John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo. ((courtesy Bob Krist, Florida Keys News Bureau))

Content by Wildernet
The park is named for the late John D. Pennekamp, a Miami newspaper editor, whose efforts contributed to the establishment of Everglades National Park and the preservation of what would become John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

The park extends 3 miles into the Atlantic Ocean and is approximately 25 miles in length. These areas were established to protect and preserve a portion of the only living coral reef in the continental United States.

The park contains a wide variety of tropical vegetation, shore birds and marine life. While the mangrove swamps and tropical hammocks offer visitors a unique and interesting experience, it is the coral formations and associated marine life that most park visitors come to enjoy. The coral reefs at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park are among the most beautiful and diverse of all living communities.

Like the tropical rain forest, the coral reef community is extremely diverse. Living among the corals are sponges, shrimps, crabs, turtles, lobsters, and nearly 600 species of fish. Touching or standing on corals may kill them and is therefore prohibited.

Scuba diving and snorkeling are the most popular attractions at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Two beaches, several picnic areas, campground, fishing, wildlife viewing, swimming, canoe trails, and more are popular year-round. Touring the visitor center upon arrival is a great way to orient yourself to the park; highest visitations occurs from late fall to early spring. A private concessionaire within the park offers glassbottom boat tours, and snorkeling expeditions with over 30 years experience. The newest addition is the sailing catamaran. It is the ultimate in a smooth and relaxed ride with a passenger capacity of only 24 making it ideal for those who are looking for a quieter, more relaxed reef adventure.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located at Mile Marker 102.5, north of Key Largo in the Florida Keys.

Southern Florida lies within a subtropical climate. It is usually hot and humid in the summer with brief afternoon thundershowers. It is not unusual for temperatures to exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit with averages reaching above 83 degrees Fahrenheit (above 29 Celsius). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging above 64 degrees Fahrenheit (above 18 Celsius). The average precipitation for the southeast area is more than 60 inches per year. The powerful rays of the sun make it a good idea to wear hats and sunglasses along with using a SPF-15 (or above) sunscreen when planning outdoor activities.

P.O. Box 487
Key Largo, FL 33037

Phone: 305-451-1202

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Expert Review of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Family Review of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Away Travel Expert: Candyce H. Stapen
FamilyExpert Rating 5.0 out of 5 Recommended for:
Children of all ages
FamilyExpert Tips & Helpful Hints
  • Young kids like the glass-bottom boat tours
  • There are beginner snorkeling lessons; kids under 15 must be accompanied by a parent

Overseas Highway
Mile Marker 102.5
Key Largo, Florida 33037
Parking: 8a-5p M-Su

Visitor Information

Neighborhood: Upper Keys
The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.