Considering a trip to Port Douglas but not sure exactly which time of the year would best suit you? Here, we break down Port Douglas by month, explaining what visitors can expect from such factors as the weather and temperature to the month’s events taking place, what to watch and take part in throughout the region during each part of the year.
Port Douglas is a region with immense beauty and a surprisingly robust social calendar throughout the year given its size, with events ranging from annual festivals to delicious food and wine tastings. If you’re planning a holiday to Port Douglas but aren’t sure when you should visit this article is for you.
The peak of the summer season, January is the time to visit to take full advantage of that famous Queensland weather. With temperatures reaching a max of around 30 degrees Celsius and low of around 23, you can expect hot days, rainfall and warm nights.
January is in stinger season, with box jellyfish and irukandji jellyfish frequenting the waters – the warm water appeals to them as well. Visitors are advised to swim in safe enclosures and wear full body ‘stinger suits’ to limit the chance of being stung. Almost the entire month aligns with Queensland school holidays so expect larger crowds and longer lines at most of the region’s main attractions.
The beautiful weather provides the perfect setting to enjoy one of the region’s popular markets. The Port Douglas Markets are held every Sunday at Anzac Park from 8am until 1pm. Here you will find a range of arts, crafts and accessories as well as fresh produce and homemade food.
With temperatures mirroring that of January, February usually sees around 79% humidity with over 400 mm of rainfall. Visitors are advised to pack appropriate summer gear as well as a jacket or umbrella for when those tropical storms roll through the region. Queensland kids are back at school in February meaning most attraction lines and crowds will be back to normal. However, the region does experience steady crowds throughout the year and the beautiful weather tends to attract many international visitors.
Popular attractions in these months are the various local markets spread around the region. Browse the various local stalls selling a range of products from fresh produce to souvenirs and clothing.
With the arrival of autumn, March brings with it slightly cooler days and evenings. Still in the wet season bracket, days are likely to reach a max of around 29 degrees Celsius and dropping to around 22 degrees Celsius. The average rainfall drops ever so slightly, however the waters are still susceptible to stingers.
The local markets around the region run every weekend, however if you want to venture out of port Douglas you can make your way to the Mossman Markets on Saturdays.
The temperature will continue to drop with the coming of April, with temperatures topping around 28 degrees Celsius and dropping to at least 21. April is considered the end of the wet season however Queensland weather likes to put on a show to conclude the season, so be prepared for sunny days, light sun showers and heavy rainfall. For avid swimmers, stinger season is said to be over with April providing the start of the best swimming season, but it is still important to take safety precautions by swimming in patrolled and netted areas.
The Queensland school term is still in class so larger school crowds aren’t present however the area is a popular destination for international visitors year round. The end of the month welcomes the annual Mickey Ink Race Week. This open class, six-race series regatta is held over four days and commonly brings large crowds to watch the boats sail around the waters.
Temperatures continue to drop with tops of 26 and lows of 19 degrees Celsius, rainfall has usually eased as the dry season officially begins.
May hosts the region’s biggest event of the year, the Port Douglas Carnivale, running from the 12th until the 22nd in 2016. With a range of shows, the event showcases some of the best cultural performances, food and wine and more and has been doing so for over 20 years. Enjoy cabaret and comic performances, vibrant street parades, delicious food and the popular family beach day spread over the month – see their website for details. Also, the Cairns Home Show and Caravan, Camping and Boating Expo is on next door for outdoor living enthusiasts to enjoy a range of stalls at one of the regions biggest and best events of its kind in far North QLD.
Winter is officially here and visitor can expect days reaching tops of 25 and lows of 17, cooler than the earlier months but still warmer than the southern states.
The popular Moonlight Cinema at QT Resort kicks off at the start of month until the beginning of October. Visitors can enjoy some of the most recent films stretched out on the lawn of the resort under the clear night sky. School holidays intercept the event from the end of June until mid July, so be prepared for an influx of crowds around then. Another highlighting event is the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival which running from the 5th until the 12th 2016. The festival encompasses a range of events such as the RRR Mountain Bike Challenge, Coral Coast Triathlon, Quicksilver Reef Swim and Ironman.
July is the peak of Winter and sees temperatures drop again to top a cooler 24-degree average and reach a low of around 16 degrees Celsius. Swimming is still popular during June with water temperatures hovering around 23 degrees throughout the whole season. Queensland schools recommence around the middle of the month, which sees school aged queues and crowds dwindle.
