If you’re planning a trip to Mexico or are considering this destination as your next home base, and are wondering when the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta might be, you’ve come to the right place! This guide takes a look at all the different seasons, as well as a closer look into each month to help you decide when to travel to Puerto Vallarta.
Table of Contents
- Overall Best Time To Visit Puerto Vallarta
- Peak Season in Puerto Vallarta (December – January and March – April)
- Shoulder Season in Puerto Vallarta (October – November and April – May)
- Off Season in Puerto Vallarta (June – October)
- When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Beaches
- When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Festivals
- When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Historical Sites
- When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Wildlife
- When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Cheap Prices
- When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Hiking
- The Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta By Month
- Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta: FAQs
- In Conclusion
That being said, there are still seasons here – just not your typical four. In short, there’s a high season and a low season, which are very much dependent on the weather, and then there are shoulder seasons in between.
The best time to go to Puerto Vallarta depends on what you plan to do there, your budget, and how you feel about crowds. I’ve experienced PV in every month over the years and have stayed during all the seasons, so I’m here to share my discoveries and make planning your trip easier.
Overall Best Time To Visit Puerto Vallarta
So, when’s the best time to travel to Puerto Vallarta? This is a tricky question to answer, as it depends on how you want to spend your trip (and your money).
Generally speaking, the high season in PV lasts from November to March with the peak being around Christmas and New Year’s. While the weather is lovely this time of year, the crowds are dense and the prices are high.
People book their accommodation for the high season a year or more in advance – it’s that competitive these days. Many are happy to pay the elevated prices to escape the harsh winters up north, as snowbirds flock here year after year.
In my humble opinion, the best time to visit is on the cusp of high season on either end. This means visiting in either November before the holiday rush or in April/May depending on Spring Break and Easter schedules. Like I said, it’s a tricky question!
The reason I choose these months is because the weather is pleasant, the crowds either aren’t quite there yet or have thinned out, and prices are more reasonable.
Peak Season in Puerto Vallarta
(December – January and March – April)
There are a few different peak seasons in PV. The first comes between Christmas and New Year’s, lasting from mid-December to mid-January.
At this time, the town is absolutely packed. Airlines and hotels jack up their prices and people pay them, as many travelers eagerly plan to vacation on the beach and celebrate the holidays.
New Year’s Eve is a huge party in PV with a fireworks show on the Malecon and lots of special events in the bars and clubs. You’ll see a mixture of locals and tourists and the traffic can be insane.
There’s another peak season that coincides with American spring break and the Holy Week leading up to Easter. It’s important to check the calendar to see when these are taking place.
During the former, the resorts and clubs are full of boozy American teenagers. During the latter, the town bursts at the seam with tourists from Guadalajara and Mexico City coming to party on the beach. For both, the prices go up and availability goes down.
Shoulder Season in Puerto Vallarta
(October – November and April – May)
It can be argued that the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is in either shoulder season. During these months, it’s not too hot or too rainy. It’s also not as crowded or as expensive as it gets from December to March.
I love the month of May in PV. Most of the snowbirds have gone back up north and the busy holiday seasons are over. The intense rain and humidity hasn’t arrived yet, making it a nice time to visit weather-wise.
This is typically the time of year when Restaurant Week is celebrated. It’s more like a month these days, and 50+ restaurants participate by offering set menus for a heavily discounted price. For foodies, this might be the best time to go to Puerto Vallarta.
I also enjoy Puerto Vallarta in November because of the Day of the Dead festivities. If you get to town just before, you can lock down a good deal on accommodation if you’re looking to stay through the winter.
Off Season in Puerto Vallarta
(June – October)
You know that old saying “when it rains, it pours”? Well, visit Puerto Vallarta in the summer or early fall months and you’ll live to experience the phrase for yourself.
From June until October, PV experiences its rainy season. When it’s not pouring rain, it’s quite hot and humid. This weather is not for the faint of heart, my friends.
If you plan on traveling to Puerto Vallarta during these months, I would advise ensuring you have a place with A/C and a pool. Because of the weather, you’ll need to be pretty open-minded and flexible with your plans as they can quickly need to change due to the constant downpours.
On the bright side, the crowds are far smaller and prices plummet during this time.
When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Beaches
If you want to spend some quality time on la playa and plan on getting in the water a lot, my recommendation is to visit in April or May. The water is warm this time of year and you won’t see any unwelcoming runoff that comes during the rainy season.
Aside from Semana Santa (Holy Week), which I recommend avoiding like the plague if you’re traveling to enjoy the beaches, this is a relatively quiet time of the year in PV.
