John Pennekamp State Park - Key Largo Snorkelling

John Pennekamp State Park - Key Largo Snorkelling

United States
United States

When Is the Best Time

Key Largo is a great spot throughout the year. The weather is often excellent even in the winter night temps rarely drop below 20°C/68°F. The Keyes are popular for diving, snorkelling, or just resting at the beach. Key Largo is the first island of the Florida Keys chain that tourists encounter when coming down from Miami, therefore, a little busier. 

Snorkel and Weather Conditions at the Keys

Our boy love to snorkel at the Keyes

Overall the keys are a great destination whenever you want to swim, snorkel, and bask in the sun.

The best time for the Keys is the colder and drier months from November to May. It is not too hot, and the humidity is bearable—temperatures ranging from 25-23°C/77-73°F and getting a little hotter in May. June to October are wetter, the humidity is high, and bugs are really an issue. If there is no windblown mosquitos are around also in the winter, especially at dusk and dawn.

However, I visited the Keyes already three times in different seasons, and I also like the summer with temperatures topping 30°C/86°F. It is hot, but the sea is pleasant, and the visibility is often excellent. You can stay in the water for snorkelling much longer. The summer offers the flattest and clearest water for snorkelers. The downside the summer is also known for its uncomfortably high heat and humidity.

Colourful fish in the sea

The months from November to April are more pleasant, but there can be strong wind and waves which reduce visibility substantially. Cold fronts from Canada with strong winds arrive here in the winter from time to time. The temperature drops, and it gets chilly what we experienced once for an entire week. Also, there can be days where the surf is too high for snorkelling. The worst month with strong winds in January, and it improves in March. The best months for snorkelling are April until August. To avoid the crowds; April and May are great. It is still not too hot, the water is clearer, and accommodations are not as expensive as in the summertime. During winter a wetsuit is needed for snorkelling sea temps ranging from 24-20°C/75-67°F. I love to spend as much time in the sea as possible therefore I like the summer with the pleasant sea temperature ranging on average around 30°C/86°F. You only need to wear a shirt for sun protection while snorkelling. 

Tip

Book your snorkel trip in advance. On a windy day give them a call in the morning to get the tour confirmed: (305) 451 6300

Avoiding Crowds

My husband diving and snorkelling

If possible, stay at the keys from Monday to Friday and avoid weekends. Weekends are utterly busy, prices for hotels increase and most spots are crowded. The advantage of a weekend visit; more guided trips are offered in the John Pennekamp State Park. December and January are usually busier.

 

Booking.com

 

Camping in the John Pennekamp State Park

The popular campground is mainly used by RV’s each of the 45 sites has electricity. It is a super clean and well-maintained campground. It provides washing machines and tumblers as well. If you like to stay here, you have to book 11 months before sharp at 8 in the morning. The alternative; usually sites get cancelled shortly before the stay. Check it on Reserve America daily soon before you plan to visit the Keys.

We were forced to look for a motel. There wasn't any affordable campsite available during our last stay. We spent four nights at the Conch On Inn. Luckily, a very comfy bed, WIFI, fridge, coffee machine, BBQ, and utterly attentive owners. Great value for money overall. 

Offered Tours at the Keys

We love snorkelling and the keys are a fantastic destination to watch the beauty of the sea.

Man walking on a beach in the emerald green sea with snorkel gear in the hands
Available tours offered by GYG

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Key Largo, Florida
United States
United States

Key Largo it is known for a dozen excellent snorkelling dive spots. The most popular snorkelling spots are:

  • John Pennekamp State Park
  • White Bank Reef
  • Dry Rocks
  • Molasses Reef
  • Christ Of The Deep
  • Pickles Reef

All these underwater spots require a snorkel tour boat to reach. Most visitors will first stop in the John Pennekamp State Park where there are multiple snorkel boat trips offered daily departing the marina out to the Florida Reef offshore. During offshore snorkels, you will most likely encounter angelfish, parrotfish, sergeant majors, wrasses, hawksbill turtles, nurse sharks, barracudas, grouper to mention just a few of the huge variety.

Snorkel trip and glass bottom boat tours booking  

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Wild Tamarind Trail in the John Pennekamp State Park

Named after John Pennekamp, an early proponent to protect the reef. He also supported the establishment of the Everglades National Park. The visitor center contains a huge aquarium, exhibitions, and theatre. The volunteers answer all your questions about the park and the reefs. Next to the visitor center is the marina where the boat trips start. There are two short nature trails inside the park; Wild Tamarind Trail and the Mangrove Trail.

Poisonwood occurs in the park. Don’t get in contact with anything of the tree. It contains sap. Even if standing under it while raining, it can cause irritation. The fruits of the trees are essential for the endangered white-crowned pigeon when feeding the chicks. There is a small colony inside the park and pigeons make a break here in summer on migration to South America. Due to Hurricane Irma, some beaches disappeared. There is still Cannon Beach in the park to relax. 

7 Activities at the Keyes and John Pennekamp

Visitor Information Center and Aquarium in John Pennekamp

There is lots to keep you busy in the park; you definitely won't get bored. You may only regret that your visit is too short.

  1. Rent a boat
  2. Stand-up paddle
  3. Snorkel from the beach or even better book a guided boat trip
  4. Kayaking through the mangroves
  5. Walk along the interpretive trail
  6. Visit the information center and aquarium which gives you an excellent insight
  7. Relax and soak in the beautiful scenery of John Pennekamp

 

Map of all reefs at the Florida Keys

Useful Links Key Largo Snorkeling and Snorkeling With Kids

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I am always open, curious about new…