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by Santorini Dave • Updated: November 16, 2018
What is the best time of year to visit Puerto Vallarta?
The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is from mid-April to June, and October. These months all offer excellent weather and affordable rates. April through June has the best weather; May and June have the best hotel deals; and October has the best water for snorkeling and diving. Avoid Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter – this is peak time for local, Mexican family vacations (a fun atmosphere but very busy and hotels fully booked well in advance).
- Best Time for Good Weather: December through May are the best months to visit for good weather. Average highs are below 30°C in the afternoons, with cool evenings in the high teens. Sea temperatures are cooler this time of year than in the summer, though they still average in the mid-20s°C, quite comfortable for surfing and swimming. Vallarta sits on the edge of a rainforest, but precipitation is much less likely during the winter and spring months than in the summer. February through May are particularly dry months with mostly clear skies; July through September are the rainiest. The city is protected by the Banderas Bay, so hurricanes here are rare; the last hit came in 2002 and was the first major storm to land in Vallarta in 35 years.
- Best Time for Families and Kids: The best times for family travel are from April through June and from mid-October through mid-November. April and May are particularly excellent months to visit, right after the Spring Break crowds leave and before the summer rains and Mexican vacation season begin. Travelers during these months should expect sunny, warm days that are not too hot, affordable room rates, and fewer crowds than in the previous five months. May and June offer the warmest water temperatures for late spring family travel, with June offering greater visibility for snorkeling. Since May and June are so popular with visiting families, there will be plenty of kids around to keep each other entertained at the kids clubs or poolside at the resorts. October and November are also great times to visit, though the days are typically a little hotter and room rates, especially in November, are just beginning to rise after the summer low season. Ocean temperatures are still warm this late in the year, with October offering great underwater visibility.
- Best Time for Avoiding Crowds: Puerto Vallarta’s low season is getting shorter and shorter, but typically the best time to avoid the large crowds is from July through September, just after Mexican vacation season and before the foreign travel high season. With fewer people traveling, hotels and flights are often deeply discounted. However, this also means that it can be harder to schedule excursions, as fewer travelers visiting leads tour companies to reduce their number of daily or weekly outings. This is the rainiest season in Puerto Vallarta, with about half of the days experiencing at least a little rain, especially in the late afternoons or early evenings from late August through early September.
- Best Time for Great Deals: The best time to find great deals for Puerto Vallarta travel is near the low season, but not exactly in the middle of it. Flights are usually cheaper during the low season from July through September, but many hotels close or reduce their room inventory for annual repairs during July and August. So, though there are fewer travelers, room rates don’t necessarily drop. Travel in May, June, September, and October for the best rates on rooms, plus affordable flights and excursions.
- Best Time for Surfing: Surfing is great almost year round, especially in Sayulita, but the best time for riding the waves is from December through April, when the north swells hit. Waves are large enough for beginners to maintain enough speed on their boards to not tip over, while not being too intimidating. More experienced surfers will find faster and larger waves on the north end of Sayulita Beach, plus at several other nearby breaks. It is possible to surf outside of these months, but the waves just aren’t as good, especially from June through September, when the waves are particularly flat and short. Water is warm here year round, but the warmest times during the surf season are December, January, and April.
- Best Time for Whale Watching: Humpback whales begin arriving in November and leave again by early April. The best time to see them in large numbers is from mid-December through mid-March. December will have the most active viewing of adult whales, as males compete for female attention in the hopes of mating. The first babies will be born in January, but become more active in February and March as they become stronger swimmers. Most whales leave toward the end of March, with the last few stragglers in the area until mid-April. Waves are calmer in the mornings, so earlier tours are better for people who tend to get seasick.
- Best Time for Snorkeling and Diving: For snorkeling and diving, June through October offers better water conditions, while December through February offers more likely encounters with manta rays and whale sharks. Water temps are warm and waves are fairly calm year-round. Diving and snorkeling are possible anytime, though there are definite differences in the seasons. Water is warmest and visibility is clearest in the summer months from June through October. August and September are particularly warm with surface temperatures averaging 30°C. From November through May, the water is cooler and visibility is obscured by plankton blooms; however, plankton attracts more manta rays to the surface, making this a great time for snorkelers to see them up close. During the winter months, from December through February, divers and snorkelers may even encounter migrating whale sharks.
