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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

 Activities at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Beaches

Beaches

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park has two man-made beaches, each with its own distinct personality. Cannon Beach is the park's primary snorkeling beach, where visitors will find the remnants of an early Spanish shipwreck approximately 100-feet offshore. Far Beach, with its palm trees, is a relaxing place to swim or just sit and enjoy the sun. Wheelchair accessibility to the water is enhanced by a Mobi-Mat installed across the sandy beach. Any swimming or snorkeling done outside the designated swimming areas is prohibited unless a 'Diver-Down' flag is properly displayed.

Boat Ramp

Boat Ramp

The park has a very good deepwater boat ramp, located at the marina. The ramp can handle most boats up to 36 feet in length.

Boat Tours

Boat Tours

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park has four different types of boat tours to ensure that all park visitors have the best opportunity possible to experience the park's coral reef system. The glass-bottom trips depart from the park's docks three times a day, 365 days a year, weather permitting. The snorkel boat trips depart four times a day.  Both these tours last 2½ hours and allow for 1 ½ hours of reef time to view the park's living coral and its associated marine life up close and personal. The Encounter, a wheelchair-friendly snorkeling vessel, features wheelchair tie-downs, as well as an oversized marine restroom for guests. Rental equipment is available. There is also a 9 a.m. extended snorkel tour which lasts 4½ hours and goes to at least two locations. The park has a PADI Five-Star Gold Palm dive shop, offering a full range of scuba courses from Open Water through Instructor. The Resort Course offered introduces the fledgling diver to diving and the coral reef in one day. The four-hour scuba diving tours offer divers two-location, two-tank dives.

Boating

Boating

Boaters should always use caution in shallow reef areas and when approaching any area where there are Diver-Down flags displayed, swimmers, or moored boats. Always obtain a navigation chart for Pennekamp waters before departing for open water. Waterproof charts and GPS marine chartplotters may be purchased from commercial vendors. Official NOAA charts are also available from certified vendors or print your own from booklets at: http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/staff/charts.htm#paper. The area comprising Pennekamp is a combination of information from 4 NOAA charts: 11463, 11449, 11451 and 11462.

Combustible engines are not permitted in or near shore areas of the park where the water is less than four feet deep. For those boaters that do not have a boat, the park concession maintains a boat rental where boats may be rented for four-hour and eight-hour intervals. Boat slips and moorings are available at the marina for overnight rental. Slips are located in the marina and include water and electric hookups with bathroom and shower facilities nearby. Mooring buoys are located in Largo Sound with dinghy dockage at the marina. Both slip and buoy rentals include full use of the park facilities, including trash disposal and pump-out. Reservations are recommended. For more information, please contact the Pennekamp Dock Master at (305) 451-6325 or on VHF channel 16.

Camping, Boat

Camping, Boat

Boat slips and moorings are available at the marina for overnight rental. Slips are located in the marina and include water and electric hookups with bathroom and shower facilities nearby. Mooring buoys are located in Largo Sound with dingy dockage at the marina. Both include full use of park facilities, trash disposal and pump-out. The marina is a designated Clean Marina. Reservations are recommended. For more information and rates call (305) 451-6325. The marina monitors VHF channel 16.

Camping, Full Facility

Camping, Full Facility

The park campground offers 47 campsites for both tent and RV campers with water, sewer hookup, and electricity: 30 amp, 50 amp and 110 volt. Each site also has a picnic table and grill. A dump station is available. The main restroom has toilets and hot showers that meet ADA requirements. Well behaved pets are welcome in the campground.

The Pond Restroom, next to the group campsite, has an ADA-accessible private family bathroom. There are three paved sites with paths paved to the ramp to the main restroom located in the center of the campground. Coin-operated washers and dryers are also located at the main restroom. Campers can enjoy the coral reefs from a glass-bottom boat tour or by snorkeling or scuba diving.

Maximum RV length = 62 ft.

Reservations: Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance through ReserveAmerica. Book Online or call (800) 326-3521 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.) or TDD (888) 433-0287.

Camping, Group

Camping, Group

The Organized Youth and Adult Group Camping area is available to non-profit organized groups, of six or more people, of all ages. At least one adult chaperone is required per ten youths. Chaperones must be at least 21 years of age. This camping area will accommodate up to 24 people. The site has a fire circle, benches, a large grill, picnic tables and a potable water faucet. There is no electricity at the site. Restrooms and hot showers are available. Pets are not allowed at this campsite. Reservations for this camp may be made no earlier than 60 days in advance for youth groups and no earlier than 30 days in advance for adult groups, by calling the park at (305) 451-1202.

Camping, Youth

Camping, Youth

The group camping area is available for organized groups of all ages. At least one adult chaperone is required per 10 youths. Chaperones must be at least 21 years of age. The group camping area will accommodate up to 24 people. The site has a fire circle, benches, a large grill and picnic tables. There is no electricity at the site. Restrooms and hot showers are available. Reservations for the group camp may be made no earlier than 60 days in advance and by adult groups no earlier than 30 days in advance by calling the park at (305) 451-1202. 

Canoeing & Kayaking

Canoeing & Kayaking

The park has 2.5 miles of marked mangrove wilderness trails to explore. The mangroves, and crystal clear waters that surround them, provide habitat for a wide variety of birds and marine life. The park concession rents canoes and one or two-person kayaks at the ticket counter. For personally-owned kayaks or canoes, there is a launch on the main road over the bridge.

Concession & Restaurant

Concession & Restaurant

The food counter and snack bar has breakfast and lunch items prepared for purchase. There is a well-stocked gift shop with items from whimsical to tasteful for souvenirs. Snorkeling equipment and beach gear are also stocked, as well as last minute necessities one may have forgotten.

Fishing

Fishing

Fishing is permitted in designated areas in accordance with Florida state law. A saltwater fishing license may be required. Spearfishing, possession of spearfishing equipment, and collection of tropical fish [by any method] is prohibited inside the park.

Hiking/Nature Trail

Hiking/Nature Trail

The park maintains three nature trails in two uniquely different environments. The Mangrove Trail is a loop trail on a boardwalk that allows visitors to peacefully view the mangroves and estuaries they thrive in. An observation tower also allows a larger view of this very important ecosystem. Another loop trail, the Wild Tamarind Trail, winds through the park's beautiful tropical hardwood hammock, allowing visitors to view many of the area's native hardwood species. The Grove Trail also winds through the hardwood hammock, but terminates at the Grove. This cultural resource has been replanted with tropical fruit trees, as originally planted by early pioneers in Key Largo. One must return back to one's start at the Visitor Center parking lot. If arrangements are made in advance, a Ranger-led nature walk on one of these trails for organized groups may be possible.

Picnicking

Picnicking

Designated areas for picnicking are located throughout the park. Barbecue grills are provided, no ground fires are permitted. The park has 12 pavilions for use on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations for the pavilions are accepted. The 11 small pavilions, with two picnic tables each, rent for $30.00 per day, plus tax. The large pavilion has eight tables and rents for $50.00 per day, plus tax. None of the pavilions are equipped with electric or water. ADA-accessible picnic facilities are available within the park. Users of the pavilion must keep the area free of litter.

Playground

Playground

Young children may enjoy the park playground which is located on the main road, just before Far Beach. The playground has swings, a slide and a climbing tower.

Restroom Facilities

Restroom Facilities

Restroom facilities are located next to the Main Concession Building, Dive Shop and at Far Beach.

Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving

To fully enjoy the diving possibilities of the park, boat trips to the reef are recommended. A new diver, or a diver who needs a refresher, will find the waters off Cannon Beach a great place to hone his or her skills.

Showers, Day Visitors

Showers, Day Visitors

Public, outdoor, cold-water showers are provided.

Snorkeling

Snorkeling

In addition to the park's snorkeling tours, there are areas in the park designated for snorkeling. These areas are in a tropical lagoon and offer a look at the various sea grass communities in the park. In these areas there are some natural ledges that do hold some interesting marine life. There are also some artifacts from an early Spanish shipwreck approximately 100 feet offshore.

Swimming

Swimming

Swimming is a popular activity at both Cannon Beach and Far Beach. The swimming areas are located in a tropical lagoon that provides a good place for younger swimmers to enjoy the water.

Visitor Center

Visitor Center

The highlight of the park's Visitor Center is its 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. There are also six additional 100 to 200-gallon aquariums which offer visitors different looks at the park's marine inhabitants. The Visitor Center also features natural history exhibits which interpret the park's different biological communities. There is also a theater located in the building where visitors may view nature videos relating to the park and its surrounding area.

Large-print formats of park information and brochures are available. Assisted-listening devices are available upon request for the auditorium presentations.

The hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., daily. Free with park admission.

Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife viewing is possible in all areas of the park, especially at the beaches, canoe trails or nature trails.