The author Vanessa Ramos, posing in front of the purple exterior of lighthouse, one of the best attractions when going from San Juan to Cabo Rojo

San Juan to Cabo Rojo in 2023 (5 Best Ways to Go, By a Local)

Cabo Rojo is on every traveler’s must-visit list, but figuring out how to get from San Juan to Cabo Rojo can be a bit nerve-racking if you’re new to Puerto Rico.

But don’t give up on visiting one of the best Puerto Rico destinations, and one of my personal favorites! Getting from San Juan to Cabo Rojo is simpler than it seems, and as a Puerto Rico local, I’ll tell you all of the best options to get there. Let’s dive in!

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5 Ways to Go From San Juan to Cabo Rojo

There are multiple ways to get from San Juan to Cabo Rojo. The most common way to reach and explore all of Cabo Rojo’s attractions is by driving there. 

To be frank, renting a car is the easiest transportation method. However, travelers will find other options including private shuttles, taxis, and taking an airplane to a nearby airport. Let’s look in detail at each of these options.

From San Juan to Cabo Rojo By Car

🚍 Best for: saving time, comfort, freedom to explore
💵 Cost: $$
👉 Where to Book: Discover Cars

View of the parked vehicles and a mural at Poblado Boquerón in Cabo Rojo
Poblado Boquerón in Cabo Rojo

Getting from San Juan to Cabo Rojo by car is the best and often cheapest way to move between these cities. Cabo Rojo is located on Puerto Rico’s southwest coast.

A rental car is the best transportation method if you’re looking for flexibility to complete your Puerto Rico itinerary. It’s also one of the budget-friendly options in the long term.

Renting a car in Puerto Rico is simple if you have a license and insurance. The traffic system is similar to the United States, so US travelers will get around Puerto Rico without trouble. 

 Pros of Renting a Car: 

  • Flexibility to explore
  • Direct travel from San Juan
  • Saving time and money
  • Comfort while traveling

Cons of Renting a Car: 

  • Driving in a foreign country
  • Getting lost
  • Having to find parking
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From San Juan to Cabo Rojo By Private Shuttle or Taxi

🚍 Best for: saving time, comfort
💵 Cost: $$-$$$
👉 Where to Book: Viator, Go Puerto Rico Shuttle, Mayaguez Taxi Service, Taxi Isla

A white tour bus in San Juan, Puerto Rico
(photo: RaksyBH / Shutterstock)

Private shuttles and taxis are one of the pricier options to get from San Juan to Cabo Rojo. Still, they are one of the best alternatives if you’re anxious about driving in a foreign country for a long road distance. It’s also possible to fit a large group on a trip, as many of these private shuttles are buses and vans. 

With a shuttle, you get to see the landscape as you ride in the passenger seat. Contrary to other options like flying into Cabo Rojo, private shuttles and taxis are also more flexible in pick-up and drop-off hours. Not all taxis make the long trip from San Juan to Cabo Rojo, but those that do will charge a hefty amount for it.

Pros of a Private Shuttle Bus or Taxi: 

  • Flexibility Pick-up and drop-off
  • Fits large groups
  • Stress-free ride
  • No extra stops

Cons of Private Shuttle Bus or Taxi: 

  • Pricey
  • Figuring out transportation method at the destination
  • Limited availability
  • Lack of flexibility in exploring

From San Juan to Cabo Rojo By Airplane and Taxi

🚍 Best for: saving time, comfort
💵 Cost: $$- $$$
👉 Where to Book: Kayak, Expedia, Cape Air, White Taxi Cab Corp, Mayaguez Taxi Service

A Cape Air plane ready for take off
A Cape Air flight takes off (photo: eddtoro / Shutterstock)

Although going from San Juan to Cabo Rojo by airplane can be the most expensive transportation method, it’s the best for travelers that would like to save time and avoid driving. 

The closest airport to Cabo Rojo that airlines fly into is Aeropuerto Eugenio María de Hostos in Mayagüez, which is about half an hour away from Cabo Rojo’s town center. 

Once you reach the airport, you have to either take a taxi to Cabo Rojo or rent a car. Depending on when you buy them, you could pay less for airplane tickets than for a private shuttle from San Juan.