- Best Time for Exploring the Jungle: December through March is the best time for visiting the Mismaloya jungle, whether hiking the Botanical Gardens or ziplining through the canopy. These are the coolest months of the year, with temperatures topping out around 27°C. Most days offer clear skies, even in the rainforest, especially in February and March. The worst time for jungle adventures is from July through September when the summer rains bring out hordes of mosquitoes. Even during the winter months, it’s a good idea to wear insect repellant or long pants that cover the ankles.
- Best Time for Sportfishing: Fish bite year-round in Puerto Vallarta, but different seasons attract different types. The biggest variety of fish is found from September through December, when blue, black, and striped marlin are most abundant, along with mahi mahi, sailfish, and wahoo. Generally, the warmer months of June through September attract more tuna and grouper.
Puerto Vallarta Travel Seasons
- High Season: December through mid-April is the busiest travel time in Puerto Vallarta, as crowds flock to enjoy the city’s best weather. Average daily highs are usually below 29°C. Skies are the clearest they’ll be all year, though even in the driest months, days can be overcast. The cooler months from December through February bring migrating humpback whales and great fishing, and the north swells make for excellent surfing. This is when the city truly shines! As the weather warms up in March and April, throngs of students from north of the border descend on the city for Spring Break; most hotels that host Spring Breakers are in the North Hotel Zone. Holy Week (Semana Santa), the week leading up to Easter, is the peak travel time for local families. If visiting Puerto Vallarta in winter or early spring, be prepared to pay top dollar for flights and hotels and to contend with the crowds.
- Low Season: July through September is the low season in Puerto Vallarta. Days are typically hot and humid with highs around 33°C and at least a little rain on more than half of the days. Skies are mostly grey, and surf is generally poor. However, there are lots of great deals on flights and hotels during the summer months. Those who venture to PV during the rainy season will be rewarded with the warmest ocean temperatures and the best underwater visibility. This is the perfect time for snorkeling, swimming, and scuba diving, especially near the reef islands, Marietas and Los Arcos.
- Shoulder Season: The late spring (May and June) and fall months (October and November) are considered Vallarta’s shoulder season. These months feature good weather, with much less rain and fewer clouds than in the summer months, albeit hotter and more humid than in the winter and early spring. High temperatures hover around 31°C during these months. Rooms and flights are affordable, especially in May and June, when many hotels offer sales after high season officially ends. Room rates are still fairly low in October through mid-November, with prices beginning to creep up at the end of November in preparation for the holiday season.
Puerto Vallarta Weather by Month
Weather in Puerto Vallarta is warm and humid most of the year, with temperatures ranging from winter lows of 16°C to summer highs of 33°C. End of July and beginning of August are the hottest times of the year, while January is the coolest. March through May are the driest, sunniest months. Late August and early September are the rainiest and cloudiest. September is the most humid. Ocean surface temperatures are highest in August and lowest in March.
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in January: January is one of the coolest months of the year, though still quite balmy. Afternoon highs are in the upper 20s°C, and skies are mostly clear, especially toward the end of the month. Januarys average about 2 rainy days per month, usually occurring toward the middle. Ocean temperatures are on the low side for Puerto Vallarta, attracting humpbacks, their newborns, and whale sharks, but the water remains comfortable for swimming and surfing. It’s a good idea to bring a jacket, as nightly temperatures tend to drop to the mid-teens. (Average High 28°C, Average Low 16°C, Sea Temperature 25°C, Rainfall 23mm.)
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in February: Temperatures remain steady in February with warm days and cooler evenings; highs average 28°C and lows average 16°C. Skies begin to clear up now, with most days sunny or only partly cloudy. There is usually only one rainy day in February, with rainfall becoming less likely toward the end of the month as Puerto Vallarta moves toward the dry season. Sea temperatures drop just a hair from the previous month but stay well within a comfortable range. Surf is great this month. Baby humpbacks are most active now; this is the best opportunity to see them in the open. (Average High 28°C, Average Low 16°C, Sea Temperature 24°C, Rainfall 12mm.)
