Playa Peña, a wonderful surprise just a few minute’s walk from Old San Juan. For many years there was no beach in Old San Juan. City workers and volunteers cleaned up this beach and gave locals and visitors easy access to it. It’s perfect for those needing a little escape from the hustle of the city just a few steps away. Peña translates to rock, and the name is descriptive of the beach due to all the rocks along the shore which gives it so much character.
Access to Playa Peña is right across from El Capitolio (Capitol Building), you’ll see the steps to the right of the San Juan Bautista statue. This beach is not crowded. Most visitors that want beach time stay at the beach resort areas of Condado, Ocean Park, and Isla Verde, so you may find yourself sharing this beach with just a few other people – giving you a more relaxed natural experience.
If you were to walk east of the steps, you will get to some ruins and find sea glass along the shore. The left side is nicer (in the summer months) and when the tide is low.
Please Note: You´ll want to immediately claim your spot and jump in the clear waters, but please enjoy this beach with care. Depending on the conditions, strong currents could take you right out into the open water, the riptide and undertow can be very dangerous. There are no lifeguards at this beach. Use the beach at your own risk, not recommended for children. The water is best for swimming during the summer months, the water is crystal clear, warm and the views of the fort from the water make this beach a unique place.
We’ll start our online photo tour by walking to the west end of the beach, where you´ll find a beautiful scenic corner perfect for relaxation and watching the waves. At high tide it may not be possible to use the beach on the west end, the water comes all the way out to the wall.
When you walk all the way to the end, you’ll find this breathtaking spot. The waters run like a stream, and the bottom is rocky with smooth pebbles in white, red, black, and brown. The water is from 6 inches to about 1.5 feet deep (changes with the tide). There are schools of tiny fish – perfect for kids. There’s an opening to the ocean protected by a wall of rocks that allows fresh flowing water to come in. Keep yourself and your children away from that spot for your protection.
This spot is really beautiful… below is a couple looking for sea glass at the bottom. When the tide is low, this is a wonderful spot to watch the water flow into this natural pool.
Here you don’t hear the sounds of the city…only ocean waves crashing in.
Water coming in across the rock wall…creates a safer spot for enjoying the water.
Getting to Peña Beach -San Juan, Puerto Rico
If you’re staying in Old San Juan, the easiest and most convenient way to get to this beach is by taking the free trolley. Get off at the Capitol Building stop (18A). Right across from the Capitol Building, you’ll see a statue of San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist) and a stairway to the right leading down to this beautiful and unique beach. Purchase a cooler bag, bring your favorite drinks, plenty of sunscreen lotion, and a towel. Hop on the trolley and enjoy a great beach day in Old San Juan.
Safety at Playa Peña
The sandy area is not easily seen from the road, so it does feel a bit isolated. I was told that the police/ security patrol nearby walks and take a peek down from above. Although Old San Juan is considered a very safe area, common sense should always be practiced when you travel as you would in any other city.
As mentioned earlier, there are no lifeguards at this beach, so use the beach at your own risk and parents keep an eye on your children at all times. In case of an emergency call 911 and walk up the steps. There are police patrolling the area all day just across the street.