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When Is The Best Time to Visit The Whitsundays?

Updated Wed 14 Dec 2022

While surprising, September is one of the best times to visit the Whitsundays! With consistently sunny weather and extremely low levels of rainfall (monthly average of 25mm), the locals' favourite time of the year to kick back in Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands is during Spring! Escape the overwhelming masses during the December Christmas holidays, spot Humpback whales migrating from Antarctica and avoid the summer stinger season! It's not too hot or too cold with an average maximum temperature of 25°C! So pack your bags and get exploring!

Early Spring weather and wind conditions in the Whitsundays create the ultimate opportunity for smooth sailing, picture-perfect time at Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, and optimal reef visibility for snorkelling and diving adventures. 

Whilst the month of September has the best weather conditions in the Whitsundays, there are advantages to every season in the Whitsundays. Whether you're planning a budget-friendly trip, bareboat sailing adventure, whale-watching experience or school holiday getaway with the kids, every season has its perks. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of every season in Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays and find your perfect fit!

Group of people relaxing on the foredeck, Powerplay Whitsundays

Can you visit the Whitsundays year-round?

Yes! Despite September being the best time to visit the Whitsundays, the weather in the Whitsundays is gifted with year-round tropical temperatures. The Whitsundays region, sprawling from the mainland of Airlie Beach and Bowen out to the Whitsunday Islands on the Great Barrier Reef, is located on the north-east coastline of Australia, 600 kilometres south of Cairns and 1110 kilometres north of Brisbane.

Located on the same tropical latitude as Honolulu and Mauritius, the Whitsundays experience comparable weather in a seemingly eternal summer. The subtropical climate beholds an average year-round temperature of 27.5°C and an inviting average water temperature of 25°C - ideal swimming and snorkelling temperatures.

Whether you're taking a jam-packed day trip or cruising the reef overnight, you will be spending the majority of your Whitsundays holiday outside enjoying the spectacular sights of the Whitsunday Islands

Ultimately, any time of the year you decide to visit the Whitsundays will allow you to have an incredible experience of the region and enjoy blissful downtime in the tropics. But, when is the best time for you to visit the Whitsundays?

Girl wearing a snorkel on Whitehaven Beach

Summer in the Whitsundays

The summer months of December, January and February in the Whitsundays are renowned for their hot temperatures and the tropical showers that mark the beginning of North Queensland's wet season. Daily average temperatures range from 27°C to 32°C with rainfall generally occurring during the early morning or late afternoon. As the water temperatures rise, stinger season in Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays begins, meaning that stinger suits are highly recommended when entering the ocean.

After the Christmas and December school holiday period ends, the summer months of January and February fall in the Whitsundays low season, with plenty of day and overnight tour specials on offer. For those visitors after an authentic Aussie summer and budget-friendly deals, the Whitsundays is the place to be during summer!

Don't let the rain control your itinerary plans! Most summer days in the Whitsundays are spent in the heat and sunshine, with afternoon storms rolling through to cool down the day's humidity. Additionally, the Whitsundays wet season creates plenty of opportunities to enjoy the serene natural beauty of the mainland's waterfalls and swimming holes, such as Cedar Creek Falls, which flow tremendously after summer storms. For those cruising amongst the islands, rest assured that patches of rainfall won't interrupt your snorkelling and diving adventures amongst the fringing reef depths.

Two people at the Whitsunday Cairn summit overlooking the Whitsunday Islands

Autumn in the Whitsundays

As the two most popular seasons in the Whitsundays are summer and winter, autumn comfortably squeezes in as a quieter shoulder season. Running from February to May, Autumn is an ideal time of the year to enjoy smaller crowds whilst sailing around the Whitsunday Islands, slowly cooling temperatures of the wet season tail-end and adventurous shoulder season deals!

By Autumn, the average temperatures range from 25°C to 29°C and the wet season has typically eased. As there are no prominent school holidays during this time of the year, aside from the bustling Easter long weekend, the crowds have usually slowed down. If you enjoy the heat without the burn, less crowded stretches at Whitehaven Beach and clearer days with the occasional shower, we recommend booking your mid-year tropical break early!

Three women wearing hats drinking champagne, Powerplay Whitsundays

Winter in the Whitsundays

Welcome to winter in the Whitsundays, the golden mecca of sailing and the best time to spot whales during their annual migration through the tropics! Falling from June to August, the Whitsundays boasts a seemingly eternal summer, receiving average high temperatures of 24°C to 25°C during the winter period. As the temperatures cool, the dry season begins, ensuring bright skies and cooler evenings that create cozy sleeping conditions after a jam-packed day of island-hopping. At most, a light sweater is all you will need to add to your packing list! 

