John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located in Key Largo between 3 & 8 miles offshore off the coast of the Florida Keys and is the first underwater park in the United States. The park was established in 1963 to preserve and protect the only living coral reef in the continental United States.
John Pennekamp Park, combined with the adjacent Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, encompasses 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps. The areas around the coral reefs are shallow; average depth ranges from 5 to 15 feet. The Molasses Reef which is further offshore, about 6.5 miles; average depth is about 10 to 30 feet. Scuba Depths range from 30 to 45 feet.
Standing in 25 feet of water in Dry Rocks reef about 6 mi East-northeast of Key Largo is “the Christ of the Abyss” an 8.5 ft, 4000lbs bronze sculpture of Jesus Christ made by Italian sculptor Guido Galletti and donated to the park in 1966.
The main attractions at John Pennekamp Park are the coral reefs and the abundance of marine life. Fishing is permitted in designated areas in accordance with Florida law, saltwater fishing licenses are required. Spear-fishing and collecting of tropical fish is prohibited inside the park.
A truly wonderful underwater world like no other