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Stinger Season in Cairns and Port Douglas

Last Updated 01/09/2021

Stinger season Cairns, Port Douglas, the Great Barrier Reef area and the whole of Far North Queensland is something you need to be aware of. Insider knowledge on how to be safe, for you and your kids is essential. We lived up here for 6 years safe from jellyfish, so read on.

Dates for Stinger Season vary, fixed dates don’t really exist, but if you’re heading to Queensland in the summertime or wet season you need to know where and when to swim safely, what to wear, where the stinger nets are, and how your Great Barrier Reef tour or trip will be affected. It’s all on this page.

Today- March 2021 the stinger nets are in use on Four Mile Beach, best consider stinger season has started, We are in Port Douglas and Cairns now, we spent lockdown here and our site is updated with current information as often as possible. Things are mostly open in Port Douglas and Cairns. You’ll find restaurants and shops open and some reef boats and day trips are operating. Things are changing almost daily up here and tourists are returning. Of course, things look different and you may need to book tables and set dining times to comply with new rules.

Please check and double-check all the information we give you locally as times, places, dates, and services do, as we found, change often. Restrictions and closures may apply.

tropical north queensland fresh water stream

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We can also give you ideas on local, safe, stunning freshwater swimming spots. No trip to the region is complete without visiting one of our jungle swimming holes

There are more creatures to consider in this part of the world, starting with saltwater crocodiles, you can read what life is like for us living with these prehistoric monsters or discover where to spot our crocs in the wild, I kinda love them.

It’s not just the stingers, crocs, snakes and spiders that are out to get you, we also have a stinging tree, but seriously, don’t worry! She’ll be ‘right, as they say in Australia.

We hope you enjoy your visit to our old home (we left to travel the world, long story, it wasn’t because of the wildlife) and that you get the most out of Far North Queensland.

Stinger Season Information for Cairns, Port Douglas and Queensland

The Great Barrier Reef in Stinger Season Queensland
A day on the Great Barrier Reef, a dream come true, but will your day be affected by our marine stingers? This visit was in winter  (Southern Hemisphere winter ) so no stinger suits on this occasion but in the wet season yes, you will need a stinger suit.

What you need to know about stinger season in Australia

  • Stinger season dates.
  • Where are the stinger nets?
  • How to stay safe in the nets and outside.
  • What to wear? Stinger suits and where to buy them.
  • Swimming pools nearby.
  • Is the reef safe in stinger season?
  • Where are the freshwater swimming holes?
  • Where are the crocodiles?

 Video

 

Safe swimming near Port Douglas, Mossman Gorge
You don’t have to swim at the beach, there are plenty of safe, beautiful swimming pools, fresh water swimming holes, waterfalls and secret jungle pools to enjoy around Cairns and Port Douglas.

Marine Stingers and Dangerous Jellyfish, What are they?

The two most dangerous jellyfish, the ones we worry about in stinger season, are the box jellyfish and Irukandji.

Box Jellyfish

The most poisonous and deadly jellyfish in the world likes to hang out around Australia. The venom can kill in minutes and is the cause of an average 1 death per year in Australian waters.

There are more deaths in South East Asia, where stinger nets are rare. This jellyfish can get large, with tentacles stretching up to 3m behind it.

Irukandji

The tiny Irukandji is the smallest member of the box jellyfish family, it takes its name from the Irukandje people of Northern Australia and measures around 5mm in diameter. Its tentacles can be up to 1m long.

Its tiny size is deceiving as its venom is incredibly strong. Death isn’t inevitable, but Irukandji syndrome isn’t a nice thing to have, symptoms include severe muscle cramps, intense back pain, vomiting, racing heart and a feeling of intense doom.

The Irukandji is the reason many of us wear stinger suits inside the nets, they can be tiny enough to pass through the mesh of the net.

Marine Stingers and Dangerous Jellyfish, What are they? The two most dangerous jellyfish, the ones we worry about from November to May, are the box jellyfish and Irukandje. Box Jellyfish The most poisonous and deadly jellyfish in the world likes to hang out around Australia. The venom can kill in minutes and is the cause of an average 1 death per year in Australian waters. There are more deaths in South East Asia, where stinger nets are rare. This jellyfish can get large, with tentacles stretching up to 3m behind it. Irukandje The tiny Irukandje is the smallest member of the box jellyfish family, it takes its name from the Irukandje people of Northern Australia and measures around 5mm in diameter. It's tentacles can be up to 1m long. Its tiny size is deceiving as its venom is incredibly strong. Death isn't inevitable, but Irukandje syndrome isn't a nice thing to have, symptoms include severe muscle cramps, intense back pain, vomiting, racing heart and a feeling of intense doom. The Irukandje is the reason many of us wear stinger suits inside the nets, they can be tiny enough to pass through the mesh of the net.
Beautiful Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, on a very busy triathlon morning. This is a crowd in our part of the world.

 Stinger Season Cairns and Port Douglas Dates

If you’re here just for the hard facts, Stinger season is roughly November to May, but there is more to the story than that.

In Port Douglas, down the road in Cairns and throughout Far North Queensland including the Whitsundays, Townsville and Hamilton Island, stinger season comes with summer Things get sticky and with the heat and humidity come the most dangerous jellyfish. We call them marine stingers. However, some jellyfish can be here all the time, we don’t worry about them too much.

The occasional blue bottle, lonely jelly blubbers, and swarms of annoying sea lice visit from time to time, they aren’t a big problem, summer is the real danger time, we call it stinger season or jellyfish season.

From around November, it isn’t sensible to swim unprotected from Four Mile beach or any of the Northern Beaches. Deadly box jellyfish and Irukandji can visit our waters and we should all use the stinger nets when swimming from the shore and a one-piece stinger or sunsuit becomes a very good idea. ( see where to buy one below)

Port Douglas Dickinson Inlet Travel Blog
Beautiful Port Douglas. But is it safe to swim?

Is it Still Stinger Season Today?

Today, – March 2021 – the stinger nets are on the beach in Port Douglas. It is stinger season and likely will be for a couple of months yet. There were beach closures due to rough weather in the last few weeks but there were people swimming on Four Mile Beach this week. I keep this post as updated as possible ( but obviously – we travel full time, I’m often offline) and I’ll post here when the stinger nets are removed from the beach.

Beach Closures During Stinger Season

Beach Closed sign Australia Stinger Net Beach Closed Port Douglas Dangerous to Swim

Sometimes the stinger net on Four Mile Beach has been closed intermittently due to the presence of dangerous Irukandje small enough to pass through the net. The week before we were down there swimming and conditions were beautiful. This too shall pass. Beach closures during stinger season are fairly unusual. During the wet season, conditions can be very still, but stormy weather can also bring beach and stinger net closures. The stinger nets are not foolproof, tiny jellyfish can easily get in if they are in the area and the lifeguards check the net often.

When is Stinger Season Around Tropical North Queensland Region?

The further north you go, the longer stinger season lasts, the marine stingers enjoy warm water and hanging out in mangroves. Exact dates vary, there is no fixed point but generally expect the season to run from November or December to March between Gladstone and Townsville, October to June in the far north. While we’ve been living in FNQ the stinger season Port Douglas has generally lasted from November to May, Cairns will be the same.

The Stinger Nets Will be Out.

Stinger season Port Douglas and Cairns stretches from around the first of November to May, the stinger nets will be in the water as soon as there is any possible danger. The best times for swimming here, we think, are on the shoulders of stinger season, just before and just after the stinger nets go out. The water is warm and can be crystal clear, you’ll find us hitting the beach with the kids most days then.

Beaches With Stinger Nets Around Cairns and Port Douglas

There is a stinger net at the lifeguard station at the top end of Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas. Tourists use it right through stinger season. The net is occasionally closed in stormy weather. You’ll also find stinger nets at Palm Cove, Clifton Beach, Yorkey’s Knob, Holloways Beach, Trinity Beach, Kewarra Beach and Ellis Beach, most beaches in the area.

How Will Stinger Season Affect Your Great Barrier Reef Trip?

Things are safer on the Great Barrier Reef, your chances of encountering stingers are very small.  All reef charter boats have head to toe Stinger Suits on board for snorkellers to hire or use. They’re not elegant, but  you need to wear one in stinger season. It’s a great idea to buy a suit for your kids to keep our fierce sun off their skin at the beach, along with the marine stingers. This is perfectly normal in Australia, many kids wear them at any time of year.

stinger season port douglas and cairns
Stinger warning signs like these are on the Cairns and Port Douglas region beaches year-round, the bottle beneath contains vinegar, a good treatment or some stinger stings.

You’ll sometimes see local children in full-body stinger suits, exposing only fingers and faces, inside the net. Stinger nets are potentially not 100% effective, tiny jellyfish can still, possibly, pass through.

Don’t be put off, you’ll also see plenty of people in bikinis. The stinger suits serve a dual purpose, we also use them to protect our kids from the sun.

The lifeguards drag the net, usually every day, to check for any unwanted visitors. Look out for them, it’s interesting to see all the small fish and invertebrates they catch. They’re usually a friendly bunch.

