Cairns, Australia enjoys a tropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year. Water temperatures range between 24 degrees Celsius in winter, around July, and up to 30 in summer, around February. In January to April there is generally more rainfall in northern Queensland, while December is considered the driest month.
Each season has something great to offer when diving the Great Barrier Reef. The rainy months of January though April usually bring some feeding action and a chance to see larger marine life, like the Giant Manta Ray. The dry months of September through December bring calmer and sunny conditions and an opportunity to see the Coral Spawning that happens between October and November. The coolest time of year, between May and August, brings the Dwarf Minke Whale to these waters.
Popular dive sites at the outer Great Barrier Reef include Flynn, Milln, Thetford and Pellowe Reefs. These four places offer multiple excellent dive sites each, with sheltered diving conditions, good visibility and beautiful coral structures. Marine life is abundant at this part of the Great Barrier Reef, and includes Parrotfish, Turtles, Angelfish and lots of colorful marine life. The dive sites around the reefs can be visited by daily dive trip from Cairns.
The Ribbon reefs are a chain of 10 reefs that are reached by multiple-day liveaboard trip. Coral formations here consist of pinnacles, walls, caverns and shallow gardens. Marine life is plentiful in this protected ‘no taking’ zone, and includes the Giant Clam, leaf scorpionfish and groupers. Dive sites at Ribbon Reefs boast interesting names like Temple of Doom, Challengers Bay and Dynamite Pass. Cod hole is home to a bunch of resident Potato Cods (groupers) of impressive size.
Another worthwhile liveaboard destination from Cairns is the Coral Sea. These isolated reef structures are situated beyond the Great Barrier Reef and offer more remote diving and amazing visibility. Pelagic fish like hammerheads, tuna, barracuda and manta rays frequently visit dive sites here. Osprey reef must be the most famous of all Coral Sea reefs. The tip of this reef, called North Horn, offers a year-round opportunity to see sharks like Grey Whalers and White tip reef sharks.
CDC How many different ways can I describe a bunch of incompetents? All these good reviews... from novice and first time divers. No-one seems to know how good diving and live aboard diving can and should be - least of all the crew. Short version: avoid kangaroo explorer. Probably best to avoid all outer reef trips. It's not the worst experience, not a bad one, but wasn't _fun_. Not for the money I spent. I spent 2.5 times as much ($800 vs $2000) diving with Deep Sea Divers for the same length ...