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“Quality glass bottom boat tour, decent reef snorkeling, average camping”

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
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$198.99*
and up
2-Day Miami South Beach Adventure from Orlando
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
Winona, Minnesota
Level Contributor
13 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Quality glass bottom boat tour, decent reef snorkeling, average camping”
Reviewed January 14, 2014

We took a glass bottom boat tour out to the reef and really enjoyed that. There was a knowledgale guide and the other staff were friendly. Worth the cost.
The reef snokeling was mediocre. There was some variety of critters and you truly do have to go slow to appreciate them. However, none of the staff got in the water (it was chilly for Floridians) and some of the snokelers probably could have used their assistance.
The camping wasn't great and was expensive. The bathrooms were nice though the campsites were right on top of each other. We were in a tent and our neighbors (with children) had apparently left some food scraps on the ground. There was a lot of commotion with fighting racoons and we were forced to evacuate to the car! If you do stay there in a motor home, you won't probably know the difference.

Visited January 2014
Helpful?
Thank warmweathergirl_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Charlotte, North Carolina
Level Contributor
17 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“decent coral reef & snorkel”
Reviewed January 14, 2014 credit card Amex Card Member Review

maybe we could have picked a better day... the water was cold and the waves were a little rough. the coral reef was nice and shallow. plenty of fish, barracuda, and sharks. BUT, the Bahia Honda coral reef snorkel was better - the reef there is amazing :)

Visited December 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank edjpok
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Expand your horizons!”
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
Helpful?
4 Thank Katydeux H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Great trip on the glass-bottom boat”
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.

Helpful?
1 Thank cfgarcia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Richmond Hill, Georgia
Level Contributor
57 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“Great family place, lots to do, very crowded”
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
Helpful?
3 Thank mommusega
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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