- A detailed guide on completing the Cayo Perico Heist on hard mode, solo, in GTA Online.
- We cover key preparations and the strategy you'll need to successfully complete the heist.
- Discover our tactics around targeting, escaping, and completion.
In my numerous playthroughs, I've explored every aspect of the Cayo Perico Heist Finale and its hard mode. Here's my comprehensive guide based on my experiences. You can get the Cayo Perico heist's hard mode if you set up the heist within 48 minutes (real-time) of Pavel sending you a message to start the heist again.
If you wait for more than 48 minutes, the heist difficulty will switch to normal. The value of the primary target is increased by 10% in Hard Mode. If you complete the elite challenge, the reward is GTA$100,000 instead of the standard GTA$50,000. The primary targets change every time you do the heist after your first ever heist, where you are tasked to retrieve the Madrazo Files.
While the Cayo Perico heist is a go-to method for solo players to make millions, it was nerfed as a money making method after the GTA Online: Criminal Enterprise update in July 2022. Rockstar adjusted the cooldown time and primary target probabilities when you are doing a solo playthrough of the heist.
With the aforementioned nerf, solo players must wait for 3 in-game days before they can do another heist. In addition, if a solo player gets a high-value primary target in one heist, they will have a lower chance of getting a high-value primary target again for the next 72 hours (real-world time).
On September 28, 2023, Rockstar Games also implemented fresh nerfs to the Cayo Perico heist, resulting in a substantial 30% reduction in payouts. In addition, the setup cost has skyrocketed from $25K to a staggering $100K. These changes have all been reflected in the 'Primary Target' payout section below.
There are five different primary targets you can get, each holding a different value. The primary targets and their values are as follows:
|Primary Targets||Value (Normal)||Value (Hard Mode)|
Something important to note here is that once the heist is over, there are two additional fees - fencing fees (10% of the primary and secondary take combined) and Pavel's cut (2% of the primary and secondary take combined).
During our Hard Mode playthrough of the Cayo Perico heist, the primary target turned out to be the Sinsimito Tequila worth GTA$693,000. Below, we have a complete guide on how you can complete the heist on Hard Mode while completing the Elite Challenge.
A tip from me: I often change my primary target by canceling the current heist and setting up a new one. Here's how I do it: call Pavel when you are not inside your Kosatka submarine. Once canceled, wait for Pavel's call asking you to set up a new Cayo Perico heist and head to your submarine to do so. Note that if you had Hard Mode active, it would be gone, and starting a new one will revert the difficulty to Normal. You don't have to worry about the setup cost as the cost is refunded once you cancel the heist.
You do not have to complete all the prep missions. You just need to complete the prep missions necessary for this sneaky approach along with the mandatory prep missions, of course. If you're looking for a complete list of prep missions, then feel free to check out our complete in-depth guide on all the missions here. Here's everything you need for the completion of this heist finale.
You need to complete the Submarine Kosatka prep mission for the vehicle approach, a mandatory prep mission.
When it comes to equipment, two of the equipment prep missions are always going to be mandatory - Fingerprint Cloner and either Plasma Cutter or the Safe Codes (depending on what your primary target is). These must be completed.
Then you're left with a choice to either do Demolition Charges or Cutting Torch. It is best to go with the Cutting Torch as not only does it have easier prep missions, but it is also much faster and silent when it comes to cutting the locks.
When it comes to the weapons loadout, I personally prefer the 'Crack Shot' loadout. From my experience, it's the best for sneaking in and out. It has an AP Pistol and a Sniper Rifle. This is the best loadout if you want to sneak in and out.
The AP Pistol is a mini-SMG in the form of a pistol. It is a reliable weapon not just in this heist but in GTA Online in general. Plus, you also get a Sniper Rifle that will allow you to take down enemies at range, especially the ones patrolling in Sniper towers (if needed).
