Summer Fun at Pennekamp

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Crab in coral reef with yellow, orange, and red encrusting sponges

by Paul Rice

Whether you’re up for a summer adventure, or just a relaxing day in Key Largo, our park has much to offer. Summer is a favorite time of year for enjoying the sub-tropical climate, tempered by mild gulfstream breezes, and brightened with Florida Keys’ sunshine. It’s also the season, with usually perfect conditions, to explore the reef or enjoy a lazy Keys-style day at the beaches on Largo Sound or in our picnic areas. For the full experience of our mostly-underwater park, you’ll want to take a boat tour, and we offer a variety of ways to explore the internationally-renowned coral reefs. If you are a swimmer, have a close encounter with the reef on a snorkeling or scuba boat tour. The view from aboard our climate-controlled, glass-bottom boat is breath-taking and is enjoyed without getting wet. There are three designated swimming areas off the park’s human-made beaches on Largo Sound. While it’s not the same as at the reef or on the ocean, snorkelers can explore the artifacts from a 1715 Spanish shipwreck at Cannon Beach and get an underwater view of some Florida history. On land, we offer nature trails, kayak trails and rentals, picnic pavilions, a playground, and a campground. You can even try out paddleboarding or get certified for scuba. After your outdoor adventures, cool off in the Visitor Center and Aquarium. While the 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium inside our Visitor Center and Aquarium is widely celebrated, I think you will find that the six 200-gallon aquariums are just as interesting with their variety of corals, lobster, and reef creatures. Ask for the self-guided tour cards, and check out the recently enhanced butterfly garden and spend time relaxing on the benches there. Spend a week, a weekend, or just a day. Whatever your choice, be prepared to have a great time!