Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful beach destination on Mexico's Pacific coast, and it enjoys mostly pleasant, sunny and warm weather year round. Although each time of year has its draws, the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is from December through March, when you’ll find nearly perfect weather conditions, very little chance of rain, and fun activities like whale watching. Whatever time of year you decide to visit, this guide will give you the essential information you need to plan your trip.
The Weather in Puerto Vallarta
The weather in Puerto Vallarta is very nice for most of the year, but in the springtime, temperatures can be unpleasantly warm, and most of the rain falls during the summer. June is the hottest month in Puerto Vallarta with an average temperature of 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) and although it never really gets cold, January has the coolest temperatures with an average of 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius). September is the wettest month with an average of 14 inches (358 mm) of rain.
Rainy season isn’t all bad: late afternoon thundershowers can be quite spectacular, with thunder, lightning, and sudden downpours. It usually rains in the late afternoons and evenings, so it’s usually possible to get in some beach time during the day. Hurricane season lasts from June through August, so you should be aware of the potential for tropical storms and hurricanes if you’re visiting during that period, although Puerto Vallarta’s privileged location in a bay with nearby mountains offers it some natural protection from storms.
Puerto Vallarta’s Peak Tourist Season
Most of Puerto Vallarta’s international visitors plan their visits to coincide with optimal weather conditions, from late fall through spring. Puerto Vallarta has also seen an increase in spring break travelers in recent years. Mexican visitors come in the two weeks surrounding Easter and during the summer, when children have school holidays. In the spring, days are typically hot and humid with highs around 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius) and at least half the days have some rain. The advantage of coming when there are fewer tourists is that there are lots of great deals on flights and hotels during the summer months. When the weather’s hot, it can be a good time to hit the beach; the pleasantly warm water makes for great swimming, snorkelling, and diving conditions.
Whale Watching Season
Conveniently, the humpback whales’ migration brings them to Puerto Vallarta’s Banderas Bay at the same time as tourists flock to the destination, between December and March. Early in the season, you’ll see more adult whales, and if you go toward the end of the season, you’ll have a better chance of witnessing baby humpbacks. Seeing these gentle giants breaching (jumping out of the water) and playing together is an amazing sight. During these months, you’re almost guaranteed to spot some whales whenever you go on a boat ride in the bay, and sometimes even from shore. Pacific bottlenose dolphins can be seen throughout the year, and sea turtles and manta rays are frequently spotted as well.
Spring in Puerto Vallarta
The weather in March is very pleasant, with warm days and cool evenings, but by April it’s warming up, with an average high of 82 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (28 to 29 degrees Celsius). With these higher temperatures, the water is warmer, so it can be very pleasant to swim at this time of year. However, this is also when the whales leave the bay for cooler water. May tends to be hot and humid, with rain becoming more frequent toward the end of the month. Puerto Vallarta has become more popular with spring breakers in the past few years, but they tend to concentrate in a few specific resorts and at night in the nightclubs around the Malecón, so you can still find quiet beaches to enjoy without crowds.
Events to check out:
- Banderas Bay International Regatta: Hosted by the Vallarta Yacht Club in Nuevo Vallarta yearly in March, this is the largest cruising Regatta on Mexico’s Pacific coast
- Restaurant Week has been extended to three weeks during the months of May and June. This is a great opportunity to have special meals in some of Puerto Vallarta’s best restaurants for great prices.
Summer in Puerto Vallarta
Summertime in Puerto Vallarta is typically hot and humid with highs around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) and lots of rain. The increased rainfall makes the vegetation grow lush and green, and makes the rivers and waterfalls more enjoyable. It’s also sea turtle hatching season, and thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches along Banderas Bay during the summer months. Because these beaches can be busy, several hotels sponsor sea turtle protection projects, and visitors can participate in releasing baby sea turtles to the sea. Hotels and resorts generally have lower occupancy rates during the summer, so it’s a good time to find deals or get added perks such as upgrades and free nights.
Events to check out:
- The Banderas Bay Fishing Tournament is held in July and prizes are offered for the largest marlin and tuna, as well as for the largest number of fish caught in a "catch and release" mode.
Fall in Puerto Vallarta
The rain continues through September, although the temperatures cool off a bit. In October the weather is increasingly pleasant, with more sunny days and comfortable temperatures as the month goes by. Many activities that are on hold during the summer months resume in the fall, such as the Historic Center Art Walk, which is takes place every Wednesday from 6 to 10 p.m. from the end of October through May.
Events to check out:
- The Puerto Vallarta International Gourmet Festival is held over a few days in November. Guest chefs from around the world are paired with participating restaurants where guests can enjoy their culinary creations.
- Day of the Dead celebrations: From the last day of October through the first few days of November, there are multiple festivities in town to mark the occasion, mainly concentrated in the center of town and along the Malecón. People paint their faces like sugar skulls, there is dancing, food, plenty of merriment, and a parade.
Winter in Puerto Vallarta
Temperatures get cooler, and generally are at their most pleasant this time of year, with warm days and cool evenings. Temperatures reach their coolest in January, with an average low of 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius). Ocean temperatures also drop to their lowest, attracting humpbacks and whale sharks, but it’s still comfortable for swimming and enjoying water sports.
Events to check out:
- Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations are held from the beginning of December through Dec. 12th and there are processions to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe each evening, with the most elaborate one occurring on Dec. 12.
- The National Charro Championship—a four-day event celebrating Mexico’s national sport, charreria—takes place at the end of January and beginning of February. It’s held at the Arena Vallarta with some events held concurrently in downtown Puerto Vallarta.