Best Time ToTravel to Sydney, Cairns and Great Barrier Reef

by Sahana
(San Diego, California, US)

Best Time ToTravel to Sydney, Cairns and Great Barrier Reef

We are planning to visit Sydney and Great Barrier Reef either during the first week of April or last weeks of July.

We plan to visit family in Sydney, and do all outdoor activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving at Great Barrier Reef.

We are concerned about water being too cold during the month of July, and at same time concerned about the string (Annie Edits: Do you mean stingers?) in April. Please advice?

We are coming from California. The winter temperature here gets at 6• at night
Thank you

Okay, I can only answer this from my personal visits to the barrier reef, which have ALL been during July and August.

One of the great advantages of going up there at that time of the year, so I am told, is that the water is clearest! I don't know any different, because I have not been at any other times. I believe that the reason for this is that tropical cyclones which tend to occur in our Summer season and early Autumn (December through to April approximately) can churn up the water and make the visibility for snorkelling and scuba diving not as good. But that is hearsay, I have no personal experience of that.

Water temperature off Cairns in July? Well all I can say is balmy! We took our kids up there a few years ago and my youngest doesn't have an ounce of body fat and usually freezes - but she was happily swimming and snorkelling amongst the fish on the reef whilst we were on a tour from Cairns and the water was 24C!

Cairns is in the tropics, so the temperature doesn't really change that much year round. I remember having some cloudy days (humidity is higher than Sydney all year round) and some sunny days, and you definitely need to use sunscreen for protection. And there are lots of other things to do up there too, like heading up into the Atheron Tablelands, Cape Tribulation Rainforest, Hartley's Crocodile Farm, Breakfast with the Birds at Port Douglas and lazy lunches and dinners in the myriad of wonderful eateries in Port Douglas and lots more.

The one thing I will say is that it can be windy! Everytime I have been there in July the wind on somedays seemed relentless. It wasn't cold, it just blew and blew and blew! However, it certainly didn't affect our visits to the reef, which I always remember as being quite calm out there.

As you can see, July gets quite a big thumbs up from me, because I think I have been up there about 4 times and every time was in July or August.

The thought of having to worry about marine stingers or jellyfish, does put me off the other times I think officially it is November to May that are the peak months for those nasties! However, the tourist industry up there works year round, and there are definitely things to be done to avoid any issues, such as wearing stinger suits.

Unfortunately, as much as you can plan to come at the best time, weather is erratic, and you can get unusually warm or cool times. Personally, if I had a choice, Great Barrier Reef in July would be my pick. Oh, and if you are lucky, you may even get to see some Humpback Whales who go up there for their breeding season!

On the flip side, Sydney will be warmer (maybe wet) in April and quite a bit cooler in July. Since you mention you will be visiting family, and probably doing some sightseeing I imagine, that should not be an issue.

Check out the information on this site about Australian Weather Patterns to give you an idea of temperatures and other considerations. The first photo on that page was taken in July in Cairns, it pretty much says it all...

Hope that was helpful, if you have any more qustions please leave them as a comment below. If you found this helpful, you can Like it, Tweet it and share on Facebook ;-) Thanks for spreading the word...


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