When considering places that feel like paradise on earth, Puerto Vallarta is one of the best. To get a feel for this sun-soaked destination, do some research first. After all, there are some good and bad times to visit.
With its picturesque emerald coves, amazing gastronomy scene, and bountiful wildlife, taking a vacation in this tropical haven will make you understand why it’s considered one of Mexico’s top gems.
We’ll let you in on the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta, as well as top tips to remember when visiting this destination. This way, you can make the most out of your trip.
Why You Should Visit Puerto Vallarta
Located on Mexico’s Pacific coast in Jalisco state, this destination boasts the amazing waters of Banderas Bay and the ridges of the Sierra Madre. Despite its reputation as one of Mexico’s top tourist spots, it remains true to its authenticity.
Taking a walk on its cobbled streets will bring you to some of its most traditional areas, such as the Romantic Zone, famous for its traditional markets, galleries, and food spots.
Puerto Vallarta is also easy to explore. The downtown area is surprisingly small and can be explored with relative ease. The streets aren’t crowded, and the city is walkable in most spots. If you want to explore other areas, you can easily rent a car or find inexpensive tours.
Puerto Vallarta is an excellent destination for families, couples, friends, and solo travelers. The city offers an enticing array of attractions, restaurants, and activities.
You can spend the whole week exploring the city and still discover new places to visit. One of the highlights of this vacation spot is Islas Marietas, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This spot is one of the top attractions that you must visit if you’re a lover of sea life. Islas Marietas is a marine sanctuary, so you may see pods of dolphins and sea turtles.
Overall Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta
When visiting Puerto Vallarta, the timing makes a huge difference, especially if you want to explore specific activities and spots. One of the best times to visit Puerto Vallarta is from December to March.
During this time, you’ll have a chance to get up close and personal with humpback whales. These majestic mammals migrate to Banderas Bay for their mating season. You’ll surely have the time of your life while watching these 30-ton creatures leap out of the water.
If you want to make the most out of your experience, make sure you book a boat tour equipped with hydrophones so you can listen to the whale’s mating calls.
If you get lucky, you may even spot gray whales or whale sharks during these months. But what can you expect when it comes to the weather during these months? December to March are some of the coolest and driest months for Puerto Vallarta.
This gives you a chance to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking or horseback riding. While the weather is warm, it’s not scorching, so it’s perfect even for kids. This is also the best time to enjoy the sandy beaches of Puerto Vallarta.
But despite all these perks, prepare to spend more money.
During this time, especially in December and January, a lot of tourists visit Vallarta to escape the winter. Therefore, airlines and hotels hike up their prices. In March, you’ll also encounter a lot of spring breakers.
Cheapest Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta
If your priority is to save money, visiting Puerto Vallarta during the low season is recommended, particularly from July through September.
However, keep in mind that while flights are more affordable during this time of the year, many hotels close from July to August to accomplish their annual repairs. Because of this, the room rates do not drop as much.
If saving up on rooms is your priority, you may be better off visiting in May, June, September, or October. No matter which month you visit, as long as it’s not peak season, you’ll be able to enjoy discounted rates for tours.
Keep in mind that there are not a lot of international tourists during these months and you’ll encounter more local vacationers.
Moreover, you’ll be able to enjoy saving when you visit during the shoulder season of May. Puerto Vallarta is one of the first gay tourism destinations in North America. This gay-friendly city celebrates Pride during this time of the year.
Thousands of tourists flock to this destination to experience the festival, which has been created to celebrate the vibrant and diverse LGBTQ community in the area that has influenced its culture, history, and heritage.
The low season is also the start of sea turtle releases, so make sure to put that in your list of activities. Meanwhile, August is one of Puerto Vallarta’s wettest and hottest months. If you’re in the mood to experience authentic Mexican fiestas, you’ll love visiting in September.
During this month, Vallarta celebrates Independence Day. Expect the sky to light up with colorful fireworks. For night owls, this is the ultimate time to experience Puerto Vallarta’s nightlife.
Least Busy Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta
Because the majority of the summer season is hot and humid, with afternoon showers becoming a common occurrence, visiting Puerto Vallarta from June to October is recommended for those who want to avoid crowds.
Keep in mind that as this spot becomes more popular, its low season is getting shorter. However, you’ll have the best chances of avoiding crowds during this time since the foreign travel high season just ended.
As long as you pack a trusty umbrella, you’ll love Puerto Vallarta during these months. Expect to encounter rain about half of the days, although some are just light showers in the late afternoons or early evenings, particularly from August to September.
Thankfully, you’ll find great deals during the low season, whether it’s on excursions or flights. If you book early, you may even enjoy discounted hotel rooms.
However, with this perk also comes the challenge of scheduling activities. Because there are fewer tourists, a lot of tour companies do not operate in full swing for daily and weekly outings.
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 can be the worst months for people who simply want to bask in the sun all day.
But thankfully, you don’t have to worry about hurricanes because the natural geography of this destination protects it from them. The last major hurricane that hit Puerto Vallarta was Hurricane Kenna in 2002.
Despite the rain, there are also tons of activities you can enjoy. If you love fishing, you need to visit during July to witness the Banderas Bay Fishing Tournament. This international marlin and tuna fishing content offers millions of pesos in prizes.