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in March: Temperatures begin a slow rise in March, with days often hitting 30°C. Nights can still get cooler, so a light jacket or sweater is good to have, especially on a sunset sail or if visiting the mountains. Rain is uncommon in this first dry month of the season; bring your sunscreen! Ocean temperatures are at their coldest, though still comfortable for all water activities. Surf is great throughout the month. Baby humpbacks are still active, though whales begin to leave the area toward month’s end. (Average High 29°C, Average Low 17°C, Sea Temperature 24°C, Rainfall 5mm.)
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in April: April is warm throughout with a few hot days at the end of the month. This is the driest month of the year, usually with no rainy days, but the humidity increases as the weeks go by. Be sure to pack sunscreen. Nights are still cool, as in preceding months. Ocean temperatures begin to rise and waves are still steady, making this an excellent month for surfing. Most of the humpbacks are leaving the area for cooler waters. (Average High 31°C, Average Low 18°C, Sea Temperature 25°C, Rainfall 4mm.)
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in May: May is hot and muggy with temperatures regularly topping 32°C. As humidity rises toward the last couple of weeks, so does the chance of rain, though only one rainy day in the month is the norm. Ocean temperatures rise to a very comfortable range. Surf is less consistent, but there are still plenty of great waves in Sayulita, San Pancho, and Lo De Marcos. (Average High 32°C, Average Low 19°C, Sea Temperature 27°C, Rainfall 12mm.)
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in June: Heat and humidity run high in June, growing as the month goes by. Days are usually cloudy or overcast, and rainfall comes more regularly – expect about 10 rainy days throughout the month. Ocean conditions are excellent for swimming, snorkeling, and diving, with warm waters and great visibility. Surf has died down in most of the usual spots, but Quimixto to the south of PV offers great waves throughout the summer. (Average High 32°C, Average Low 23°C, Sea Temperature 28°C, Rainfall 159mm.)
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in July: Summer is the start of the rainy season. July sees rain about half of the days and overcast skies almost every day. It’s a good idea to bring an umbrella and to plan some rainy day activities, just in case. (Check out a chocolate making class, or dash from bar to bar in the Old Town.) Temperatures are hot and sticky. Ocean temps continue to rise, and visibility is excellent for divers and snorkelers, especially near the reefs. Surf is almost completely gone in the areas north of Vallarta, but Quimixto still has consistent surf. (Average High 33°C, Average Low 23°C, Sea Temperature 29°C, Rainfall 285mm.)
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in August: August is the peak of the rainy summer season, with highs frequently above 33° and rain occurring half of all days. Pack an umbrella, and plan for a few rainy day activities. Skies are overcast and humidity is oppressive every day. Ocean temperatures reach their peak warmth, hovering around 30°C. Water is calm and visibility is excellent, ideal for snorkeling and diving. Surfers can still find waves to the south of the city. (Average High 33°C, Average Low 23°C, Sea Temperature 30°C, Rainfall 300mm.)
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in September: Temperatures fall just a bit in September, though days continue to be hot and humid. Skies are the greyest this month, with almost every day either overcast or cloudy. Rain is common, though a little less frequent than in the previous months. Travelers will still want to carry an umbrella, and plan ahead for rainy days. Ocean conditions are consistent as they were in August, with warm water, flat waves, and great visibility. Surf conditions are still better in the south than in the north of Puerto Vallarta. (Average High 32°C, Average Low 23°C, Sea Temperature 30°C, Rainfall 288mm.)
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in October: October begins much like September, with heat, humidity, and rain. But by the second half of the month, skies clear and rain becomes less frequent, with only 5 rainy days spread over the month. Ocean temperatures and conditions remain similar to September, with warm, clear water. Surf should good in the popular beaches of Sayulita and San Pancho. (Average High 31°C, Average Low 22°C, Sea Temperature 30°C, Rainfall 117mm.)
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in November: Great weather returns to Vallarta in November. Daytime temperatures are warm, often rising above 31°C for a few hours in the afternoons. Humidity is high early in the month, but lessens as the weeks go by. Rain is possible once or twice in November, but most days are very dry. Ocean temperatures are still very warm and surf is becoming more consistent throughout the region. The first adult humpbacks should arrive at the end of the month. (Average High 31°C, Average Low 21°C, Sea Temperature 28°C, Rainfall 24mm.)
