Annual Great Barrier Reef weather overview

Annual Great Barrier Reef weather overview

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 01/14/2016

Reading time: 4 mins

The Great Barrier Reef is great to visit any time of year regardless of the season.

Great Barrier Reef Temperature
Set in North Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef boasts a tropical climate that’s hard to beat anywhere else in the country. There is plenty of sunshine throughout the year, which is paired with refreshing sea breezes.

The Great Barrier Reef really only has two distinct seasons: summer and winter. Both seasons welcome warm temperatures, but the rainfall and temperature of the sea can vary greatly between seasons.

Temperatures are pretty steady throughout the year. The average maximum is 30°C and the minimum is21°C. However, this can rise much higher in the warmer months.
Due to its location and climate, the Great Barrier Reef can experience plenty of rain throughout the year. The average rainfall adds up to around 2,010 millimetres each year.

Winter in the Great Barrier Reef

The winter months at the Great Barrier Reef span between May to October. These months are characterised by warm weather. This is the typical climate of the region, perfect for exploring the crystal clear ocean waters and enjoying the sun under the clear blue skies.

Winter is also the dry season in the Great Barrier Reef, which means that it will barely rain during these months. During this season, you can expect fresh coastal breezes and low humidity.

The winter season is also the traditional swimming season in this part of Australia. During this time, the water temperatures bask at a very pleasant 23°C.

Summer in the Great Barrier Reef

The summer months are when the wet season occurs in the Great Barrier Reef. The temperatures are still very high, but tropical downpours hit the region between November and April.

The rain isn’t necessarily a bad thing! The refreshing rainfall is often a welcome release from the hot temperatures that otherwise characterise the season. Often, the storms happen in the afternoon and leave glorious blue skies and sunshine in their wake.

Summer is the warmest time of year in the Great Barrier Reef, with sea temperatures reaching up to 29°C. However, swimming proves to be slightly more difficult due to the abundance of jellyfish during this season. Because of this, visitors are asked to stick to the special swimming enclosures. These swimming enclosures are set up along the most popular beaches and aid in avoiding any encounters with the sea creatures.

Some pros and cons to consider

  • The jellyfish

    Jellyfish, Stinger season

    The summer months are commonly known as the stinger season among locals. Every year during this time, swarms of jellyfish invade the shores and seas off the coast of Queensland. Although there is no set date, the jellyfish season typically begins in November and lasts until May. This also coincides with the region’s wet season.

    Despite the creature’s relatively innocent-seeming appearance, some species of jellyfish can pack quite a punch. This unfortunately includes the two types of jellyfish that invade Queensland in the summer.

    The names of the species are Irukandji and the Box Jellyfish. They range in size, shape, and sting reactions, but each causes severe pain and some rare cases of death. However, because the region is accustomed to these creatures, there are several precautions in place. These precautions include jellyfish netting at beaches and stinge-resistant wetsuits.

  • The whales

    Humpback Whale at Great Barrier Reef

    Every year from July to September, whales like to visit the Great Barrier Reef!

    These incredible creatures slowly migrate to the tropical waters of Australia to breed and give birth to their young. The sighted whales include the Dwarf Minke Whale and the famous Humpback Whale. The Dwarf Minke Whale is the smallest breed of the Baleen whale species, swimming up to speeds of 12 knots. The massive humpback whales can reach up to 15 meters and weigh over 40 tonnes.

    Spot these extraordinary creatures swimming through the deep seas of the Great Barrier Reef Coast from the water or a nearby boat.

  • The coral spawning

    Coral spawning is one of the highlights of the Great Barrier Reef and is listed as one of the most memorable natural phenomena around.

    Coral spawning is the time once a year when the Great Barrier Reef reproduces. During this time, the corals release hundreds of eggs and sperm into the water for fertilisation. The eggs and sperm float around the sea until they are fertilised and find the perfect hard surface to settle and develop.

    The occurrence happens after the full moon in November/December. The eggs and sperm appear as a cloud of white dots emerging from the colourful coral, much like the underwater snowfall effect!

Related article: Top 5 Things to Do in the Great Barrier Reef!

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.