Summer in the tropics is notorious. This notoriety is largely centred on just how wet it can get – that’s of course how it got its nickname “the Wet Season”.
If you’ve heard of the Wet Season, you’ve also probably heard that it is hot and humid, and just so wet. However, we think this time of year cops flack unfairly. Summer in Queensland is still a great time to visit, especially when you’re visiting a tropical island like Fitzroy Island.
Before we tell you about the amazing experiences you can have during the summer season on Fitzroy Island, let us tell you a bit about the Wet Season.
About the wet season
While it doesn’t commence at the exact same time every year, the Wet Season usually begins around November and wraps up sometime around March or April.
While it may be called the Wet Season, and a significant amount of rain does fall – the monthly rainfall can be over 400mm – you are still going to see the sun and experience the warmth.
The rainfall usually occurs in the late afternoon or at night, and for the most part, it doesn’t last too long. There is just a lot more of it then you might experience at home.
For those in the know, Australia’s traditional winter months are actually a dry time of year up in the tropics, so the Wet Season is a vital part of the weather cycle for the region. This is the time where the land is fed from this rainfall and new life comes.
Now, of course, rain and humidity go hand in hand, so admittedly, this time of year can be quite humid, but there are certainly ways you can combat this. And you definitely shouldn’t let a little humidity get in the way of some of the incredible adventures you can have.
Now, let’s learn a little bit about Fitzroy Island
About Fitzroy Island
Fitzroy Island is a 339-hectare tropical island that sits only 29km from the coast of Cairns, in the Coral Sea.
With 97% of the island’s land covered by a National Park, you’re indeed in for some truly tropical and nature inspired experiences.
It takes about 45 minutes to get to Fitzroy Island via the Fitzroy Island Flyer from the Cairns Marina, and even though it’s so close, once you’re on this island, you feel as if you’re a million miles away from anything else.
Often touted as the place where the rainforest meets the reef, Fitzroy Island is literally smack bang in waters that are surrounded by the majesty of the incredible underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef. Coral gardens and rich marine life fill the waters and provide you with endless entertainment opportunities.
But the entertainment isn’t only under the water. Fitzroy Island is home to two restaurants, a resort, numerous walking trails, the turtle rehabilitation centre, endless water-based activities and even Australia’s Most Beautiful Beach (2018), Nudie Beach.
Fitzroy Island is the kind of place that makes you want to say goodbye to your normal life and spend the rest of your days living out your island fantasies.
Fitzroy Island Summer Activities and Adventures
So, of course by now, you know about the summer rains of the Wet Season, but now, it’s time to tell you about why Fitzroy Island is an ideal holiday destination in summer.
1. The Reef Comes Alive
As we touched on, Fitzroy Island is nestled in the same waters as the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef. This attraction is a must see, spanning literally thousands of kilometres off the coast of North Queensland.
The reef is made up of thousands of coral reef systems, more than 1500 species of fish, an array of other marine life including turtles, rays, dolphins, and sea horses, and there are of course islands and sand cays – almost 1000 of them.
During this time of year, something very special happens. As spring wraps up and summer begins, mass coral spawning takes place. Usually occurring in mid-November, though the timing is dependent on factors such as water temperatures, moon phases, tides and currents, coral spawning en masse is a spectacular natural occurrence where the coral releases bundles of sperm and eggs into the ocean simultaneously.
Ordinarily, the coral multiplies by splitting and dividing, however, this coral spawning event is another way the reef is brought to life. It is a natural way for the reef to recover and continue to survive the dangers it faces every day.
This week, on November 23rd, the coral spawning event of 2021 began. Gareth Philips, a marine biologist with more than 20 years of experience has been monitoring and observing the Great Barrier Reef’s coral spawning for more than a decade. He was one of the lucky people who witnessed this event in person, and he had this to say:
“Reflecting on the Reef as a sign of hope for Australians, it is gratifying to see the Reef give birth. It’s a strong demonstration that its ecological functions are intact and working after being in a recovery phase for more than 18 months. The Reef has gone through its own troubles like we all have, but it can still respond – and that gives us hope”.
To read more about this event and of what Gareth Philips had to say, you can read the fantastic piece “The Great Barrier Reef – oh what a night” by Liz Bond.
Not only is coral spawning important for the natural regeneration and growth of the reef, it’s also an important time scientifically. Coral spawning provides researchers the opportunity to not only witness these signs of life but also to collect specimens and study how the life stages of coral work and ways that we can help the reef to survive.
