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Introducing Cabo Rojo

Cabo Rojo (Red Cape) is the name of both a small administrative town (10 miles south of Mayagüez and 8 miles west of San Germán) and the wider municipality that surrounds it. To add to the confusion, it is also the name used to describe the rugged coastline that constitutes Puerto Rico’s extreme and rarely traveled southwestern tip. Got it?

Characterized by rust-red limestone cliffs that fall precipitously away into the ocean, the region is dominated by the Faro de Cabo Rojo (Red Cape Lighthouse), which sits atop a wild and windswept promontory surrounded by coastal mangroves, dry cacti and crystalline salt pans.

Busy Hwy 2 cuts inland between Mayagüez and Yauco, leaving this rather isolated corner of the island refreshingly untrammeled. There’s an extensive patchwork of wildlife refuges here along with a quiet network of country roads that make for excellent cycling. Closer to the lighthouse you’ll find trails, extensive salt pans and the bejeweled Playuela Beach. In-the-know locals will tell you in surreptitious whispers that this is one of the island’s best stretches of sand.

The comparatively underwhelming Cabo Rojo municipality incorporates the settlements of Boquerón, El Combate, Playa de Joyuda and Cabo Rojo (El Pueblo), which lies 10 miles north of the eponymous cape. There’s little to see in the town today aside from a small museum dedicated to local heroes such as Ramón Emeterio Betances, the father of Puerto Rico’s independence movement, and Roberto Confresí, a once notorious local pirate. The best selection of accommodations lie in Boquerón and the best restaurants in Joyuda.