Annual Great Barrier Reef Weather Overview

The Great Barrier Reef is set in North Queensland, which boasts a tropical climate that’s hard to beat anywhere else in the country.

Great Barrier Reef Temperature

There is plenty of sunshine throughout the year, which is paired with refreshing sea breezes. Unlike other parts of Australia which have the typical four seasons, the Great Barrier Reef really only has two distinct seasons: summer and winter. Both seasons host lush, warm temperatures, but the rainfall and sea temperatures can vary greatly from each season.

Temperatures are pretty steady throughout the year, with an average maximum of 30°C and minimum of 21°C. Though this can rise much higher in the warmer months. This tropical climate makes the Great Barrier Reef party to plenty of rain throughout the year, with an average of 2010mm falling during the year.

Winter in the Great Barrier Reef

Winter spans between May and October and is characterised by warm weather. It’s the typical climate you’d expect of the region, highlighting the crystal clear waters of the ocean and the seemingly endless blue skies.

Winter is also the dry season in the Great Barrier Reef, which means that barely any rainfall takes place during these months. Instead, you can expect fresh coastal breezes and low humidity. It’s also the traditional swimming season in this part of Australia, and water temperatures bask at a very pleasant 23°C.

Summer in the Great Barrier Reef

On the flipside, summer is also the wet season in the Great Barrier Reef. The temperatures are still very high, but tropical downpours hit the region between November and April. This 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. During the summer months you’re likely to see a number of electrical storms.

Summer is the warmest time of year in the Great Barrier Reef, with sea temperatures hitting a very pleasant 29°C. However, swimming proves to be slightly more difficult thanks to the box jellyfish that come out to play. Because of this, visitors are asked to stick to the special swimming enclosures. They are set up along the most popular beaches and aid to avoid any encounters with the sea creatures.

The Pros and Cons each season brings

  • The Jellyfish


    It is commonly known as the stinger season among locals. A time every year when swarms of jellyfish invade the shores and seas of the Queensland coast. Although there is no set date, the jellyfish season typically begins in November and lasts until May. This also coincides with the regions wet season. Despite the creatures relatively innocent-seeming name and appearance, some species of jellyfish can pack quite a punch, which unfortunately include the two that invade Queensland. The names of the species are Irukandji and the Box Jellyfish. They range in size, shapes, and stings reactions, but each causes severe pain and some rare cases of death. However, as the region is accustomed to these creatures, there are several precautions in Stinger season. Including jellyfish netting at beaches, and stinger wet suits which protect you against the creatures.

  • The Whales

    Humpback Whale at Great Barrier Reef

    Every year during the months of July to September, it’s not just tourists who visit the Great Barrier Reef, but Whales too. With these incredible creatures slowly migrating 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. See these extraordinary creatures swimming through the deep seas of the Great Barrier Reef Coast, either right in the water with them or nearby on a boat.

  • The Coral Spawning

    It is one of the highlights of the Great Barrier Reef, listed as one of the most memorable natural phenomena’s around. Coral spawning; the time once a year when the Great Barrier Reef reproduces. Releasing hundreds of eggs and sperm into the water for fertilisation into the open ocean. The eggs and sperm float around the sea pushed and pulled with currents, winds, and waves until they are fertilised and find the perfect hard surface to settle and develop. The occurrence happens after the full moon in November/December time. With the eggs and sperm seemingly like a cloud of white dots emerging from the colourful coral, much like underwater snowfall effect!

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