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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Monroe County
Click on Photograph for Larger Image
pennkamp scene historic orchard
tropical hardwood hammock
mangroves and florida bay
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102601 Overseas Highway
Key Largo


As the name more than suggests, the main attractions of John Pennekamp are to be found in the water. It is, after all, the first underwater park in the United States and as such holds a place on the National Historic Register. It covers about 70 nautical square miles of ocean and is famous for the snorkeling and scuba diving along its coral reef.

But Pennekamp has attractions for land lubbers (and bird lovers) as well, enough to rate it a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail. There are three nature trails within Pennekamp, including one that cuts through a tropical hardwood hammock that terminates at a historic fruit grove, shown in the top photo at the left. The trail winds through figs and pigeon plum, poisonwood and gumbo limbo trees, with wild bamboo common in the understory. Mangroves provide nesting grounds for rare birds, such the white-crowned pigeon and the elusive mangrove cuckoo. The shallows off shore attract hungry great white herons, little blue herons and other waders and shore birds. We found woodpeckers, mockingbirds and great crested flycatchers. If you're on your way to somewhere else in the Keys, or returning from somwhere else in the Keys, there's a enough here to justify a stop for few hours of exploring.

John Pennekamp is open 8 a.m. until sunset; there is an entry fee that varies per a schedule. Check the website for details.

More Resources for John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Great Florida Birding Trail Institute for Regional Conservation    
Photo Gallery for John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
laughing gull raccoon ibis great crested flycatcher
great white heron oven bird squirrel sea daisy
little blue heron red bellied woodpecker poisonwood red mangrove
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