The thing about weather is: Rain or shine, it’s going to happen with or without your permission.
That may seem like an obvious thought, but take a second to think about it, accept it and read this guide to apply it to your vacation plans.
Trust me, your stress and anxiety worrying about the conditions will fade away.
93% sunshine sounds pretty good to me
Typically we see 340 days of sunshine a year down here in the Riviera Maya. That’s over 93% of the time. Those are fantastic odds, and a part of the reason we see millions and millions of visitors to the Mayan Riviera every year.
Now, even though it’s far less frequent, no one wants rain on their vacation… Or destination wedding!
But if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. At that point, all you can do is focus on how to make the most of it or how to plan around it.
If it rains, what can you do about the weather?
A fisherman from the Pacific Northwest of the US (if you’re unfamiliar, a particularly wet climate) once told me, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just a wrong choice in clothes.”
I’d never thought about it that way until then.
My very first trip to the region with my wife was during the rainy season. It rained almost the whole week we were here. Upsetting? Not at all. Do you know what we did?
We grabbed some cocktails, jumped in the pool and swam in the ocean in the rain. Everyone ran for cover inside the dark lobby bar. We were the only ones on the beach splashing around and loving every moment of our newly private beach, cocktails in hand.
Your vacation will be what you make of it.
Let's talk about the weather (apps!)
The weather you check in many apps and websites for the most part is presented very simply.
They show you graphical representations of the forecast. Sun, clouds, rain, lightning and whatever else mother nature is deciding to do at the moment.
Don’t be so quick to trust your weather apps!
Sure, in many regions you can rely on the weather report you see. Southern California? It says sunshine, you’re probably getting sunshine! The very few times it says rain? You’re getting rained on.
We are in a very unique location, weather wise
Because of the very peculiar and ever changing nature of the coastline down here in the Mayan Riviera, I would never recommend strictly trusting one source.
The weather here can literally change within minutes, or stay the same for days on end. It may never reflect what you see when you look online to check.
I have personally had friends checking the weather for Playa del Carmen every single day before coming down on a vacation calling me saying, “Are we in trouble? It’s been storming there all week, we’ve been checking the weather every day!”
My response was, “What? I haven’t seen a drop of rain in weeks.”
I have seen torrential downpours for ten minutes that could fill an entire pool, and the clouds part moments after to reveal sunshine for the rest of the day. I have also seen it rain for days and days on end.
The truth is...
The truth is, weather is tricky here. We have warm Caribbean waters and one of the world’s largest ocean currents in our backyard that alter the conditions by the moment.
In winter we have hot days and cooler nights, which can cause predictable but drastic changes in weather and wind direction. We have a wet season, a dry season and everything in between.
Real world example, and this actually happened yesterday, September 15th, 2015. There were loud claps of thunder, lightning and rain in Playa del Carmen around midday. When I called down to the yacht to see what the weather was like in Puerto Aventuras (20 minutes away), there was no such weather.
Here are our tips on knowing what to expect for your vacation in the Mayan Riviera, whether you’re visiting Canucn, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Puerto Aventuras or anywhere else.
How to check the weather before you come:
Weather Sources / Apps
One source probably isn’t enough. Double check multiple weather sites. My favourite free one is Weather Underground.
Here is a link to Playa del Carmen's weather, via Weather Underground.
You can also download the app for your mobile device here.
Not only do they have lots of detail should you choose to read into it more than the temperature and the image of the prediction, but they have localized reports where any user in an area can confirm or deny the current conditions it is forecasting.
Boat / Ocean Specific Weather Forecasting
Don’t worry about this part! It’s a bit more technical than most people would care to be interested in.
Just know that we have some top of the line services that we pay for subscriptions to to ensure we receive the highest quality reports. That way we know exactly what to expect at sea for our guests.
Webcams (The most reliable for current conditions!)
Above I mentioned some friends who had been seeing terrible weather reports ahead of their vacation when in fact it had been beautiful all week.
I told them that the best thing they could do while checking the weather report was to look at a beach webcam, then reference that with what they were seeing reported.
That way you can see in real-time how accurate the forecast is, and for those times when it says thunder and lightning and it’s actually as sunny as could be.
We have two main seasons
Seasonal predictions aren’t perfect, but they’re historical enough to bet on with confidence.
Down here despite it “feeling” like summer all year round, we do have seasons. You get to know them and appreciate them as you live here. But, as a vacationer you need to know which season may work best for a specific time of year.
Let’s break the Mayan Riviera up into two seasons: High season with its sunshine and low season with its unpredictability, also known as “Hurricane Season”.
Don’t let the name frighten you, it doesn’t mean we get rolled over by hurricanes all season long. The last hurricane to touch ground here was ten years ago! More on this below, but let’s get to the sunny stuff first.
High Season (December 1st to May 31st)
High season is typically from December through to the end of May. During this time the weather levels out to consistent sunshine and moderate temperatures in both daytime and evening. Click here for a breakdown of annual weather averages in Playa del Carmen.
If you absolutely, no questions asked, must have pure sunshine for your entire trip, this is the time of year to bet on! It’s high season for a reason.
Besides, it’s probably cold where you are while we’re having all the fun with margaritas and sunshine.
You probably won’t find too many deals on flights and hotels during high season, but that doesn’t mean it’s break-the-bank expensive.
There is something in the Riviera Maya for everyone. We have everything from hostels and $0.50 tacos to 5-star resorts with steak and lobster dinners.
Low Season, Hurricane Season (June 1st - November 30th)
As I mentioned above, don’t let the name scare you off. It’s been 10 years since our last hurricane, all the name implies is that if one were to make its way here, this is the period of time it would happen in.
Bonus points for low season: Here is where you find the best deals!
Hotels, airlines, tour operators and vendors seem most willing to lower their prices between June to mid November.
When booking, know that low season weather can be hard to predict. I have been in the region for summers where it felt like from June 1st all the way to December it rained at least once every day, even if it was only for a little bit, to other summers where it was very dry and it almost never rained.
If you’re coming for a week in the low season just know that you may wind up with all sunshine, all rain or a little bit of both rain and sunshine.
If low season months are the ones that work best for you, it helps to come with the attitude, “Who cares, we’re on vacation!”
It may rain, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t palm trees everywhere, good company and great food to enjoy. Plus, there’s something kind of wonderful about warm tropical rain!
Vacations are great in the pure sun, but they can be just as good with the company you bring.
Yacht Tours with H2Oh Sun Cruises
If you’re wondering how weather works with us, we have a 100% inclement weather refund policy.
If the conditions are unsuitable or unsafe for a day at sea, we offer complete refunds no questions asked. We of course can also do our best to reschedule around the weather since you may still want to head out to sea!
Our whole goal is to serve you first and make sure you have the best day possible on the water. It’s that simple.
If you have any questions about our tours or policies, check our FAQ out or drop us a line.
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