Discover Puerto Vallarta: Uncovering the Best Time to Travel for Unbeatable Experiences
Are you looking for the best time to travel to Puerto Vallarta? Well, look no further! In this article, we have everything you need to know about the perfect time to visit this stunning Mexican destination. From the cheapest months to the peak tourist seasons, from the weather patterns to the vibrant festivals and events happening throughout the year, we've got you covered. Whether you're a sun-seeking beach lover, an adventure enthusiast, or a culture connoisseur, there is a "best time to travel to Puerto Vallarta" that will fulfill all your vacation dreams. So, let's dive in and discover when you should pack your bags for the trip of a lifetime!
Puerto Vallarta Travel Seasons
- High Season: The busiest time to visit Puerto Vallarta is from December to mid-April. During this period, the weather is the best, with average daily highs below 29°C. The skies are clear, although there may be some overcast days even in the driest months. This is the perfect time for whale watching, fishing, and surfing. In March and April, many students visit for Spring Break. Holy Week leading up to Easter is also a peak travel time for local families. Expect higher prices and larger crowds if you visit during winter or early spring.
- Low Season: The low season in Puerto Vallarta is from July to September. This period has hot and humid days with temperatures around 33°C and occasional rain. The skies are mostly grey and the surf conditions are not ideal. However, there are great deals on flights and hotels during the summer months. The warmest ocean temperatures and best underwater visibility for snorkeling and diving can be found during this season.
- Shoulder Season: May, June, October, and November are considered shoulder seasons in Puerto Vallarta. These months have good weather with less rain and fewer clouds compared to summer. The temperatures hover around 31°C. Room and flight rates are more affordable, especially in May and June after the high season ends. In October, rates are still fairly low, but start to increase toward the end of November for the holiday season.
Cheapest Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta
If you want to save money, it is recommended to visit Puerto Vallarta during the low season, particularly from July to September.
However, please note that many hotels close during this time for annual repairs, so the room rates may not drop as much. If saving on accommodations is your priority, May, June, September, and October are good months to visit. During these months, discounted rates for tours are also available as long as it's not peak season. These months also have fewer international tourists and more local vacationers.
Additionally, visiting in May during the shoulder season allows you to experience Vallarta Pride, a festival that celebrates the LGBTQ community and its influence on the culture, history, and heritage of Puerto Vallarta. The low season is also the time for sea turtle releases, providing another exciting activity.
August, although one of the wettest and hottest months, offers a chance to experience authentic Mexican fiestas during the Mexican Independence Day celebration in September. The city comes alive with colorful fireworks, charro parades, lasso demos, and mariachi music, providing a vibrant nightlife experience.
Peak visitor numbers and tourist seasons in Puerto Vallarta
Find out when Puerto Vallarta has its high tourist season (the period when the influx of tourists is highest) and off-peak tourist season using our data and figures.
Tourist seasons in Puerto Vallarta
- Very low season in Puerto Vallarta: The months with the lowest number of tourists are June, September, and October.
- Low season in Puerto Vallarta: The months with low numbers of tourists are March, May, July, and August.
- High season in Puerto Vallarta: The number of visitors to Puerto Vallarta is high in January, February, April, and November.
- Peak season in Puerto Vallarta: The largest number of tourists visiting Puerto Vallarta is in December.
Figure: Visitor index for Puerto Vallarta month by month
Least Busy Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta
If you want to avoid crowds, it is recommended to visit Puerto Vallarta from June to October.
Please note that the majority of the summer season is hot and humid, with afternoon showers becoming common. However, during this time, the foreign travel high season has just ended, so you have a better chance of avoiding crowds. Just take along a trusty umbrella to prepare for rainy days, which are more frequent during this period, especially from August to September.
The low season offers great deals on flights and accommodations, but keep in mind that some tour companies may not operate at full capacity due to lower tourist numbers. Despite that, it is still a great time to enjoy the warm waters, snorkeling, and diving.
Worst Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta
The worst time to visit Puerto Vallarta depends on your personal preference. The rainy months of July to September may not be ideal for those seeking sunny days.
However, Puerto Vallarta is fortunately protected from hurricanes. The last major hurricane to hit Puerto Vallarta was Hurricane Kenna in 2002.
Despite the rain, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy during this time. Fishing enthusiasts can witness the Banderas Bay Fishing Tournament in July. This international tournament offers substantial prizes and attracts marlin and tuna fishing enthusiasts. Traditional Mexican fiestas like the celebration of Mexican Cowboys on National Charro Day provide a unique cultural experience. Experience the vibrant nightlife of Puerto Vallarta during this time.
