Planning to visit Puerto Vallarta? Find out the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta Mexico and avoid the crowds, and bad weather for the perfect vacation.
Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most popular travel destinations. Full of gorgeous beaches, luxury resorts, boutique stays, amazing local restaurants and entertainment this small coastal city is a fantastic spot to kick back and enjoy a relaxing vacation.
Puerto Vallarta is a great destination all year round (for the most part) with agreeable temperatures and things to do but it does have distinct seasons, both for weather and travel. Keep reading to find out the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta Mexico and start planning that ideal trip.
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When is the Best Time of Year to Visit Puerto Vallarta?
The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is in the shoulder season months of April, May and June and October and November. These months offer the best balance of weather, fewer crowds and better travel deals. From April to June, you’ll be able to grab some great hotel rates yet the weather still remains good and not too hot. If Holy Week and Easter fall in April, make sure to visit after this peak time.
October and November can be a little wetter and prices begin to increase, but this time is a great time for snorkelling and diving. While many destinations in North America experience hurricane season at this time, Puerto Vallarta is rarely affected due to its strategic position inside Banderas Bay.
Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta Mexico by Travel Season
Puerto Vallarta sees visitors at all times of the year. It’s a fun, attractive Mexican destination that truly never stops. Nevertheless, Puerto Vallarta does have distinct travel seasons. Knowing what they are and when they fall is crucial when it comes to planning the perfect trip to Puerto Vallarta.
When is High Season in Puerto Vallarta?
The high season in Puerto Vallarta runs from December to mid-April, generally during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months. It’s when Mexicans and international tourists alike flock to the seaside town to escape the winter and enjoy the best weather. During this time the weather is pleasantly warm yet not too hot- an average of 29°C/85°F.
This is also the dry season in Puerto Vallarta and at this time of the year, you’ll see the clearest skies. Surfing is also at its finest and it’s also the season for migrating Humpback whales. If whale-watching is high on your list of things to do in Puerto Vallarta, you’ll need to visit between December and March, during the peak season.
Other peak times in Puerto Vallarta include Easter and Holy Week and Spring Break. Prices and crowds briefly increase at this time but for a short period only.
Pros and Cons of Visiting During High Season in Puerto Vallarta
– Everything is open, in full swing, and buzzing
-There are plenty of opportunities to meet new people and connect with others.
-Great climate and great weather with low humidity; many sunny days.
-Little rain- these are the driest months to visit
-Fewer bugs and mosquitoes
-High prices of hotels and flights
-Much less or no travel deals
-Crowds on beaches and in restaurants and bars, tours and resorts operate at full capacity
-You’ll need to make advanced reservations for everything, with little space for spontaneity
When is the Low Season in Puerto Vallarta?
The low season is July-September in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The summer months are the hottest months of the year. This time also has the most humid weather with daily high temperatures of about 33°C/91°C. During this time you can also expect thunderstorms and heavy rains. Most days get a little rain each day but it’s generally not enough to ruin your day. Skies can be grey, however.
The low season is the perfect time for budget travellers to visit Puerto Vallarta as this is the time you’ll be able to find the most deals on flights and hotels.
Head to Skyscanner to begin shopping around for discounted flights to Puerto Vallarta.
Pros and Cons of Visiting During Low Season in Puerto Vallarta
-Few crowds and empty beaches
-Much less movement and traffic
-Discounts are available on flights and accommodation making it the cheapest time to visit
-No need to reserve restaurants and tours far in advance
-Great time for scuba diving and snorkelling with warm waters and good visibility
-Weather is hot, humid and the rain can be unpredictable
-Top hotels and resorts may be closed for renovations
-Not all bars and restaurants will be open
-Tropical storms can pass through during this time.
-No whale watching
-Rain especially during the late afternoons
When is Shoulder Season in Puerto Vallarta?
The shoulder season in Puerto Vallarta generally falls in spring and fall/autumn. During the months of May and June and then October and November you’ll be able to get the best of both high and low seasons in Puerto Vallarta.