While there are plenty of people out enjoying the beach at all times of the year, the water can get quite chilly during the high season and the beaches can become pretty crowded. The spring months provide a happy medium that’s perfect for hitting the beach.
When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Festivals
There are all kinds of festivals to celebrate in PV. One that I particularly enjoy is Mexico’s Independence Day. It falls on September 17th and the days leading up to it are full of parades, outdoor markets and fairs, and a fun and lively atmosphere. See what it looks like in this short video:
As a leading LGBTQ+ destination, Puerto Vallarta hosts a huge gay pride week every year, typically at the end of May. Hotels fill up in advance for this celebration which includes a parade, pool parties, a party in the park, and plenty more.
The traditional Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead, provides a unique cultural experience. The Malecon fills up with colorful ofrendas (altars) that people create to honor those who have passed on.
When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Historical Sites
Unlike the Riviera Maya on the other coast of Mexico, Banderas Bay isn’t home to many ruins. And unlike the big cities, Puerto Vallarta doesn’t have a great deal of historical sites.
For the most part, people travel here to relax on the beach, go on adventures, or just wine and dine their way around town. If you’re interested in seeing a lot of historical sites in Mexico, I encourage you to take a trip to Mexico City or Oaxaca.
The main historical site in PV is the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in El Centro. It’s the symbol of the city and an important part of the local culture. Many people make a pilgrimage to the church between December 1st and 12th. This festival celebrates the Virgin Mary and her critical role in Mexican culture, with processions and other festivities centered around the main square.
When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Wildlife
Without a doubt, the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta for wildlife is during the whale-watching season. A few thousand humpback whales migrate to the waters here in Banderas Bay every December to mate and give birth – it’s an unforgettable experience to witness these creatures.
You can take a whale-watching tour throughout the high season from December to March where you’ll be all but guaranteed to see whales and probably dolphins. If you’re lucky, you may even see a whale breach.
It’s one of my favorite things I’ve done in PV over the years and there’s some tough competition there!
When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Cheap Prices
For those wondering about the best time to travel to Puerto Vallarta on a budget, August to October are the cheapest months. While it’s hot, humid, and rainy in the mid-summer months, lots of Mexican families still travel to PV for a beach vacation.
As a result, prices don’t tend to drop all that much in June and July. Sure, it’s cheaper than the high season, but you’ll get a better deal if you wait until Mexican schools are back in session.
I kid you not, an Airbnb or local short-term rental is likely to be half the price or less in September when compared to December or January. Those willing to brave the rain and the humidity are at least rewarded with cheap accommodation costs.
When to Visit Puerto Vallarta For Hiking
If you’re looking to do more hiking than lounging, I recommend visiting between December and March. Yes, this is the high season, but most people are occupied with lying on the beach or going out to restaurants and bars.
Puerto Vallarta isn’t typically considered a hiking destination. However, this is good news if you’re looking to work up a sweat as the few trails in the area are never particularly crowded. Even better, you’ll know that tacos and margaritas await once you’re back in town.
My favorite hike is the one from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Beach. You can take the local bus down there from the Romantic Zone for just 10 pesos ($0.58), cross the bridge, and just follow the trail along the coast. Click here for directions to the bus stop.
It’s not too strenuous of a hike and it passes by several remote beaches if you want to take a break. Once you make it to Las Animas, you can grab lunch and drinks while chilling on the beach before catching a water taxi back.
The Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta By Month
By now you may be wondering what month is best to visit Puerto Vallarta. Honestly, my answer changes year to year as it depends a lot on the weather. Here’s a brief description of each month in PV focused on the weather and things to do.
Puerto Vallarta in January
The New Year kicks off with a bang in Puerto Vallarta, as the whole town is one big fiesta on December 31. It’s a great place to recover from a hangover, that’s for sure!
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in January
January is a very pleasant time to be in PV. The average daily high is 27°C/80F while the low is 16°C/60F, and there’s typically no rain.
With freezing temperatures reigning supreme up north, it’s no wonder Puerto Vallarta is such a popular snowbird destination. Better to be plowing sand than snow, am I right?
While you can definitely hit the beach in January, the water is a bit chilly for my liking. I usually just hang out on Los Muertos Beach with fish tacos and margaritas rejoicing in the fact that I’m not in Michigan.
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in January
One great thing about being here in January is that it’s peak whale-watching season. The whales usually start arriving in December and there are plenty of them in the bay by January. Click here for whale-watching tour options.
This is also a good time of year to be active outdoors. In other months it’s simply unbearable with the heat and humidity. Get out there and jog the Malecon or even run up the steps to the mirador (viewpoint). Click here for directions.
Puerto Vallarta in February
The high season is still going strong in February, as the weather is much the same as it is in January.
