Cabo Rojo

Cabo rojo

 Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Cabo Rojo is located on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. The municipality has an area of 70.4 square miles (182.5 square kilometers) and is nicknamed «Cofresí’s town,» «the hatchetmen,» «Betances» birthplace» and «the capital of internal tourism in Puerto Rico». According to the 2000 census, there were 46,911caborrojeños, residing in Bajura, Boquerón, Cabo Rojo Pueblo, Guanajibo, Llanos Costa, Llanos Tuna,Miradero, Monte Grande, and Pedernales wards.

The geography of this town is characterized by the diversity of its geography, its natural resources, and the diversity of its ecosystems. Its beautiful landscapes include beaches as Combate, Boquerón, Playa Sucia, Puerto Angelino, Joyuda, lagoons (Atolladero, Joyuda, Guaniquilla, and Boquerón Channel), bays (Bramadero, Puerto Real, Boca Prieta, Boquerón, Salinas and Sucia), salt flats, the Boquerón State Forest, and the Bermeja range. These features make this an important destination as well as a site for scientific research in Puerto Rico. The municipality is home to the Cabo Rojo National Fish and Wildlife Reserve,which includes the Salinas Interpretive Center, as well as two marine laboratories located in Punta Arenasand El Combate. Another tourist attraction is the cave used by the legendary pirate Cofresí, where it is said that he hid the booty he stole from the merchant ships that sailed through the region.

As an important tourist center, Cabo Rojo counts with facilities such as the Boquerón Resort Center, the Yatch club, Villa Taína, and the fishing village. There are also many hotels and restaurants that attract many visitors during the summer months, making tourism another important sector in the municipality’s economy.


Cabo Rojo is on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico, bordered on the north by Mayagüez and Hormigueros, on the south by the Caribbean Sea, on the east by the towns of San Germán, Hormigueros and Lajas and on the west by the Mona Channel, in the western coastal plan region. The topography allows for devoting 38 percent of the town’s lands to agriculture, including crops such as watermelon, tomatoes, and green peppers. Elevated areas include Sierra Bermeja, Cordillera Sabana Alta, Monte Grande, and Peñones de Melones. The highest points include Mount Mariquita 988 feet (301.12 meters), Mount Buena Vista 850 feet (259 meters), Mount Vargas 650 feet (198.12 meters) and Mount Conde Avila 394 feet (120 meters).

The Guanajibo, Novillo and Viejo rivers run through the municipality. There is also an irrigation channel, and the waters of Cajul creek, and Boquerón, La Costa, Los Chorros, Formina, Grande, González, Irrizary, Mendoza, Los Pajaritos, La Piedra, Pileta, Las Piñas, Teresa and Zumbón brooks. Lagoons include Atolladero, Joyuda, Guanaquilla and Caño Boquerón. There are many bays –Bramadero, Puerto Real, Boca Prieta, Salinas, and Sucia –and promontories: Guanajibo, Arenas, Ostiones, Carnero, La Mela, Guanaquilla, Moja Casabe, águila, Molino and Pitahaya. The Boqueron bird refuge is located in Boquerón ward. The sanctuary is reinforced by several reforestation projects at the Cabo Rojo Fish and Wildlife National Refuge and MonaIsland. Mangroves are being planted on Mona Island, as well as starting coral reefs, with a view to controlling erosion.

Cabo Rojo owes its name to the sailors who came with Cristopher Columbus when he discovered the island of Puerto Rico on his second voyage. While sailing around the island, on reaching the southwest corner the crew saw the reddish color of the land in the area (today known as Morrillos) and called the area «The Red Capes.» The color was – and is- due to the high concentration of sea salt which began to be exploited commercially in 1511. By 1525 the salt flats of Cabo Rojo were an important part of the economy.

By 1759, Cabo Rojo, which was a part of the chartered town of San Germán, began to separate and form a new town. The settlers justified their intentions by arguing that San Germán was too distant, making it difficult for them to receive the holy sacraments. It was not until December 17, 1771, when King Charles III of Spain issued a royal order creating new towns that Cabo Rojo was able to obtain legal recognition as a town, throug the effort of Nicolás Ramírez de Arellano.

