best time to go to Great Barrier Reef?

Old May 31st, 2007, 07:47 AM
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best time to go to Great Barrier Reef?

Is there a best time to go to the GBR?
Any suggestions for snorkling (companies, spots, etc.)
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Old May 31st, 2007, 04:36 PM
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I have been in July, August and September and those were all great months. (Warm weather and not so humid. Also no stingers at the beach). However, I've heard that October is the best.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 04:41 PM
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Whoops, I forgot to mention snorkeling companies. We always stay in Port Douglas (which is very nice), so I don't know about any of the companies that operate out of Cairns. We've gone with several different boats out of PD, but we always go back to Wavelength. (We've gone out with them at least 5 times.) They are a snorkel-only boat and take a maximum of 30 passengers (but often it is fewer than 30). Good, personalized service and they are especially good with people with no or little snorkel experience.
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Old Jun 1st, 2007, 05:31 AM
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nanabee, climate being what it is these days I wouldn't dare try to predict the best time for GBR and I've lived in FNQ for 15 years and taken our own boat to many reef sites out of Cairns, Port Douglas and other points.

This is rough, and don't hold me to it, but you can generally expect the windiest months to be July-September; unfortunately this coincides with European and North American vacation time; and also the influx of southern Australians escaping their far chillier winters. So this is usually when accommodation costs are at a premium. If I'm stressing the disadvantage of the SE trade winds, its because they can play havoc with a snorkelling trip and guarantee a bumpy trip out to reef.

Ive never quite understood the advantage of a snorkelling only trip, ie, Wavelength out of PD, also one of Ocean's Spirit's trips (motor sailer catamaran) out of Cairns which is currently $55 cheaper than Wavelength; I couldn't tell you how many tourists I've spoken to who only intended to snorkel and come back from the reef so chuffed because they took an introductory scuba dive or two. So I wouldn't limit myself to snorkel only.

Anyway, back to the "best time" if there is such a thing; October is usually good although the last couple of years were windy but less so than previous months; November you can just about guarantee calm sunny weather, December is good too, but people start complaining about the heat and humidity (I say who cares if you're in the water); January a bit warmer than December - by late Jan/ February you might start seeing moosoonal effects with heavy and intermittent bursts of tropical rain. This still does not affect a reef trip unless there's a cyclone about which usually occurs (if it does, Feb-April). May's a bit dodgy, we've had some perfect weather earlier in month, but windy and wet for late May which looks like it'll continue into early June at least.

Hope this helps a bit!


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Old Jun 1st, 2007, 05:48 AM
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wow thanks guys for the excellent advice!
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Old Jun 1st, 2007, 08:32 AM
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Check these out:

http://www.fodors.com/miniguides/mgr...&feature=30001

http://www.frommers.com/destinations...212020006.html
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Old Jun 5th, 2007, 02:09 AM
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I've been to the Whitsundays in late December and had cyclones both times, and to Cairns and Port Douglas in April and had an extended wet season. I've heard that both places can be a little cool between June and September, but that's my choice next time...or perhaps October?
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Old Jun 13th, 2007, 06:27 PM
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Hi Pat, the advantage in a snorkel only operator is as follows.
Boats that take divers need to go to deeper sites. The standard dive profile is 16 m first site, 14 m second site and 10m third site.
Divers whether they be introductory or certified spend more money. Therefore if a company makes an extra 50 bucks out of a tank of air, the snorkellers become "potential divers"
The sites on dive boats are chosen for the needs of divers, not snorkellers.
The advantage in snorkel only is shallow sites. 90% of the reefs diversity occurs in the top 4 metres of water anyway.
If snorkellers go on a dive boat they will be upsold to an intro dive. if they dont do a dive, they will have to wait to enter the water- till the cert divers and intro divers are in the water.
On rough days, snorkel boats can go to a shallow protected site first off, as opposed the deepest site first off if they are on a dive/snorkel boat.
I understand about people being chuffed when they do an intro dive, but if people only want to snorkel then they should go on a snorkel only operation.
In terms of best reef weather I vote for October.
Warm, not windy, great visibility and lots of spawning activity and fish aggregations.
if people travel to the reef when it is windy they need to keep an eye out for a low tide in the middle of the day. This negates the adverse affect of the strong south easterlies. The reef becomes a barrier, the snorkelling conditions are great. It will just be the ride there and back that is a little "rock and roll"
Get some Kwells from the chemist if it is over 20 knots!
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