Where To Go Wednesday: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo, Fl

It’s Wednesday again! I look forward to Where To Go Wednesday. It gives me an excuse to research new places, or talk about a place I have been! Today’s adventure falls into the second category-I have been to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and it’s amazing! And, I promise, I am not just saying that. ☺️

We recently took a trip to South Florida and hopped in the car and took day trip to Key Largo so we could take a glass bottom boat tour at the park. It was only about 2 1/2 hours, so completely manageable with kids (if you have kids, this information is necessary information). 

The park was easy to get into. There was a fee to get in. For 5 of us it cost $10.50. Their sign was the most inviting state park sign I’ve ever seen (ok. I’m no authority on state park signs, but I’m still sure I’m right about this. 😒)


Before I go any further, I have to tell you 2 very important things- grab a pen, screen shot this..whatever you need to do so you do not forget these two things:

1.  When they say be there an hour before the tour starts-they mean it. 😱 Well, what they mean is, be in line to get your tickets –not just in the park. 😖 I will save you the sordid details, but we got on the boat. 😇

2. When the boat pulls away from the dock they will tell you they sell Dramamine on the boat for $1. Buy it. Don’t waste time dithering about it-get up to that counter and buy it. Even if you think you don’t need it-better to be safe than sorry. 😷

The trip out to the reef is AH-MAZING. It really is. You can watch the water color change from a murky green to gorgeous squad and blue. If you watch from the bow (yep. Fancy boat word for front 😁) you might see sea turtles cutting under the boat 🐢. If you watch from the stern (the back) you could possible see Dolphins 🐬

Did you know that the third largest coral reef in the world is in the Keys!? Right-I didn’t either! That’s where the boat takes you to-the third largest coral reef in the world!  It stops over a portion of the reef. THIS is why the Dramamine might be necessary. When we were on the boat, the swells were 4 feet tall! So, the stationary boat was heaving up and down and up and down and..well, you get the idea. Let’s just say there were plenty of people standing on the decks trying not to throw up  taking in the view.  😨🤒😷

The tour guides were so incredibly knowledgable. If any fish swam through, they were immediately telling you all about it. Clearly, they have to know it all. There is no way to know what will show up under that boat. We saw barracuda, sting rays in the sand, countless fish I cannot remember, turtles and I SWEAR she said a Nurse Shark swam through! The kids were enthralled. It was truly something they’ll remember. 

The ride back to shore was as wonderful as the ride out. 

In addition to offering the glass bottom boat tours, they also offer snorkeling and scuba tours. You can  rent kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and power boats. You can camp, fish or rent snorkel gear at the beach. So, there is something for everyone!! 

Photos from John Pennekamp website
Some of our pictures

If you are even remotely close to South Florida, make the trip. You won’t regret it. This trip was 2 1/2 hours of great quality time. 😊

Visit their website or Facebook page:

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Facebook Page


Author: Five Sandals Travel

I am a travel professional, an ocean and travel lover, a wife and mother. I log a lot of miles traveling with my family and my goal is to help families plan amazing vacations and make unforgettable memories.

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