Florida >> Key Largo >> John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

On Key Largo in the Florida Keys at Mile Marker 102.5, you’ll find the award winning John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.  Home to the only living coral reef in the United States, the reef begins in Miami and stretches 221 miles down the Keys to the Dry Tortugas near Key West.

It is the third largest living coral reef in the world.  You can enjoy year round swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving at the John Pennekamp state park.

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Boat Rentals Pennekamp

Boat rentals at John Pennekamp State Park, Key Largo FL

John Pennekamp State Park
(305) 451-6300
Mile Marker 102.5
Key Largo, FL 33037

Boating and Diving

You can snorkel right off of John Pennekamp’s beaches to see cool fish and sponges - just walk into the water. But if you want to see live coral reefs you need to take a boat offshore. 

Marina and Boat Rentals

John Pennekamp has a marina with boat ramps, docks, and overnight slip rentals. Boat slips are reasonably priced at $26 per night for a 25 foot slip, and $52 per night for a 50 foot slip.

The cost to launch your boat is $10 and there is a parking area for vehicles with trailers.

You must bring your own fuel as Pennekamp does not have a public fuel dock.

Mooring Balls

There are also mooring balls available in largo sound (just off cannon beach). The cost to use a mooring ball is $18 a day, which includes trash disposal and pump-out.

Boat Rentals

The state park has power boat rentals that are 20 to 23 feet long. To rent a 22 foot boat for the day at John Pennekamp is only $310, plus $10 for gas. A half day is $185.

The rental boats come with a bimini to keep you out of the sun, a compass, and a swim platform to make it easy to get in and out of the boat. You must have basic boating experience to rent a boat.

You can contact the John Pennekamp Marina by calling 305-451-6325 or VHF Channel 16.


Another option is to take a snorkeling tour where a guided boat takes you to the best snorkeling spots about 3 miles offshore. The tours provide snorkeling gear as well as experts on staff to help you out.  You’ll have up to 1 1/2 hours at the coral reefs for snorkeling. 

During the cooler months, you can rent a 1/2 suit or full diving suit to keep you warm while you swim, snorkel, or dive.


Pennekamp Main Beach

Cannon beach at John Pennekamp State Park

Scuba Diving

A full service PADI dive shop is onsite at John Pennekamp.  If you want to learn to scuba dive, there are a variety of scuba courses available from novice to PADI Divemaster certification.  The PADI Open Water Diver full certification allows you to dive anywhere in the world. 

There’s also scuba equipment available for rent to certified divers.  Divers can take a Reef Adventure trip aboard the 35 passenger catamaran.

John Pennekamp Beaches

There are two main beaches at John Pennekamp.  Cannon Beach is close to the main concession area and is the best place for beach snorkeling. There is a 17th century cannon on the beach and about 100 feet offshore you can swim out to see an authentic replication of a Spanish ship wreck using real cannons from the 17th century.

The second beach is called Far Beach which is great for swimming and relaxing under palm trees with more shade than Cannon Beach.

Glass Bottom Boats

If you have family members that want to stay dry, a great option to see the coral reefs is to go on an air conditioned glass bottom boat tour.  The tours last 2 1/2 hours and depart 3 times a day. You’ll be able to see the beautiful marine life that lives in the coral reefs offshore.


Pennekamp Staff

The Helpful staff at John Pennekamp State Park, Key Largo, Florida

Pennekamp Sign

Sign at the entrance to John Pennekamp State Park, Key Largo

Fishing at John Pennekamp

You can fish in designated areas around John Pennekamp.  You must have a Florida fishing license and can get one at the Pennekamp marina if necessary.  You cannot spearfish or collect tropical fish inside the state park.  Another option is to rent a boat to go fishing offshore.

Tent Camping and RV

There are numerous hotels, condo and home rentals on Key Largo to stay it.  But if you want to be adventurous there are tent campsites and RV sites with bathrooms and hot showers nearby.  You can call 800-326-3521 to reserve a campground site at John Pennekamp.

Key Largo Hotels, Condo Rentals, Home Rentals

If you’re not into camping at the park, you can find a hotel, condo rental or home rental in Key Largo.  You can choose to be on the ocean side or the bay side of Key Largo. 

If you choose a hotel like the Marriott Key Largo on the bay side, you’ll enjoy the evening sunsets.  If you prefer the ocean views and sun rises, then hotels like the Ramada Limited Key Largo is on the oceanside off of US 1.  If you have a boat, you won’t have a problem finding a hotels or condo rental with a marina and boat slip.

Visiting the Florida Keys is an awesome experience.  The beautiful crystal clear waters and live coral reefs make the John Pennekamp Coreal Reef State Park one of the most memorable and unique vacation trips you’ll ever take.  The Pennekamp park is one of the main reasons Key Largo is nicknamed the “Dive Capital of the World.” 

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is one of 161 state parks managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, a division of recreation and parks.


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