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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Campgrounds
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Reviews (172)
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Reviewed October 17, 2012

I booked a plot for one nights camping. Due to a delayed flight i arrived after dark. Fortunately i had phoned ahead for the security code to get into the park outside of business hours.

From that point on, nothing went well.

The code i was given was wrong. It was only that i managed to flag down the final employee leaving that i was able to get in. I wish i hadn't been able to.

I booked the plot to camp in a tent, but that simply wasn't possible. The plot was a completely hard, with nowhere suitable to pitch a tent. I spent half an hour trying to come up with something, but i couldn't get any pegs into the ground. By that stage it was ridiculously late, so i thought i would cut my losses and sleep in my car. I quickly established it was far too humid to do that. My only option left was to sleep on the floor in the shower block. It was as horrific as it sounds.

Even if i had managed to pitch a tent, things wouldn't have been much better. My pitch (13) was next to some sort of small swamp. It meant that there were mosquitos and flies everywhere. The pitch itself was ridiculously close to that of my neighbours and if able to pitch a tent i would have ended up sleeping right next to the sewage pipe from their RV.

I'm sure if you are in an RV, this place is fine. IT IS SIMPLY NOT SUITABLE FOR TENTS. It's an outrage that they advertise it as such.

I left before the office had opened in the morning, and after no response when i tried to phone i sent a series of e-mails and filled out forms online to voice my complaints... I'm still waiting for a response and a refund.

Do yourself a favour. Don't stay here.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled solo
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11  Thank Reviewer101Uk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 15, 2012 via mobile

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
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Thank Sosmin1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
Thank vlmontero
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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2  Thank leeeds
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

11  Thank kcola123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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