Pros of Airplane and Taxi: 

  • Time-saving
  • Less driving time
  • Saving time and money
  • Flights cost similar to a shuttle

Cons of Airplane and Taxi: 

  • Using more than one transportation method
  • Occasionally pricey
  • Limited flight availability
  • Not enough flexibility to explore
  • Lack of public transportation in Cabo Rojo

From San Juan to Cabo Rojo By Bus and Taxi

🚍 Best for: saving money by not driving
💵 Cost: $$
👉 Where to Book: Linea Sultana, White Taxi Cab Corp, Mayaguez Taxi Service, Taxi Isla

Closeup view of a white taxi in Puerto Rico
Taxis in Puerto Rico are usually white

Another way to get from San Juan to Cabo Rojo is by taking the La Sultana Bus Line to Mayagüez. 

This bus makes multiple daily trips from the San Juan airport to Mayagüez’s town center for $35, but you have to make a reservation. 

From there, you can rent a car or take a taxi to Cabo Rojo.

Pros of Bus and Taxi: 

  • Cheaper than a private shuttle
  • Stress-free ride
  • Airport pickup
  • Daily trips

Cons of Bus and Taxi: 

  • Using more than one transportation method
  • Not enough flexibility to explore
  • Lack of public transportation in Cabo Rojo

From San Juan to Cabo Rojo By Tour

🚍 Best for: comfort, limited-time
💵 Cost: $$
👉 Where to Book: Viator, Get Your Guide, West Side Destination

A group of people smiling for a photo
Group Tour to Cabo Rojo with West Side Destination (Photo Credit: Fareharbor)

Even if you just have a few days on your Puerto Rico itinerary, Cabo Rojo can still be part of your itinerary. You can book a tour to the west of the island. 

Most of these day-trip tours make multiple stops on the southwest coast so you get to see other municipalities too. Tours offer the benefit of a guided experience during which you can learn about culture, customs, and Puerto Rico’s nature.

Pros of Tours: 

  • Stress-free ride
  • Inside information on destinations
  • Safety isn’t a concern
  • No planning needed on your side
  • Fit multiple destinations in a limited time

Cons of Tours: 

  • Limited flexibility
  • Can be pricey
  • Limited offer

11 Tips For Getting Between San Juan and Cabo Rojo

Rent a Car

View of the Pink Salt Flats from the car window
Me driving next to the Pink Salt Flats

Although going from San Juan to Cabo Rojo without a rental car is not entirely impossible, it’s often impractical.

You’ll find that renting a car is the best way to stay flexible and explore at your own pace when spending multiple days experiencing the best things to do in Cabo Rojo and Cabo Rojo beaches. It will also save you time and money in the long run, as taxi fees and shuttle fees can add up quickly.

Take a Tour

For those who just want to see the Cabo Rojo highlights – including its beaches, historic sugar mill ruins, and lighthouse, a tour might be the best option.

A tour allows you to get a glimpse of Cabo Rojo without worrying about driving or getting lost. It also comes with lots of information on the sites you’re visiting. Check out this tour of the best highlights of Cabo Rojo.

Avoid the Peak Hour

A white tour bus in San Juan, Puerto Rico
A common Puerto Rico bus (photo: RaksyBH / Shutterstock)

The trip from San Juan to Cabo Rojo is long and takes over two hours. However, if you drive during peak rush hour, around five and six in the afternoon, the trip can be even longer. This is the time when locals are leaving their jobs. If you’re visiting Cabo Rojo, drive early in the morning or at night.

Take The Highway

Overlooking view of the vehicles on the highway in San Juan
Vehicles on the highway in San Juan (photo: Christian Ouellet / Shutterstock)

If time is of the essence on your trip, then take the highway to your destination. The highway is the fastest route to Cabo Rojo, and even if you’re planning on making stops, you should always get back on the highway after you’re done. 

It’s easy to get lost if you adventure into the mountainous interior.

Stop On Your Way

The author Vanessa Ramos, overlooking the pond around the pavilion of Japanese Garden in Ponce
Me in Ponce’s Japanese Garden en route to Cabo Rojo

For those of you planning to rent a car in Puerto Rico, make stops on your way to Cabo Rojo to appreciate the view and rest. The best route is usually the 52 Highway through the south coast.

