Located just over two hours driving from San Juan, Cabo Rojo (pronounced “KAH-bo ro-ho”) is an unforgettable town. Occupying the island’s south-west corner, Cabo Rojo offers miles of pristine coastline, rugged limestone cliffs, a quaint town, excellent gastronomy and many natural wonders. Despite all this, Cabo Rojo inexplicably remains largely unknown to tourists, with the area’s glorious beaches and unique natural wonders seemingly enjoyed mostly by locals.

The area also boasts a fascinating history, with local legend claiming that infamous Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresí buried some of his loot in the area’s coastal caves. Whether or not there’s any truth to this tale, there’s no doubt that Cabo Rojo is a true treasure itself, and the area is just waiting for intrepid travelers to discover its hidden gems.
Get Close to Nature at the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge
You may have heard of Las Salinas, the famous salt flats of Cabo Rojo. The salt flats are only one part of a much greater nature reserve, the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge, which spans 1800 acres . Here, you can experience six ecological systems — the mangrove forest, dry forest, hypersaline lagoons, marine lagoons, seagrass and coral reefs.
Spend some time exploring the numerous hiking and biking trails, which will give you plenty of chances to look for some of the more than 60 species of rare and native birds which make their home in the refug e. You should also visit the striking pink salt flats, which make for a truly unique (and photo-worthy!) experience, especially from the observation tower where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the salt flats and right out to the Caribbean Sea and Los Morrillos Lighthouse. Do not forget to stop by the visitor's center right across from the observation tower, where helpful staff will provide information about the salt flats, local birdlife and more.

While in the area, be sure to visit the quaint fishing village of Boquerón. With its variety of fresh seafood restaurants, you cannot leave this pocket of Cabo Rojo without trying some oysters from the village’s street kiosks. If you come on the weekend, you’ll find this village a hub of activity, with one of the west coast’s most famous beaches, Boquerón Beach, attracting visitors from near and far.
Relax and Play on Magnificent Beaches
One of the loveliest beaches on the west coast, Buyé Beach can be a bit difficult to find — though locals are happy to lead you to it. You can park at Calle Buyé, then follow specific directions to one of the best l ocal beaches in town — some people think they’ve missed it and turn back, but don’t make that mistake! You’ll miss a half mile of light sandy beach accompanied by calm waters of the prettiest shades of blue you can imagine. There are also bathroom facilities and picnic gazebos available, so be sure to bring lunch and cool drinks to make an afternoon of it.

If Buyé is a bit too calm for you, be sure to check out Combate Beach . It is where you go to get away, Combate is where you go to party. During the summer, there are festivals and beach concerts. Almost any weekend, you’ll find a fun crowd with live music, lots of laughter, watersports and friendly people. If you’re looking for accommodation on the water, Combate Beach Resort is right on the beach and this charming parador has won multiple awards for excellent service.

Perhaps the most popular beach in Cabo Rojo is Playa Sucia. Playuela (also known as Playa Sucia) is a true gem of the south-west coast — a crescent of sand coupled with inviting blue waters and limestone cliffs. While you’re here, make time to wander to Faro Los Morrillos . Commonly referred to as “El Faro”, this beloved lighthouse is located at Los Morrillos Peninsula within the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge, and can be found atop an impressive limestone cliff 200 feet above the Caribbean Sea. Built by the Spanish in 1882, the lighthouse is one of the most charming sights in Puerto Rico, and can be viewed from the shores of Playuela for those unwilling to hike up the cliffs for a closer look.
Feast on Fresh Seafood in Joyuda
Joyuda, a small village peeking out from Cabo Rojo, is the place for fresh, local seafood in Puerto Rico. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from on Route 102. Some are located on the pristine water, and you can enjoy a great sunset view while you feast. Try Bamboleio , a small, laid-back restaurant with a house specialty of el pesca’o frito (whole fried fish). And whatever you eat, be sure to have a mojito with it — Bamboleio makes fresh, delicious mojitos in flavors like parcha (passion fruit), ginger and coconut pineapple. At Marty’s Kitchen , you can enjoy a view of Isla Ratones while you eat. They’re open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, and reasonable prices (fresh lobster for under $20) make them quite popular. Specialities include their mofongo, as well as fish stuffed with lobster and whole fish like red snapper and chapin (trunk fish).

Suffice to say, it’s easy to understand why the locals want to keep the secret of Cabo Rojo all to themselves! From the beaches to the cuisine, Cabo Rojo is a special and unique place, and is definitely worth the trip. So, now the secret’s out, it’s time to start planning your adventure on Puerto Rico’s south-west coast. Who knows? Maybe you’ll stumble across Cofresí’s buried treasure while you’re there. In a place as enchanted as this, it just might happen.
Ready to get off the beaten track ? Cabo Rojo is ready to enchant you.