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“Great Day-Trip from Miami”

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
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$198.99*
and up
2-Day Miami South Beach Adventure from Orlando
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$939.99*
and up
Independent 3-Day Harley-Davidson Tour from Miami
Ranked #4 of 72 things to do in Key Largo
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: A beautiful state park that features land and undersea adventures.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed March 20, 2013

If you are looking for a day of fun in the sun without the beach crowds, take a drive south to John Pennekamp State Park. The park is approximately one hour south of Miami, and it is extremely easy to get to. Located in Key Largo, the park allows you to enjoy the relaxing, laid-back atmosphere of The Keys without having to drive all the way down to Key West.

Pay for parking upon arrival, which is based on vehicle occupancy. Then you can enjoy a full day of activities for all levels of ability and intensity. You can take a snorkel tour, a glass-bottom boat tour, or simply enjoy the beach. Campsites are also available.

On our recent visit my family enjoyed an afternoon of kayaking through the mangroves. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent by the hour and include mandatory life-jacket. This is a great activity for all age levels, even if you have no experience paddling.

Navigating the waters around the mangroves is an amazingly relaxing experience - as if you had stepped back in time, no noise, no traffic, just beautiful natural surroundings. Your boat rental includes a water-proof map, so you are very unlikely to get lost.

Restrooms include shower and changing areas. I highly recommend a change of clothing, as you will get wet kayaking or canoeing. Water shoes are also a good idea - as well as sunscreen.

Picnic tables are available right next to the water so you can bring your own lunch, or purchase from the snack shop. The beach area is not large and it's not fancy, but it's a great way to cool off after an active day.

My family makes it a point to visit the park at least once a year, and it is always a great escape from the hustle & bustle of Miami life without having to hop on a plane.

2  Thank otmiami
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,035 - 4,039 of 5,389 reviews

Reviewed March 20, 2013

We made a quick decision to take the glass bottom boat tour without enough information about water and air conditions. While there was a posting about "moderate" conditions there was no explanation at the ticket counter. Once on the boat we learned about sea sickness, sick bags, and "fresh-up mints". The water was extremely rocky and caused many people to abandon the lower deck and reef viewing. We couldn't wait to get back...consider calmer conditions before embarking!

Thank Susan H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2013

This is a wonderful place to spend the day. The beaches were clean and beautiful and we were able to swim, sunbathe, picnic and snorkel. We didn't take the snorkeling trip to the reef because it was windy, but we had a great day right here

1  Thank Allegra S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 18, 2013

This well run park offers a great place for families to enjoy snorkeling. We planned to take a snorkel trip but when we arrived, the water was too rough for our kids, 9 and 12 to go. While they are strong swimmers, they are beginner snorkelers. We were glad we packed a cooler and simply rented wet suits and went to the beach with our snorkels and fins. In March, the water was 72 but staying in the water without a wetsuit for any length of time would have been difficult. The kids LOVED it and we all saw Baraccuda, blowfish, mullet and some other tiny coral fish. We also lucked out and a manatee wandered into the roped off area. My 12 year old swam right along with him and videoed on our go pro...What a memory. We stayed from 10-5. Snorkeled both beach areas and swam under the mangroves which is a pretty neat experience. Fish hang out amongst the roots and you can see very clearly. There is no coral in the beach area but the grassy bottom hold a lot of fish life. There is also a sunken ship remnant in one area. Next time, we will be renting a boat to take out so we can enjoy the reefs that we hear are so spectacular.

Thank obxwhit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 17, 2013

This place has something to do all day long from Scuba Diving, snorkrlling, kayaking in th emangroves to chilling on the beach. We trecked into the Mangroves an a 2 seater Kayak for 1.5 hrs and felt like we were the first explorers as most of the time you're totally alone, glad I had a map though!

1  Thank Mowglie74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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