The most important thing you need to buy in the weapons loadout is the suppressors for your weapons. This will suppress your shots when eliminating guards. You must get these. The suppressors cost GTA$5,000.
That is everything you need to do for this heist finale. You can skip the disruption missions and other optional missions.
To make sure you fill your loot bag fully, you need to scope out some secondary targets at the main docks. The Main docks will be your primary escape point used during this heist finale. You need to scope out just two locations at the main docks: the big shed and the small locked room to the main dock's right.
If you've done the above prep missions, you should be able to choose the following during your heist finale screen.
- Approach Vehicle: Kosatka
- Infiltration Point: Drainage Tunnel
- Compound Entry Point: Drainage Tunnel
- Escape Point: Main Dock
- Time Of Day: Night
- Weapons Loadout: Crack Shot and Suppressors
The approach vehicle is acquired by doing the Submarine Kosatka prep mission. The infiltration point, compound entry point, and escape point are unlocked by scoping out certain locations on the island. If you do not see the drainage tunnel and the main dock as your infiltration point/compound entry point and escape points, respectively, then chances are you haven't scoped out the locations.
The drainage tunnel is underwater behind El Rubio's compound. You need to swim to the location shown in the map below to scope out the drainage tunnel successfully.
For the main dock escape point, you need to take a picture of the main dock and send it to Pavel.
You can find all the scope out locations on our dedicated guide here.
The Heist Finale
When you start the heist, you will be underwater with a diving suit. You need to swim to the drainage tunnel and cut open the grate using your cutting torch to enter the main compound. Be careful of the underwater mines.
When you go through to the end of the drainage tunnel, a short cutscene of you entering the compound will play. Once the cutscene ends, go right and keep going straight and up the stairs until you reach the two guards standing at the end of the walkway.
Take out both the guards silently and remember to aim for the head. The guards always take a second to react, so you will have plenty of time to take both of them out without alerting either one of them. Continue moving forward, and once you pass through the archway, go through the grass patio and jump over the small wall.
You will see a guard right in front of you. Make sure you take him out and remember NOT to kill him when he is in the cone of vision of one of the cameras in this area. This guard will be patrolling this area back and forth so he can be anywhere in this area. Keep an eye out for him.
One of the guards might drop the gate keys. The drop is completely random, but there is a high chance for one of the eliminated guards to drop the key. The guard that we just killed (in the images above) drops the gate keys. If they do, take the keys as they will help later on to make your escape more convenient. Even if you don't get the keys, don't worry though, you can still escape!
Do not continue moving forward towards the archway straight ahead of you. Instead, take a left and go up the stairs. Before going up, aim at the guard standing right above you and take him out.
After killing the guard, make your way up the stairs and then another set of stairs leading up to El Rubio's main office. On your way up, there will be another guard coming down the stairs. You can quickly take him out by meleeing him.
When you enter the office, get the elevator keycard off the table and approach the wall with the pictures to the left of the fireplace. You will get a prompt to open up the secret safe here. It contains some extra cash (added to the total take), a medkit, and a pistol. If you get paintings as secondary targets inside the office during your scope out, then make sure you loot them as well.
Make your way to the elevator in the room and start the fingerprint cloning process. The fingerprint clone hacking process isn't just a matching process, but I realized it has a fixed pattern every time. The trick I learned is to change all the components to match the clone target's top component first.
Then, starting from the top, change the component position to the right with an increasing increment of one for each component as you go down. You don't even have to look at the rest of the fingerprint patterns on the clone target.
The above image shows the number of times you need to turn right on each pattern once you are on the topmost pattern. 0 means you won't turn right at all, and 1 means you turn to the right once, and so on. Do the same with all of the patterns, and you will be able to do them quickly. When you are left with one component, scroll through quickly, and it will start processing as soon as you land on the correct one.
When you reach the underground vault, cut open the lock using your cutting torch and use the plasma cutter to cut the glass exhibit holding the primary target. In our case, it was the Sinsimito Tequila.
