For people who aren’t used to living in Australia’s north tropics, the very idea of a wet season is enough to make them think Queensland is a holiday no-go zone. The term “wet season” doesn’t exactly sound enticing.
However, as people who live in the north know, using words such as “wet” or “rainy” to describe this time of year isn’t completely true. It would be more accurate to call February and March our “season of rain which is regularly broken by sunshine and blue skies” or a time when there is a “high chance of warm rain in the afternoon”. But these phrases don’t exactly roll off the tongue!
It’s important to highlight the fast-changing weather patterns common in the wet season and to know there’s a lot to be gained from booking a sailing holiday at this time of year. You will have access to discounted rates, options for shorter charters on our best boats, high chances of blue skies, calm seas and the Islands to yourself.
Read on to get some insider tips and learn how you can nab yourself a sailing adventure through the Whitsundays at a reduced rate. Plus, we’ll share some great activities to be enjoyed throughout the Whitsunday Islands in “the wet”.
The wet season occurs in north Queensland from January to March. In the tourism industry, we call this time of the year our low season – for you that means a time period with discounted rates.
In the wet season, book at the last minute (our standby rates) based on the weather forecast.
Most of the booking we receive in the wet season are made by people who understand what the wet season conditions are like and how quickly they can change from cloudy to blue skies. They keep an eye on our standby rates and an eye on the weather. When the weather is clear, they quickly make a booking, taking advantage of our heavily reduced hire costs and the opportunity to enjoy the islands without the crowds.
The low season also offers these two advantages:
Every year our wet season is different and sometimes we get more rain than others. This is why it’s always good to check in with what the current and forecast weather conditions are before ruling out a holiday to tropical Queensland.
Generally speaking, the temperatures in Feb and March sit around an average of 30 degrees Celsius with humidity.
A typical weather pattern for a day in the Whitsundays wet season is a heavy cloud burst later in the day or overnight with hard and fast rain. This means that the mornings and throughout the day are often calm and sunny.
The weather changes really quickly. Check out these images from Hamilton Island. These photos were taken only a few hours apart, with a rainy lunchtime spent at the marina tavern followed by a sunny afternoon at the resort pool.
February and March are higher risk times for stingers (which are said to have a season from November to March). You can still enjoy water-based activities such as snorkelling and stand up paddleboarding, you just need to wear a stinger suit which you can hire from us for $5 per person, per night.
Cyclones season does coincide with the wet season in Queensland, however, the likelihood of a cyclone directly impacting Queensland is low – and one impacting the Whitsunday region is even lower.
We have access to state of the art forecasting technology and local authorities who are all very experienced at monitoring cyclones in the interests of public safety. We can see when a large storm is brewing a week or more ahead of time and we're given several days’ warning if it’s looking like the Whitsundays will be directly affected. Once formed, cyclones tend to move slowly at about 8 to 12 knots – giving us plenty of notice if one is developing.
In the unlikely event of an approaching storm, we would recall all of the boats to our base at Shute Harbour or to Hamilton Island Marina with ample notice for your safety. We strongly advise that if you are chartering a yacht in the Whitsundays’ wet season, as an extra precaution, you should take out travel insurance to ensure that your costs are covered if there is a boat recall due to extreme weather.
There is still so much to be enjoyed throughout the islands if you get a bit of rain.
Hamilton Island is a great place to berth for a night or two when you’re on a bareboat charter.
A bustling resort island, there won’t be a shortage of things to do. You can hire a golf buggy and zip around seeing the sites, enjoy shopping, dining out, swimming in the public resort pools, 10 pin bowling and a visit to the Wildlife Park where you can cuddle a koala.
Don’t miss a sunset hike up to the famous One Tree Hill lookout with amazing 360 views or walking on one of the 9 walking trails taking you through the island’s stunning national parks.
When it rains, the forest on the islands come alive. As you walk on one of the many walking trails throughout the islands, you will hear frogs, birds and the dripping of water with the smell of rain and life around you. Just pack a light raincoat and take it all in.
Four of the best places to hike during the Whitsunday Islands wet season.
The wet season is it’s the only time of year you can see the Whitsunday Island waterfalls flowing.
Video from Sailing Yogi at Stonehaven Bay
Many photographers know that the best conditions for photos are cloudy or overcast skies so heavy shadows and contrasts are avoided. During the wet season, the rain will downpour suddenly and clear just as quickly as it came. When it clears, the sun usually comes out, contrasting with the greys and clouds creating an athletic sky.
A great tip is to send a drone up at sunrise and sunset for an amazing light show amongst the clouds. And keep an eye out for the rainbows!
When you’re on a bareboat charter you have the opportunity to stop over at Daydream Island. This famous resort island has recently been refurbished and the island natural coral lagoon now offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy an open water aquarium.
You’re able to look through a large acrylic window out at a reef system where you can spot fish, stingrays and other reef-dwelling creatures in their natural environment. The Reef Experience attraction also has an exploration centre which includes activities and exhibits for all ages.
Photo Credit Daydream Island Resort
If you're planning to charter around the Whitsundays during the wet season, there will probably be a few rainy patches you'll need to wait out. It can be a great opportunity to force everyone to relax, enjoy an afternoon nap, a good book or some board games with the kids. There is nothing worse than coming back from a holiday feeling like you need a holiday! At least with some forced downtime thanks to the lovely rain, you'll be rejuvenated.
But perhaps the biggest drawcard to booking a sailing holiday in the Whitsunday’s wet season is you’re likely to have many anchorages and beaches all to yourself. For a world-class location with natural wonders abound, this is a real privilege and opportunity.
If you are willing to be flexible and are prepared to get wet albeit, from warm rain, you are in for a real treat. You might even become one of our regular wet season bareboaters.
Join us in the Whitsundays wet season and enjoy the freedom to explore