Wednesday, March 20th 2019

Puerto Vallarta Time Zone: Why Did Puerto Vallarta Change Time Zones?

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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Time Zone in Puerto Vallarta

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The city of Puerto Vallarta is located on the coast of Mexico’s Banderas Bay area. Banderas Bay is divided between two different Mexican states: the north part of the bay falls within the state of Nayarit, and the south within the state of Jalisco. The Ameca River demarcates part of border running between the two. Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta Airport (Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International) are both located just a stone’s throw to the river’s south, in Jalisco.

Maps can be deceiving. On paper, Puerto Vallarta’s time zone and that of Jalisco as a whole (Zona Centro), is an hour behind that a short hop to the north in Nayarit, which lies within Mexico’s Zona Pacífico time zone. However, as of Sunday, April 4, 2010, the time zone of the area of Banderas Bay that falls within the state of Nayarit was changed, bringing the entirety of the Banderas Bay area under Puerto Vallarta’s time zone.

The time in Puerto Vallarta’s time zone, Zona Centro, is the same as it is in America’s Central Timezone. This means that if you are traveling to Puerto Vallarta from a city in Central Time Zone, such as Austin, Chicago, St Lewis, or New Orleans, there will be no need to adjust your watch when you arrive. Those departing for Puerto Vallarta from a US Mountain Time area lose an hour, and those traveling from the US Pacific Time Zone lose two. Travelers arriving in PV from US Eastern Time are the lucky ones—they gain an hour.

Why has the Whole of Banderas Bay Adopted Puerto Vallarta’s Time Zone?

Puerto Vallarta and the wider Banderas Bay area rank among Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations. There is something here for tourists of almost every creed. Bucerías and Vallarta are favored spots for family getaways, Punta Mita is a glamorous resort for the A-list jet set, scores of surfers are drawn to Sayulita’s waves and laid back atmosphere, and the scattering of smaller scenic seaside towns are beloved by visitors of all variety.

Prior to the change in 2010, the time zone in Puerto Vallarta used to create problems for tourists and locals alike. Tourists were hampered by the confusion that often accompanied forgetting, or simply being unaware of the two different time zones that straddle the bay. Many were arriving an hour earlier or later than scheduled for tours, meals, simple arrangements of all kinds across the divide that were often as little as 10 minutes drive away. Significant numbers were dismayed to discover that they had inadvertently arrived at PV airport an hour late for their flights home.

For the many Banderas Bay area locals living in Puerto Vallarta’s time zone but working in that of Nayarit or visa versa, the hassle of the daily time zone transition meant many chose to permanently adopt the time of the zone in which they worked. As you can imagine, living an hour ahead or behind your local shops, friends and even family was hardly practical. In order to allay the confusion befuddling tourists and the impracticality burdening locals, the Mexican government decided the best solution would be simply to bring the entirety of the Banderas Bay area in line with the time zone in Puerto Vallarta (Zona Centro), and that is what they did.

The Impact of Extending Puerto Vallarta’s Time Zone Across the Whole of Banderas Bay

Since the change, local businesses have had to deal with far fewer tourist arriving an hour earlier or later than arranged, and tourists have successfully boarded many more flights home free from panics and mad dashes induced by unwitting tardiness. Unfortunately, however, not every repercussion of bringing the whole Banderas Bay under the Puerto Vallarta Time Zone has been positive. On the Nayarit side of the bay, the sun now rises an hour earlier and sets an hour later than it did prior to the change. Many local breakfast restaurants claim the darker mornings have diminished their revenues. Similarly, bars and nightclubs have had to adapt to the later onset of darkness having shortened the area’s nightlife hours.

Puerto Vallarta Time: Daylight Saving

It is useful to know that the whole of Banderas Bay has been brought under Puerto Vallarta’s Time Zone, but there is a further quirk of Puerto Vallarta’s time you will want to be aware of. Mexico, like many other countries, observes seasonal daylight saving. Here, however, daylight saving takes place on different annual dates than in the US, and Europe, which uses different dates too. Mexican clocks go forward on the first Sunday of April and turn back again on last Sunday of October. Be aware of this because it means that for two short windows of time each year the time difference in Puerto Vallarta is likely to differ from yours at home by an additional hour.

Puerto Vallarta changes to Central Time Zone

Puerto Vallarta Time: Mañana

It is not just politics and geography that determine Puerto Vallarta’s time. Culture exerts its influence too. Visiting foreigners will often hear Mexicans explain that a task will be done ‘mañana’. From Spanish to English, the direct translation of “mañana” is ‘tomorrow’, but when used in the context of when something will be done, it can generally be taken to mean ‘at some unspecified point in the possibly distant future,’ or, in some instances, it may even be used as a polite euphemism for ‘it won’t get done.’

The concept of ‘_Mañana’ c_an be difficult to grasp and a little exasperating for those arriving in Mexico from cultures with a penchant for punctuality. Rest assured however, a Mexican is not being rude when they break what those unversed in Mexican culture are likely to interpret as a promise to do something tomorrow. Time, simply, is a loose concept in Mexico. Chatting with friends and family, relaxing, attending to personal matters—all such things take preference over getting trivial tasks done at a stated time in this part of the world. So when mañana arrives and you find you are still waiting, the best course of action is to do as the Mexicans do: relax. Worry about it ‘mañana’.

The key thing to remember about time zones in Puerto Vallarta’s wider area is this: although the vast majority of the state of Nayarit falls within Mexico’s Zona Pacífico time zone, the area of Nayarit that encompasses half of Banderas Bay does not. The whole of Banderas Bay falls within Puerto Vallarta’s Time Zone, that is, the Zona Centro time zone.

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