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The Best Time to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

The Best Time to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

As one of the greatest wonders of our Earth’s oceans, visiting the Great Barrier Reef should be on any world traveler’s bucket list. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world and offers just as many diverse experiences for visitors.

The Great Barrier Reef sea country is one of the oldest in the nation and was home to the first Australians more than 60,000 years ago.

The reef has changed immensely throughout time since and the Reef as we know it today is only about 10,000 years old. The changing nature of this natural landmark is one of the many reasons to see it with your own eyes.

Because the GBR holds such great ecological importance, Australians are greatly concerned with maintaining its health. As a result, you should plan a visit that doesn’t disrupt this ecosystem while supporting local communities!

Why You Should Visit the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef takes up a huge portion of the Australian northeastern coast–1,429 miles to be exact. The incredible biodiversity, ecological significance, and sheer beauty of the Australian landscape are just a few reasons you should plan a visit to see it.

This ever-changing natural landscape is a destination for countless reasons. For ocean enthusiasts, a trip to the Great Barrier Reef is a dream.

Here are just some of the water-related activities you can plan for your trip:

  • Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Swimming
  • Boating tours
  • Cruises
  • Whale watching

This is only the tip of the reef. There are also gorgeous inshore areas for those who would rather not get their feet wet. Walk the coastal beaches and trails, see sponge gardens and mangroves, or go on a sea-plane tour for an unforgettable Aussie experience.

Another reason to visit the Great Barrier Reef is that those who manage this Marine Park take their jobs seriously. They are always working to provide the best experience at one of the best-managed reefs on earth.

The Overall Best Time to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

Scuba diver swimming along some coral with fish swimming around during the best time to go to the Great Barrier Reef


The best time overall to visit the Great Barrier Reef is during Australia’s dry season, which typically lasts from May or June through October.

You can plan a trip during the rainy season but should keep some factors in mind for a comfortable trip. From May to October, rainfall is typically lower and the threat of monsoons and other ocean-related weather events wanes.

Less rain means clearer waters, so if you’re looking to book a scuba diving trip, the dry season is the best time to visit. This is the best time to get a sample of the rich biodiversity the Reef has to offer.

There is also less jellyfish activity this time of year, particularly of the box jellyfish, which means a more friendly environment for divers!

Temperatures are also more comfortable in this part of Australia during this time of year. With less humidity, temperatures ranging from the 60s-80s are part of the allure for visitors, especially if they want to escape cold climates.

Australia’s winter is the best time to plan a trip. All that said, if you’re less concerned with actually getting in the water, the off-season of November through April offers its own gold nuggets for visitors.

This season is less busy, meaning you can find more deals on airfare and lodging. The higher rainfall means the adjacent forests are at their most lush!

The Cheapest Time to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

If you’re looking to tour the Great Barrier Reef on a budget, the cheapest time to travel there is during the summer seasons of October/November through April/May.

Both the off-seasons and transitions between seasons are great times to snag deals on flights, tours, and hotels. However, if you want to go during the best season, aim for a lull in the middle of the high season.

Check flight and hotel prices from June to August for the best chance at finding a steal for your budget trip. Prices are highest right at the beginning of the tourism season but tend to decrease as the influx of visitors slows down.

Another way to plan a cheap trip is to keep your eye on local events.

Sports games, big concerts, or holidays can mean more tourism, which will inevitably mean higher prices. Booking your stay between popular events will ensure a budget-friendly and peaceful trip!

The Least Busy Time to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

Tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef pictured at sunset while boats float on the bay

Christopher Meder/Shutterstock

To avoid crowds, you’ll want to visit during the rainy seasons of November through March or April. May and June are when the tourist season really starts to pick up.

If you’re looking for a month with less rainfall (and fewer people) try January or February. Temperatures are still agreeable though humidity is higher. However, you’ll find popular destinations much less crowded.

Another pro of avoiding crowds is finding great deals on flights because of the off-season. Beaches will also be less crowded since it will be rainy, but a rainy beach has its own charm!

The higher rainfall also means that some of Australia’s botanicals are at their most lush. Visiting the Great Barrier Reef during the summer season of November through February is a great way to avoid crowds and appreciate the flora.

