When it comes to vacationing in Mexico, there are a few destinations that tend to outshine the rest of the country; notably Cancun, Cabo, Tulum – just to name a few. However, the smaller gems among the Pacific coastline seem to be finding the limelight in their own right, and in due time, no one will be asking ‘where is Nuevo Vallarta?’ anymore.
Located within Mexico’s Pacific Treasure, an appropriate name for the Riviera Nayarit region which extends towards San Sebastian Mexico, Nuevo Vallarta is the perfect Mexican getaway.
Surrounded by water that is often engulfed with hundreds of private yachts, the area is one of the better-off in Nayarit after posh Punta Mita. While other destinations in the region have a strong small-town vibe, Nuevo Vallarta is a modern, clean town with wide, palm tree-lined avenues.
The best time to visit is from mid-April to June. These months fall outside busy season, and you can snag some affordable rates. However, December through May are the best months to visit for good weather. Average highs can reach 85°F (30°C) in the afternoons, with the evenings usually settling around 65°F (18°C).
Sea temperatures are also cooler during this time of year than in the summer, though they still average in the mid-70s°F (25°C), making it quite comfortable for surfing, swimming and quintessential Nuevo Vallarta sailing.
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, while July through September make for 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.
Of the tours in Nuevo Vallarta, whale watching makes for some of the most majestic experiences. Humpback whales, in particular, begin arriving in November and leave again by early April, and this is the best time to see them in large numbers. 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 those who tend to get seasick.
For snorkeling, diving, and dolphin swimming, June through October offers better water conditions, while December through February presents a more likely time to encounter manta rays and whale sharks. Water temperatures will be warm and the waves will be fairly calm.
Diving and snorkeling are possible anytime, though there are definite differences in the seasons. Water will be clearest in the summer months. Take note, from November through May, visibility becomes 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.
Today, Nuevo Vallarta conjures visions of margaritas, whispering palms and sparkling sandy beaches. Flanked by 365 days of near-perfect weather, and several historic coastal towns, this beach alcove keeps visitors returning again and again.