Climate and Environment

Summer Climates in Mexico

Summertime Couple Jumping into Water

Summers in Mexico bring the highest temperatures and longest days of the year; they also bring refreshing monsoon rains to the regions affected by these, which include the colonial highlands, the Copper Canyon, the sub-tropical jungles of Chiapas, and the states of the Yucatán peninsula.

Mexican summertime begins on or around June 21st each year, although temperatures are already near their peak by mid-spring, and the rain season usually begins in late May or early June, bringing a refreshing change to the long dry-spell of springtime, and also helping to clear the soiled and stale air that tends to accumulate around the valley of Mexico City in the weeks leading-up to the rains.

Some suggest avoiding Mexico during the rain season but, as we have remarked elsewhere, that approach would rob you of an opportunity to experience Mexico at one of its finest times of year: when the rains come, the flora show-off their brightest colors and release the delicate subtleties of their natural fragrances, the rivers and lakes swell, and the searing heat is tempered by revitalizing rain; along the mainland coasts, this also helps to satiate some of the humidity.

Summer is also the time when most of the mosquitoes are active but, as we explain here, it’s not difficult to dress against their nuisance, and effective repellents are readily available at local stores and pharmacies across the country.  A mosquito net draped over your bed in more rural or remote areas is very effective, and enables you to leave the windows open to allow in the cooling night to ventilate the room naturally while enjoying the birdsong and other sounds of nocturnal wildlife.

Summer is the ideal season to experience the Copper Canyon, situated in the north-west region of Mexico—here, the rain season starts around July and extends into November. During this time of year, the colors in the canyons radiate their deepest greens, the rivers are abundant with water, and the flora and fauna are at their most active.  In the far south of the country, in the jungles of Chiapas, the iconic turquoise waters of the Agua Azul waterfalls may turn brown as the heavy rains stir the riverbed’s sediment; if you want to see these rivers at their most picturesque, you’ll need to visit a month or two after the rains have passed.

The high summer heat can also brew storms and hurricanes: as air temperatures in the northern hemisphere heat-up, powerful storms can form over the oceans, and some make landfall in Mexico. It’s impossible to determine with precision how active or otherwise any given hurricane season will be.  Peak hurricane activity is typically seen between July and September; by October temperatures are in decline and by late November it’s virtually impossible for these storms come about.  If you own a home near the coasts in Mexico, it’s wise to insure your property against hurricane damage.

How the climate typically presents itself on summer days in Mexico depends on where you are.

Colonial Highlands: In the colonial highlands, mornings tend to be pleasantly warm with temperatures rising gradually through the day and rain storms breaking-out on some afternoons or evenings (and sometimes overnight). Most mornings break clear and sunny (even if an overnight storm system passed through), except when there is weather system active in the region (perhaps a tropical storm) which may cause early overcast skies, with the cloud cover breaking late morning or early afternoon as temperatures rise. Occasionally, a short run of rainy days may present themselves, especially if a hurricane makes landfall in the same region.  It doesn’t typically rain every day during the summer season, although when the rains come, afternoon storms usually clear leaving the late evenings refreshed, and dry.  The temperate colonial highlands offer the most agreeable temperatures during the summer months, albeit at altitude.

Coasts: Temperatures at sea level along the coasts are significantly hotter than those in the highlands, and the coastal humidity is immediately noticeable from sunrise.  Afternoon monsoon rains will either break and leave the evenings cooled-off and dry, or they may persist.  When summer tropical storms linger offshore, or a hurricane makes landfall, the coastal regions take the full force of the storm, before Mexico’s impressive mountain ranges break up the weather front causing heavy rains immediately inland; some of these may cause flash-flooding even days after the storm, so additional care should be exercised if you are driving near the coasts at this time of year, and be sure that you’re adequately insured on the road.

Baja California: Summers on the Baja Peninsula are hot inland, and cooler along the coasts.  The ‘rain season’ here is short, with most rainfall typically falling in September; this region otherwise enjoys hot, dry summers.  The northern reaches of the peninsula (e.g. Ensenada, Tijuana, San Felipe) are cooler, whereas the further south you travel along this remarkable 1,100-mile stretch of land, the hotter it gets, and the lack of rainfall in comparison to other regions in Mexico means that the natural environment here offers little relief from the high summer heat (except, perhaps, for sea breezes along the coast).

Southern Regions: As you travel south past the colonial highlands of Oaxaca and cross the lowlands of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, summer temperatures soar and you can expect to experience typical jungle weather: hot, humid, and sultry.  The states of Chiapas (with its highland jungles), Tabasco, Yucatán, Quintana Roo, and Campeche experience their hottest months between May and September.  Afternoon rain storms can arrive suddenly and be quite fierce, and this region is also susceptible to hurricanes making landfall from the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific, and Caribbean waters.  Summers in Chiapas are remarkably sultry, but the landscape is verdant and wonderfully alive; some respite from the humid heat can be had by traveling to the higher grounds of San Cristóbal de las Casas and environs.

When the schools break-up for the summer recess, Mexico’s beaches, popular colonial cities, and archaeology parks become packed with families on vacation: July and August are the busiest summer months in the travel business here, as Mexican families and foreign tourists arrive to enjoy all Mexico has to offer.

While the summer days are the longest, as we mentioned in our article about the Winter Climates, even the shortest days in Mexico offer lots of daylight, and every season in Mexico provides an opportunity to enjoy the abundance of color, culture, and charisma that Mexico offers exhibits across its varied regions.  Choose your region with care, and it will never too cold to enjoy the outdoors, and there’s no reason to roast in the summer.

The peak of the summer season passes around mid-August. Mexico’s Independence Day parties on September 16th also tend to herald the turn of the seasonal cycle, as the climate pattern begins to turn once more, the hurricane season abates, and summer yields to a cooler, atmospheric autumn.

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