Kayak and Snorkel at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

By DD - Last updated: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment
Kayak in the Pennekamp mangroves

Kayaking on the intermediary canoe trail across the mangroves  at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp is a wonderful state park located in Key Largo, Florida. This year’s visit to the park was our second. We had been in 2007, and had enjoyed one night of camping, hiked the two small trails and did a short snorkeling trip. It was an awesome experience and we had wanted to return ever since.

This time, we visited twice while staying in Tavernier at Island Bay Resort. We went one day to kayak in the intermediary route. We saw manta rays on the manta ray trail, spiders on the spider trail and we almost heard angels on the cathedral trail! Dami was actually an angel when he broke a branch out of the big tree that was blocking the way so we could go through. It was a very peaceful experience while the beginner’s trails were very crowded with kayaks bumping into each other. Thank goodness we were experienced enough to stay away from those.

DD had left her expensive Neutrogena sunblock in the kayak, and she was so relieved they had put it aside and she was able to pick it up the next morning before our snorkeling trip. We had reserved for the long four and a half hour snorkeling trip and we were so excited! They did have plenty of wetsuits to rent but we had our own gear with us. We had our mask, tuba and fins we had bought on our last Florida trip, and our wetsuits that we bought at the end of the season at Canadian Tire for a very good price. For extra warmth DD bought a long sleeve men’s surf shirt at the park’s souvenir shop. DD didn’t think she would need motion sickness pills but she would soon discover she should have taken them.

pennekamp Snorkel buoy

A school of Butterfly fishes swim around a rusty buoy at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Our boat was the Snorkel Express and our crew was awesome. We left at 9 am for North Grecian Rocks. There were a couple of other boats already there and we were told to stay within the buoys and the boats.

We snorkeled maybe 45 minutes above the corals and the waves made it hard to not use our fins which scare the fishes. When a group of more people came to our corner all the fishes went away and all we saw were bubbles.

We went back to the boat and that’s when things started to turn for DD. A group of young adults absolutely wanted to see the statue but that meant being a little further into the ocean. We got to the statue and there were a lot of fishes there but DD started to feel really bad and pulled Dami to the boat. As she was trying to hold onto the boat ladder she got sick and fed the fishes…  The captain’s right hand helped DD in the boat while Dami removed her fins. It was a good team effort. DD spent the remaining of the excursion on the boat.

The third site was South Grecian Rocks which was not as nice as North according to Dami who had found new snorkel bodies.

We definitely want to return but next time we will go only if the ocean is calm and will choose the short trip. DD was never attracted to boat cruises and pigs will fly the day she boards one of those cruise ships. She is a very down to earth gal!

The "Christ of the Deep" statue is located at Key Largo Dry Rocks reef. It is over 8 feet tall and weighs 4,000 pounds! Seeing it was amazing will the fish and jellyfish drifting in the currents above the outstretched arms!

The “Christ of the Deep” statue is located at Key Largo Dry Rocks reef. It is over 8 feet tall and weighs 4,000 pounds! Seeing it was amazing will the fish and jellyfish drifting in the currents above the outstretched arms!

 More pictures of our trips to Florida here.

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