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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Posted by Cindy Spee on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 at 12:51pm.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was the first underwater park in the United States and the primary attractions of the park are the coral reefs and their associated marine life such as seagrass beds and mangrove swamps. It is a Florida State Park located on Key Largo in Florida and includes approximately 70 nautical square miles of adjacent Atlantic Ocean waters. The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The park has had more than a million visitors, making it the most popular park in the Florida State Parks system. Many enjoy the view of the reef from a glass-bottom boat tour but visitors can also get a look by scuba diving or snorkeling. Canoeing and kayaking through the park's waters are popular activities; fishing is permitted in designated areas. Visitors can enjoy walking on short trails, picnicking, or swimming at the beach. The Visitor Center has a 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium and nature videos are shown in its theater. Full-facility and Youth/Group campsites are available.

The park is named for the late John D. Pennekamp, a Miami newspaper editor, whose efforts contributed to the establishments of Everglades National Park and the preservation of what would become John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The coral reef at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park are among the most beautiful and diverse of all living communities. One of the most famous residents of Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the Christ of the Abyss, located near Dry Rocks. The 8.6-foot-tall statue weighs 4,000 pounds and sits in nearly 25 feet of water. It is a popular site for scuba divers and snorkelers. Donated to the Underwater Society of America in 1961 by Italian scuba entrepreneur Egidi Cressi, the statue is the third bronze casting of sculptor Guido Galletti’s “Il Cristo Degli Abissi,” translated in English to Christ of the Abyss and also called Christ of the Deep.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
102601 Overseas Highway (MM 102.5)
P.O. Box 1560 Key Largo, FL 33037
(305) 451-6300

From Miami, take Florida's Turnpike south to US 1. Take US 1 to Key Largo. Look for the State Park entrance on your left at Mile Marker 102.5. To view the Christ of the Abyss firsthand contact any of the many independently owned glass-bottom boat, scuba and snorkel excursion operators in the Key Largo area that offer daily trips.

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