13 Reasons To Visit Tropical North Queensland During Cairns Wet Season
Wondering whether to visit Tropical North Queensland during Cairns wet season? We did too. Cairns is definitely not somewhere which would have been on our bucket list for a Summer holiday, but we absolutely loved it! Find out why visiting Far North Queensland in Summer is a good idea!
One of our readers got in touch with us as she was visiting Cairns in wet season. The first thought that came into my mind was that it would be unbearably hot. Ironically we too ended up going on a last minute road trip to Cairns during the Christmas holidays.
You know last time we visited Tropical North Queensland, we stayed in Port Douglas in May and it rained pretty much the whole time. We didn’t do much at all and just stayed in Port Douglas. This time round, I couldn’t believe how much we missed out on. Tropical North Queensland has without a doubt become our new favourite part of Australia. It’s absolutely amazing!
So we’re going to share with you everything you need to know about visiting Far North Queensland in Summer.
Table of Contents
1. How Hot Is Cairns In Summer?
We were slightly concerned about how hot Cairns in Summer would actually be. Since we’ve bought our second hand car, we’ve had a lot of problems with the aircon and was unsure how we would cope with a long drive with the windows down.
My iPhone weather app was suggesting the weather was going to be the same in Cairns as it is where we live in Agnes Water in Queensland, but I had a feeling it would feel hotter.
To be honest, by the time we drove up to Airlie Beach which is 8 hours from Agnes Water, the humidity really kicked in. With another 7 hour hour drive ahead of us, I wondered how much hotter it was going to get.
Whilst it was hot in Cairns, it wasn’t unbearable. And, to be honest, when we stayed in the nearby Palm Cove, it felt cooler thanks to the ocean breeze than it did in Airlie Beach.
But the real gem of being able to escape the Cairns heat is by heading up to the beautiful Atherton Tablelands which we’ll talk more about in this post.
2. How Much Does It Rain In Cairns In Wet Season?
We were really confused about the weather forecast for Cairns. It said it was going to rain everyday but we wondered whether it would be similar to South East Asian weather when it just downpours for five minutes a day.
Our follower @melrosesarah visited Cairns just before we got there, and she was giving us updates on what the forecast was actually looking like. She told us exactly what we thought it might be, and that although the forecast said 100% rain, it only rained a few times a day, and then it would come out sunny.
When we arrived into Cairns, we actually experienced the first cyclone of the season. It rained a lot but we were OK with that because it actually added to the atmosphere for a lot of the places we went to. If there is one thing I learnt about our trip to Cairns, it’s that you’ll have an amazing time, regardless of the weather.
3. Understanding The Weather Apps
One thing we learnt is that rather than looking at the percentage of rain each day, you should concentrate on how many mm of rain is predicted. This is when you’ll be able to tell how much rain there will actually be as it will more than likely down pour for a few hours and then be sunny for the rest of the day.
4. Expect Less Tourists
One of the best reasons to visit Cairns in Summer is that there will always be less tourists. Most people escape the Winter months in Victoria and NSW and head up to enjoy some Summer weather between June to September. This means you’ll be able to go on some tours without missing out and traffic certainly won’t be as bad on the roads.
5. Cheaper Flights & Accommodation
With less tourists, this means you’ll find flights and accommodation will most likely be cheaper. We stayed right on the esplanade in Palm Cove for around $150 a night at a dog friendly Sarayi Boutique Hotel. They have both dog friendly rooms and normal hotel rooms.
Our accommodation had a roof top pool and it was right in the middle of Palm Cove. Location wise it was spot on. The hotel wasn’t flash but we would stay again for a cheap stay.
Flights will also be much cheaper than during the peak season in Winter, so you could snap up some cheap return flights to Cairns.
6. Don’t Just Stay In Cairns
We definitely recommend hiring a car if you’re flying to Cairns because there are so many insanely amazing places to visit in the surrounding areas. If we just stayed in Cairns city, we’re not sure how good the holiday could have been.
The beauty about Cairns is not the city itself, but the surrounding areas. We literally spent about 10 minutes in Cairns on our recent holiday and that was enough for us. Whilst Cairns has some fab restaurants and fantastic accommodation for backpackers, we definitely prefer staying in Palm Cove for the holiday vibe and amazing restaurants or in the Atherton Tablelands.
Instead of staying in the city, visit the world’s oldest living rainforest in Daintree, find insane swimming spots and waterfalls, and experience the mind blowing hinterland of Atherton Tablelands. Of course, head up to the beautiful Cape Tribulation and jump on some tours to the incredible Great Barrier Reef Islands.
Find a hire car below to make the most of your Cairns holiday.
7. Visit The Amazing Atherton Tablelands
Escape the heat and drive just under 1 hour to the beautiful Atherton Tablelands when you’re visiting Cairns in wet season. We were completely blown away by the beauty of this part of Tropical North Queensland and absolutely loved it. Expect rolling hills, a landscape similar to Scotland and most of all cooler temps! You might even need a jacket to wear at night time.
There are so many amazing things to do in Atherton Tablelands! Expect beautiful rainforests, swimming spots, the most famous waterfalls in Cairns and so much more!
8. Expect Insane Cairns Waterfalls
With it being wet season, expect the Cairns waterfalls to come alive in Summer. We haven’t seen anything like it in Australia before, even Barron Falls reminded us of a very small section of Igauzu Falls in Argentina. It was amazing! There are so many waterfalls I had no idea existed in Cairns before, and I couldn’t get over how incredible they all are.