Cabo Rojo was founded under the governorship of Colonel Miguel de Muesas, and the first Lieutenant of the town was Nicolás Ramírez de Arrellano. The site of the town was also the site of a hermitage dedicated to Saint Joseph. Nevertheless, when the settlement legally became a town the patron saint became Saint Michael the Archangel. In the first decade of the town streets were laid out, and a jail, a government house, and a church were built.

In 1900, when civilian government was established under the Foraker Act, Cabo Rojo became a municipality with full powers and autonomy.


The Cabo Rojo flag  was created in 1971. Its colors and symbols are derived from the coat of arms of the town. A red isosceles triangle, edged in white is placed on the left over a blue field.

Coat of Arms
The coat of arms  has a red isosceles triangle over a blue field, with a flaming silver sword at the center. The base of the sword touches the base of the shield, rising vertically to the top of the shield without touching the top edge. The two equal sides of the triangle have a silver border. At either side of the triangle there are two silver anchors, wrapped with gold rope. The point of the triangle symbolizes the red cape seen by Columbus. The flaming sword is the attribute of Saint Michael the Archangel, patron saint of Cabo Rojo, defender of divine justice and exalted virtue of humanity. The anchors represent the surrounding sea, with its ancient ports and inlets, which are well-suited to the deed and exploits of naval wars, the adventures of pirates and corsairs, fishing and sea trade. The main colors of the coat of arms, blue, red and silver (white), are reminiscent of the colors of coat of arms of the Ramírez de Arellano family, the lineage of the founding father of the town, Nicolás Ramírez de Arellano. In turn, the colors also represent the emancipatory ideals of Ramón Emeterio Betances and the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. A three-tower castle crowns the coat of arms, the symbol of a township. The doors, windows and other openings of the crown are red.

Places of interest

• Boquerón Public Beach
• Boquerón State Forest
• Rebekah Colberg Coliseum
• Cofresí Pirate Cave
• Los Morrillos Lighthouse
• Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic Church
• Joyuda Lagoon
• Joyuda gastronomic area
• Cabo Rojo Salt Flats
• Logia Cuna de Betances
• Monument to Ramón Emeterio Betances
• Monument to Salvador Brau
• Monument to Roberto Cofresí Ramírez de Arellano
• Museum of the Founding Fathers
• New Town Hall
• Obelisk
• Beaches (Bramadero, Punta Arena, de Joyuda, Puerto Real, La Mela, Buyé, Los Pozos, El Combate, La Playuela, La Pitahaya)
• Ramón Emeterio Betances Town Square
• Cabo Rojo National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
• Boquerón Wildlife Refuge
• Shoensttat Sanctuary
• Bermeja Ridge

Illustrious Citizens

Ramón Emeterio Betances and Alacán – physician and abolitionist.

Salvador Brau Asencio – historian, playwright, journalist, essayist, and sociologist.

Salvador Carbonell – distinguished physician and Renaissance man. A political figure, he was vice-president of the Autonomist Party and Secretary of the Interior in the autonomis cabinet.

Elisa Colberg – teacher and president of the girl scouts.

Rebekah Colberg – founding figure in women’s sports in Puerto Rico.

Juan Enrique Colberg Petrovich – writer (short stories, essays, and poetry).

Severo E. Colberg Ramírez – political figure who was a member of the House of Representatives (1964 – 1990).

Emilio del Toro Cuebas – Chief Justice of the Puerto Rico court. A man of letters, poet, civic leader, and teacher.

Roberto Cofresí y Ramírez de Arellano – a renowned pirate.

Salvador Mestre y Mora – notable jurist, political figure, autonomist leader, Mason, writer, founder of the newspaper El País.


• Three Kings day festival – January
• Fish Festival – March
• Betances Commemoration– April
• International Triathlon– Summer
• Cabo Rojo Patron Saint’s festival- September
• Lighting of Christmas tree – December



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