The average ocean temperature remains at a comfortable 21°C with gloriously warm winter days urging you to explore the exotic underwater marine ecosystems below! Time to put on a swimsuit and snorkel - just don't forget the sunscreen! Hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are still packing essentials, as the UV rays are strong even during the winter months.

Sailing season in the Whitsundays

For the avid sailors amongst us all, the southeast trade winds begin in April after the Whitsundays wet season, creating brisk sailing conditions throughout the winter season. Events such as Hamilton Island Race Week and Airlie Beach Race Week lure in thousands of people from all across the country during August, running for the whole week and showcasing some of the region's fastest sailing vessels and teams.

Just as the southeast trade winds give life to tranquil anchorages around the Whitsunday Islands, there is a fair share of anchorages perfectly-suited to northerly summer winds. Therefore, the Whitsundays is a sailing mecca at any time of the year!

If you're keen on learning the ropes and hoisting the sails alongside a professional, be sure to let your skipper know during your next overnight tour in the Whitsundays!

On Ice catamaran sailing through the Whitsundays at sunset

Whale season in the Whitsundays

Beginning in the month of June, the annual whale season in the Whitsundays is a spectacular pro to any winter holiday in the islands. With warm winter temperatures and calm waters protected by the islands and reef, the Whitsunday Islands are the premier location for females whales to birth their calves each year.

Whilst your on the water, expect to spot the magnificent humpback whales on their annual migration from Antartica up until September. Generally, you'll see a mother and her calf feeding or playing together in the turquoise depths!

As the winter months in the Whitsundays fall during whale season and the mid-year school holidays, we recommend booking your accommodation and tours well in advance to avoid disappointment! 

Pod of humpback whales in the Whitsundays

Spring in the Whitsundays

We've saved the best for last! Spring is undoubtedly the golden season to visit the Whitsundays region and experience those 'post-card' perfect views of sparkling coves, cascading mountain landscapes and horizons filled with luxurious sailing vessels. Be sure to pack your camera to capture FOMO-inducing Instagram content for everyone back home, the swirling sand views of Hill Inlet are cloudless in Spring!

Offering cooler-than-average temperatures and consistently sunny weather, the second shoulder season of the year graces the Whitsundays from August to October. Expect blissful temperatures falling between 25°C to 29°C and the lowest average rainfall. Many holidaymakers opt to book an overnight sailing experience on a private charter or hire a bareboat vessel - both of which offer the opportunity to tailor your own flexible Whitsundays itinerary to suit those bucket list dreams!

With locals and tourists alike coming out of their cosy cocoons to enjoy the sublime weather, it is recommended to book your day and overnight tours early to secure an unforgettable Whitsundays experience during the Spring season.

Three people standing on a rock at Whitehaven Beach

Monthly temperatures and rainfall in the Whitsundays

JANUARY 30.4 24.9 28.0 247.9
FEBRUARY 30.1 24.9 28.8 330.8
MARCH 28.8 24.0 27.0 258.4
APRIL 27.1 22.6 26.0 193.4
MAY 24.8 20.8 24.0 123.1
JUNE 22.4 18.4 22.0 89.2
JULY 21.9 17.6 21.0 61.6
AUGUST 22.9 18.1 23.0 42.4
SEPTEMBER 25.4 19.8 26.0 25.5
OCTOBER 27.6 21.8 26.0 43.9
NOVEMBER 29.1 23.3 27.0 108.2
DECEMBER 30.0 24.4 28.0 186.8

Considering stinger season

Aside from the weather, the Whitsundays stinger season should be taken into account when planning your tropical getaway to the Whitsundays. October to May is largely recognised as the peak season for marine stingers to frequent the region. Although the chance of being stung is extremely rare, necessary precautions need to be taken to ensure safety and maximum enjoyment in the water!

Stinger suits are provided on the majority of our water adventures, or guests will be provided with the opportunity to hire a wetsuit for a small fee. As stinger suits cover over 75% of your body, the risk is greatly minimised when sufficient safety gear is worn! For more information on the Whitsundays stinger season be sure to read all you need to know here.

Person snorkelling in a stinger suit, Whitsundays

The best time to visit the Whitsundays is...

September! Early spring provides dreamy weather conditions to sail around the Whitsunday Islands, whilst avoiding stinger season, and beholding the lowest rainfall of the year - flawless conditions to explore the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park!

You can really visit any time of year!

Ultimately, Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays is lucky enough to have beautiful, warm weather all year round! This means that you can pencil in your tropical getaway whenever suits you... the tranquil islands and colourful reefs will be waiting for you all year round.

Yet, if you want to catch dazzling weather, avoid the school holidays rush, and perhaps pick up the odd bargain, early September is ideal!

Hill Inlet from above, Winter in the Whitsundays

Our experienced team of local travel agents are here to help you plan your dream holiday in the Whitsundays year-round!

Call us on +61 7 4914 2425 or live chat for a free personalised itinerary and local deals!

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