John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
America's first undersea park
Considered by many as the "Diving Capital of the World," John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the nation's first underwater park. Home to 55 varieties of coral and 600 species of tropical marine life, vegetation, and shore birds, this is a dream vacation for nature lovers, snorkelers and scuba divers. The park's idyllic underwater paradise showcases Christ of the Abyss, an eight-and-a-half-foot, 4,000-pound bronze sculpture of Jesus Christ.
- Fishing: Famed for its sport-fishing, Key Largo has inspired many authors and screenwriters. Sailfish, bonefish, redfish and tarpon are a few of the catches you can reel in.
- Snorkeling, scuba diving: The park offers snorkeling and scuba diving tours, but you can also explore on your own. The shallow-water reefs are bursting with life and color.
- Glass-bottom boat tours: If you like to stay dry, you can still see all the reefs and wildlife this area has to offer. A high-speed catamaran with glass viewing floors reveals the underwater world from the surface.
- The park itself is the attraction - the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park website can give you up-to-the-minute information on events, fees and hours of operation. Their Visitor Center and Environmental Education programs have exhibits and events throughout the year.
- Annual Coral Spawning (late August, early September): Dubbed "Sex on the Reef," this annual mating of elkhorn, staghorn, brain and star corals has been described as an "upside-down underwater snow storm." Divers can play voyeur to this undersea lovefest at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
- Fantasy Fest (October): This adults-only Key West celebration features parades, theme parties and daily diversions like nude body painting. Described as "eccentric," this over-the-top costume-fest must be experienced to be believed.
If you want a party, head to nearby Islamorada. Otherwise, enjoy the sound of the waves on the shore and starlight on the water.
John Pennekamp offers 47 campsites, all equipped with bathrooms, hot water and showers. Try the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce for more Florida vacation accommodation ideas.
Need to Know
- Key Largo
- Average daytime temperature is 80 F year round.
- Average evening temperature is 73 F all year.
- Florida Keys tend to be dry in the winter and wet in the summer.
- Boat ramps
- Nature trails
- Bike paths
- Picnic areas
- No pets allowed in the camping or beach areas
This submerged park is a must-see for snorkelers, scuba divers and those who long to be under the sea. If an underwater John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park escape fulfils your nautical dreams, check out our deals.
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