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in February
It’s still perfect weather here in February, with plenty of sunshine and not a rain cloud in sight. And the crowds are still here soaking it all up…
During the day, you can hang out on the beach and then walk through town after sunset. After dark, though, you definitely don’t want a wet bathing suit on and you might want a light sweater – it can be a little chilly.
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in February
February in Puerto Vallarta is the perfect time to get out there and do some hiking. As I mentioned earlier, the Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas is a great choice and is easily accessible from PV.
It’s also a good month to explore more of Banderas Bay. All of the little beach towns are hopping this time of year; head to Yelapa, Bucerias, Sayulita, or San Poncho.
Puerto Vallarta in March
March in Puerto Vallarta is that odd time when all the snowbirds and American high school & college kids are all in town at the same time. Needless to say, it can get interesting.
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in March
“Spring Break! Wooooo!” You might hear that once or twice in March. Students flock here to resorts to unwind and slam Piña Coladas, so yeah, the sun is shining down here.
The Spring Breakers rarely make it to town, but you may encounter some of them barefoot, (slightly inebriated), and confused on the local bus. Partygoers aside, the weather is still glorious at this time of year!
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in March
With higher temperatures and lots more rain on the horizon, March is a great month for taking a boat trip. One of the best is the trip to the Marietas Islands, where you can swim to a hidden beach and look out for blue-footed boobies.
The water gets a little warmer in March, and it’s during this time of year that most I love going out to SUP (stand-up paddleboard) or snorkel. You can do both on a trip to Los Arcos just south of PV.
Puerto Vallarta in April
Things are starting to warm up a bit in April and lots of the high-season folks start making their mass exodus.
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in April
By April, the average daily high is 29°C/84F and the low is 19°C/66F. There’s still very little to no rain, making April an ideal month to visit PV.
Honestly, the warmer weather and longer days make April one of my favorite months.
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in April
One thing to consider in April (and March sometimes) is Semana Santa. The Holy Week leading up to Easter is an incredibly busy time for travel in Latin America, and PV is one of the top destinations in Mexico.
During Semana Santa in PV, the beaches are packed all day long and traffic is unbearable. The smart expats just get out of town, so I discourage you from planning your vacation during this time.
If you do find yourself in Puerto Vallarta outside of Semana Santa, it’s an awesome time to be here. Get out there and do the Rhythms of the Night tour. It’s a sunset cruise, gourmet dinner, an open bar, and an incredible performance all in one.
Puerto Vallarta in May
Ahhh… May in PV. It’s officially shoulder season and you don’t need to wait for a beach chair or a seat at the bar. Life is good.
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in May
Come May, the average daily high hits 30°C/86F. The hottest time of the day is definitely siesta hour as it starts to become unpleasant to be out in the hot sun – any excuse for a nap!
It’s very much tank-top and flip-flop weather by this point in the year. There still isn’t much rain in May, but those rainy-season vibes start to creep in at the end of the month.
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in May
May in Puerto Vallarta is all about Pride Week which typically takes place the last week of the month. There are parades and parties throughout the week and the town is bustling.
I also like hanging out down on the Isla Cuale in May. It’s easy to find some shade and it’s nice to relax by the river before the mosquitoes come out to play.
Puerto Vallarta in June
We have reached the low season in Puerto Vallarta, as the heat and the rain scare many a gringo away. Only the strong survive at this point in the year!
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in June
June is when you should start to think about carrying an umbrella with you. This can be to shield you from the sun or the rain depending on the day, and sometimes both.
The average daily high is 32°C/89F with lows sometimes dropping to 25°C/77F. It also starts raining quite frequently, but the really intense storms don’t usually happen in June.
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in June
A June trip to PV requires some flexibility with your itinerary. You might get several nice beach days, and you might only get one. Expect boat trips in particular to be rescheduled because of storms.
It’s best to go with the flow as the rainy season kicks off. Thankfully you can still do things like go on awesome food tours even on a rainy day. Mas tacos y tequila por favor!
Puerto Vallarta in July
Summertime and the living’s rainy… welcome to July in PV.
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in July
Those nice days of June start to slip away in July, as it rains on a near-daily basis at this point. It’s super hot and humid as well, so you might end up spending a lot of time in the room with the A/C on.
A July visit to PV isn’t a bad time to consider an all-inclusive. You can still hang out at the swim-up bar even when it’s raining!
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in July
While it’s hot, rainy, and humid, July is a sort of off-season high-season in PV. There aren’t any snowbirds and international tourist numbers are low, but Mexicans flock here in droves for summer vacation.
July is a fun time to escape the city and head up into the mountains. A little mud doesn’t stop the ATV tours from running, and they’re actually more fun in the summer months.
