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The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first underwater preserve in the United States. Stop in the Visitor Center to marvel at the 30,000 gallon saltwater aquarium, and learn about the unique environment through exhibits and videos or book a guided walking tour. The park was established in 1963 to protect the only living coral reef in North America, and here you find the perfect opportunity to get your feet wet — literally. Don’t miss taking a glass-bottom boat tour, or if you’re more adventurous, a scuba or snorkeling adventure. No experience is necessary for snorkeling, except knowing how to swim. Exploring the coral reef is an incredible journey through color, shape and texture. From soft-leaf sea fans to hard branches of the aptly named elkhorn coral, the reef is home to 80 species of coral and 260 species of tropical fish including the multi-hued parrotfish and great barracuda. No less fascinating are the varied invertebrates, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, brittle star and more. Be sure to try some underwater photography. Snorkelers and scuba divers will also get to see “Christ of the Deep”, an underwater statue symbolizing peace of mankind. Donated to the park in 1966, it is a copy of “Il Cristo Degli Abssi,” by Italian sculptor Guido Galletti. Park concessions have snorkel equipment and kayaks or canoes for rent on-site as well as a full service PADI dive shop. Also enjoy hiking trails, observation tower, picnicking or overnight stays in the full-facility campground for tent and RVs. There is a vehicle fee to enter the park and a charge for tours which are well worth the money.
U.S. 1 Mile Marker 102.5
Key Largo, FL
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