You have to go through Ponce from San Juan on your way to Cabo Rojo. So you might as well stop at Ponce’s attractions. Alternatively, you could explore one of Puerto Rico’s bio bays in Lajas.

Download Maps Offline

View of the parked cars at Cabo Rojo's wildlife refuge
You can lose signal inside the wildlife refuge, in Cabo Rojo

While driving around Puerto Rico, it’s not unusual to come across dead-signal zones. If you’re exploring on your own, download a version of maps offline to stay oriented. 

Take the Opposite Route 

Aerial view of the calm ocean water in Cueva del Indio in Arecibo at sunset
You can stop at Cueva del Indio in Arecibo

If you’re returning to San Juan, drive through the opposite route you took to come into Cabo Rojo. Usually, travelers come and leave Cabo Rojo through the south coast. 

Although it’s a longer route, if you take the north route while returning to San Juan, you’ll be able to check out Aguadilla and Manatí, some of the best places to visit in Puerto Rico.

Arrive Early

Exploring all of Cabo Rojo’s attractions in a day is impossible. But, if you’re only doing a San Juan day trip, it’s best to arrive early at Cabo Rojo. That way you can cover the most popular attractions in the municipality including restaurants, hiking trails, beaches, and reserves.

Watch Out For Tolls

View of the cars passing by the electronic tolls in Puerto Rico
Electronic tolls in Puerto Rico

The company that manages the tolls in Puerto Rico is called Autoexpreso. If you’re renting a car, make sure to ask if the toll balance is covered by the rental company or if you would have to pay tolls. That way, the toll balance won’t take you by surprise at the end of your trip.

Book Your Tickets in Advance

If you’re taking an airplane from San Juan, Puerto Rico, or using Línea Sultana to arrive at Cabo Rojo, make reservations in advance. Since there aren’t many airlines or buses to Cabo Rojo, spaces run out quickly. Secure your trip by booking with plenty of time.

Pack For Every Experience

The author Vanessa Ramos, admiring the view at Cabo Rojo’s Wildlife Refuge
Me in Cabo Rojo’s Wildlife Refuge

Whether you’re taking a day trip or a weekend trip, make sure your Puerto Rico packing list matches your to-do list in Cabo Rojo. If you’re planning on beach hopping, bring along sunscreen, hats, and waterproof pouches like the HEETA Waterproof Dry Bag

While packing beach chairs might be hard, you can always bring cash to rent one on-site. Hikers going to the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge must wear comfortable shoes to reach the refuge’s best viewpoints of the Atlantic Ocean.

FAQs About Going From San Juan to Cabo Rojo

How far is San Juan from Cabo Rojo?

Cabo Rojo is 2 hours and 30 minutes away from San Juan. Cabo Rojo is on the farthest southwest point in Puerto Rico. It’s also the farthest place travelers can visit within Puerto Rico if they are staying in San Juan.

How do I get to Cabo Rojo?

The best way to get to Cabo Rojo is by car or private shuttle. There isn’t direct public transportation from San Juan, so travelers that would like to visit the town in the southwest would need to either rent a car, book a private shuttle, or combine transportation methods such as flying into Mayagüez and taking a taxi from there to Cabo Rojo.

What airport do you fly into for Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico?

The closest airport to fly into to visit Cabo Rojo is the Eugenio María de Hostos (MAZ) in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. The airport is 22.6 km from Cabo Rojo’s downtown, and the ride takes 30 minutes. The Rafael Hernández International Airport in Aguadilla and the Mercedita International Airport in Ponce are an hour away from Cabo Rojo. You would need to rent a car, take a taxi, or book a shuttle to Cabo Rojo from the three airports.

Is Ponce PR worth visiting?

Ponce PR is worth visiting from Cabo Rojo. Ponce is just an hour away from Cabo Rojo, and it has museums, beaches, and iconic landmarks like Parque de Bombas. It’s also home to one of the few historical indigenous settlements in Puerto Rico, the Tibes Ceremonial Park.

Map of How to Get Between San Juan and Cabo Rojo


Now you know the best ways to go from San Juan to Cabo Rojo! If you don’t know yet what to do in the area, check out all the fun activities to do in Cabo Rojo. Safe travels!

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