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“Expand your horizons!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
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2-Day Miami South Beach Adventure from Orlando
Ranked #10 of 120 Tours 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
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Expand your horizons!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 12, 2014 via mobile

This was absolutely the best activity we found. Not very much in Key Largo, but John Pennecamp Coral Reef State park was a highlight of our trip. We were lucky to get two 80 degree days in January and this place was perfect. The first day we swam, hiked and kayaked. Easy to find our way around, not too expensive and the staff was helpful. We came back the next day and took the glass bottom boat to the coral reef (did you know it's 330 miles long?) - what a thrill! Michael and Marcy were fun and extremely knowledgeable and very patient with our questions. If you want a new perspective on what's out there beyond the end of your nose, go see the coral reef on the glass bottom boat with Michael and Marcy!

Visited January 2014
4 Thank Katydeux H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Great trip on the glass-bottom boat”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 12, 2014 via mobile

A pleasant short trip to molasses reef. A very knowledgable guide gave us a good narrative of the fish and other marine life, enhanced the trip. Well worth the cost.

1 Thank cfgarcia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Richmond Hill, Georgia
Level Contributor
56 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“Great family place, lots to do, very crowded”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 10, 2014

Couple of tips on John Pennekamp:

There is an admission fee--I've seen people complain about this, but it's not bad, honestly. It's $4.50 for one person, but the fee goes down with the number of people. We had 7 people in our party and it only cost us $11.50 total to get in.

We had made reservations ahead of time for the glass bottom boat ride (you don't have to pay anything until you show up), but when we went to check in they told us conditions were "moderate to rough". A local told me if the captain says it's "moderate to rough" it means, "Don't go!!" We were disappointed not to do this but given my small children were glad we didn't have to deal with seasick kids for 2 and 1/2 hours as that wouldn't have been fun for anyone.

The park's beach was very crowded. It's not really a place to relax during the busy season (ie. Christmas holidays). We hiked the trails, looked for some geocaches. Disappointed in one trail as it appears to lead to an overlook tower, but all the routes were dead ends as they were doing repairs and you can't get there right now. Wish there would have been a sign to that effect.

My kids really did enjoy the aquariums inside the main center, that had some cool fish and corals. You can definitely spend some good quality time here but I think you need to pick your days carefully to avoid the crazy crowds.

Also, there are poisonwood trees (like poison ivy) on the trails, and any of the parts of these trees will cause bad reactions like poison ivy. They are easy to spot but if you don't bother to read the sign you could get yourself in trouble as they are all over the trail and it would be easy to lean on one or touch one without realizing it.

Visited January 2014
3 Thank mommusega
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
189 reviews
92 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 189 helpful votes
“If you don't go on the boat, probably not worth it”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 9, 2014

The glass bottom boat tours were booked for the day, so we just stayed on the beach. My husband and son were snorkeling, but came back disappointed. My two year old had a great time on the small beach. I would not say it is a pretty beach. It was not groomed, there were ants and it had a filthy touch to it. Still, it served the purpose and made my kid happy.

Now, the part that turned me off were the bathrooms. I went twice during the couple hours of our stay, and they were dirty (every stall was!) and smelled like urine. Both times. I don't know how often they clean them but obviously they are not really after it. I was the only woman in them both times, so they can not use the excuse that they could not keep up with the amount of guests in there.

Admission fee was $9.50 for our family of four.

Visited December 2013
Thank JKJN-Family
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
380 reviews
118 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 185 helpful votes
“Well worth a detour”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 9, 2014

Went on the excellent glass bottomed boat ride out of John Pennecamp. It was good value for a 2.5 hour trip and we spent 45 mins over the reef, seeing lots of tropical fish and beautiful corals. There is an entrance fee for the park itself which allows you to park, walk and swim. We did a couple of the trails, which are short but interesting. There are picnic areas and a small sandwich outlet. Recommended.

Visited January 2014
1 Thank sjhHove
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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