Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard Cruises

DIVING CONDITIONS ON THE GREAT BARRIER REEF & CORAL SEA

Sweetlip

Sweetlip

Spirit of Freedom operates in the northern sector of the Great Barrier Reef, a tropical zone with relatively warm temperate winters and high humidity in the summers. Water temperatures range 24C/ 75F in the winter, peaking at 30C/ 86F in the summer, while maximum air temperatures will range 24C/75F to 32C/90F.

Australian seasons are the reverse of the Northern hemisphere. Our summer is December through February and winter is June through August. In Tropical North Queensland rain is not uncommon from January to April, and you will find Cairns and the surrounding mountains to be lush and green with the rivers and waterfalls at their peak. While monsoonal troughs can descend at this time, offshore and further north of Cairns, (where you will be diving with Spirit of Freedom), it is less prone to the tropical rains. May to December is known as the dry season, with less humidity and generally clear sunny days.

May through August

Minke Whales

Minke Whale

May through August is mostly sunny and clear of rain, although the south-easterly trade winds can be a bit stronger at this time. Air temperatures range from minimums around 15°C/ 60°F to maximums around 26°C/ 79°F. The water will be at its coolest dropping to around 24°C/ 75°F, but generally offers great visibility. In the months of June and July, Dwarf Minke Whales are commonly sighted on the Ribbon Reefs, having migrated from the Antarctic seas to the relatively warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Growing to a length of around 8 metres, this small, gentle whale has an inquisitive nature that draws them close to boats in the region, often lingering with divers and snorkelers, as close as a few feet away.


September through to December

Coral Spawning

Coral Spawning

September through to December sees the water warm up, with generally clear sunny days and light winds. Many coral reef species breed at this time, with the coral spawning en-masse in October and/ or November. Manta Rays are commonly spotted in the Coral Sea from April to October. The air temperature will range 20-32°C (68-90°F) and the water temperature usually averages 27°C/ 80°F.


January through April

Manta Ray

Manta Ray

January through April is a wetter season with tropical monsoonal weather bringing amazing feeding and marine action, plus a great opportunity to see juvenile fish following the breeding season. Manta Rays are also commonly spotted on the Great Barrier Reef at this time. The air temperature will range 23-32°C (74-90°F) and the water temperature will average 29°c /84°F.


Visibility

While visibility can vary due to wind, tide, and current, the Great Barrier Reef experiences an average visibility of 20 metres (~65 feet) with a range of 10 to 30 metres, while the Coral Sea Reefs experience a year round average of 30 metres (~100 feet) visibility.


Cairns Averages

Month Air Temp Max°C Air Temp Min°C Humidity % Surface Water Temp°C Av. (land) Rainfall (mm) Rain Days
January 31.5 23.6 75.0 29.0 405 17
February 31.1 23.7 78.0 28.8 434 16
March  30.5 23.0 78.0 28.3 424 18
April 29.2 21.5 78.0 27.3 198 15
May 27.5 19.9 77.0 25.9 100 12
June 25.8 17.6 74.0 25.5 49 9
July 25.6 17.0 74.0 25.1 30 7
August 26.5 17.5 71.0 24.7 27 8
September 27.8 18.6 67.0 24.9 35 6
October 29.4 20.5 66.0 25.4 38 7
November 30.6 22.2 67.0 27.0 89 9
December 31.4 23.3 70.0 27.8 176 12


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