- Puerto Vallarta Weather in December: December is gorgeous in PV, with warm comfortable days and cooler evenings. A jacket is recommended for nights out, especially for sunset cruises. Rain showers may hit a couple of days, but the majority of days are dry and humidity is relatively low (though it’s always a little humid). More than half the days are sunny or only partly cloudy. Sea temperatures drop down to 25°C, still comfortable for all water activities. Surfing is excellent this time of year, and Banderas Bay is filled with whales. (Average High 29°C, Average Low 16°C, Sea Temperature 25°C, Rainfall 21mm.)
Puerto Vallarta Festivals and Events
Puerto Vallarta in January
- Vallarta Cup – Every Saturday in January, the Vallarta Yacht Club hosts a race in Banderas Bay. Courses may be as far south as Puerto Vallarta and as far north as La Cruz. Each day of racing finishes with a party at VYC in Nuevo Vallarta.
- Festival of Our Lady of Peace (La Virgen de la Paz) – Nine-day, annual festival in Bucerías, celebrating the village’s patron saint, also considered the mother and protector of fisherman. The festival begins with fishermen sailing from La Cruz to Bucerías with the Peace Torch to make an offering at the church. This is followed by eight days of carnival rides, food vendors, cultural activities, daily processions, and nightly entertainment. The final night of the festival closes with the lighting of the Castillo, a rotating, three-story framework stuffed with fireworks.
Puerto Vallarta in February
- Sayulita Festival – Five day festival in the little surfer town, filled with music, movies, Mexican wine and spirits. Events take place all over town; tastings, concerts, surfing, and yoga workshops. Hotels fill up fast, so book early! Camping is popular during this event in designated areas.
- Charro National Championship – Charros are Mexican cowboys, and this five-day competition is similar to a rodeo. Charros show off their skills riding bucking broncos and roping bulls. Plus live music, dance, lasso demos, and cultural shows. Competitions are held at Arena Vallarta; music and cultural events take place at the Los Arcos Amphitheater on the Malecon.
- Mardi Gras and Carnaval Parade (sometimes in March) – Huge celebration marking the last party day before the austere season of Lent. Festivities begin with an evening parade that stretches from the North Hotel Zone down along the Malecon through El Centro and finishes just shy of Los Muertos Pier. Floats, beads, and big parties follow, especially in Zona Romantica. Plan ahead for this – the parade draws crowds upwards of 30,000. This event is popular with the LGBT crowd, and many hotels and clubs host special events.
Puerto Vallarta in March
- Vallarta Wine Fest – Five-day festival at hotels and restaurants around town. Events include wine tastings, lectures, and special dinners. There is also a street festival, usually in Lázaro Cárdenas Park, with live music and entertainment, wine and cheese tastings, and arts.
- Banderas Bay Regatta – Five-day event featuring three full days of sailboat races and four nights of parties. Races are open to both cruisers and race boats. Nights end with parties at the Vallarta Yacht Club, with food, live music, and dancing.
- Dama Juana Raicilla Festival – Celebration of raicilla, aka Mexican moonshine, a sister liquor to tequila and mezcal. Events include raicilla and food tastings, talks with distillers, mariachi music, and more. This two-day festival takes place at the cultural center on Cuale River Island.
Puerto Vallarta in April
- Puerto Vallarta Taco Festival – The city’s best taco restaurants, whether street vendors or fine dining, get together to offer a wide range of styles and flavors of this signature Mexican dish. Tequila and beer share the spotlight, along with lucha libre, music, dance, and more entertainment. In the North Hotel Zone, near La Isla Mall.
- Bucerías Oyster Festival (Feria de Ostiones) – Annual celebration of local oyster divers, marking the end of the oyster season in Bucerías. The main event is a competition among divers to see who can snag the largest oyster. Tons of oysters and ceviche to eat, plus live music, and the crowning of the Oyster Queen. Events take place on El Punto Beach.
