Cairns, located in beautiful Far North Queensland is an amazing holiday destination. This Northern part of the country is well known for its tropical climate, World Heritage protected Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef, which draws thousands of visitors to the region every year to experience what locals consider their piece of paradise.
Queensland is a large state and there is a significant weather variation in rainfall and climate across the state. To the west low rainfall and hot summers are typical, on the coast warm temperatures are common and in the Far North including Cairns, you will find a monsoonal wet season and hot humid summers. The best part of travelling to a tropical region is that you are going to find a great holiday destination that can be enjoyed all year round.
WebCam Images - Cairns City Webcam
Like the rest of Queensland, Cairns experiences two distinct weather seasons each year. A winter season that falls between April and September, with slightly cooler but warm temperatures and minimal rainfall and a summer season between October and March with hot, sticky temperatures and heavy rainfall periods.
The most popular time to visit Cairns is in the winter months, particularly in school holiday periods that fall in the middle of the year for Australian and New Zealand visitors. This is a great time to experience the best of the tropical region with clear skies and comfortable temperatures perfect for exploring the region.
Things to do when it Rains
Rain in Cairns during the wet season generally falls overnight and clears up during the day. However, if you find yourself with a wet day, there are still plenty of suitable activities to experience this beautiful tropical region.
After a day of heavy rain, photographers will love the amazing photo opportunities that the rain brings to the area. Waterfalls such as the Barron George in Kuranda are most magnificent when they are roaring with life from the rainfall.
Rain will not dampen your Cairns touring adventures with plenty of options to keep you busy. You could take a rainforest tour exploring Kuranda or the Daintree Rainforest, go White Water Rafting on the Barron or Tully rapids, experience your own ATV adventure on quad bikes or try your hand at skiing at the Cable Ski Park.
Want more of a laid back day? Then take a day tour to Kuranda in comfort on the Kuranda Scenic Railway, returning on a fully enclosed gondola on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. In fact, almost all of the tours in Cairns can be enjoyed in both rainy and fine tropical days.
If you would prefer staying inside, treat yourself with a day spa experience, visit the enclosed Rainforest Dome onto of the Casino, go shopping, or visit the local Blue Sky Brewery and enjoy having a drink with the locals.
Great Barrier Reef Tours & Weather
Just because it’s raining in Cairns doesn’t mean it’s raining on the reef. Low to moderate rain in Cairns generally falls overnight and will clear up during the day, making a perfect opportunity to visit the Great Barrier Reef.
There are a variety of tours that depart from Cairns daily, travelling to the Great Barrier Reef which is alive with amazing marine life activity and plenty to see and do. During the wet season in summer months, visiting the reef and swimming in the beautiful tropical waters is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. Water temperatures on the reef vary from a comfortable 22 degrees in winter to 29 degrees in summer, ideal for year round enjoyment in the water from snorkelling to scuba diving.
From July to August you may even be lucky to see the Minke and Humpback whales that migrate up the coast and from November the reef comes alive with the annual Coral spawning, a unique event in the animal kingdom occurring at night with a mass spawning of coral. Millions of spawn and eggs are released together, an amazing sight of oranges, red, pink, blue and purple that can be viewed by the naked eye. Take a tour that specialises in this once in a lifetime experience.
Tropical Storms & Cyclones in Cairns
Tropical Cyclones form almost exclusively in tropical regions in the world, including Far North Queensland. These storm surges build up over warm tropical water, swirling in a clockwise direction with a low pressure centre. Tropical cyclones result in thunderstorms that produce destructive winds and torrential rain, which can cause inland flooding and storm surges.
The Cyclone Season in Cairns is generally from November to May. The severity of a cyclone ranges from category 1 to 5, measured by the strongest wind gust per hour. Being alert and prepared in the event of a cyclone is the key to minimising damage and unnecessary injury.
In February 2011, Cyclone Yasi hit the Far North Queensland Coast causing significant damage to towns south of Cairns. Cairns City and towns north, such as Port Douglas, experienced little damage.
Cyclone Yasi was a category 5 when it hit the Queensland coast between Innisfail and Cardwell, with maximum wind gusts of 290km/hour. Yasi was the most powerful cyclone to hit Australia in over 100 years, causing over 800 million dollars in damage.
Cyclone Larry was another cyclone that caused a lot of damage to the cassowary coast region, crossing the coast at Innisfail, 100 kilometres south of Cairns on March 2006. Larry was a category 5, downgraded to Category 4 when it crossed the coast, causing structural, crop and flood damage to Innisfail and the surrounding region, with winds up to 230km/hour. In 2006, Larry was the worse cyclone to hit the Queensland coast since 1931.
Some of the other recent cyclones to hit the Queensland coast include Cyclone Monica a category 5 in 2006 which caused little damage as it crossed in an unpopulated part of the coast. Cyclone Ingrid category 3-5 in 2005 was the first cyclone to cross three different states and territories, travelling from Queensland to the Northern Territory to Western Australia..
The Green Season
From December to April each year, Cairns experiences the wet season, or as the locals like to call it the Green Season. Don’t let the name fool you, this is a great time to visit the Far North for many reasons.
The peak tourist season in Cairns falls between July and August during the Cairns winter. As like peak periods in most tourist destinations, you will find the cost of accommodation and tours will be at full price. Visiting during the Green Season you will find great deals in the region, which account for big savings in your pocket. This also means that your first choice of accommodation whether on the beach or on an island will most likely be available on the dates that you are visiting. You won’t have to miss out on the dream holiday you have always wanted in the tropics, while also getting a great price. Booking at least a month ahead in the Green Season is still recommended.
The domestic airline operators also offer some great specials travelling from capital cities to and from the Cairns region.
As the name suggests, the Green Season is a beautiful time to visit Cairns and the surrounding region. The World Heritage protected Rainforest really comes alive with some good rainfall. This is the best time to take one of the many Rainforest tours available to the famous Daintree or Cape Tribulation Rainforest, or even a self-drive day to the Tablelands.
If you decide to take the time to explore the Tablelands, you will find the Green Season is a great time of year to explore the many waterfalls and take a dip in the fresh water swimming holes. Tropical Horizons has a Waterfalls, Wildlife and Paronella Park tour that is perfect for this time of year. It also offers you a chance to explore the Spanish style castles in Paronella Park that is set amongst the tropical rainforest. Paronella Park is an award winning tourist attraction in the region.
The other jewel in the Far North that is a must see is of course the Great Barrier Reef. Taking a day trip to the reef during the Green Season is a great way to enjoy low crowds, low winds and water clarity that only comes at this time of year. These conditions in the wet season make some of the best days of year to visit the reef.