And while the reef comes experiences this event, this time of year also coincides with the mating season of many different kinds of wildlife. Fish breed around this time of year and turtles lay eggs their eggs with hatching commencing around 6 to 8 weeks later. It’s a time that signals rebirth in the animal kingdom.
2. Diving conditions on the Reef are great
As we mentioned above, the wet season coincides with mating season for many marine animals, so you have the chance to witness some amazing species, like turtles, fish, sharks, rays, eels and many others.
But in addition to the amazing marine life you might see, the wet season can actually be quite a pleasant time when it comes to the conditions you’re diving in.
Usually, the water temperature is at its peak, up to 31 degrees Celsius, which makes for very nice swimming conditions. It is stinger season though, so you may not need a wetsuit, but you definitely need a stinger suit.
Not only does the water get warmer, but it is usually calmer too as the trade winds die down and the infamous “glass-out” days may be experienced. This is where the water is so calm due to the lack of wind that it almost looks like a sheet of glass. This is particularly good for those learning to dive.
The other thing to keep in mind, unless it’s very stormy conditions, you’re largely going to be unaffected when it comes to diving, even when it’s raining. Occasionally the water may be cloudy, but many dive tours will involve heading out to outer reefs where land run off won’t interfere with the waters around you, and remember, you’re already going to get wet, so what harm is a little rain going to do?
When you’re on Fitzroy Island, you can take part in a variety of scuba dive tours and courses. Whether you’re a first timer, or a certified expert, there are options for you. Learn more about the diving options on offer at Fitzroy Island here.
3. Nature wakes up
So, along with the water world coming to life in the wet season, this time of year is also when nature truly comes to life and gets some much-needed replenishment after the drier months.
Summer is affectionately referred to as the green season by locals of tropical north Queensland because the rainforests start sporting every shade of green imaginable. Along with this, streams, rivers and creeks become abundant with water, which leads to incredible waterfalls thundering and cascading all over the land.
Given the proximity of the mainland from Fitzroy Island and how easy it is to get there, you can consider taking a day trip from your tropical island home base and chasing waterfalls and exploring the prehistoric rainforests on the mainland. With the Wet Tropics only a stone’s throw from Cairns marina, you may as well take advantage of these incredible sites.
Fitzroy Island also has a large rainforest area, which when it is awoken by the summer rains, provides a magical place just waiting to be explored. You can discover it for yourself on the various walking trails, some of which lead you to the summit of the island, where you can take in vistas of the coral garden filled waters that surround the island.
4. Rain doesn’t put a dampener on activities
Rain, hail or shine, Fitzroy Island has a huge range of activities and experiences available to keep you occupied.
Many of the water-based activities, like diving, snorkelling, stand up paddleboarding and sea kayaking can still be done in the rain, however, it’s important to remember, that the summer rains rarely last an entire day. Most of the time, you’ll wake up when it is superbly sunny and be able to get a full morning of action in before the rains start in the afternoon.
The island also offers two restaurants where you can watch the change of the day, when the rains start crawling in as you enjoy a late lunch or early dinner and of course, enjoy happy hour from.
There are also a range of different activities and classes to keep both kids and adults occupied during their time on the island.
One must-visit place on the island that will keep you dry no matter the weather is the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. This non-profit, volunteer run organisation does amazing things for sick and injured turtles, having successfully nursed hundreds of turtles back to full health.
You can learn about sea turtles at the centre, as well as visit (and maybe even feed) some of the current residents.
It’s a worthwhile and educational experience that will leave you feeling inspired by their amazing work.
If visiting the Turtle Rehab Centre sounds like something you would like, make sure you book ahead. You can learn more about the centre and tours available here.
5. The rains are truly spectacular
Chances are, unless you live in a tropical climate, you will never have experienced rain like the wet season.
The sheer volume of rain that can occur is nothing short of impressive and makes for a great afternoon soundtrack as you wind down from a morning full of activities.
Even if you hate getting wet, it’s hard to not be enthralled as the rain literally buckets from the sky. It really is an exciting natural event that signifies the time for rejuvenation and revitalisation of nature, which is certainly a must see.
Visit Fitzroy Island Today
So, if visiting a tropical island during nature’s most rejuvenating time sounds ideal to you, why not check out the range of accommodation on offer at Fitzroy Island, as well as the range of packages and deals available for visitors to the island.
Fitzroy Island caters for all budgets and is an amazing place to visit for people of all ages.