One of the most incredible catches of this tournament is a 322-kg marlin. Aside from the Mexican Independence Day in September, you’ll also be able to experience National Charro Day, which celebrates Mexican Cowboys.
During the night, you’ll witness cowboys on Vallarta’s streets decked out in their best attire. There are also charro parades and events where you can watch lasso demos and enjoy mariachi music.
Things to Consider
When visiting Puerto Vallarta, here are some things you need to consider.
Are you traveling with your friends, family, or significant other? Do you want to stay in a hotel with more amenities or a more local experience? Will you be sleeping in bunks in a hostel and sharing bathrooms?
Will you want to enjoy the luxury of a room with a view? Will you want to stay in a tranquil place, or will you want to stay in the heart of the city? Make sure to answer all these things in advance so you can plan your trip accordingly.
Duration of Your Stay
While it’s up to you how much time you want to spend in Puerto Vallarta, a week is the perfect amount of time to enjoy this destination.
This is the recommended time to visit Puerto Vallarta, especially if you want to explore the city’s key places. While it would take you a month to explore all the different attractions, a week is enough to take a break from reality.
Plan Your Budget
Knowing how much you’re willing to spend is important to save money. Booking ahead of time can save you more money, particularly if you book a hotel room or rent a car far in advance.
Choosing a cheaper hotel may also save you on your overall budget. Thankfully, Puerto Vallarta offers tons of choices for you, no matter what your budget is.
Aside from booking your hotel early, you may also have better luck with booking your flight in advance. If you plan to travel during peak season, book your flight as early as possible so you can get the best deal available. You’ll also have more options in choosing a flight that’s convenient for you.
Puerto Vallarta’s weather is quite predictable depending on the month you’re visiting. Make sure to bring the right clothes that will keep you comfortable regardless of the day’s weather. Bring the following:
- Reef-safe sunblock
- Sandals or slip flops
- Walking shoes
- Water bottle
- Umbrella (for rainy weather)
Because Puerto Vallarta is a very touristy destination, many locals are used to serving travelers. While tips are not required by law, it is customary to give a 10-15% tip to those who have provided you a service. Make sure to have small bills in your pocket. You’ll also need cash for public transportation.
Puerto Vallarta is a very safe spot when compared to other destinations. However, you can encounter petty crimes such as pickpocketing and bag snatching. When you’re walking the streets, be mindful of your belongings.
Don’t wear flashy jewelry or watches. You’ll also have more peace of mind if you get travel insurance that includes medical expenses, flight cancellation, and lost luggage.
Don’t Miss Out on Local Food
One of the best things to do when in Puerto Vallarta is to experience the amazing Mexican cuisine that the locals enjoy so much. During lunch, you’ll find locals enjoying a feast for as little as 30 pesos.
Aside from enjoying a delicious meal, you’ll also be able to meet locals who will be more than willing to share the real Puerto Vallarta with you.
Learn Spanish Phrases
While English is widely spoken in Puerto Vallarta, it’s best to learn some basic Spanish phrases. This will enable you to communicate better with the locals, particularly those who live in the rural areas.
Aside from being able to communicate better, it will also be an amazing way for you to connect with the locals.
Watch Your Drinks
While Puerto Vallarta is generally safe, it’s still important to protect yourself, especially on a night out. Don’t leave your drink unattended, particularly if you’re going to the bathroom or if you’re at a bar. Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know.
Enjoy a Day Trip to Sayulita and San Pancho
If you’re in the mood for a mini escape, travel to the neighboring towns of Sayulita and San Pancho. These places are perfect if you want to experience serene, chilled-out moments.
Sayulita and San Pancho are a shopper’s haven, and you’ll find lots of shops, boutiques, and art galleries for you to explore.
You’ll also be able to find great street art. Aside from visiting the beach, you can also spend the day at the town’s craft market, take surfing lessons, or visit the town’s ruins.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions vacationers ask about Puerto Vallarta:
Is Puerto Vallarta a safe place?
Puerto Vallarta is a very safe destination, particularly during the day when you’re exploring. You’ll find locals and other tourists on the streets. But when night falls, it may be best to stick to the well-lit parts of the city.
Why is Puerto Vallarta so popular?
Puerto Vallarta is a popular destination because of several reasons. First, it’s affordable for tourists. Second, it offers tons of amazing beaches. You’ll also find a variety of activities to choose from, including water sports and delicious restaurants.
What language is spoken in Puerto Vallarta?
Most of Puerto Vallarta’s inhabitants speak Spanish. If you need to communicate with the locals, English is also widely spoken.
Is Puerto Vallarta cheaper than Cancun?
Yes, Puerto Vallarta tends to be more affordable than Cancun.
Does Puerto Vallarta have good weather?
Puerto Vallarta’s weather depends on the month you’re visiting. Expect pleasant and sunny weather year-round, except during its rainy months from July to September.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta?
Your Puerto Vallarta experience heavily relies on which time of the year you’re planning to visit. If you want to experience sunny weather and enjoy whale watching, visit from December to March.
Meanwhile, vacationers who want to avoid crowds and score good deals can visit from June to October.
While you may experience rain, great deals on hotels, flights, and tours make up for it. Now that you know the best times to visit Puerto Vallarta, you can finally book the vacation of your dreams.