Weather in Cairns

Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, Cairns, QLD. © Paul Ewart & Tourism Queensland

Weather in Cairns

Like the rest of Queensland, Cairns experiences two distinct weather seasons, the ‘wet’ season and the ‘dry’ season. Tropical Cairns has hot and humid summers and mild, dry winters. The average annual rainfall is around 1992 mm, mostly falling between January and March. The wet season begins building up around December, resulting in humid days and stormy nights. Typical daytime temperatures in Cairns are 23-31°C in mid-summer and 18 °C in mid-winter. Tropical cyclones sometimes occur from November through May. Here you will find some information on temperature, rainfall and seasonal activities to help you plan your holiday in Cairns.

Summer (December - February) in Cairns is the ‘wet’ or monsoon season. Most of the region’s annual rainfall occurs in the summer months although the temperature is still warm and the humidity is high. Temperatures at this time range from 24° - 31°. Average rainfall in January is around 396mm.

This is one of the best times to take a rainforest tour to the famous Daintree or the Cape Tribulation Rainforest. The rainforest is at its most luxurious and the rivers and waterfalls are flowing. Visit the charming town of Kuranda and take a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway or Kuranda Scenic Railway. There’s also white water rafting on the Tully River. Summer is the time of the year when diving on the Great Barrier Reef is at its best. Even though it is the wet season, the winds are calm and underwater visibility is sometimes more than 50 metres. Water temperatures on the reef vary from a comfortable 22°C in winter to 29°C in summer, ideal for year round enjoyment in the water from snorkelling to scuba diving. The barramundi fishing season re-opens in February.

By April, the wet season is usually over and the ‘dry’ season begins. It is still very warm in April, both day and night, with temperatures averaging between 22°C and 29°C. The annual Reef and Rainforest Carnivale is held in Port Douglas in May.

One of the most popular times to visit Cairns is in winter (June – August). This is the peak tourist season. Clear skies and comfortable temperatures are perfect for exploring the region or setting sail in the Whitsunday Islands. From July to August you may even be lucky to see the humpback whales that migrate up the coast or swim with inquisitive minke whales. The cooler temperatures and lower humidity are also perfect conditions for golf. On Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef, the Hamilton Island Golf Club is Australia’s only championship island golf course and is set against the spectacular backdrop of the Whitsunday Islands.

Held annually during the August and September, Festival Cairns is one of Australia’s leading regional cultural festivals.

Humidity in Cairns is highest from October through to December. This is the thunderstorm season before the start of the monsoon rains. Around October - November the reef comes alive with the annual coral spawning.

The cyclone season in Cairns is generally from November to May.


Climate Chart

Temperature

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Annual

Mean maximum temperature (°C)

31.4

31.2

30.6

29.2

27.6

26

25.7

26.6

28.1

29.5

30.6

31.4

29

Mean minimum temperature (°C)

23.7

23.8

23.1

21.6

19.9

17.8

17.1

17.4

18.7

20.6

22.3

23.4

20.8

Source: Bureau of Meteorology, 2013

Precipitation Chart

Rainfall

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Annual

Mean rainfall (mm)

395.3

450.6

427.7

196.5

90.2

45.5

29.3

27

33.7

46.6

93.8

178.8

2018

Decile 5 (median) rainfall (mm)

346.9

402.8

394.1

165

85.5

34.1

24.2

17.2

18.5

29

68.1

129.6

1992

Mean number of days of rain ≥ 1 (mm)

15.6

16.4

16.2

14.8

10.3

6.8

5.4

4.9

4.9

5.6

8

10.7

119.6

Source: Bureau of Meteorology, 2013

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