Overall Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta
To make the most out of your visit to Puerto Vallarta, the best time to go is from December to March.
During these months, the weather is favorable, and there are opportunities for unique experiences. Witness the migration of humpback whales to Banderas Bay for their mating season. Take a boat tour equipped with hydrophones to listen to their mesmerizing calls. You may also have a chance to spot gray whales or whale sharks. The weather during this period is warm but not overly hot, making it perfect for outdoor activities like hiking and horseback riding. The sandy beaches of Puerto Vallarta are enjoyable during this time.
However, keep in mind that prices are higher during this peak season due to increased tourist numbers, especially in December and January.
Puerto Vallarta Weather by Month
Weather in Puerto Vallarta is warm and humid throughout the year. The temperatures range from winter lows of 16°C to summer highs of 33°C. The end of July and the beginning of August are the hottest times of the year, while January is the coolest. March to May are the driest and sunniest months. Late August and early September are the rainiest and cloudiest. September is the most humid. The ocean surface temperatures are highest in August and lowest in March.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in January: January is one of the coolest months with balmy temperatures. Afternoon highs are in the upper 20s°C, and skies are mostly clear. January has about 2 rainy days per month, usually in the middle. The ocean temperatures are on the lower side, attracting humpback whales, their newborns, and whale sharks. Bring a jacket as nightly temperatures drop to the mid-teens.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in February: February has steady temperatures with warm days and cooler evenings. Highs average 28°C and lows average 16°C. Skies begin to clear, and there is usually only one rainy day in the month. The sea temperatures drop slightly, but they remain comfortable. Surfing conditions are great, and it's the best time to see baby humpback whales.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in March: March sees a slow rise in temperatures with days often reaching 30°C. Nights can still be cool, so a light jacket or sweater is recommended. Rain is uncommon during this dry month. Ocean temperatures are colder but still suitable for water activities. Surfing conditions remain good, but humpback whales start leaving the area toward the end of the month.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in April: April is warm with a few hot days toward the end of the month. It is the driest month with no rainy days, but humidity increases. Nights are still cool. Ocean temperatures start to rise, and surfing conditions are excellent. Most humpback whales have left the area by this time.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in May: May is hot and muggy, with temperatures regularly exceeding 32°C. Humidity rises toward the last few weeks, and there may be one rainy day. Ocean temperatures rise to a very comfortable range. Surfing conditions vary, but there are still great waves in certain areas.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in June: June is hot and humid, with clouds or overcast skies. Rain becomes more regular, with about 10 rainy days throughout the month. Ocean conditions are excellent for swimming and water activities. Surfing conditions are favorable in certain areas but decline in others.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in July: July marks the start of the rainy season. Rain occurs about half of the days, and skies are mostly overcast. It's advisable to bring an umbrella and plan indoor activities. Temperature is hot and sticky. Ocean temperatures continue to rise, and visibility is excellent for snorkeling and diving. Surfing conditions decline in the areas north of Vallarta.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in August: August is the peak of the rainy summer season. High temperatures frequently exceed 33°C, and rain occurs on half of all days. Bring an umbrella and plan for rainy days. Skies are overcast, and humidity is high. Ocean temperatures are at their warmest, and water is calm with excellent visibility. Surfing conditions are still available in certain areas to the south.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in September: September has slightly lower temperatures but remains hot and humid. Skies are the greyest, and rain is common but less frequent than previous months. Carry an umbrella and plan ahead for rainy days. Ocean conditions are consistent, and surfing conditions are better in the south. September is the most humid month.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in October: October starts similarly to September but becomes drier and clearer in the second half. Rain decreases to only 5 days spread over the month. Ocean temperatures and conditions remain similar to September. Surfing conditions are good in popular beaches.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in November: November brings great weather with warm temperatures reaching above 31°C. Humidity is high early in the month but lessens later. Rain may occur once or twice, but most days are dry. Ocean temperatures are still warm, and surfing conditions improve throughout the region. Humpback whales start arriving at the end of the month.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in December: December is gorgeous in PV, with warm comfortable days and cooler evenings. It's advisable to bring a jacket for nights out. Rain showers may occur a couple of days, but most days are dry with relatively low humidity. More than half the days are sunny or only partly cloudy. Sea temperatures drop down to 25°C, still suitable for water activities. Surfing conditions are excellent, and whale sightings are common.
Weather and Climate in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta has a tropical savanna climate (with a dry summer) according to the Köppen-Geiger classification. The average maximum temperature in Puerto Vallarta is 88°F annually, ranging from 85°F in December to 92°F in May. The rainfall averages 76 inches per year, with a minimum of 0.2 inches in April and a maximum of 16.5 inches in August.
