Snorkeling at John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo

As a frequent traveler to Florida (and future-to-be Florida resident), snorkeling in Florida is one of my favorite things to do.

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Why?

1. It is less than 3 hours from my home in New York

2. The water is so clear, it can almost be the Caribbean

3. It is still part of the US so super easy, cheap, and multiple flights to get there per day. Plus, did I mention it’s on the less expensive side when you compare it to NY and California?

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When I visited the Florida Keys, I spent some time in Key Largo. While I made other stops in Islamorada and Marathon and Key West, I think Key Largo is my favorite so far. It is down to earth, under 1 hour from Miami airport, yet has tons of beachfront cottages, restaurants, and a busy main road. The photo above is what I snorkeled in when I stayed at Sunset Cove Beach Resort. That water was so grand and I loved the video coverage I got from it. And then, there is John Pennekamp State Park.

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Photo via Flickr by Reinhard Link

John Pennekamp State Park gives access to multiple snorkeling and diving sites. While you can snorkel off the shore in Key Largo, the coral reefs are a few miles away. A boat is necessary in order to reach the reefs, which is where the tours at John Pennekamp State Park come in.

Many snorkeling tours begin under $30 per person and diving tours go for about $75 per two dives if you have your own gear.

John Pennekamp State Park is vast and you actually don’t need to go on a boat tour to snorkel. Once you drive through the entrance, you will be guided to a parking area. Then, you walk to the lake where there are picnic tables, sandy spots to lay your towel out on, and a rocky entrance where snorkelers take over. Trust me, there is more than enough space for everyone and all you have to do is pay for the parking which is about $7 last time I went.

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It is best to wear water shoes as the rocks underwater are slippery. If you don’t have any – be super careful! I almost slipped so many times the kids would have laughed their asses off at me. And be prepared – there will be children but there will also be many adults enjoying the snorkeling spot.

This is a great introduction to John Pennekamp State Park, which has many more activities to enjoy. Just take US 1 Highway to Mile Marker 102.5. Take a look at their official site here for more info and enjoy Key Largo!

Have you snorkeled at John Pennekamp State Park? How was it?