21-JAN-2021 Thursday – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL (0 nautical miles 0 statute miles)

25°07’26.3″N 80°24’24.6″W
25.123967, -80.406837
Elevation: Sea Level
States (1): Florida

Along the Way

Day 3 at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Today we figured we should explore the park as long as we were here.

Mangrove Trail

The cannons on the beach are from English warship HMS Winchester which sunk in 1695 after grounding near Carysfort reef, a few miles from here.

Leaping Lizards! This lizard dropped 7 feet from the branch of a tree to land on his prey.

The Grove Trail is a mangroves to fruit groves trail. It wanders through a mangrove forest that ends at H.J. Shaw Farm.

Farmer Shaw grew Key Limes, oranges, and other fruit trees on a few acres cleared out of the tropical forest by planting dynamite amid the rocks and blowing it up. The Shaw family sold this grove and the surrounding forest to the state of Florida in 1979, enabling the creation of the land side of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Decades ago the Key Largo was known for its plantations of Key Limes. The park continues to maintain this grove, which is the very last working Key lime grove in the Upper Keys.

My favorite path was the Wild Tamarind Trail. It’s a tropic hardwood forest with labels on many of the trees and shrubs. Tropical hardwood forests once covered most of the uplands on Key Largo.

Tropical hardwood forests are rarely seen in North America. Seeds of the plants took quite a journey to land in one of the most northern places warm enough for them to germinate. They were brought here by eastly tradewinds, hurricane winds and migrating birds.

On to explore some of the park waterways.

OMG alley! The Marvin D Adams Waterway, opened in 1963, is a cut through an ancient coral ridge connecting Largo Sound to Blackwater Bay.

Leaving the park.


The only remaining section of John Pennekamp State Park to explore this trip to Key Largo is the coral reef. We snorkeled it on a prior trip several years ago. The John Pennekamp Coral Reef is the first undersea park in the United States and encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles. It also has the underwater Jesus statue. Hopefully we get to it another day…


Tonight we are the only transient boat in the marina.


John Pennekamp was an associate editor and columnist with the “Miami Herald” newspaper who had been instrumental saving the Everglades from over development and establishing the Everglades National Park in 1947. He was also the first chairman of the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials and a consultant with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He also was instrumental in getting the Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorial to create a 75-mile offshore sea park on Key Largo that was ultimately named the John D. Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Ponder This

Imagine how much sound a centipede would make if they wore tiny flip flops

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