The weather is sunny and hot- hotter than the cooler winter but also cooler than summer. You’ll also see much less rain than during the rainy season of the summer months.
There’s still a great travel deal to be had during the shoulder season. Flights are affordable and so are some of the best hotel suites and resorts. After the high season is over in May and June, prices drastically begin falling and in October and November, they begin to increase a little after the low season but still remain affordable.
For those that want both decent weather, not too many crowds and affordability, the shoulder season months are the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta.
-Good weather but expect to see some rain
-Good travel deals and cheaper flights are available
-Most restaurants, resorts, and shops will be open.
-Tropical storm season could put a dampener on your vacation (especially in September or October)
-The weather won’t be at its best
-No whale watching at this time
What’s the Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Best Time to Beat the Crowds
The best time to travel to Puerto Vallarta without the crowds is in the low season or shoulder season. Between May and mid-October, you’ll find Puerto Vallarta to be mostly crowd free.
That doesn’t mean it’s completely deserted, however- Puerto Vallarta’s low season is really short and you will still find digital nomads here year round but generally beaches, resorts and activities aren’t crowded. All in all, July and August are the least crowded months but then again these are also the rainiest months.
Best Time Good Weather
The best weather in Puerto Vallarta generally happens from the end of November until May. It’s not too hot or humid with daily highs of around 30°C. This is also the driest time to visit and the period of February to May sees the least amount of rain.
That said rain and cloudy days can happen. With the changing climate nowadays nothing when it comes to weather is certain. When living in Puerto Vallarta throughout January, February and March, we definitely had our share of cloudy days and the occasional downpour.
During the low, summer seasons the weather is hot and humid with highs of about 33°C, however given the humidity it often feels hotter. This is also the cloudiest and rainiest time too. On the bright side, the ocean is at its warmest in the summer and you generally won’t need a wetsuit for surfing or snorkelling.
*For me personally, the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is to find a balance between crowds and the weather. This is why the shoulder season is the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta Mexico solely when looking at these two factors. July, August and September aren’t crowded but then again the rain might just ruin your time there. The months of December-April see beautiful weather but it can get extremely crowded and expensive. The months of May, June and October give a great alternative for a mix of both fewer crowds and decent weather.
Best Time for Whale Watching
The whale watching season in Puerto Vallarta runs from late November to the end of March. At this time Humpback whales migrate to the warmer waters of Banderas Bay in the hopes of mating and rearing their newborns.
Adult whales tend to be more active at the beginning of the season, so December. If you hope to see a newborn the best times to go whale watching are in February and March. Most whales leave towards the end of March.
If whale watching is high on your bucket list you’ll need to visit Puerto Vallarta during the high season.
For those who plan to go whale watching, I highly encourage you to book your tour with a responsible agency that cares for the animals and the environment. It’s important that tour guides respect the animals by keeping their distance yet there are too many companies that prioritise profit over the environment.
This Whale Research Tour for example allows you to go out with biologists who study the whales. Not only will you learn more from them than on any other tour they look out for and respect the animals.
Best Time for Watersports and Outdoor Activities
The best time for outdoor activities depends on what you want to do. For exploring the nearby Mismaloya jungle, and for any other outdoor, land activities the best time to be in Puerto Vallarta is during the dry season. From November to April, especially you’ll find lower temperatures, less humidity and clear skies perfect for outdoor activities.
For the jungle, the worst time to visit is during the rainy season when rains bring mud, impassable roads and even landslides into the jungle. The rains also attract swarms of mosquitoes which don’t exactly contribute to a pleasant experience.
For water sports, diving, surfing and snorkelling, the opposite is true. The best time to visit is the low season of June- September where the summer means the water is at its warmest. It’s also at its clearest meaning this is the best time for snorkelling and scuba diving. However, when it comes to wildlife like whale sharks, whales and manta rays December to February is best.
When it comes to surfing you’ll first need to head out of Banderas Bay; Sayulita and Punta Mita have the best surf spots nearby and not Puerto Vallarta itself. Surf is good all year round but you’ll catch the best breaks from December through to May.
