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

By Ben - MahiWeb

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.

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.

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.

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!

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