Cabo Rojo is one of the beach towns preferred by Puerto Ricans when they want to enjoy a weekend of sun, sand, salt water, and good atmosphere among friends and family. Any time of year this coastal town is on the list of places to visit and have a good time.
The town is located in the extreme southwest of Puerto Rico, where charms include towering limestone cliffs, stunning beaches, idyllic nature reserves for birdwatchers, and creative restaurants.
The name of this coastal town refers to the reddish color of the water in the area where the Salt Flats are located, precisely because of the high concentration of the mineral. The Salt Flats are one of Cabo Rojo's most special tourist attractions and represents a quick stop on the way to the popular Los Morrillos Lighthouse, the natural stone bridge, or one of the best beaches in Puerto Rico, la Playuela.
Los Morrillos Lighthouse
This historic and picturesque lighthouse helps ships navigate safely through the Mona Passage from the Caribbean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Completed in 1877, this lighthouse was the second one built under Spanish rule on the island. The structure is part of a maritime lighting system that in 1981 was included in the National Register of Historic Places of the United States Department of the Interior.
To get to the lighthouse, after driving over unpaved road, you will have to park and walk up a hill (it’s not very steep). Visitors can access the lighthouse’s observation deck to enjoy incredible panoramic views of the surrounding area and the Caribbean Sea. El faro (lighthouse) is open to visitors from Wednesday to Sunday and holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
When visiting this place, be sure to wear sturdy shoes, comfortable and light clothes, and use sunblock. Likewise, carry sufficient water and snacks, as there are no restaurants or kiosks in the area.
The lighthouse’s surroundings are even more attractive than the structure itself as there are impressive limestone cliffs nearby. This is an amazing photo opportunity. But, be careful not to get too close to the edge as there are no safety bars in place.
As a bonus, one of the hiking trails will take you to Cabo Rojo's famous natural stone bridge, a beautiful rock formation that also makes a great photo.
La Playuela Beach (known by locals as Playa Sucia)
This is one of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful and remote beaches, recognized among the best of the Caribbean. It is located very close to Los Morrillos Lighthouse, so you can plan a visit to both attractions on the same day. La Playuela is a crescent shaped beach, with soft white sand, and blue turquoise water. Generally, the waves are gentle, but please be careful if you move to a deeper area given there are no lifeguards on site.
In this paradisiacal beach there are no facilities of any kind, so you must bring drinks, snacks, chairs and umbrellas, and everything you might need to spend a day at the beach. Do not forget to pick up your trash and deposit it in the cans located at the exit of the beach.
La Playuela is very popular among residents of Puerto Rico so during the weekends and holidays it can become very crowded. The recommendation is that you visit during weekdays or arrive early on weekends to ensure you find a spot to park and a space between trees to enjoy the shade.
Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge
The Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge reserve is a subtropical dry forest in the coastal region covering 1,836 acres of land. The refuge, established in 1974 and one of nine reserves managed by the Caribbean Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex (United States Fish and Wildlife Service), is a paradise for people who enjoy hiking and birdwatching. The refuge has been designated as the critical habitat of the yellow-shoulder blackbird and is the first place in the Caribbean to be designated as a site in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.
The Cabo Rojo Salt Flats, whose beautiful pink and red tones contrast with the turquoise color of the Playuela, are also part of the refuge and have been recognized as an important wildlife habitat. The famous salt flats are an interesting stop for visitors. Start at the informative visitor's center, which has a viewing deck, and hiking trails. There are also guided tours available with advance reservation. The visitor's center operates from Thursday to Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cabo Rojo has 28 miles of coastline – the most of any municipality on the island. In this town you will discover 18 beaches, among which Buyé and Combate stand out. Unlike Playuela, these two beaches are more family-friendly and have kiosks or restaurants nearby. In addition, at both beaches you will find equipment rentals, including kayaks and snorkels, beach chairs, and umbrellas. Both beaches are accessible, and the waters are calm, without waves.