When to Go Winter (June–Aug) is high season in Queensland; the water can be chilly—at least to Australians—but its temperature rarely drops below 72[dg]F (22[dg]C). April through November is the best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef, because although southeast trade winds can sometimes make it a tad choppy at sea, this is peak visibility time for divers. December through March can be uncomfortably hot and humid, particularly as far north as the Whitsundays, Cairns, and Port Douglas. In the winter months (June–Aug), the water can be a touch chilly (Aussies think so, anyway), but it rarely drops below 72[dg]F (22[dg]C).
The Queensland Holidays website at www.queenslandholidays.com.au, is a great resource on traveling and touring the state, including the Great Barrier Reef, or call Go Queensland ( tel. 13 88 33 in Australia; www.goqueensland.com.au) to book online or speak to a Queensland travel specialist. Tourism & Events Queensland has websites specifically designed for overseas markets; in the United States go to www.destinationqueensland.com and for the United Kingdom check out www.experiencequeensland.
Travel Online (tel. 07/3804 8411; fax 07/3208 3266; www.travelonline.com) is a Queensland-based private company offering itinerary planning and booking services for a wide range of accommodations and tours throughout the state.
For information on B&Bs and farmstays in Cairns, Port Douglas and Mission Beach, contact the Bed & Breakfast and Farmstay Association of Far North Queensland, P.O. Box 595, Ravenshoe, QLD 4888 (tel. 07/4097 7022; www.bnbnq.com.au).
The Reef Tax -- Every passenger over 4 years old must pay a A$4.50 daily Environmental Management Charge (EMC), commonly called the "reef tax," every time they visit the Great Barrier Reef. This money goes toward the management and conservation of the Reef. Your tour operator will collect it from you when you pay for your trip.