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“My first reef experience but will not be my last!”

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
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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
Essex, England
Level Contributor
32 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“My first reef experience but will not be my last!”
Reviewed October 8, 2009

I had a fabulous time at the park. Although the day was a bit windy so the swell on the reef was 2 foot, I decided I was a strong-enough swimmer to tackle it on the snorkelling tour. You had to swim 250 yards to the reef from the boat (it moors approx 6 miles offshore in rather shallow water). It was my first time out at sea & we were given basic training by the staff onboard. Once I got used to it all, I loved watching the fish around the reef. I would love to go back when the water is flat as I was tired swimming into the waves. It didn't deter me though - it is an experience which I can't describe accurately and the staff on the boat only helped to make it a lovely day.

Thank SuzyUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Miami, FL
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Beautiful Underwater Park”
Reviewed September 28, 2009

Pennekamp is an underwater park, it's actually not that large a land mass. If you're looking to spend a day on a white-sand beach, this is NOT for you. If you want to snorkel, I suggest going out on a snorkel boat, or booking through a third party. There's not a lot to see off the beach. Kayak through the mangroves to see the birds and fish in the shallows, but bring your bug spray. Mosquitoes love mangroves!

We went this past weekend (9/26/09) and we had a wonderful time picnicking near the beach.

Pennekamp is a beautiful way to see natural Florida. It's not the sandy beaches you see in Florida advertisements.

Cost is $9 per person (as of 9/26/09).
Pets are not allowed on the beach

2 Thank EternalTourist09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Margate, Florida
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed August 7, 2009

I have been to John Pennekamp before with my parents since we live only an hour away. The aquarium was nice, the snorkeling outside of the little "shipwreck" (which happens to just be a replication, understandably) was great and the fish and the sights were memorable.

I went with my friends for a few nights recently. Check in was easy, the whole day was fun, the beach was rocky but not too bad with sandals on, but it was deceiving.

The campground. All grounds are surrounded by stagnant, mosquito breeding waters. We had citronella burning all day and night, and we were all doused in bug spray. I remember reapplying bug spray at least twice in only a few hours interval.

It has been three days since I got home and I just spent 20 minutes scratching my skin off with a hairbrush until I had to go to the doctor for a cortizone shot in both of my legs and arms. My arms look eaten up, but my legs look like a have chicken pox. I've gone through 3 bottles of anti itch cream in two days, and although I love John Pennekamp, I will never go there again.

I hope my skin doesn't scar.

1 Thank invalidtag
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stockholm, Sweden
Level Contributor
16 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Beach snorkelling sucked big time”
Reviewed June 15, 2009

We spent chiristmas and new years in Florida, mostly in Miami, but we thought we should at least go down to the nearest Key.

We read a few nice reviews of the Pennekamp park, and thought we´d have a nice time there. At first we did not get in to the park with our car, since it was "full". We parked outside and walked in. The parking space was far from full, but I guess they had other measurements.

We thought we´d find a nice beach and some OK snorkelling, since they brag about the sunken ship close to the beach. The beach was rock hard, and veeery small. It was not clean either. The water was so bad that you could not see your hand in front of you.
That sunken ship is just "something" sticking up from the bottom in very shallow water. Could have been a rock and some logs, you couldn´t tell. Could have been put there last year. Really nothing to see, not even for kids. No fish, no vegetation, No nothing.
The aquarium was OK, but definitely not worth the hours of driving from Miami.

Key largo in all, was mostly a spread out village cut through by the highway leading to the keys.
I guess you could grab something OK to eat there, but, hey, there are lots of places to eat in Florida. You don´t have to go to Key Largo to do that.

I am sorry, but key Largo left me sad. And the Pennekamp place was really disappointing

I see that people like the snorkelling boat trips, and since we did not go on one I can´t comment on them, Now I´ll never go back to try one either.

4 Thank valstock
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
valdosta, GA
1 review
“Great Dive!”
Reviewed May 26, 2009

The crew, staff, boat, and dive were all amazing! Beautiful location. I didn't feel rushed, the crew was extremely helpful. I hope I can go back soon!

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

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