Cabo Rojo Travel Guide
Updated September 2022, Cabo Rojo Travel Guide was originally written in March 2016
Cabo Rojo was by and far my favorite destination In Puerto Rico (aside from beautiful little Culebra of course). Cabo Rojo truly is Puerto Rico off the beaten path, located on a stretch of rugged coastline in the southwest corner of the island.
With not another tourist in sight, we enjoyed the beaches of Cabo Rojo which seems to only really be known by locals. Learn everything you need to know to plan your visit in this Cabo Rojo travel guide!
Cabo Rojo Quick Tips
- Rent A Car: The easiest way to get around the island of Puerto Rico, in general, is by renting a car.
- Visas: Puerto Rico is a part of the USA and thus many travelers will need a visa or an ESTA. Check out the US gov website to find out if or what sort of visa you may need to visit. US citizens only need to show a real ID compliant driver’s license/ID card to enter Puerto Rico.
- Weather: November-April is the best time of year to visit Puerto Rico with the driest weather. April and May are great months as the winter crowds will have died down. June-September has wetter and stormier weather.
- Language: Spanish and English are widely spoken in Puerto Rico.
- Money: Puerto Rico uses the US Dollar.
- Avoid Holiday Weekends: Weekends, in general, are busy with locals in Cabo Rojo, but holiday weekends can be quite crowded.
- Download A Map: Map.me and Google Maps will help you navigate this section of Puerto Rico more easily.
- Mobile: If you have a US carrier SIM card your phone should work as it would anywhere else in the USA.
Looking for more ideas for Puerto Rico? Don’t miss the beautiful island of Culebra
How To Get To Cabo Rojo
Although Google Maps will tell you 2.5 hours to reach Cabo Rojo from San Juan, expect to take longer because it is an absolutely gorgeous drive.
As you leave San Juan you’ll climb up into the mountains where it becomes lush and green and rainforest-y. Then as you pop out the other side of the mountains it starts to look arider as you get closer to Ponce. You’ll know you’ve reached Ponce because of the giant letters as you come up to it.
After you leave Ponce you’ll start to get glimpses of the turquoise sea below as you continue to decline further into some beautiful green farmlands before reaching Cabo Rojo.
Where To Stay
There aren’t a lot of options for accommodations around Cabo Rojo. If you want to book affordable beachfront cabins in nearby El Combate Beach and get $20 off your next Airbnb booking click here.
Where To Go In Cabo Rojo
Las Salinas Salt Flat & Wildlife Refuge
Yes, Puerto Rico has salt flats and pink lakes! There is a small visitor center with information on the flora and fauna in the refuge. Across the road from the visitor center there is a lookout where you can see out over the pink lakes.
If you are into birding this is a must-see, over 40,000 birds from North and South America will come here every winter.
Just a little further down the road, you can go walk around the salt mines where you’ll see pyramids of salt among pink ponds. The water gets its pink color because of the evaporation of water from the hypersaline pools and from organisms in the water, the same organisms responsible for flamingos’ pinkness.
This thin arc of white sand between the cliffs just below the Los Morillos Lighthouse is the perfect place to lay in the sun all day.
Los Morillos Lighthouse
Perched up on the red cliffs of Cabo Rojo in which Cabo Rojo, meaning ‘red cape’ got its name from. You can go inside the lighthouse (if it’s open). From up on the cliffs you’ll have stunning views of Bahia Salinas and La Playuela below.
Heading to the USVI? Check out Trunk Bay, St. John
El Combate Beach
This long, thin beach seems to go on forever, located just north of Cabo Rojo. It can get crowded in the small town of Combate near all the restaurants and bars, but if you head far enough in either direction you can find a nice quiet spot.
I have read reports of Combate Beach being dirty and strewn with garbage, but I did not find it to be too bad on my visit. With that said, we stayed on the part of Combate slightly north of the town (and by slight, I mean less than a mile). I can’t say about the stretch of Combate Beach that is the most frequented. The beach is slightly more pebbly and darker in color compared to La Playuela.
Because of Cabo Rojo’s position on Puerto Rico’s west coast you are in prime sunset gawking location. We were told by some locals back on Culebra that this was where we needed to head for the best in Puerto Rican sunsets. They were pretty, though not quite on par with my favorite Indian Ocean sunsets in Gili Trawangan and Socotra, I’ll let that slide seeing that they were some of the best we did see while in the Caribbean.
Boqueron is home to calm nice beaches in a bay of the same name. Note that many accommodations in Boqueron still haven’t re-opened after the devastation from Hurricane Maria, but the beach is still worth visiting.
Isla Ratones is a gorgeous little island off the coast but unfortunately closed after the destruction of the pier during Hurricane Maria. If the island does re-open, you can take a boat from Joyuda Beach to Isla Ratones for $25 roundtrip (holding up to four passengers).
Where To Eat
Take your pick in the Combate Beach area, there were plenty of restaurants and cars serving up Puerto Rican food. Empanadas, mofongo, tostones, local seafood… it’s all good. Even on the way to Las Salinas, there are a few restaurants. If you’re planning to spend your day hanging out at La Playuela and the cliffs around Cabo Rojo I recommend packing a picnic lunch for the day.
What To Pack
- Microfiber Towel
- Sun hat
- Bug Spray
- Dry Bag
Normal precautions should be enough to keep safe in Cabo Rojo, but Puerto Rico, in general, does have a high rate of crime. The Cabo Rojo area did suffer the wrath of Hurricane Maria and has slowly been coming back life since.
Have Any Questions About Visiting Cabo Rojo?
Ask in the comments section below.