Winter in Paradise
There is a reason that repeat visitors from northern climates flock to Puerto Vallarta every February. It is one of the most pleasant times of the year. Los Muertos Beach will be filled with the “winter locals” gathered under umbrellas playing cards and sipping margaritas; these are the seasonal travelers who book multi-month rentals from January to March every year. The large North American community is one of the best things about Puerto Vallarta. This neighborly charm gives Vallarta a genuine small-town feel with friendly people who all seem to know each other everywhere you go.
Depending on El Nino patterns at the time, there should be no rain during your trip if you travel to Puerto Vallarta from November to May
The good news is that rates shift to value season on May 1, making early May one of the best travel times on the planet: the weather is still pleasant, the ocean is warm enough for swimming and the cost of accommodations drops significantly.
Summer in the Tropics
Puerto Vallarta is below the Tropic of Cancer and surrounded by a seasonal rainforest. Towards the end of May, the humidity begins to climb. Once the rains begin, the humidity breaks and practically overnight the entire landscape turns a lush, verdant green. The rain-cooled air even smells green.
Summer can be a great time to travel to the tropics. This is when you will get the best deals. Almost all villas will negotiate with you for dates from June to October. Being in the tropics in rainy season is a luxurious experience of its own. If you come prepared and allow your body to adjust to the climate – stay hydrated and don’t attempt to explore during the heat of the day – you will be fine. The bedrooms at your villa have zoned air conditioning and that lounge next to the pool beckons.
Another benefit to traveling to Puerto Vallarta in summer is the amazing sunsets. Vallarta celebrates the daily ritual year round but in summer the sub-tropical atmosphere is super-charged making the colors during the “golden hour” unusually intense. Locals stop whatever they are doing every evening to watch the ball of fire dip into the Pacific Ocean. You will be mesmerized as well. Look for the “green flash” as the top of the disc disappears into the ocean; a green ray or spot enhanced by a mirage, an optical phenomenon of infracted light that occurs on unobstructed horizons.
The golden light of sunset beaming onto the hillsides of Old Town Vallarta turn the white stucco of the historic district into a sublime pink. Many movies have been filmed in Puerto Vallarta due it’s the remarkable quality of light.
The topography of this section of the Eastern Pacific acts as a natural barrier to full on frontal assaults from Hurricanes. Eastern Pacific hurricanes have different characteristics than Atlantic hurricanes. It is extremely rare to see a hurricane slam into the coast like the United States experiences in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic seaboard. The tropical depressions and storms in the Eastern Pacific tend to form to the south and ride the coastline north, churning well away from shore. The cape on the Bay of Banderas, called the Cabo Corrientes, act as a protecting arm, blocking the storms from riding the shore further north, bouncing them out to sea like a ball where they become “fish storms”.
Occasionally a nasty storm will continue north to the tip of Cabo, as seen with Odile in 2014. In 2002, the Bay of Banderas experienced Kenna, a 50-year storm that made landfall at San Blas, 100 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, putting the Bay in the northeast quadrant, the most deadly. It was the storm surge that was so destructive, not the winds. The rising tide of Kenna washed over the Malecon, breaking storefront windows and taking some of the public art and bronze sculptures back out to sea with her. Picture a bath tub with sloshing water.
In October 2015, there was the scary Hurricane Patricia, a Cat-5 monster that looked like it would swallow Careyes. Everyone in Puerto Vallarta held their breath even though this time Vallarta was on the southwest side. But as Patricia made landfall, the mountainous terrain of the West coast of Mexico caught it like a trap and it quickly dissipated into a tropical storm over an uninhabited section of the coast. Patricia became a “coconut storm”.
Not that we are making light of hurricanes. They are gut wrenching. But you can feel safe traveling to Puerto Vallarta during hurricane season. The chances you will experience a bad storm are very low.