Cabo Rojo - Points Southwest
Updated: Dec 14, 2021
Photo - El Faro de Cabo Rojo
After a pleasant week in Fajardo, we guided our meanderings to the southwest corner of the island, Cabo Rojo. The ride from east to west is a nice enough experience, we climbed through mountains, which provided rooftop views of the world and coastline below. Seems at every turn, Puerto Rico would reveal itself in all its raw beauty. The drive, besides other driver's, was uneventful as Puerto Rico has a pretty decent interstate system. The same cannot be said of the driver's here. Turn signals are apparently optional accessories on a vehicle. Drive slowly in the left lane? Sure. Equally slow in the right lane? Regulations, rules? A trifle to be ignored. Liking to drive, it never bothered me, I just went with the flow keeping most of the wayward traffic in my rearview mirror. I like it best that way, the fewer entanglements, the better. Near Cabo Rojo, the multi lane highways end, and it's all two lane black top, that curve, rise and fall continuously, occasionally with Puerto Rico raising the curtain on the supreme beauty of the landscape.
Photo - La Playuela Beach
Cabo Rojo has possibly seen better days. Seems like all shore towns start as "sleepy fishing villages" and Cabo Rojo has not forsaken that ideology. Sure there was a condo building or two, we stayed at one of them, but mostly the housing was semi permanent campgrounds and single level housing. It is quaint here, it is quiet. Time passes slowly. There is not a tremendous amount to pass the time in the immediate area. Being explorers, we never live by that credo. We search it out, we look for it, we chase it down. Cabo Rojo does have a beach in town, El Combate, which makes for days of easy leisure. It's a wide, flat, golden sand beach at the end of Route 3301. It's also a haven for boaters, jet skiers and fishermen. There are a smattering of restaurants nearby, most famously Annie's Place, located at the entrance to the beach. If you stay in Cabo Rojo, you will surely dine here, but there are walkable alternatives, most open from Wednesday thru Sunday, as well as a decently stocked supermarket five minutes away on Route 3301.
Photo - Playuela Beach aka Playa Sucia "Dirty Beach"
As you make your way through this southernmost region of Puerto Rico, a must see during your visit is the El Faro Lighthouse Cabo Rojo. Perched high on a cliff, the lighthouse sits in the very scenic panorama that Puerto Rico is always willing to reveal. It is breathtaking, it is beautiful, it is an ethereal experience. If you wander cliffside to the north of the lighthouse, what lays below your dusty feet as you look down, is a horseshoe shaped gem of a beach. You've arrived at La Playuela or as the locals call it, Playa Sucia, "dirty beach". It is anything but. No need for a beach umbrella, the flora and fauna provide small alcoves of shade, the water is crystal clear and the view to the ocean's horizon will quiet your mind. Feels supreme. The right music, drinks, and food will make for an afternoon or day of pure indulgence. It is sublime.
Photo - Boqueron, Puerto Rico
Further into our search of the Cabo Rojo area, we drove north to Boqueron (15 minutes), a nice little seaside town, lively with shops and restaurants, mostly open Wednesday thru Sunday. You'll find some of the best eating in the Cabo Rojo area in Boqueron. If you visit Boqueron, take advantage of a beach close by, Playa Buye. It's a lively shore diversion, with expansive views, but be wary, it does get crowded on the weekends, if you just happen to be people-phobic. It would be a mistake if I didn't talk about the food. Outside of Puerto Rican cuisine, you might feel as if you are in a food desert. I kid you not, the offerings are few outside of "everything" being deep fried and pork. I would highly advise finding roadside eateries (the famed lechoneras), as they are very good (maybe even some of the best food you will find, delivering you from evil) and better than a lot of the restaurants that seem to put little effort into actual cooking. During one of our scavenger missions for decent eats, we located a southern BBQ place called Coco Loco. Beg, borrow or steal (or just drive there), but get there. Nancy the owner is a carnival ride of joy, and her southern smoked meats, which she learned from a mysterious man from Alabama, hits you squarely in your soul. Alcohol is not served on premises, but you can bring your own. Napkin use is a priority, as sauces and succulent flavor will paint your lips and taste buds equally.
Photo - Coco Loco BBQ, Boqueron, Puerto Rico