First of all I am a Florida Native..... I have never been to Pennekamp but I heard for yeeeeeears what a great park this is.... and takes months to get a reservation. I was soooo looking forward to finally getting to see this piece of heaven (which I made reservations last year). I went for my 44 birthday July 25.
Let me first get the "good" stuff out of the way (it wont take long). The staff were nice... Im sorry staff for having to write this.. you were fine. The camp and bathroom were also very clean, and the visitors center had a nice aquarium with cool AC.... bravo! That's it folks!!.
We drive 6 hours to be here for three days (we only lasted one and took our losses). The camp site was so tiny we couldnt get our van door open because the picnic table was in the way. Really there was no place to put a tent.. We slept in our vans.
Next, the two guys shacked up beside us (literally a spit distance away) were constantly walking around naked in their trailer... passing by their windows (it was amusing.. fortunately we have no children so sad this was our only entertainment)... and their RV dump holes are only abut 4 feet away from our picnic tables (gross!!). Also, the bugs were horrible!! (the brochure says not to spray your area with poisons because all their plants and animals are sensitive ... and apparently mosquitoes are precious to them becuase they dont spray them either.... so you suffer so they can harvest).
But THATS not the worse of it! OMG the STINK!!!!!! Everywhere we go it smells like sulfer.. or rotting eggs. You sleep with it.. you breath it while you eat your picnic lunches.. My husband also insist is was the dump holes, but I tried not to think about it. Next, is the heat... but is not really their fault. I realize that this is the tropics and it's hot everyday of the year.. but unless you own a RV or trailer with AC.. with windows that shut so you dont get the bugs or stink, then you should be okay. But tenters beware!! You will be misterable all night..
Next, it the activities... we thought about taking the snorkeling tour (in fact we had reservations) but after seeing that nasty beach we didnt want to even touch the water.. and the smell.. omg the smell!!! I just couldnt understand why people were flocking to that nasty sound water.. I guess to cool off, but really Im not that deserate. So what else to do.... take the Mangrove trail... We put on our hiking shoes and headed out for this adventure.. just to find the trail only to be about 100 yards long. Apparently a section of the "trail" was torn away and never replaced so you are forced to turn around and go the other way... the other side of trail is only about 100 yards also so dont bother.. Our hiking trip was over in 7 minutes.
Fortunately, we brought our own kayaks to paddle around in the murky water.. this was sort of fun, I guess. We we go one way and before long there was a big post saying "No Canoes".. so we go another way, ten minutes later another "No Canoe" .. then another. Pretty much we were just rowing back and forth. It was dissapointing. We finally just left early..... went to Key West for a day.. It was wonderful..
The icing on this poop cake... my husband came home with a bad case of chiggers (red bugs) all over his body... and if you dont know what this is then you are lucky.. they are miserable and itch him all night. I think I have a few crawling on me as well. I feel HORIBLE sending him to this park for my birthday. If it wasnt for Key West.. and the nice people at the hotel discount place an hour down the road that hooked us up with great hotel rates right in the action, then Id be crying, right now.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.