Although most of the park is underwater, that doesn't mean there are no opportunities for exploration on foot. The park offers three separate nature trails with different natural environments. There are also kayak trails for those who prefer to do their exploration by boat.
This short walk is entirely on boardwalk, making it the perfect choice for families with small children, or the less mobile. The trail ends at an observation tower, so if you've got the energy, climb the steps for great views across the ocean and mangrove swamps.
This trail showcases the area's tropical hardwood trees, and allows visitors to walk through the forest and see them close up. There are information boards along the route, should you want to learn more about the trees and wildlife.
This trail starts at the visitor center and leads through some tropical fruit tree plantations, similar to the trees planted by the first European settlers in this area of Florida.
If you're planning to bring the family to the Florida Keys, then booking John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park hotels gives the opportunity to fully explore this area. Bring the snorkeling gear and plenty of sunscreen, and see what amazing things you can discover on the bottom of the ocean.
Although there are no John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park cabins, you can camp at the park, under canvas, or in your RV. There are 47 spots, with showers and picnic areas for campers.
Located in the Visitor Center, the Park's 30,000 gallon saltwater aquarium is home to all sorts of interesting creatures which make their home in the waters of the Keys. There are smaller tanks, too, and lots of information about life in the ocean.
There are many boat trips out from the visitor center onto the reef, where all you need to do is float on the surface to watch the rich marine life on the coral. More challenging diving is also available for those with scuba experience.
The ideal option for people who want to see marine life without getting wet, regular trips run from the visitor center, accompanied by expert local guides.