Playa Peña

Puerto Rico




Old San Juan’s Only Beach

Pity that so many tourists roam the cobbled streets of Old San Juan, unaware that a tiny slice of beach heaven lies just steps away. Playa Peña isn’t exactly a secret beach — it appears on Google Maps, after all — but chances are that if you ask locals for directions, even they won’t know where to point you. Those willing to look for it will be rewarded with an oceanfront pit stop along a secluded, rocky stretch.

Finding Paradise

Also called Playa Capitolio, this beach is located across from the dominating Capitol building, listed on U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Follow Calle San Francisco, which borders the San Cristobal fort, until you reach a plaza honoring Saint John the Baptist. From there, find the staircase leading down to the beach. You’ll have sweeping views of the Atlantic’s strong waves crashing ashore.

Since this stretch is not maintained like some other public beaches in San Juan, you won’t find bathrooms, lifeguards, parking or any other facilities. Swim at your own risk, and keep an eye on your belongings.

Relax and Refuel

When you’re ready to venture back to Old San Juan for a snack or refreshment, check out the restaurants clustered around Plaza Colón, including highly rated Café Berlin, with many international and vegetarian options.

Caficultura is another popular spot that serves a mean café con leche and a tasty Mallorca, a grilled sweet bread sandwich with cheese and powdered sugar.

Playa Peña at a Glance

City:Old San Juan

Country or State:Puerto Rico

Length of Beach:500 feet

Access:By car or on foot

Best time to visit:Late summer/early fall

High Season:Dec. to April

Low Season:May to November


  • Restaurants and bars a short walk away in Old San Juan

Beach Type:

  • Golden sand
  • Saltwater
  • Secluded