Best Time for Good Deals
For the best travel deals, you’ll need to travel in the shoulder and low season. During the low season, you’ll find the best flight rates but they aren’t so bad during the shoulder season either. During the shoulder season, you’ll be able to find some great rates for even some of the top resorts in Puerto Vallarta.
It’s worth being aware that often in the low season, hotels close for refurbishment or close partly so while you might be getting a good deal it’s also a good idea to check your vacation won’t be plagued by construction noise.
To find the best rates for flights, I always use Skyscanner and turn on notifications for deals and price changes. For hotel deals, I love using booking.com and Expedia. If you’ve got a resort or hotel in mind, it’s also worth subscribing to their email list and you’ll be notified of any deals and promotions they are running directly.
Best Time for Families
For the best vacation deals, weather and fewer crowds, the best time to visit for families might be during the shoulder season. From April to June and then again from October to the end of November you’ll be able to find discounted rooms for the whole family or great deals on larger villas and rentals.
At this time the weather is also good without too much heat or rain and there are also fewer crowds.
Major Holidays and Festivals in Puerto Vallarta
Christmas, New Year and Winter Holidays
Christmas, New Year and the Winter Holidays coincide with the international high season for travel to Puerto Vallarta. These holidays are the high season at its peak. If you dislike crowded restaurants, beaches and resorts, it’s a good idea to avoid visiting at this time.
Not only that, but Mexicans also have their winter vacations so the areas see a lot of people travel to the Jalisco coast to spend their downtime with their families.
This is also the time you’ll find Puerto Vallarta to be most alive. Everything is open and in full swing, except perhaps on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day when you might find many more local restaurants to be closed. You’ll be able to see many concerts and New Year’s events like fireworks but you’ll definitely need to make dinner reservations in advance.
The first couple of weeks of March means more young crowds as college students head to Puerto Vallarta for spring break. It can mean a busy time in Puerto Vallarta, especially on the beaches, in the nightlife areas like the Zona Romantica and in resorts that cater more to spring break travellers.
Holy Week and Easter
Holy Week and Easter are a big deal in heavily- Catholic Mexico. Schoolchildren are off school and many Mexicans head to Puerto Vallarta to enjoy some time with their families.
In the two weeks surrounding Easter, many Mexicans and International visitors flock to Puerto Vallarta. Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a crowded and expensive time to visit Puerto Vallarta. If you can avoid Puerto Vallarta at this time and arrive just a week earlier or later, you’ll find better deals and far fewer crowds.
Mexican Independence Day
Mexican Independence Day, held on 15th September is one of the largest nationwide celebrations in Mexico. Generally not too many people travel at this time as it’s only a two-day festival.
If you’re in Puerto Vallarta at this time you’ll see many locals gathering together for mariachi, music, fireworks and food. On the 16th September, there’s a huge military parade through town.
Dia de los Muertos
Held on 2nd November, the Day of the Dead is another significant day in the Mexican calendar. On this day Mexicans decorate altars in their homes to welcome back their ancestors and relatives that have passed. It’s believed that on this day the passage between the living and the dead is at its thinnest, allowing connection with the dead.
You’ll find a lot of activity in the Municipal Cemetery as locals go to decorate the graves of relatives. You’ll also find various parades, Catrina costumes, dance, music and food around places like Hidalgo Park, and the Zona Romantica.
Is there a Time to Avoid Puerto Vallarta Mexico?
I’d personally avoid the low season in Puerto Vallarta. During the months of July, August and September it can be extremely hot, humid and rainy and if you’ve come to Puerto Vallarta for the beach and outdoors then you might leave quite disappointed. September is the wettest month in Puerto Vallarta.
I’d also recommend avoiding travelling to Puerto Vallarta from mid-December to mid-January as this time tends to be the most crowded and expensive time to visit.
Looking for the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta? Check out the great activities below:
When do you think is the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta Mexico? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
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Booking.com for great deals on hotels
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