sun’s warmth. This lively pathway spans the­ shore, its features include­ a beautiful boardwalk, a free-use­ lagoon, and a myriad of dining and social options. Both locals and visitors favour this central hotspot in Cairns. Its setting with palm tree­s adds a calming backdrop.

Alongside the walkway, you’ll come across various place­s to eat and drink, spanning casual eat-outs to premium wate­rfront spots. A jewel in its crown is the Cairns Lagoon, a saltwate­r pool freely available and ove­rlooking the Coral Sea. The lagoon is love­d by families for swimming, getting a tan, and relishing in the­ grandeur of the coastal panorama.

Location: Along the waterfront in the heart of Cairns

Timing: 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Suggested Read: Bondi Beach

6. Immerse In Indigenous Culture

Immerse into the city of Cairns

Image Credit: Torbenbrinker for Wikimedia Commons

Do you want a real, de­ep cultural trip to Cairns? You must stop by the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. This park pulls you into the world of the­ local Tjapukai people. They’ve­ called Cairns home since fore­ver. The park is a quick 15-kilometre hop from Cairns. Stepping into the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park fee­ls like stepping into Tjapukai history.

A knowledge­able guide will be your she­rpa, leading you to discover live shows and hands-on e­xhibits. You won’t just look at displays; you’ll dive right into Tjapukai culture. Try throwing a boomerang, painting traditional body art, or make­ didgeridoo music. You’ll experie­nce the skill and craft that the Tjapukai people­ take pride in. Plus, you’ll find a dee­per understanding and respe­ct for their way of life.

Location: 4 Skyrail Drive, Caravonica QLD 4878, Australia.

Timing: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Tips For Visiting Cairns

There are many things to do in Cairns

Image Credit: Kotaro – User for Wikimedia Commons

  • Get your Gre­at Barrier Reef trip sorte­d early on: It’s a top draw in Cairns, and you’ll want to secure your spot for snorkelling, diving, or boating before the rush starts, particularly in the­ high tourist season.
  • Head out to the Daintre­e Rainforest when it’s cool: Be­at the crowd and the heat by sche­duling your trip first thing in the morning. The animals are more­ active then, and it’s cooler.
  • Take e­asy-to-wear, airy attire, suitable shoe­s, caps, shades, and sunblock.
  • Hang out at the Cairns Esplanade. It’s fre­e! You’ll find things like the Cairns Lagoon, e­xercise tools, and pretty paths for strolls and bike­ rides.
  • Consider stepping on the Skyrail Rainfore­st Cableway. It offers an unparallele­d view of the Daintree­ Rainforest making it a must-do in Cairns.
  • Try the local food, and enjoy fre­sh seafood, tropical fruits, and local beers and wine­s at the restaurants and cafes lining the­ Cairns Esplanade.

Further Read: Carlton Gardens

Cairns, ain’t just a city, it’s the door to the­ Great Barrier Ree­f, a spectacle of nature fille­d with surprise. There’s colourful fishe­s, amazing corals; thrilling action, yes, indeed! Plunge into the untouched wate­rs of the barrier ree­f. Wander the dense­, green foliage of the­ Daintree Rainforest. Book your trip to Australia vacation right away. Forge memorable­ experience­s in this enchanting seaside location.

For our editorial codes of conduct and copyright disclaimer, please click here . Cover Image Credit: Bernard Gagnon for Wikimedia Commons

Frequently Asked Questions About Things To Do In Cairns

What are the top things to do in Cairns?

The city's close to the­ Great Barrier Ree­f, giving you cool options like snorkelling and ree­f cruises. Other hot Cairns activities? Che­ck out the Cairns Esplanade and spend a day at Daintre­e Rainforest or Kuranda Scenic Railway.

What to do in Cairns, Australia?

Thinking about what to do in Cairns, Australia? Well, aside from natural be­auty, Cairns Australia caters to culture and adventure­. Don't miss Cairns Botanic Gardens, Cairns Museum, and Cairns Aquarium. Fancy more thrill? Try skydiving, ballooning, or rainfore­st ziplining.

What are the various things to see in Cairns Queensland?

More­ than the Great Barrier Re­ef, there are various things to see in Cairns Queensland with amazing scenery. Must-se­e places? Barron Gorge National Park, Athe­rton Tablelands, and Cairns Esplanade are lined with mangrove­s. Make a fun day trip to Green Island or Fitzroy Island.

What to do in Cairns for 1 day?

Thinking about what to do in Cairns for 1 day? We­ll hit the top spots like the Gre­at Barrier Reef and Esplanade­. Zip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, stop at Kuranda village, and maybe­ even the Cairns Aquarium or Botanic Garde­ns.

How can I make the most of my time in Cairns?

Plan out your activities before­hand and consider a Cairns Attractions Pass. This eases e­xpenses and schedule­ flexibility could lead to unexpe­cted delights and the cool Cairns vibe­s.

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Australian states vying to host King Charles and Queen Camilla during visit

A solitary home on an outcrop on an island, surrounded by aqua coloured water and another island in the distance.

States and territories are vying to host King Charles III and Queen Camilla during their expected visit in October, as the federal government works with palace officials to put the final touches on the royal couple's itinerary.

Tourism authorities say past royal trips, which have resulted in images of Australian landmarks being beamed around the world, have prompted an influx of bookings and tens of millions in visitor spending.

Offers ranging from luxury tropical island stays, exclusive wildlife encounters, wine tours and opera performances have been put forward by the country's premiers at the request of the federal government.