- Children’s Day (El Día del Niño) – A holiday filled with fun, gifts, and special activities just for kids. Though not an official holiday, most schools don’t hold classes this day. Zoos, amusement parks, and attractions often offer special discounts on April 30. Travelers can also participate by handing out toys or candy to street kids.
- Vallarta Azteca International Folklore Festival (late April through early May) – Celebration of traditional dance from Mexico and Latin America. Dance troupes from all over Mexico plus Central and South America perform folkloric dance every evening from 6:00 p.m. at venues around town. Over 600 dancers participate annually, representing around 15 unique cultures.
Puerto Vallarta in May
- Vallarta Pride – Vallarta is the premiere LGBT destination in Mexico, and Zona Romantica is the central hub for the city’s Pride events. This nine-day festival features tons of activities, including a huge parade, drag derby, beach parties, film festivals, live music, dancing, and much more. Book hotels ahead of time, as many of the closest ones are small boutiques that fill up fast.
- MayoFest Puerto Vallarta – Puerto Vallarta’s anniversary celebration. This is a five-day long festival with concerts (traditional, rock, and pop), sports, activities, and entertainment, much of it at the lighthouse (faro) and the Los Arcos Amphitheater on the Malecon. Food vendors abound, and the closing event is a huge fireworks show.
- Restaurant Week – A two-week late May gastronomy event in Mexico’s top foodie destination. During this celebration, restaurants offer creative, three-course meals with three mix-and-match options for each course, all at a deeply discounted rate, making this an affordable time to explore PV’s cutting edge gourmet scene. Participating restaurants are scattered throughout the city.
Puerto Vallarta in June
- Navy Day (El Día de la Marina) – June 1st is celebrated in all of Mexico’s port towns; commemorating the launch of the first all-Mexican crewed ship, and honoring past and present naval service men and women. Boats are launched in a morning opening ceremony into Banderas Bay to lay flower wreaths on the water. The ceremony is followed by festivities and tournaments at sea, along with celebrations on the beaches and docks, with dancing into the night.
- RHA Festival – Two-day electronic music festival in Punta Mita, northwest of Puerto Vallarta. The main RHA Festival runs for two-days with DJs spinning and dancing on the beach all night. The “RHA Experience” adds two more days of more intimate concerts and pool parties.
Puerto Vallarta in July
- Banderas Bay Fishing Tournament – International marlin and tuna fishing competition. This two-day event leaves from the Paradise Village Marina and is hosted by the Bahía de Banderas Fishing Club. Record-setting fish have been caught here in the past, including a 322 kg marlin.
- NIIJIMA Mexican Surf Open – Surf competition at the main beach in San Pancho that is open to all: Mexicans and foreigners, amateurs and pros, men and women. 100,000 pesos in prize money is up for grabs. Three days of competitive surf is accompanied by live music, DJs, beer pong, beach volleyball, and more in San Pancho and Sayulita.
Puerto Vallarta in August
- Cristo de los Brazos Caidos (Christ of the Fallen Arms or Christ of the Cyclone) – Local celebration in Barra de Navidad south of Puerto Vallarta. This festival commemorates a local miracle. As a huge storm approached in 1971, town residents sought refuge in the church, certain that the storm would devastate the village. As they were deep in prayer, the arms of the crucified Christ above the altar fell off. At the same moment, the storm ended. Since then, the town has celebrated yearly with rosaries, processions, fireworks, street food, and live entertainment.
- Punta Mita Beach Festival – Two-day festival at Kupuri Beach Club with tons of activities, including an underwater treasure hunt, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and more beach fun. Chefs from Punta Mita’s luxury resorts serve upscale beach bites and creative cocktails. A family-friendly event held from 9a-8p.
Puerto Vallarta in September
- National Charro Day – Charros, the Mexican cowboys, are celebrated every year on September 14. Festivities begin in Puerto Vallarta with charros riding through the downtown streets, decked out in their finest. At night, there is a charro parade down the Malecon, ending at Los Arcos Amphitheater. Here, the festivities continue with a street party, lasso demo, mariachi music, and dancing.
