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Pennekamp Park

MM 102.5 Oceanside

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was declared in 1960, and stretches from Angelfish Creek, near Ocean Reef on the northern part of Key Largo, soutward to Rodriguez Key. It extends from the shoreline to about six miles out to sea, where the ocean gets to be sixty feet, just outstide the reef. The reefs in this area are especially bright, compared to other reef areas in the Keys. The reefs are brighter, or the coral is more vibrant because there are such large tracts of shallow water, or flats around Key Largo, which are protected by the giant land mass of this large Key. The rest of the Florida Keys outside Key Largo is inundated by cuts and channels, which create erosion, which in turn impedes the development of coral. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is definitely a top destination for diving in the Keys for this reason.

There is a dive center within the Park, and it advertises itself as the only authorized dive center in the Park. However, there are lots of dive centers in Key Lago who will take you out to the waters of the Park, but whose dive centers aren't actually located withing the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park lands. From the Park's dive center, there are regular dive trips to the shallower sport dive areas such as:

  • Christ of the Deep
  • Christmas Tree Cove
  • Molasses Reef
  • French Reef
  • The Benwood
These are dives which are less than sixty feet, and if it's been more than three years since your last dive they won't take you out without taking a refresher course. If it's been more than two years since you're last dive you have to hire a guide. Dive shuttles leave at 9:30am and 1:30pm.

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