When's The Best Time To Visit Cairns, Australia - Down Under Tours

When’s The Best Time To Visit Cairns, Australia

March 9, 2024

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. Springtime is a delight, with blooming plant life and plenty of animal activity. It’s the 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. The 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 say 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 if 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. Although 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. Rain tends 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. While 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.