- From January to April, the climate is perfect, with an average of 90°F at lunchtime and only 0.2 inches of rainfall per month.
- In May, the climate is good, with an average morning temperature of 68°F and an expectation of 2 days of rain.
- From June to October, the climate is just OK. Temperatures can reach a record high of 97°F, and the average rainfall is 10.9 inches per month during this period.
- Between November and December, the climate is perfect, with an average evening temperature of 72°F and an expectation of 3 days of rain in December.
Annual Weather in Puerto Vallarta
To get full information about the climate and weather of Puerto Vallarta for a specific month, click on the corresponding line below:
Hours of Daylight and Twilight in Puerto Vallarta by Month
There is no specific best time to visit Puerto Vallarta as it depends on your preferences.
However, the best weather in Puerto Vallarta can be experienced during the high season, particularly from December to May. During this time, the skies are clear, the average daily highs are below 85°F (30°C), and the water temperatures are perfect for swimming and surfing.
The cooler months of the high season also bring the marine life in the region to life. You can witness the humpback whale migration and observe various undersea creatures.
Puerto Vallarta Festivals and Events
- Vallarta Cup – The Vallarta Yacht Club hosts a race in Banderas Bay every Saturday in January. The race courses can stretch from Puerto Vallarta to La Cruz. Each day of racing is followed by a party at VYC in Nuevo Vallarta.
- Festival of Our Lady of Peace (La Virgen de la Paz) – This annual festival takes place in Bucerías over nine days. It honors the village's patron saint, who is also considered the mother and protector of fishermen. The festival starts with fishermen sailing from La Cruz to Bucerías, bringing the Peace Torch as an offering to the church. The festival includes carnival rides, food vendors, cultural activities, processions, nightly entertainment, and concludes with a fireworks display.
- Sayulita Festival – This five-day festival in the surfer town of Sayulita features music, movies, Mexican wine and spirits. The festival includes tastings, concerts, surfing, yoga workshops, and camping in designated areas.
- Charro National Championship – This five-day competition showcases the skills of Mexican cowboys known as charros. The competition includes riding bucking broncos, roping bulls, live music, dance performances, lasso demonstrations, and cultural shows. Competitions take place at Arena Vallarta, while music and cultural events are held at the Los Arcos Amphitheater on the Malecon.
- Mardi Gras and Carnaval Parade – This celebration, sometimes in March, marks the last day of partying before the austere season of Lent. The festivities begin with an evening parade along the Malecon, featuring floats, beads, and big parties. The parade attracts crowds of up to 30,000, including the LGBT community, who can enjoy special events hosted by hotels and clubs.
- Banderas Bay Regatta – This five-day event includes three full days of sailboat races and four nights of parties. The races are open to both cruisers and race boats. Each night, the Vallarta Yacht Club hosts parties with food, live music, and dancing.
- Dama Juana Raicilla Festival – This two-day festival celebrates raicilla, a liquor similar to tequila and mezcal. The festival features raicilla and food tastings, talks with distillers, mariachi music, and more. The festival takes place at the cultural center on Cuale River Island.
- Puerto Vallarta Taco Festival – The city's best taco restaurants, from street vendors to fine dining establishments, come together to offer a variety of styles and flavors of this signature Mexican dish. The festival also includes tequila, beer, lucha libre, music, dance, and other forms of entertainment. The festival is held in the North Hotel Zone, near La Isla Mall.
- Bucerías Oyster Festival (Feria de Ostiones) – This annual festival celebrates local oyster divers and marks the end of the oyster season in Bucerías. The festival features a competition among divers to catch the largest oyster, as well as plenty of oysters and ceviche to eat. There is also live music and the crowning of the Oyster Queen. The festival takes place on El Punto Beach.
- Children's Day (El Día del Niño) – This holiday is dedicated to children and features fun activities and special treats. Many schools don't have classes on this day. Zoos, amusement parks, and attractions often offer discounts, and travelers can participate by providing toys or candy to street children.
- Vallarta Azteca International Folklore Festival – This festival celebrates traditional dance from Mexico and Latin America. Dance troupes from various countries perform folkloric dances every evening at different venues in town. The festival showcases over 600 dancers representing around 15 unique cultures.
- Vallarta Pride – This nine-day festival celebrates the LGBT community in Puerto Vallarta, known as a premier LGBT destination in Mexico. Zona Romantica serves as the central hub for Pride events, which include a parade, drag derby, beach parties, film festivals, live music, dancing, and more. It is advisable to book hotels in advance, as the area fills up quickly with small boutique accommodations.