- Mexican Independence Day – A two-day festival with music, fireworks, food, and parades. Beginning on the afternoon of September 15, people gather in the main square for non-stop mariachi and traditional foods. At 11pm, the grito, or cry for independence, is called with ringing bells and fireworks. The country’s biggest party begins immediately after and goes well into the night. On September 16, there is huge military parade through town and more food and festivities.
- San Pancho Days – Nine-day festival for the patron saint of San Francisco (aka San Pancho), a small surfing village northeast of Sayulita. This celebration of St. Francis of Assisi is filled with parades, food, rodeos, live music, dancing, and carnival rides. Each day and night of the festival is held in a different neighborhood in town. The celebration ends with a wild day of parties, the final rodeo, and the lighting of the castillo, a tall rotating structure of fireworks, at midnight. Dancing continues until the wee hours. From September 25-October 4.
Puerto Vallarta in October
- Vallarta Nayarit Gastronómica – High-end culinary conference featuring renowned chefs and sommeliers. Four days of cooking demos, food and wine tastings, workshops, and special dinners. Creative, contemporary, and traditional cooking styles feature regional and international flavors.
- Halloween – In PV Halloween celebrations merged with Day of the Dead events, creating a huge festival lasting several days from October 29-November 2. As of now, Halloween on October 31 is still the smaller holiday, celebrated with costume contests and parties at local bars and restaurants. Kids will be dressed up in the streets, saying “Queremos Halloween,” the local version of “trick or treat,” and carrying bags to be filled with candy.
Puerto Vallarta in November
- All Saints’ Day (Día de Todos Santos) – All Saints Day gets wrapped into Day of the Dead Celebrations, much like Halloween. On this day, Mexicans honor deceased children, leaving offerings to them on custom-designed altars in cemeteries or in their homes, with sugar skulls, toys, and treats. Altars are set up by local businesses, as well as the Cuale River Island cultural center and City Hall. City streets in all neighborhoods will be decorated in orange and purple, with public altars on the Malecon, and Catrinas (skeletons dressed as fancy, rich ladies).
- Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead, All Souls Day) – Mexican celebrations for Day of the Dead include decorating altars in their homes or in cemeteries, some keeping vigils and others leaving offerings, usually tequila, cigarettes, and the deceased’s favorite foods. Candles and trails of marigold petals extend from the altars to light the way for the spirit’s return. Around town, there will be parades of Catrinas, folkloric dance, mariachi, street foods, and special sweet pastries and treats. Hotspots for celebrations include the Malecon, Municipal Cemetery, Hidalgo Park, and the Emiliano Zapato neighborhood in the north end of Zona Romantica.
- Festival Gourmet International – Ten-day food and wine event where the best chefs from local restaurants and hotels invite celebrity chefs into their kitchens for a culinary culture exchange. Events take place at a different location each night and include, cooking demos, restaurant hopping, forum discussions, wine and liquor pairings, and a mini art festival. Travelers can reserve their spaces online.
- International Fishing Tournament – Three days of competitive fishing for marlin and sailfish with a reception each night at Marina Vallarta. The tournament ends with an awards ceremony and a large cash prize.
Puerto Vallarta in December
- The Guadalupe Processions – A festival over the first twelve days of December, celebrating the appearance of the Virgin Mary to the Aztec peasant Juan Diego in 1531. This celebration includes hundreds of processions to Guadalupe Church by the faithful in a fusion of Aztec and Catholic traditions. Processions usually begin in the afternoon and end after midnight, though as the festival nears the end, processions can fill the streets for up to twenty hours in a day. Bells ring with the arrival of each singing procession to the church. Folk dancers, live music, traditional foods, and a final night of fireworks caps off the fiesta.
- Christmas Posadas – For nine days leading up to Christmas, this celebration reenacts the journey of Mary and Joseph searching for an inn. Participants journey from house to house reenacting the story; when they are received at the final destination, a street party begins with traditional 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 – Events take place all over town, with free concerts at Los Arcos on the Malecon, a street party on Olas Altas in Zona Romantica, and multiple fireworks shows over the bay. Los Muertos Pier is the most popular spot to watch the displays. Reserve early for tables at fine dining restaurants, or simply bar hop through the throngs of Old Town.