I get searches and questions all the time on this blog concerning what is the time zone in Mahahual and Quintana Roo. There are also a lot of cruise ship tourists who get confused on what the time is here when they get off of a ship. So here is all you need to know about the time zones in Mexico.
Mexico’s land territory, including the Baja peninsula, straddles an area between 23.6345° North, and 102.5528° West. To give that some time-zone perspective, its longitudinal land mass covers a distance-equivalent starting on the Pacific coast in California USA, and ending near Pensacola, Florida—thus spanning some 1,700 miles.
Mexico used to have three time zones, until February 1, 2015 when a fourth time zone was introduced for the southeastern state of Quintana Roo, home to Mexico’s most popular vacation resorts including Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.
Mexico’s Four Time Zones
Baja California [North] (Zona Noroeste) – Which covers the northeastern reaches of the Baja peninsula, the state of Baja California and is aligned with US Pacific Time. Note that the state’s name is Baja California, not as it’s sometimes referred to as ‘Baja California Norte’.
Mexico’s Pacific Time Zone (Zona Pacifico) – This zone begins just north of Puerto Vallarta (Vallarta itself is not affected) and includes the states of Nayarit, Sinaloa, Sonora, and Chihuahua and is aligned with US Mountain Time.
Mexico’s Central Time Zone (Zona Centro) – This zone covers most of Mexico, including Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara and Merida and is aligned with US Central Time.
Mexico’s Southeastern Time Zone (Zona Sureste) – This is the fourth time zone specifically affecting the state of Quintana Roo. It’s aligned with US Central time in the spring and summer and does not move its clocks backward or forward each year.
Seasonal Time Changes
To complicate matters, not all Mexican states move their clocks each year, and those that do, don’t necessarily synchronize with dates that other Mexican zones change their clocks, nor the dates that the USA, Canada and Europe move theirs.
For example, Mexico’s relatively-new Southeastern time zone aligns with Mexico’s Central time zone in the spring and summer, but shifts to be one hour ahead when Mexico’s Central time zone moves its clocks back in the autumn (the Southeastern time zone doesn’t move its clocks). And because the Northeastern time zone synchronizes on the date that US Pacific clock-times change, and not the date of the Mexican Central clock-time change, there can be further clock-time disparity for some weeks each year in the spring and autumn.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina