Great Barrier Reef warm enough in June to snorkel?

Old Oct 11th, 2004, 01:47 PM
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Great Barrier Reef warm enough in June to snorkel?

My fiance and I are thinking about Sydney/Great Barrier Reef for our May/June 2005 honeymoon. Since we definitely want to be able to snorkel/dive at the reef, we are wondering if it will be warm enough there to do that? Where and which month would be best? Thank you!
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Old Oct 11th, 2004, 03:10 PM
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Hello Miac,

As you'd be going in the southern hemisphere late autum / early winter, I would recommend starting in the south and working northwards. Sydney never gets really cold, but it does get cool in winter, so this strategy would give you the best chance of staying ahead of cooler weather there.

The GBR is warm enough for snorkeling / diving year-round. I did it in July and September.

The three most common options for visiting the GBR are:

(1) Stay on the mainland and do the snorkeling / diving activity as a day trip. The most common mainland base for this is Far North Queensland, around Cairns / Palm Cove / Port Douglas. Of the three, Palm Cove is the smallest, most laid back town. I think it's the most suitable of the three for a honeymoon.

The advantage of FNQ is that it offers so much variety, not only access to the GBR but also to the UNESCO World Heritage Daintree Rainforest and to the drier terrain on the Atherton Tableland, which provides such an interesting contrast, just a short distance inland.

(2) Stay on an island. There are MANY islands. There are so many choices that the research makes one's head spin. Lizard Island is expensive, but it's supposed to be fabulous. It provides a great reef snorkeling / diving experience, a great rainforest experience AND luxurious accommodation and cuisine. But, as I said, there are many other islands, in a variety of price brackets.

(3) Live-aboard boat that visits different reefs and islands. Obviously the advantage is the mobility that allows you to see several reefs and islands.

Here's a good website about Queensland's islands. The same website also has a link to info on the GBR:

http://www.queenslandislands.com/

Knowing the amount of time you have available, your budget, and your interests (besides snorkeling / diving) would help posters to advise you.
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Old Oct 11th, 2004, 05:48 PM
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miac - have a look at www.DiveTheReef.com for average monthly weather conditions for Cairns and Port Douglas. If you do find it a bit chilly in June (it can be windy), you can always hire a wetsuit from the reef trip operator.
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Old Oct 11th, 2004, 07:46 PM
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i would like to share my experience of being much much much too cold and especially windy in early july to enjoy the gbr.

this was my second visit to this part of oz and despite the very clear warnings from residents such as pat above, i for some reason thought that it would be comfortable enough to swim.

i cannot predict the weather patterns, but i will say my bathing suits stayed bone dry except for the day i was determined to brave the chill and dip just to say i'd done it.

the people who went out on the dive trip came back with dramatic tales of sea sickness and unpleasant diving.

this IN NO WAY suggests that you will also experience windy weather and choppy seas, but compared to DEC, which was my first trip, i found the gbr, at least the sections north of cairns, more like early spring in the northern hemisphere than comfy summer.

i do not know if this weather was strictly july only, but for some reason i really thought i would be in the water constantly and on the reef and even though i live where it is always too cold to swim (northern cal) i was very uncomfortable in the water compared to december which was a charm.

congrats on your wedding! i still think oz would make a great honeymoon- you could combine wiyth a fiji stopover for guaranteed warm water.
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Old Oct 12th, 2004, 05:00 AM
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I've been out to the reef on a number of occassions from Port Douglas in the north, to Townsville, Mackay and Heron Island in the south. As such, I have always experienced the reef during the "winter" months (Jun-Aug). From what I've seen, you'd have to be pretty unlucky to get any stretch of rotten weather. That being said, windy days are not that uncommon in winter. But I'd still bet that whereever you go on the reef, conditions will be usually fine for snorkeling.

We've spent a lot of time on Heron Island, on the southern end of the reef. Even in July, conditions are often good for snorkeling. Water is a little cool then...most people rent shorty wet suits for extended snorkels. Air temps are fine (70s, low 80s)so sunbathing is very much in order.
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Old Oct 12th, 2004, 11:51 AM
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We went on our honeymoon in late April/May in 2004. The weather was pleasant in Sydney - similar to a fall day October day in NYC. Temps in high 60's to mid 70's during the week.