Out on the reef the risk of marine stingers is even lower but most reef boats carry stinger suits to loan or hire to all passengers. If you are snorkelling on The Great Barrier Reef you will be required to wear one. Likewise, if you are learning to scuba dive, enjoying a trial dive, taking a liveaboard dive trip, or anything else that puts you in the water, you’ll need a stinger suit.

Stinger suits are also a very good idea to protect your children from the harsh Queensland sun.

High UV levels in Cairns and Port Douglas make stinger suits or sun protective suits a very good idea, even outside stinger season.
High UV levels in Cairns and Port Douglas make stinger suits or sun protective suits a good idea, even outside stinger season.

Buy a Stinger Suit Here

If you’d like to buy your own stinger suits to use on the beaches as well as on the reef, have a look here for kids’ and adult’s stinger suits and rash vests. ( works for USA, UK and more). If you’re wanting to buy stinger suits in Australia try here.

Is it Safe to Swim in Stinger Season? You Decide.

Stinger suits on the Great Barrier Reef in wet season or stinger season
My family visiting the Great Barrier Reef in stinger season. The black stinger suits were provided by the charter boat. My younger son wore his over his rashie and shorts. The suits have hoods and mittens leaving only tiny areas of skin exposed.

Thousands of visitors swim from Four Mile Beach all year round and problems are very rareTo be safe, take precautions:

  • Check the lifeguards’ instructions on the boards, you’ll find them on the beaches.
  • If the lifeguards say it’s safe, only swim in the stinger nets.
  • Wear a stinger suit or as much body protection as you can, rashies and board shorts help.
  • Do not touch the nets themselves, stingers could be caught in the net.

For my family, we reduced our sea swimming in season, after all, we lived here all year round and could swim any time.  We continued to visit the reef and felt very safe, stingers like to hang out near the coastal estuaries. It’s great to visit hotel pools, the Cairns Lagoon, or some of our natural, fresh-water swimming spots at this time of year, after all, there are plenty of other things to do in Cairns or Port Douglas.

Other Places to Swim Around Port Douglas and Cairns, Swimming Holes, Pools and The Lagoon.

Safe Swimming Port Douglas

Sea Temple Port Douglas Swimming Pool Best

If you are staying at any of the Port Douglas hotels, chances are you will have a pool. But there are also nearby fresh water swimming spots to try. Most places in Port, from campsites to hostels, have their own pools. Top-end Sea Temple (pictured above)  has an outstandingly huge and luxurious pool with lagoons, rivers, a hot tub and bridges to swim under, it’s one of the biggest and best in the world and we would spend every Christmas there along with many locals. The pool at The Sheraton Grand Mirage is even bigger.

Hotels in Port Douglas With Stunning Pools

Hotels in Cairns With Good Pools

  • Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort Novotel are a great up-market chain of hotels and they do family and kids really well. We always expect high standards with Novotel.

Hotels in the Port Douglas and Cairns Area with Good Pools

Safe Swimming at Port Douglas

There are some really lovely places to swim around Port Douglas, some of the hotels allow visitors to use their pools if they are buying food or drinks and Mossman Gorge (click here for rainforest swimming information) is just up the road, perfect for a cooling dip in an icy cold rainforest stream.

Safe Swimming Cairns

Cairns has one of the most amazing Lagoon pools in the world, and it’s free. There is also a small waterpark in Cairns, see this post on places to get wet in the area. There are a few natural rainforest swimming spots nearby, we particularly enjoy Crystal Cascades. Fresh-water swimming in this part of the world is an experience you shouldn’t miss. Maybe stinger season isn’t the best time to visit Port Douglas, but you’ll find plenty of things to do in Port Douglas, safely and enjoyably at most times of the year.

Stinger season Cairns, Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef. Four Mile Bach Port Douglas Astralia
Fabulous Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas.

Stinger season is just one of the costs of living in the tropics, sharing our lives with deadly but fascinating creatures, crocodiles, snakes, and spiders. It’s always beautiful here in Port Douglas and the wildlife and scenery are stunning, all year round. Four Mile beach, our home, is beautiful, but once the dangerous jellyfish arrive and stinger season starts, just use a bit of common sense. You have to make your own call, you’ll be fine inside the stinger net and you’ll be safer still on the reef, just keep it in your mind and listen to the lifeguards, they drag the net every day to check for stingers. They know the beach and know when the risk is high, they will tell you.

Queensland Stinger Season Port Douglas Cairns Australia

For Pinterest 

Thank you for visiting, this is one of the most popular and well-used page on our website. Would you tell me in the comments how we can improve it and help you with Stinger Season or Far North Queensland even more? Have a great time! Want more information, try our Australia Travel Blog page.

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