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  • Writer's pictureMandy-Gentry

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park - FLORIDA KEYS

We loved the opportunity to explore each of the Florida State Park campgrounds this year. Each were so unique in their own ways in terms of setting, amenities, wildlife, campground, and more.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located in Key Largo, the "first" key closest to the mainland. Having never stayed in Key Largo in our previous trips to the keys, it was fun to explore the area.

The main attraction here is the access to reef snorkeling and diving. The weather didn't line up great to get out on the water during our stay, so we didn't partake in everything this park had to offer - snorkeling and diving trips, glass-bottom boat, kayaking, two swimming areas, and more. We did enjoy some down time here exploring, and our favorite part was the aquarium at the visitor's center. We learned a lot about marine biologists' efforts to help restore and protect the fragile coral ecosystem in the keys.

"The first undersea park in the U.S., John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles. While the mangrove swamps and tropical hammocks in the park's upland areas offer visitors a unique experience, it is the coral reefs and their associated marine life that bring most visitors to the park. Many enjoy the view of the reef from a glass-bottom boat tour, but visitors can get a closer look by scuba diving or snorkeling." -FSP

The campground itself worked just great for our stay, but it wasn't our favorite, simply because of the bugs. The lush setting in the mangroves made for very buggy evenings and tight sites. The sites here do have full hookups, however, and laundry facilities on site if needed. This is still a fantastic place to visit if you're looking to get out on the water (or under the water) to explore the incredible sea wildlife of the Florida Keys.

We spotted a huge manatee hanging around the boat dock one afternoon!

Read more about John Pennekamp State Park HERE.

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