The weather in FNQ was in the mid-80's and except for some cloudy days was absolutely perfect.

We are both certified and dove on LI, which was fantastic. The water was perfect, we dove in shorties but the divemasters were dressing in shorts and surfer shirts. We did some snorkeling as well. I would not hesitate to go to FNQ in late May or early June. In fact, we did not go swimming in Port Douglas b/c of the stingers but most locals said the stingers were likely gone by early May

You will have a blast.
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Old Oct 12th, 2004, 04:49 PM
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Just backing up Kerikeri. I went up to Cairns mid July thinking I would get warm weather (silly me). I was told by locals that it was colder than usual - but the big disappointment was going out to the reef 7 years after my first visit and finding it so windy and choppy that it was an effort of will to stay in the water and snorkel. I had a wetsuit but am not a real water-babe. On the way back to shore many people were clearly not enjoying the experience and several were really sick. Apparently high winds in July are par for the course.

The GBR is amazing - maybe June is OK but don't let anyone tell you July is a good time to visit!!
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Old Oct 12th, 2004, 05:49 PM
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Alice and Kerikeri - usually late June and definitely July and August, are nearly always windy in FNQ. Not necessarily every day, but this year, as you noticed, was particularly bad. In fact the wind started in late May and apart from a few decent patches , continued until early October. And much cooler than a normal winter - people from Sweden were complaining about the "cold". At least, Keri keri, having snorkelled here in December you know how the reef should look. But weather in Fiji can also be dodgy, being on approx same latitude as Cairns/Port douglas its weather is very similar and is also prone to summer cyclones in its wet season. Last time I was there it was rainy, cool and windy for a week and that was in September. And only last week, so I'm told, Raratonga in Cook Islands was too wet and cold for swimming - and this came from Brits.

At least the box jelly fish haven't made an appearance here yet.
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Old Oct 13th, 2004, 10:07 PM
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thanks for clarifying fiji, pat.

anything you ever say about weather i know to treat as gospel!

(i regretted my fiji advice the second i typed it in).

and for the record, despite being a landlubber i would still rate the trip A+ , so i hope th honyemooners go and have a great time !



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Old Oct 14th, 2004, 01:26 PM
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Wow! Thanks for all the responses, I think mid-May sounds best for us. We will start in Sydney and then fly up to Cairns. Seems like the hotels in Cairns aren't really on the beach, so any suggestions for good hotels on the beach in Port Douglas or Palm Cove? We will want to visit Daintree as well as dive/snorkel GBR, so I think mainland is best for us (also Lizard Island looks great but too expensive). Thanks again!
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Old Oct 16th, 2004, 05:30 PM
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We went to Oz last July (and had a fabulous time). We snorkeled in wetsuits, although there were many others just in bathing suits. I had a "farmer john" style and got really cold after an hour. The seas were bad the day we went to Frankland Islands (which I reccommend)(I get seasick, but had a patch from my dr. so was better than usual.) So we rebooked our trip from Wavelength (small, open boat) to Quicksilver (large boat that goes to a pontoon) and were glad we did because of the seas throwing even the big boat around,although fodorites rave about Wavelength. If you don't get sick, it might be OK.

We couldn't afford Lizard Island, either, but did go there via Daintree Air (www.daintreeair.com). It's a small (10 seater) plane that does a day trip there. It was expensive, but the best snorkeling ever and warmer, and no waves! It was a lovely trip both up along the GBR and back with the sun setting over the Daintree. BTW, Greg, the pilot and owner, said that the trade winds always blow in the winter at 20 knots or more so there are usually waves out to the GBR.
Congratulations on your wedding. We're at 34 years and still in love. I hope you'll be writing the same to Fodor's in 2038!
Sally
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Old Oct 16th, 2004, 06:20 PM
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Miac If you can make it up North during May you should do it.

We have strong winds in June blowing bullets or pockets of driving rain from the outer reef to the mainland.

May is usually very calm , blue and flat. The water is warm in may, so no wet suit required to snorkel.

May is one of our best months on the fishing boats as we do not have to battle with the weather.

Every one wants to go out and swim in May.The wet is over the water is warm, not much wind, and still not many people as the season has not kicked in. You will be very safe in May.

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