After looting the primary target, make your way back to the elevator and the office. Go back downstairs and turn right.
With Gate Keys
At the end of the walkway, if you have the gate keys, turn left towards the archway and take out the guard standing by the locked gate. This guard is always patrolling this general area and might not always be in this specific spot, but, he eventually comes here. You will also find another guard just outside the locked gate. Take him out as well.
After eliminating both these guards, unlock the door and go through it. You will find one more guard in front of the main compound gate. Take him out and exit via the main gate. When you reach the main gate, a short cutscene of you opening the gate and escaping the compound will play.
Without Gate Keys
In case you do not find any gate keys, do not worry. Instead of turning left towards the locked gate, jump over and go up the stairs to reach the same gate top escape.
Once you're outside the compound, run toward the main exit and you will find a single guard standing by a bike. Take him out, get the bike, and continue to ride towards the main exit. You will find another single guard just before two more guards ahead of him. Take this guard out as well.
Take out the other two guards, that were ahead of the previous one, and continue to ride towards the exit. You will find a security camera at the main exit point. Shoot it using your pistol and ride away.
Continue to ride on the main dirt road until you see a metal barrier to your right. As soon as you see it, get off the dirt road and turn right off-road, into the grassy mountain. Continue to ride off-road until you reach the main docks.
When you reach the main docks, go to the big shed to the left. Before proceeding, take out the guard standing by it. There is also a security camera above it, but you won't have a problem if you stick close to the camera.
Get inside the shed, unlock the doors using your cutting torch and loot both the tables (whether it's for cash or drugs).
When you get out of the shed after looting the secondary targets, make your way to the right side of the docks. As you're making your way there, you might run into another guard who will instantly detect you. So be ready to take him out as quickly as you can or else he will shoot at you and alert the rest of the guards around you. Take him out and continue to make your way to the second locked gate with the secondary targets. Remember, we need to fill our loot bag for the completion of the elite challenge. There will be another guard standing on the left side of the gate. Take him out as well.
Open the locked gate and aim for the drugs first, as they hold more value, and will fill your loot bag quicker. Your bag will probably be filled before you can clean up these tables.
Now make your way to the boat at the main docks for your escape. There will be two guards standing on the right side of the boat. Line up your aim and take them both out by aiming at their heads. After taking them out, get into your boat.
There is another guard to your left. Take him out as well, and then drive your boat towards the open ocean.
As you're exiting the main docks, you will find another guard standing by the crane. Take him out as well, and then make your way to the open ocean. Avoid the patrolling boats and keep driving away from the docks until the heist completion cutscene plays.
The following is the summary of the Cayo Perico Heist payout and additional fees such as fencing & Pavel's cut (note that the summary below is prior to the September 28, 2024 Cayo Perico payout nerfs):
Cayo Perico Solo Meta Route
I've tried speedrunning the Cayo Perico Island heist multiple times. If you're interested, here's my "meta" route that I've found to be the most efficient, letting you complete the heist with the maximum possible loot as a solo player. Feel free to check out our video above, showing the complete Elite Challenge completion route. With this route, you can complete the Cayo Perico heist within 7-8 minutes.
The finale prep remains the same for this route, but you must select Aggressor loadout with Suppressors on. This route utilizes the door glitch to maximize earnings. But if it isn't your cup of tea, you may skip the glitch part and continue with the route to get the primary target and escape.
When you spawn inside the compound, go up the stairs to your left and eliminate the guard ahead of you. The goal is to eliminate only a few guards on this route to get the keys. Do not mistake keycards for keys. The key distinction is that keycards have a key icon inside a rectangular shape, while the keys do not.
If the guard drops the key, all good. Grab it and go left and straight along the railing and under the archway.
When you reach the end of the railings, turn left and go past the circular plant decor in the middle and right, up a small set of stairs.
You will find a guard and a camera here. First, shoot the camera and then the guard.