We recommend swapping the beach for the waterfalls in the Cairns wet season because there are so many mind blowing places to visit.
One thing to note that we learnt is, if it’s raining when you’re driving on the way to the waterfalls, don’t worry about getting wet. You’ll be mostly protected by the rainforest when you’re walking over to the waterfalls.
There were plenty of times we drove to a waterfall and contemplated about getting out of the car to go to it. But, as soon as we started to walk into the rainforest along the path to the waterfall, we didn’t notice the rain at all. The rainforest protects you from the down pours and when you get to the waterfall or swimming spot, it somehow doesn’t feel as bad.
We were about to embark on a 1 hour walk to Behana Gorge but luckily we bumped into a couple who said they went there and it was way too rough to swim in. So if you’re visiting in Cairns wet season, just be super careful if you attempt to swim in any of the waterfalls.
Some Cairns waterfalls you should visit included:
Mount Mulligan Falls
Milla Milla Falls
9. Swim In Paradise In Plenty Of Cairns Swimming Spots
Make sure you bring your swimmers with you when you’re visiting during Cairns wet season. You’ll want to take advantage of the incredible swimming spots (not waterfalls). And don’t worry, swimming in some magical spots whilst it’s raining actually makes the experience even better.
We absolutely fell in love with the incredible swimming spots in Cairns. Most of them are located in the tablelands and go as far down to Cardwell which is a 2h30m drive south from Cairns, and even up to Cape Tribulation. When researching Cairns swimming holes, don’t swim in any sacred Aboriginal spots. We were quite mindful of this, so just be aware if you read about any, don’t go.
Here’s a few swimming spots to put on your list!
Alligator’s Nest (near Mission Beach)
Innot Hot Springs
Cardwell Spa Pools
10. Watch The Rainforests Come Alive
The rainforests literally come alive during the rain. Honestly, I have a whole new respect for the rain now, because it really makes the rainforests glow like there’s no tomorrow. We loved the rainforests, swimming spots and waterfalls in the tablelands so much, we came back to Atherton for a couple of more nights because it’s just so amazing!
We randomly found the Mamu Tropical Skywalk and decided to pop in and visit it. We didn’t realise but you can buy your tickets with the entrance into Paronella Park (which is also incredible). So technically we would have saved money but it didn’t really matter because we were blown away by the skywalk anyway.
You can buy a combo ticket for both Mamu Tropical Skywalk and Paronella Park on Get Your Guide here.
We didn’t find many other people on the walk either which added to the magical beauty of the place. It truely is a beautiful place everyone should visit when visiting during Cairn wet season.
We also loved how the Aboriginal land is documented throughout the walk. To be honest, we really found it refreshing to see how apparent and respectful Aboriginal culture is up in the Cairns area, also with many Aboriginal people working at the tourist attractions.
Driving around Atherton Tablelands as the clouds were really low all of the time, shooting through the mountains, was amazing to see. We also particularly loved walking in the Daintree at Mossman Gorge and driving through the rainforest on the way to Lake Eacham, which just felt so magical.
11. Spot More Wildlife In Cairns Wet Season
Wondering why it’s easier to spot wildlife in Tropical North Queensland in wet season? Because there’s so much more food available, more wildlife comes out to take advantage of it. We were lucky to spot some cassowaries in Mission Beach which is no surprise as between Cairns and Townsville is home to the most cassowaries in the world.
Because of an abundance of food, wildlife is especially active over summer including Cassowary dads roam extensively with chicks through this period, taking advantage of the fruit. There’s also more butterflies during the wet season in Cairns than any other time of the year. If you love butterflies, check out the Butterfly Aviary at Kuranda, which is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
12. Go Rafting Down The Barron River or Tully River
Cairns is home to some of the best rafting in Australia! You can either go rafting down the Barron River or Tully River. Are you wondering which location is better for rafting?
Barron River is fantastic rafting in Australia for beginners and families. You can do a half day tour with Foaming Fury who will build your confidence for an experience like no other. Just remember to bring your GoPro so you can capture the epic experience yourself.
If you’re looking for the best white water rafting in Australia and New Zealand, then you best head to the Tully River. Although be warned, these are Grade 3/4 rapids, so if you’re not confident, head for the Barron River rafting instead.
We recommend checking out this Tully River tour with Wildside Adventures on Get Your Guide here.
If you would love to do a Barron River tour, check out this tour with Foaming Fury on Get Your Guide here.
13. Visit The Great Barrier Reef Islands
Where else would you find access to some of the best islands in Great Barrier Reef, the oldest living rainforest in the world, a hinterland which looks like the Scottish Highlands and waterfalls and swimming spots you could literally only dream of?
No holiday to Cairns is complete without heading over to the Great Barrier Reef island! Did you know that there are some highlights for exploring the reef in Summer? Firstly, the water is warmer, the water visibility is a lot clearer and the turtle hatching season takes place from November to February! This means, you might even have the opportunity to come face to face with the adorable baby turtles!
Some of the most popular islands include Fitzroy Island and Green Island. Fitzroy Island is often regarded as the prettier island you can either do this day tour with Fitzroy Island Adventures, camp or stay at the resort on the island. Make sure you visit Nudey Beach which was voted the best beach in Australia in 2018.
Whilst Green Island is a coral cay (this means there’s no sand, and instead pieces of coral make up the sand area), it’s a popular spot for snorkelling where turtles are often found on a daily occurrence. Do a day trip with Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises and experience a slice of paradise on the Great Barrier Reef or stay in the 5 star resort.
Other Great Barrier Reef Islands to explore near Cairns include:
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