We just got back from staying three nights at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. What a fun time we had!
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park has a lot offer those who are camping there (or stopping in for the day). They have two short nature trails, which are around 1 mile total, they have a small beach, and you can rent kayaks, take a snorkeling tour, or go out on a glass bottom boat tour. There is a lot to do at this state park in the Keys.
We have a 30-foot RV and had reserved site 21. The campground area is snug. The sites are very close together, with hardly no buffer at all in between spaces. You even share a water spout when you hook up your water. The sites are literally one after the other, with no privacy at all. Despite that, we still enjoyed our time there at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
Behind the sites on the side we were on, there is a great view of a swampy area (bottom picture below). Every morning, there would be a lot of Ibis (birds) walking around that we would watch. Later, as the sun came up, there would be a bunch of iguanas. We also saw turtles back there. It's a full hook-up, so we didn't have to use the campground bathrooms. However, I did stop in to check it out and it was clean and has showers.
While there, we did go to the beach, we rented kayaks, we walked the short trails, and we took a snorkeling tour, which can be reserved in the concession area. The snorkeling tour was awesome! The boat ride is about 25 minutes out to the reef. You do have to be a strong swimmer, because the ocean current is challenging to swim in. They do make you wear an inflatable vest so you won't drown. It was awesome! We hovered over the reef, viewing loads of marine life. It was amazing! The kids did the snorkeling tour as well and had a great time. The boat stops out there by the reef and you have about an hour to just explore the reef.
Every two days, the trash pick-up truck comes down the road in the campground. The first time, they did it at 6:00 am, and the second time it was at 5:40 am. They bang the loud canister on the ground, waking up everyone in the campground. I was honestly shocked that they would be allowed to make such noise at that time of the morning every other day. They literally wake up the whole campground. It's crazy!
Each campsite has a picnic table and a built-in grill. However, there are no fire pits for bonfires. They do have a community bonfire area that has an outdoor amphitheater and picnic tables that is a few minutes walk from the camping sites. I think most people cannot get many days in a row here, because the sites seemed like a revolving door, with new people coming in and out it seemed like every day.
The campground also has a small store, gift shop, and they offer a little take-out snack bar. You can even order a whole pizza from the snack bar. Not far from the campground, there are plenty of restaurants and there is a Publix grocery store. While there, we also went to the Wild Bird Sanctuary that was minutes away.
Overall, while the sites are snug in this campground (and still filled with large RV's), we had a great time and would go back again. It's a nice state park that offers a lot to do. You just have to hope you have considerate neighbors, because you are so close together. On one of the days when the trash pick-up came at 5:40 am, everyone was left awake. We lay there in bed listening to our neighbor battle his smoker's cough for about 20 minutes. We could only chuckle about how close the sites were that we felt like that man was in our trailer coughing away!
They do offer recycling stations here, so please use them! Here's more info on recycling while camping.
Here are pictures from our time at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park:
This picture below is of site 14. It was empty, but had people on both sides of it. I snapped it so that you can see how close the sites are together: