Blogs from John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Keys, Florida, United States, North America


Sunday, 27 January, 2013 I’m back. Did you miss me? Wednesday we moved again, this time to site 33 in Long Key State Park. It’s only a short way down the road from the other sites where we stayed, but a different perspective. The beach here is a little rockier and we are on the other side of the point with the tree in the water. The gulls and pelicans like to sit on the rocks when they are showing above the water at low tide. Thursday is wing night at the Hurricane, and this time we had our new friends along to experience the wingness. Don and Ruth Anne from Virginia and Jack and Mary Lou from New York state had their first Hurricane wings. Everyone enjoyed the wings and the ambience and we all ... read more
Gulls on the rocks
Shore bird
Scuba Do Dive Center

We were set to take the day to drive along Highway 1 to Key West and stop and see whatever struck our fancies on the way. Almost immediately, a fancy was struck. (Ouch!) (And yes, I am fully aware of how lame that joke was). We stopped at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Parkwhich has mostly water-based activities (the "coral reef" part gave it away didn’t it?). We decided to rent a canoe, and being good Canadian girls confident in our practically genetic mastery of the paddle, headed out with a map to canoe along some trails through the mangrove swamp. We started by heading out through the marina, then along the edge of the marina, then out into the middle of the marina again. Back to the edge, middle, almost into a boat, behind ... read more
Crystal clear
Somewhere on the trail
In the swamp

We spent a full day at this park and then tracking down The African Queen which I hadn't planned on doing but as it was less than 2 miles away I couldn't resist. Its late so I am going to label very few of these pictures but it was a pleasant cruise.. The first photos are from the information center and the boat coming in. Then there are pictures of the mangrove trees which are pretty incredible themselves for their contributions to the Florida coastline and also the fact that they can exist in brackish water....the yellow leaves on the tree are sacrificial leaves which absorb salt from the brackish water so that the rest of the tree can survive. These trees provide nesting for many birds and animals. Lastly we have pictures of coral, fish ... read more
lion fish
glass bottomed boat
going out to the reefs 1

We got up really early Friday morning to break camp and be at the dive shop by 7:00 AM. We tried to get another night at Pennecamp's campground, but were told to try later. Once we got to the dive shop, no one was there. When they finally showed up, they said they had equipment problems and we would have to dive with another shop, but they would honor the really great price the first shop had offered us. Of course, that was not the case, so Kerry and Trevor opted out of going, not only because of the price, but also because the wind was really picking up and they knew it would be pretty rough to snorkel. So Sara and I got aboard with all our gear and headed out with 5 other divers ... read more
Crystal River
Crystal River
Crystal River

It was a little warmer when we left Homosassa and got progressively more pleasant the further south we went, until we finally had to turn on the A/C in the truck. We crossed the Everglades on US41 (Tamiami Trail,) stopping at Oasis Visitor Center in Big Cypress NP to see alligators. Our truck starting making an odd noise that got worse as we travelled east. Once at my mother's in Miami Springs, Kerry and Trevor checked and decided it was a belt pulley. After talking with Michael twice, they finally figured out it had to do with the compressor and the serpentine belt. So Wednesday morning Kerry took the truck in for repairs. Several hours and $800 later, we were on the road to Key Largo to meet Sara and Trevor at John Pennecamp SP. Sara ... read more
Stealthy gator
Big Gator
Big Cypress NP

Well, another two weeks is coming to a close. Tomorrow we leave the Florida Keys, and head back to the Florida mainland. The keys are magical for us, not just for the weather, but for the down-home, campy feel here that makes us feel right at home. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located on Key Largo, the first Key heading south from Miami. Located in the mangroves, this park is a haven for kayakers, canoers, and boaters. There are two beaches and boat ramps, and the park operates a glass bottom boat out to the coral reef and diving and snorkeling adventures. There is also a visitor center with great exhibits and a huge circular fish tank. When we arrived we were able to spend two days with Nick and Sandra before they moved ... read more
Look like good eating!
Nick and Sandra in their kayak.

This is the picture that Debbie sent us of Jonner in full scuba gear along with his Dad, Donnie. We understand they were after lobster. This was Jonner's 1st dive. Think we were told he was down 22 feet. ... read more

After 60 some hours of travel from Bangkok, Simon and Lauren wound up in Miami and spent a weekend in the Florida Keys, diving on a reef and shallow wreck the first day, and doing a double dip on the USS Spiegel Grove the second. Lauren was pleased to be back home, and enjoyed showing Simon around the Keys and Miami. They witnessed the colorful sunset festival in Key West and vibrant fireworks displays in Miami, but the Spiegel stood out as the highlight of the weekend for both. Splashing in Florida is much more refreshing and less brisk than some colder climates. Here the summer ocean maintains a surface temperature just above 80º (or about 30C). Initially, Simon and Lauren descend an infinite line into the deep. But the blue, tropical Floridian water soon allows ... read more
Simon and Joe
Turtle over the wreck
Simon and Jewfish

To get a bit of warm fun in the sun, Nicole & I traveled down to Florida on a red-eye flight Thanksgiving evening. Wasn't exactly the most "quiet" of red-eye's. There was lots of activity going on in the cabin. A little girl sitting enxt to Nicole kept getting air-sick - making several trips to the lavoratory. ANd the flight attendent people kept bumping into arms & legs in the aisles. None the less, Florida was beckoning our attention once landed. After figuring out the car rental -- oops, I got the car companies mixed up -- we drove to Key Largo to our resort hotel! Was very pretty & tropical. We immediately signed up for Spa treatments the next morning, and went exploring at John Pennekamp National Park. We got there early as suggested over ... read more

Early to bed and early to rise. We woke up to an absolutely stunning day - sunshine and a breeze, so it was not too hot. It’s the kind of day I dream about during January in England when the whole world is dark, wet and cold. We were on the road before 9:00, heading south down Florida’s Turnpike. After a two hour drive, we arrived at US Route 1 and mile marker 126 - the official start of the Keys. Deciding that we had driven enough, we stopped at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo. This is a very cool place. It is the first undersea park in the United States and it is the only living coral reef in the continental United States. As we didn’t really have time to do ... read more
Red Right Returning

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