- MayoFest Puerto Vallarta – This five-day festival celebrates the anniversary of Puerto Vallarta. The festival includes concerts, sports activities, entertainment, and a spectacular fireworks show at the lighthouse (faro) and the Los Arcos Amphitheater on the Malecon. Local food vendors offer a wide range of options to indulge in during the festival.
- Restaurant Week – This two-week gastronomy event takes place in late May and highlights Puerto Vallarta as a top foodie destination in Mexico. Participating restaurants offer creative three-course meals with different options for each course. It's a great opportunity to explore the city's cutting-edge gourmet scene at discounted rates. The participating restaurants are located throughout the city.
- Navy Day (El Día de la Marina) – June 1st is celebrated in port towns across Mexico, commemorating the launch of the first all-Mexican crewed ship and honoring past and present naval service men and women. The day's festivities include boat launches, flower wreath laying ceremonies in Banderas Bay, sea tournaments, beach celebrations, and dancing into the night.
- RHA Festival – This two-day electronic music festival takes place in Punta Mita, northwest of Puerto Vallarta. The main RHA Festival features DJs performing on the beach, while the "RHA Experience" includes additional intimate concerts and pool parties.
- Banderas Bay Fishing Tournament – This international fishing competition focuses on marlin and tuna. The tournament spans two days and departs from the Paradise Village Marina. It is hosted by the Bahía de Banderas Fishing Club and has a reputation for record-setting catches, including a 322 kg marlin in the past.
- Cristo de los Brazos Caidos (Christ of the Fallen Arms or Christ of the Cyclone) – This local celebration takes place in Barra de Navidad, south of Puerto Vallarta. The festival commemorates a local legend that occurred during a massive storm in 1971. As the residents sought refuge in the church, the arms of the crucified Christ above the altar fell off, coinciding with the end of the storm. The festival includes rosaries, processions, fireworks, street food, and live entertainment.
- Punta Mita Beach Festival – This two-day festival takes place at Kupuri Beach Club and offers a range of activities, including an underwater treasure hunt, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and other beach fun. Chefs from Punta Mita's luxury resorts serve upscale beach bites and creative cocktails. The festival is family-friendly and lasts from 9 am to 8 pm.
- National Charro Day – Celebrated on September 14, this day honors Mexican cowboys known as charros. Festivities include charros riding through downtown streets in their traditional attire. In the evening, a parade takes place along the Malecon, followed by a street party with lasso demonstrations, mariachi music, and dancing at Los Arcos Amphitheater.
- Mexican Independence Day – This two-day festival commemorates Mexico's independence with music, fireworks, food, and parades. On the afternoon of September 15, people gather in the main square for non-stop mariachi music and traditional foods. At 11 pm, the cry for independence, known as "grito," is called with ringing bells and fireworks. The celebration continues throughout the night. On September 16, a large military parade takes place, accompanied by more food and festivities.
- San Pancho Days – This nine-day festival takes place in the small surfing village of San Francisco (San Pancho). The celebration honors St. Francis of Assisi and includes parades, food, rodeos, live music, dancing, and carnival rides. Each day and night, the festival moves to a different neighborhood in town, and it concludes with a day of wild parties, a rodeo, and the lighting of a fireworks structure at midnight.
- Vallarta Nayarit Gastronómica – This high-end culinary conference brings together renowned chefs and sommeliers. The four-day event includes cooking demos, food and wine tastings, workshops, and special dinners. The conference showcases creative, contemporary, and traditional cooking styles with regional and international flavors.
- Halloween – Halloween celebrations in Puerto Vallarta merge with Day of the Dead events, creating a festive atmosphere from October 29 to November 2. Halloween itself is celebrated with costume contests and parties at local bars and restaurants. Children dress up in the streets and say "Queremos Halloween," the local version of "trick or treat," while carrying bags for candy.
- All Saints' Day (Día de Todos Santos) – All Saints' Day is part of the Day of the Dead Celebrations in Mexico, similar to Halloween. On this day, Mexicans honor deceased children by leaving offerings on custom-designed altars with sugar skulls, toys, and treats. Altars can be found in cemeteries, homes, and various public places in the city. Streets are decorated in orange and purple, and public altars are set up on the Malecon.
- Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead, All Souls' Day) – Day of the Dead in Puerto Vallarta involves decorating altars in homes or cemeteries, keeping vigils, and leaving offerings for deceased loved ones. The celebrations include parades of Catrinas (skeletons dressed as fancy, rich ladies), folkloric dance performances, mariachi music, street food, and special pastries and treats. Popular spots for celebrating include the Malecon, Municipal Cemetery, Hidalgo Park, and the Emiliano Zapato neighborhood in Zona Romantica.
- Festival Gourmet International – This ten-day event brings renowned chefs and sommeliers from local restaurants and hotels together for a culinary culture exchange. The festival includes cooking demos, restaurant hopping, forums, wine and liquor pairings, and a mini art festival. Travelers can reserve their spaces online to enjoy this gastronomic experience.
- International Fishing Tournament – This three-day fishing competition focuses on marlin and sailfish. Each day starts with a reception at Marina Vallarta and ends with an awards ceremony that includes a large cash prize.
- The Guadalupe Processions – This festival takes place over the first twelve days of December and celebrates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to the Aztec peasant Juan Diego in 1531. The festival includes numerous processions to Guadalupe Church, with participants merging Aztec and Catholic traditions. The processions begin in the afternoon and can last until past midnight. Bells ring with the arrival of each singing procession to the church. The festival also features folk dancers, live music, traditional foods, and a grand finale of fireworks.
- Christmas Posadas – This nine-day celebration recreates Mary and Joseph's search for an inn leading up to Christmas. Participants move from house to house reenacting the story, and when they reach the final destination, a street party begins with Mexican foods, piñatas, and a special punch. On Christmas Eve, the final night of Las Posadas, the procession goes to the church for a special mass and fireworks.
- New Year's Eve – Puerto Vallarta offers a range of events to celebrate New Year's Eve. Free concerts take place at Los Arcos on the Malecon, and there is a lively street party on Olas Altas in Zona Romantica. Multiple fireworks displays light up the bay, with Los Muertos Pier being a popular spot to watch. Fine dining restaurants offer table reservations in advance, and bar-hopping in the vibrant Old Town is also a popular way to ring in the new year.
Summer Activities in Puerto Vallarta
As the weather warms up, the ocean temperatures also rise, making it the perfect time for water sports such as snorkeling and scuba diving. The warmer temperatures result in clearer waters without plankton blooms, enhancing visibility for underwater exploration.
During the summer, it is also the sea turtle hatching season. Many hotels sponsor sea turtle protection projects, allowing visitors to participate in releasing baby turtles into the sea, creating a unique and memorable experience.
Other popular activities to enjoy during the summer in Puerto Vallarta include sunbathing and cooling off by the pool. However, it is important to remember that the sun is stronger during the summer, so it is essential to use sunblock, reapply it constantly, and avoid exposing yourself to UV/UVA rays between 2:00 to 4:00 pm, which are the peak exposure times.
Best Diving Season in Puerto Vallarta is during Shoulder Season (May to August)
The hot summer months from May to August offer warm water temperatures and excellent visibility in Banderas Bay, making it the ideal time for diving in Puerto Vallarta's prime diving sites. However, rain becomes more frequent from June onwards. Snorkeling excursions to peaceful palm-fringed coves and scuba outings to remote islands allow you to swim alongside giant manta rays, hawksbill turtles, and pods of wild dolphins.
Once the city is past the spring break season in March, prices become more affordable. Throughout May and June, you can find shoulder-season hotel deals, except for the last week of May when Vallarta Pride takes place and hotels in the LGBTIQ-friendly Zona Romántica fill up quickly. Hotel rates gradually increase in July and August due to the Mexican vacation period, but they are still lower than the winter peak season.
Best Time for Low Prices in Puerto Vallarta
Average Hotel Prices in Puerto Vallarta by Month
October typically has the lowest hotel prices in Puerto Vallarta, making it a great time to save on your holiday expenses. On the other hand, December statistically has the highest hotel prices of the year.
Average Car Rental Prices in Puerto Vallarta by Month
On average, renting a car in Puerto Vallarta costs $18 per day. However, the price can vary by $4.8 depending on the month. In June, car rentals cost an average of $16 per 24 hours, making it the best time to save money. Conversely, the average price in December is $21.
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In conclusion, choosing the best time to travel to Puerto Vallarta can greatly enhance your overall experience in this stunning destination. If you're looking to avoid crowds and enjoy low prices, consider visiting during the least busy season or taking advantage of the shoulder season for great diving opportunities. Be sure to check out the exciting festivals and events happening throughout the year, and take advantage of the favorable weather conditions for an unforgettable summer adventure. Whether you're seeking relaxation or adventure, Puerto Vallarta has something to offer every traveler, so plan your trip wisely and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime.
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