Fortunately, this guard dropped the key for us.
After that, quickly return to the stairs leading to El Rubio's office.
Before going up, eliminate the guard to your right while he is near the gate.
Then eliminate the guard at the bottom of the stairs.
Continue moving up, but eliminate the last guard walking down the stairs. You can usually melee him, but it sometimes triggers the alarm. It is best to wait for him by the stairs and eliminate him with a headshot.
Go inside El Rubio's office and interact with the painting on the wall to the left of the fireplace to open up a secret safe. The amount in the safe is random and can vary between $20K and $100K. What you get is always random.
Now, you can skip this part if you'd like, but to maximize your profit, perform this door glitch to grab the money locked inside a small building below El Rubio's office.
Go down two sets of stairs and switch to First Person mode.
While in first-person mode, jump over the railing and get back up.
Now, you are in a glitched state. You can control your camera with A and D on the PC and the left analog stick on consoles, while in the glitched state. Do not sprint, or you will revert to your normal state.
Jump over the bushes and go into the corner of the railing connecting with the building.
Now, jump on the railing while facing the corner (diagonally) and hold forward and right to glitch into the building. On PC, the buttons are W and D pressed simultaneously. On consoles, you jump up and look right with your left analog stick to enter.
If you look too much to the right, you can turn left (using A or moving your left analog stick to left) to compensate for it. Please refer to our route video to get a visual reference.
Once inside, the assets will be invisible, but you will get a prompt to start looting at the top left corner of your screen, making everything visible again.
A Juggernaut will pass by you eventually, so ensure you are not in front of the window when he is nearby. But, if you've followed this guide, you will have plenty of time to loot inside and fill up your bag.
Do not leave before you've looted everything you possibly can, as you won't be able to re-enter the building without repeating the glitch. The door remains locked once you're outside. This was not the case before, but it has since been patched.
When you see the Juggernaut pass by the building door, go outside and eliminate him with two shotgun shots. Now we're ready to move on to the primary target.
Exiting the secondary targets building, you will see a railing directly ahead.
Jump over it and open the locked gate at the bottom.
Go inside, and you will find a locked door that can be hacked using a fingerprint cloner.
Open it and get your primary target as you usually would.
After that, exit the area via the same route you came in from. However, as soon as you're out, you can jump up to your left and run for the exit.
Stand at the top of the stairs, face the railing, and jump to grab and mantle over it.
The exit will be directly ahead, but with some guards. One of the guards will be patrolling the gate. Wait for him to go left, then run for the yellow highlighted area. Do not forget to press the interact button to exit, or it won't work. That is the E button on PC and the right d-pad on controllers.
When you're out, eliminate the guard standing with a bike and grab his bike.
You do not have to go through your chosen escape point. Drive southwest towards the sea and jump.
When you're in the water, keep swimming until you get an ending cutscene in order to complete the heist.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to make Cayo Perico heist into hard mode?
To do the Cayo Perico heist in hard mode, you need to set the heist up within 48 minutes (in real time) after receiving the message from Pavel. Doing so will transition the heist from normal mode to hard mode.
What is the Cayo Perico heist (hard mode) cooldown?
After completing the Cayo Perico heist in hard mode, you must wait for 3 in-game days to pass before you can start another heist. This is equivalent to 144 minutes or 2 hours and 24 minutes in real-time. This new cooldown period was introduced with the GTA Online: Criminal Enterprise update.
What is the Cayo Perico heist (hard mode) payout?
In the hard mode of the Cayo Perico heist you get a 10% bonus increase in the value of the primary target. This means that the payout for successfully completing the heist in hard mode will be higher compared to normal mode.
Why do I keep getting detected as I am leaving the dungeon?
This is a common bug referred to as the "infinite vision cone" bug where one of the guards will have infinite vision range. So, no matter where you are on the map, you will get detected. If this happens. restart your heist. Unfortunately, there is no work around for this bug.