Puerto Vallarta in August
By August, PV starts to become somewhat of a ghost town. At least it’s easy to find a deal on a hotel room…
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in August
There’s about an 80% chance of rain on a daily basis in August. This is hurricane season here, and while Banderas Bay is usually pretty sheltered, it’s become an area of higher risk in recent years.
Rain will most definitely thwart some of your plans if you’re visiting in August. There could be worse places to be stuck than a fun bar in Puerto Vallarta, though. Una mas cerveza?
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in August
It’s good to have some indoor activities as backup plans. Thankfully, PV has some nice air-conditioned malls with great cinemas.
Puerto Vallarta in September
Locals here call this month “Sep-hambre” (hambre meaning “hunger”) because it’s the depths of the low season. The many who rely on tourism here are scraping to get by until the next high season, so if you find yourself here in September and you’re able, be generous with tips.
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in September
At this point in the summer, you’re just so sick of the heat, humidity, and constant power outages that September brings.
This is the time of year when your shirt sticks to you all day and you need to shower three times or more. Then you get caught running home in the rain for a 4th shower.
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in September
If you do brave the weather conditions, you’ll be rewarded with being able to enjoy Independence Day. It’s celebrated on September 17 and there are festivities held throughout the week leading up.
Rain or shine, there’ll be parades, street markets, fireworks, and a bunch of “Viva Mexico!” chants. Despite the sticky shirts, it really is a fun time to be in the city.
Puerto Vallarta in October
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s also flooded. Such is life in PV in October.
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in October
Come October, there are signs that nicer weather is around the corner. That being said, it’s still sticky, hot, and very, very rainy.
If you’ve survived the whole low season, by this point you just take the downpours and power outages in stride. If you’re just visiting for a few days, it might put a damper on your trip…
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in October
Sports return to the scenes in October. There are plenty of great sports bars in town where you can watch whatever kind of sports tickles your fancy.
In a party town, it should come as no surprise that Halloween is a fun time here. Plenty of stores have costumes and various party supplies, so get in the spooky spirit.
Puerto Vallarta in November
Just like that – the rains start to dissipate and the crowds start to return. It’s the circle of PV life.
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in November
Finally – after months of rain and heat – we’re back to a nice 30°C/86F average high and 20°C/68F for the lows. The umbrellas can get stuffed back in the closet (if they haven’t been retired after the rainy season, that is).
This is a beautiful time in PV to enjoy being outside and bouncing around town before the high season really kicks in. It’s one of my favorite times of the year to be here for sure.
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in November
The month kicks off with the Day of the Dead, which is a great time to be in Puerto Vallarta. While the celebrations here aren’t quite as big as they are in Mexico City or Oaxaca, it’s still a very interesting cultural experience.
With the return to lovely weather, November is a good time to jump on a boat and spend the day at a beach hideaway. Sit back, relax, and drink it in.
Puerto Vallarta in December
December in PV means the floodgates are open, as the airport is packed daily with people coming here to spend the holiday season.
Weather in Puerto Vallarta in December
Once again, it’s cold up north and just about perfect here in PV. Daily average highs hover at 28°C/82F and the lows dip as far as 18°C/64F, so you can laugh at all your friends scraping ice off their windshield while you sip daiquiris by the pool.
The beaches and the Malecon are once again full as the chance of a random downpour is very low. It’s high season in PV, and everyone is out enjoying the weather.
Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta in December
On December 12, Puerto Vallarta celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. People from all over Mexico make a pilgrimage here to the cathedral and there’s a festive atmosphere in the main square all week.
In the lead-up to Christmas, the Malecon is decorated with a bunch of little houses. There’s even a huge Christmas tree all lit up. After all the Christmas fun, it’s time to party. New Year’s Eve is huge in PV and the year goes out with a bang here.
Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta: FAQs
Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta:
The rainy season lasts from June to November.
It could be any time from June to November but is typically between August and October.
April has very pleasant temperatures with little to no rain.
The high season lasts from late November until March in PV.
The low season occurs between June and October, although July can be busy with families on vacation.
Either July or August is usually the hottest month in PV.
December, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve, is the busiest time of year.
I hope this post helps you decide on the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta for you. Because that’s the thing – what’s best for you might not be best for me, and vice versa.
Truth be told, there isn’t a bad time to visit Puerto Vallarta. Even when I’ve been stuck in a downpour with no raincoat or umbrella in my flip-flops, I’ve managed to have a good time.
Rain or shine, there’s always someone cooking up tacos al pastor, someone cranking the reggaeton up, and someone pouring drinks. I’m sure you’ll have fun regardless of the weather. Disfruta Puerto Vallarta, amigos.