The Worst Time to Visit the Great Barrier Reef

Some would say the worst time to visit the Great Barrier reef is during the rainy season spanning from October through April and if you want to spend time in the water, this is true.

Heavy rains can muddy the waters of the Reef. This makes scuba diving less attractive to tourists during the rainy season. Another significant con to consider is that box jellyfish are more populous and active during this part of the year.

Of course, there are measures you can take to avoid stings, but some would rather avoid the risk altogether. Australia’s rains this time of year can also result in traveling difficulties like mudslides or flooding.

Pair that with the high humidity that many people find so unbearable, and it’s safe to say October through April is the worst time to visit.

Things to Consider

Turtle swimming by a coral reef with divers above for a piece on the best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef


Australia is a place where nature’s power makes itself known. Monsoons, mudslides, and unique animal species abound. While it is safe to travel to Australia, you can ensure your trip is comfortable by considering these factors while you plan your trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

These include:

  • Weather
  • Temperature
  • Destinations
  • Activities

By taking these into account, you can ensure your trip to Australia is an enjoyable experience you’ll remember forever. The weather can impact your trip greatly, as heavy rains can slow travel or create road hazards.

Not only that, but heavy rains can affect water clarity, which makes scuba diving and sea tours by air less enjoyable. No matter where you travel, the temperature is always important to take into consideration.

Many find traveling to Australia during the winter months more comfortable with temperatures averaging in the 60s and 70s.

For some, the high temperatures and humidity of summer may be a health risk. You can prepare your trip according to where your destinations are and what activities you and your travel companions are interested in.

For example, if you want to whale watch, scuba dive, or go on sea tours, May through September is the best time to visit. Given the 5,000+ species you can find on this reef, it is no wonder so many visitors prefer to tour the Great Barrier Reef when the waters are clear.

Frequently Asked Questions

The most important part of a vacation is living in the moment and enjoying it. The best way to do that is to have a clear view of your goals for your trip. If you have any lingering questions about the best time to plan your visit to the Great Barrier Reef, we’ll answer them below!

Can you swim in the great barrier reef all year round?

Yes, you technically can swim in the Great Barrier Reef all year round but certain times of year may be more suitable. This is because heavy rains and jellyfish activity are more common during the summer months from October to April.

How many days do you need at the Great Barrier Reef?

Getting the full scope of the Great Barrier Reef could take up the rest of your days, but planning for a minimum of 3 to 4 days exploring the Great Barrier Reef should satisfy your curiosity about this wonder.

What month is best to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef?

The best months to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef are June through October because you will have the clearest view of this natural wonder’s incredible biodiversity.

If you prefer warmer temperatures for snorkeling, aim for September and October, but if you can tolerate a cooler day, June through August is the high season for snorkeling.

Is December a good time to visit the Great Barrier Reef?

Although the height of summer in Australia can be somewhat unpredictable weather-wise, visiting the Great Barrier Reef in December will provide a trip with clear waters and hot, humid weather. Just watch out for some fish species which may become aggressive during their breeding season!

Is the Great Barrier Reef worth it?

With its gorgeous, brightly-colored coral reef and biodiverse ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef is indeed one of the most worthwhile places to visit, especially for oceanic enthusiasts.

Because Australians care deeply for their environment and provide you a great tourist experience, the Great Barrier Reef is a must-see destination for world travelers.

How much does it cost to swim in the Great Barrier Reef?

Fortunately, you can plan swimming in the Great Barrier Reef according to your budget with tour packages ranging from $175 to $600 or more.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit the Great Barrier Reef?

Although the winter months from May to October are the high season for tourism on the Great Barrier Reef, you can plan a great trip to this natural wonder any time of year.

When you go depends on what activities you want to do and the sights you want to see. From the Cairns to Sunshine Coast, the Great Barrier Reef changes throughout the year but never falters in its gorgeous seascape and biodiverse wonders.

Whale watching, scuba diving, and relaxing on the beach are just a few of the countless options you and your travel companions can enjoy.

To avoid rain, the best time to visit is the winter months, but if you’re not picky, there is plenty of beauty to behold all year round. So, with no bad season, what are you waiting for — book your trip to see the Reef for yourself today!