Weather in Mexico
Mexico is a vast country bordered to its north by the United States of America, covering around two-million square kilometres. Being so large Mexico spreads across a broad sweep of latitude, and encompasses a variety of altitudes from sea level to deep valleys and towering snow-capped mountains – and all of this has an effect on the weather in different regions of the country.
Speaking generally Mexico does not have the usual four seasons – there are only two. The rainy season extends from May through June, July, August and September, and the rest of the year is dry to varying degrees.
There is some variation of temperature during the year, but this is governed more by the terrain than the seasons, thus it is best to consider the climate of Mexico region by region because averages for the country as a whole can be misleading.
The most popular tourist destination in Mexico is the Yucatan Peninsula with its Caribbean coastline, known as the Mayan Riviera, including the magnificent resort city of Cancun. Here temperatures are rather constant and warm throughout the year, with some heavy rain (usually coming in short-lived showers) likely during June, July, August and September. There is also a danger of hurricanes hitting the coast during those months, and through to November.
Cancun’s average annual temperature is 25.5°C (78°F), and month by month, day to night, this fluctuates only by several degrees up and down the scale.
The Gulf coast of Mexico is humid, hot and damp, with plenty of rain especially during June, July, August, September and October. The port of Veracruz, with its strip of beaches along the Costa Esmeralda to the north and the UNESCO World Heritage site of El Tajin, enjoys an annual average temperature of 25.2°C (77.4°F). The coolest months of December, January and February seldom see the mercury drop below 19°C (66.2°F) and it is extremely hot during June, July, August and September. Veracruz experiences close on 2000mm of rain a year – rainfall is particularly heavy in July, while March is the driest month with only 10mm falling over an average of four wet days. Humidity levels hover at around 85% all year.
Mexico’s Pacific Coast, with its fabled holiday city of Acapulco and the popular resort towns of Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, are bathed in warm to hot weather, the maximum temperature hovering at around 32°C (89.6°F) with little variation between day and night, seldom dropping below 25°C (77°F) during any month of the year. The rainy season here, as for the rest of Mexico, is during June, July, August, September and October, but the best thing about the Pacific Coast is that the rain obligingly tends to fall during the late afternoon or at night, meaning skies remain brilliantly blue during the day.
The main tourist destinations in the south of Mexico, which includes the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, general have hot weather year round, and it can be sweltering at times in some of the valleys and on the coastal plain. The usual Mexican rainy season applies between June and September, and the rain here is heavy. There is little chance of rain outside the wet season.
The inland central Mexican region enjoys spring-like weather for most of the year, with warm days and cool nights. Mexico City, which lies at a high altitude, can be very cold, especially in December and January. The warmest months are April and May, and the rainy season – May, June, July, August and September – are damp and cool.
The Baja Peninsula is temperate and drier than the rest of Mexico. The city of Tijuana’s annual average rainfall is only 235mm. The southern part of the Baja is very hot and arid in summer, with mild winters. Most of the rain falls during September and October.
The northern region of Mexico, bordering on the United States, is dry and semi-arid, with a desert-like climate characterised by scorching hot summers with cold nights, and mild to cool winters. There is a modicum of rain, falling in the Mexican rainy period between June and September – the city of Chihuahua for example receives around 90mm during its wettest month, August.
When’s the best time to visit Mexico?
Assuming that most travellers visit Mexico to enjoy the beautiful beaches, then it would be best to avoid the hottest, wettest and most humid months, which are June, July, August and September. This is also a bad time for insects, the threat of hurricanes, and rough seas on the Pacific Coast. To fully enjoy the Mexican seaside, or explore the country's ancient sites, plan your holiday in Mexico during the months of November, December, January, February, March, April or May.
What to pack for a holiday in Mexico
Mexico has a casual dress code and different holidays require different dress. However, as a rule, pack lightweight, light coloured clothing– many people spend their entire trip in shorts, T-shirts and swimwear. Bring plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses and hats, and when trekking take along a thermal or two, warm jerseys, hats, gloves and scarves, as well as sturdy amphibian hiking boots or walking shoes.
Jeans go well with smart tops for a night out and, outside of resorts or trekking trail areas, long shorts are popular among the locals. Take sandals for the heat, and remember to bring a light covering for the beach– something like a sarong. Also, bear in mind that monasteries and churches require modest dress, and, while it is casual, Mexicans are quite conservative, so neatness is important.