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“Great place to camp and snorkel” 3 of 5 stars
Review of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Campgrounds

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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Campgrounds
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102601 Rte 1, Key Largo, FL   |  
Hotel amenities
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
“Great place to camp and snorkel”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2012

If you are in the upper keys and are looking for a place to camp this is a good choice. However the camp spots are a little close to each other. As far as the snorkeling, if you take the tour out its great, if not you'll be wadding in mangroves and grasses and not much else. To truly appreciate this park, you'll have to do some legwork, but it can be great.

  • Stayed October 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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76 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Alpharetta, Georgia
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 3, 2012

This is a great state park, the snorkeling is amazing, especially if you go to the statue of Christ reef. Beautiful and natural surroundings. Perfect location to explore other areas of the keys. Canoeing is also fantastic.

Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cheadle-Hulme - UK
Top Contributor
98 reviews 98 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2012

Best day of the holiday, so far. Booked for snorkelling, the day before. 6 of us went - cost approx $280 inc Mask and Fin hire and Snorkel purchase. Had to arrive for 12:15 for a 13:45 trip. Got their early, rented the snorkelling gear and snorkelled off canon beach. Lots of submerged canons from a Spanish shipwreck about 100m off shore - a good opportunity to brush up on our snorkelling skills Then at 13:45 off for the boat trip to the Coral Reef, about 3miles off shore. Sea was very clam and perfectly clear. Got about 1.25hrs of snorkelling at the reef - this was plenty - was exhausted afterwards. Saw lots of amazing fish at the reef. Truly amazing day.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lakeland, Florida
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2012

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.

Was this review helpful? Yes 10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Crestview, Florida
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2012

We've stayed at Pennekamp annually for 10 years. It is much improved with lots of things to do within walking distance of the campground. Nice having full hook-ups but the lack of TV (over the air) reception cost us a lot of renting videos in town. Great service and advice by the Rangers and staff. We will return.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oviedo, Florida
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2012

We stayed here for 5 days and camped in our 39-foot RV. Coming into the campground was not hard, but getting into your site is a challenge. We knew about the boulders, but while trying to navigate our RV into the site, we still ended up hitting one of the boulders. Thank goodness we only scraped the steps. I realize it looks nice to have the boulders at the front of each site because they display the site numbers. But honestly, they need to be moved and replaced with something a lot thinner or smaller.

As far as space, not a whole lot between the sites. This didn't bother us as it seemed we had a new neighbor every day we were there. The wider sites had no shade. Didn't realize you could have tent campers next to RV's. Thought they would be separated, but I guess not.

The campground is conveniently located next to the marina, so getting your rented boat is quick. They have a nice set up at the marina. Lots of shopping and restaurants nearby Pennekamp. Oh, and be prepared for the mosquitoes. They are terrible in the campground.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
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Seattle, Washington
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2012

My two friends and I stayed here for one night while on a 5 week road trip. We rolled in in the evening and left in the morning, so we didn't see or explore much. What we did experience was great, though! We had the site right next to the camp host and in the morning he invited us over for tea at his picnic table and to visit a while. We loved it! He was a really nice, friendly guy and it helped us slow down and enjoy the pace of the keys. The campground was quiet, felt safe and the bathrooms were clean. We would stay here again.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Campgrounds

Address: 102601 Rte 1, Key Largo, FL
Location: United States > Florida > Florida Keys > Key Largo
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 17 Specialty Lodging in Key Largo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 47
Also Known As:
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Campgrounds Hotel Key Largo

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