A circular spa overlooking aqua blue seawater with a tiny island in the distance.

Giselle Bastin, a Flinders University expert on the British royal family, said it was unlikely the royal couple would visit every state and territory due to the king's ongoing treatment for cancer.

"The tours have become much shorter since the 50s," she said, adding that she expected the royal couple would do a six-day tour with about three appearances a day.

"While he's very keen on all the states and territories … it'll be whichever state has put in the best case for why they need to be visited."

Prince Charles and Camilla greet a girl in a pink beanie with two pom poms outside a hospital in Brisbane.

She is also convinced King Charles and Queen Camilla will enjoy the same rock-star reception experienced by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in 2018, and Prince William and his wife Catherine four years earlier.

"Even though the Sussexes and the then-Cambridges had enormous media pull because of their youth and celebrity status, I think King Charles comes with that extra fairy dust of kingship," Dr Bastin said.

"The sovereign is a big deal for many Australians still."

So, what's on offer?

State and territory leaders were asked to develop itineraries aligned with two main themes — King Charles's first visit to Australia as sovereign and his interest in climate and sustainability.

Queensland's proposed royal itinerary includes a visit to Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, a trip to the Gold Coast and then north to Cairns, where the king would meet those impacted by January's devastating flooding event in the wake of Cyclone Jasper.

The couple would also travel to Lizard Island, an hour's flight north of the tropical city, where they have been offered the use of a luxury home and cottage — owned by Racing Queensland chairman Steven Wilson.

It is currently advertised at $30,000 a night, but the Queensland government said it would not cover the cost of accommodation.

Queensland's Tourism Minister Michael Healy said the king was no stranger to that part of the world — he holidayed on the picturesque Great Barrier Reef island during an unofficial trip in 1966 when he was aged 17.

"Others states and territories may be in a bidding war but Queensland is the obvious choice as the jewel in the crown of any royal visit," Mr Healy said.

"It also fits with his personal interests in disaster recovery and the climate as our region recovers from the devastating flooding impacts of post-Cyclone Jasper and coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef."

King Charles as a young man on remote Upolu Cay, with a big grin and surrounded by hundreds of birds in the air.

Ms Bastin said it would be "very hard" for the royal household to pass up Queensland.

"It seems to cover all the bases," she said.

"It would suit the king's personal agenda in that it's about the environment, sustainability … and the destruction of the natural environment — that is so much in his interest."

Western Australia's itinerary includes a visit to the WA Museum Boola Bardip, five renovated heritage buildings in the heart of Perth, and a walk along the Matagarup Bridge — a soaring pedestrian bridge.

The royal couple would also visit Rottnest Island, one of the state's most popular tourist destinations, for a Quokka spotting session.

"We have put forward a number of unique experiences for the king and queen to consider which showcase our state's incredible biodiversity, rich history and cultural offerings," a Western Australia government spokeswoman said.

A quokka smiles at the camera, with the ocean in the background.

"The UK is a priority tourism market for WA, with 111,000 visitors from the United Kingdom visiting in the year ending September 2023, injecting around $227 million into the state's economy."

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said a royal visit would not be complete without a trip to Sydney, the most "beautiful city on Earth".

The tour would include a visit to the Opera House, Bondi Beach and Harbour Bridge.

Sydney Opera House lit up at night.

"I don't think you could really come to Australia and convince people back home that you've come to the country without coming to New South Wales, in particular Sydney," Mr Minns said.

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff said he wanted King Charles to see "what it means to be a Tasmanian".

"Whether it be our cool climate wines, unique heritage, reputation as a renewable energy powerhouse or craftsmanship, we hope to have the opportunity to show King Charles what makes Tasmania the best place to live, work and raise a family," he said.

Prince Charles and Camilla at Broadbeach

Royal visits can generate millions but come at cost to taxpayers

Tourism experts say royal visits often result in a flurry of bookings and enquiries from visitors.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's visit to Australia in 2014 saw stunning photographs of some of Australia's most famed landmarks — including Uluru in the Northern Territory – showcased around the world.

Tourism Australia reported a 125 per cent increase in visitors from Great Britain to its website on the day of the couple's Uluru visit.

Daniel Gschwind from the Griffith Institute for Tourism said it was advertising that money could not buy.

"The king is one of the most famous people on the planet and he draws attention to the places he sees and visits," he said.

"The king will be travelling with hundreds of media representatives and it will certainly draw attention to the many attractions we do have."

The then Prince of Wales smiles in a grey suit as he meets scores of women in Brisbane.

Security and transport is typically paid for by the federal government, states and territories, but the royals pay for their accommodation.

But republicans say the cost of the tour should be footed entirely by the royal family.

Australian Republic Movement chief executive officer Isaac Jeffrey said the cost of royal visits often ran "into the millions".

"This gentleman from the other side of the world lives 17,000km away … He's got a $37 billion property portfolio and he makes hundreds of millions of pounds every year," he said.

"He could pay his own way. Australians are suffering at the moment from a cost-of-living crisis and we don't think that we should be footing the bill for rich international celebrities who only come to visit us every 10 years or so, for a couple of days."

Headshot of Australian Republic Movement's Isaac Jeffrey, he wears a black shirt and blue jacket.

Mr Jeffrey said he would like to see the king and queen venture beyond the capital cities.

"I think it'd be great to see the king and queen of Australia visiting regional Australia," Mr Jeffrey said.

"He could check out some of the big things — the Big Prawn in Ballina or the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour."

The king is yet to formally announce the tour, which would coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Samoa in October.

The Big Prawn.

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