The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair is held during the month from the 15th for four days with an opening party held on the evening of the 14th. The event held in the neighbouring tourist hub celebrates the contemporary indigenous arts industry. The event features fashion shows, film screenings, music concerts, art exhibitions, markets and dance performances.
As the last month of winter is welcomed, the temperatures begin to raise once again reaching tops of 25 and lows of 17 degrees Celsius. The school term is still in progress so visitors won’t have to worry about school crowds swarming to popular attractions.
One of the main events of the month is the annual Taste Port Douglas, held from the 12th until the 14th. Visitors can experience the food culture and lifestyle of the Queensland tropics with some of the best chefs in the country. Previous celebrity chefs have included MKR’s Colin Fassnidge, Adrian Richardson and Ian Curley and this year’s line up is set to impress. The festival includes a range of presentations, talks, parties, markets and classes as well as mouth-watering food. Check their website for more information.
Other popular events include the Kuranda to Port Douglas Ultra Trail race and relay, Bump to Beach race and Tropical Writers Festival. The end of August also sees the beginning of Cairns Festival next door to Port Douglas, celebrating art, culture and the beauty of tropical north Queensland until the beginning of September.
Welcome to spring and warmer temperatures. Reaching tops of 26 and lows of 18 degrees the cool winter weather is still present at times but is moving out with each passing day. Queensland schools let out on the 16th of September, making the second half of the month a lot busier and crowded than the beginning.
Dust off the fascinators and suits and get ready for racing season in the Port Douglas region. Kicking off the season is the Cairns Amateurs Carnival from the 8th until the 11th with fun, fashion, glamour, food, entertainment and of course horse racing buzzing in the atmosphere.
Towards the end of the month, the Port Douglas Beach Picnic Races begin for a few days on Four Mile Beach. Trackside entry is fee with VIP and Sand Bar tickets available for purchase. Nature lovers will enjoy crane week, from the 17th where large flocks of cranes gather on the Atherton Tablelands, providing great sights of these intriguing creatures.
The end of the dry season visitors can expect to enjoy sunny, fresh days with temperatures reaching tops of 28 and lows of 20 degrees Celsius. However, it is important to remember that weather can be unpredictable in Queensland so its always a good idea to pack a light jacket just in case. Queensland school holidays conclude on the 4th of October, so if you want a trip away from large crowds this is the ideal time to visit.
There are a range of events running throughout the month including the annual Port Shorts Film Festival showcasing a range of local and national short films, Porttoberfest celebrating the German beer tradition at Lure Restaurant, and Crocodile Trophy towards the end of the month, one of the hardest mountain bike stage races in the world. Another popular event is the Tropical Mardi Gras celebrating the beautiful diversity of the people living in tropical North Qld. The even begins on the 30th of September until the 9th of October.
The temperatures begin to pick up again with the conclusion of spring in the lead up to summer with average tops of 29 and lows of 22 degrees Celsius. This is also the start of the wet season so expect to see sun showers and downpour spread throughout the month. November is the beginning of stinger season, visitors are advised to take care in the water and swim in designated enclosures and wear full body stinger suits when in the open water.
One of the main events this month is the Tropical Journey’s Great Barrier Reef Marathon. Held on the 6th of November, this marathon is based in Port Douglas with the town coming alive as an athlete’s village. Another popular attraction is the Port Douglas Marlin Challenge, drawing anglers from around the country from the 9th until the 13th.
The end of year celebrations can commence with the welcoming of summer once again. The prime tourist period for the region, school holidays commence from the 9th of the month and continue through to the end of January so prepare for large crowds and long cues. The days usually bring an average top of 30 and low of 22 degrees Celsius. Rainfall is common during the month as this is at the beginning of the wet season; the average rainfall in December is just under 200 mm.
The local markets continue to run around the region throughout December, however Christmas and New Years celebrations. New Years Eve is well spent in Port Douglas with amazing fireworks displays to help you ring in the new year, one at 8:30pm for the young ones and again at midnight to officially welcome the new year. The fireworks launch from Anzac Park and can be viewed from anywhere along the foreshore. Various clubs and restaurants also hold their own events with great food, drink and entertainment to help you celebrate.
In addition, if you’re looking for all the top things to see and do in and around Port Douglas including activities, attractions and more, be sure to check out our main region section to browse and book online!