The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located noth of Key Largo and one of the best snorkeling spot on the east coast of the United States.
The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was established in 1963 and it is the first undersea park in the USA. It was named after John Pennekamp, a Miami newspaper editor who worked actively on establishing the park.
The park is really huge, 5 km wide and 40 km long (3 miles x 25 miles) with extended coral reefs, mangrove and seagrass areas. The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park corals are among the most beautiful coral reefs on the world.
If you are a novice snorkelers, that is no problem here at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The park offers adventures for beginner and advenced underwater lovers as well.
The snorkeling tours are typically around the inner coral reefs, where the water is safe and shallow, avarage dept is 1,5-4,5 m (5-15 feet). The staff will help you how to snorkel, and life vests are also available.
The reefs are between 5 and 13 km (3-8 miles) far from the coast of Florida Keys, so will need to take a boat to go to the reefs. The boats take snorkelers 3 times daily on tours.
During your snorkeling tours you will see crabs, sea urchins, lobsters, snails, moray eels, worms, starfish, sea cucumbers, sand dollars and sponges here and of course different type of soft and hard corals.
The Christ of the Deep / Christ of the Abyss
The Christ of the Deep statue is really a “must see” if you are snorkeling in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The tour to the Christ of the Deep depends on the weather, but if you are lucky and the weather allows this adventure do not miss it!
The “Christ of the Deep” statue can be found at Key Largo Dry Rocks reef. This place if the park’s most popular site. The 2,7 m tall (9 feet) bronze statue rests in 6 m of water (20 feet), the top of the statue is circa 2,5-3 m. (8-10 feet).
The original Christ of the Abyss can be found in the Mediterranean Sea. This statue of Jesus Christ is a replica, was donated to the Underwater Society of America by Egidi Cressi in 1961.
Around the statue you can see large brain corals, staghorn and elkhorn coral formations. Rays are common here and you can meet a big barracuda who lives here, is very friendly and likes to be photographed!
An other interesting thing is, that The Christ of the Deep sometimes works as an underwater church, hundreds of people have been married here.
You can reach the park from Miami, it is only a 90 minutes drive. Take the take Florida’s Turnpike south than the US 1 to Key Largo. The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park entrance is at mile marker 102.5. Te park is open every day from 8:00 a.m until sunset. There is an entrance fee, the actual prices you could check on the park official site where you will see more informations about the tours as well!