Balmy weather, fewer crowds and the glitter bursts of the coral spawning season – the Great Barrier Reef is pure magic during the great summer months.
Between December and February, this tropical region becomes a sun-drenched summer oasis, bringing you closer to nature than ever before. Explore the iconic World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef’s underwater wonderland with plenty of snorkelling and scuba-diving excursions, or admire the coral clusters on a glass-bottomed boat experience for an unforgettable glimpse into the flourishing coral reef.
Here are our top six reasons to experience a great summer in the tropics.
1. Witness the world’s largest annual coral spawning event
Each year in November and December, the Great Barrier Reef comes alive in an underwater glittery explosion from thousands of corals spawning. Witness the synchronised or staggered bursts of colour of the world’s largest coral reef creating new life, an unmissable spectacle that’s perfectly visible through the moonlit crystal-clear waters. Go for a night-time dive or snorkelling expedition to be in the heart of the action.
If you're eager to explore the Great Barrier Reef, try this full-day snorkelling reef tour and 10-minute helicopter flight.
2. Discover secluded islands in full bloom
Dreams of golden summer days and balmy star-filled nights come to fruition on Queensland's tropical islands. Fitzroy Island’s calm clear waters are ideal for cooling dips and turtle-spotting; head to Nudie Beach for a tranquil paddle or roll out a towel and soak up the rays. Find shelter under soaring vines and lush canopies on Green Island, a forested coral cay that promises pillow-soft sands and impressive shoreline snorkelling.
Experience an ultra-luxurious summer on Lizard Island. Bound by private beaches and the spectacular Ribbon Reefs, this exclusive oasis dazzles with diving opportunities, including the world-famous, ‘Cod Hole’. Here, rain clouds bounce off the escarpment – creating a drier climate that's perfect for summer escapes.
3. Bask in warmer waters & balmy weather
No great summer tropical holiday is complete without lush rainforests, ripe native fruits, and beautiful warm days all around. Watch as the landscape rejuvenates itself, with verdant rainforest greenery stretching across the land, spectacular gushing waterfalls, and trickles of rain soothing your soul after a long day of exploring. Warmer waters and recent rains mean lycra suits instead of thick wetsuits, as well as top-notch clear visibility when you embark on your marine adventure of choice.
4. Encounter amazing marine life
The tranquil waters of the Great Barrier Reef come to life during summer, with a myriad of colourful creatures swirling around or peeking out from vivid corals. Spot vibrant clownfish and even a variety of peaceful reef sharks when scuba diving, swimming, or snorkelling. We recommend taking extra precautions for a great summer, by wearing a protective suit or only swimming in designated net enclosures.
Learn more about the marine life with an aquarium admission and turtle hospital tour.
5. Savour picture-perfect beaches all to yourself
Turquoise waters and pristine sands fringed by lush rainforest create a picturesque backdrop for great summer moments – yours to enjoy without the peak-season buzz. Allow yourself to escape the crowds to enjoy a little slice of paradise, and indulge in undisturbed island resorts, relaxing dives, and uninterrupted beach lazing. Discover serenity for yourself at the tranquil Green Island, full of effortless snorkelling moments, shady palm trees, and crystal-clear waters.
6. Explore extraordinary land-bound wonders
We know you’ll be spending most of your time in the Great Barrier Reef – and we don’t blame you – but take a moment to uncover incredible land experiences in between your daily snorkelling ventures. Take an adventurous trek in the immense Daintree Rainforest or enjoy a leisurely wander through the lively Kuranda markets for seasonal produce. Marvel at the spectacular Barron Falls, bask on smooth riverside boulders, or join Traditional Owners to delve deeper into the heritage and culture of these stunning landscapes.
If you’re looking for inspiration on what to do in Tropical North Queensland, check out our five great reasons to embrace summer in Cairns.
Disclaimer: Marine stingers may be present in coastal waters through summer. It’s recommended you wear a protective suit to help shield you from the sun and to minimise the risk of jellyfish stings.