John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Kayaking
Updated: Mar 26, 2022
This state park may be known for its snorkeling excursions but it also offers some of the best kayaking in the upper Florida Keys. I recommend bringing your own kayaks so you are not limited to following the rental company's regulated kayaking area. At the park's entrance toll booth be sure to ask to borrow a kayak trail map if you do bring your own kayaks. The mapped out kayak trails are the equivalent of a corn maze for kayaks. You could quickly become "lost" if you are not following the map. Most of the marked trails are wide enough for kayakers to pass by each other. There are a few smaller side trails that become tight quite quickly. The amount of wildlife on the trails is limited possibly due to the busyness of the trails. Back in the trails I recall seeing a few stingrays and fish in the water but no birds. The majority of birds seen were spotted in unmarked areas that are only accessible to those who brought their own kayaks. As far as upper Keys kayaking goes I would give this park five stars!
Here are some of the birds spotted closer to the roped off beach area. There were more birds further out in the unmarked trail areas, most of which were too skittish to be photographed but still fun to observe.
Afterwards if you are looking for a great place to photograph or just watch sunset, then head to Rowell's Waterfront Park about a mile up the road on the bay side. The park has a jetty like rock area with mangroves you can walk out onto for a great view of the sunset!
On this particular day the sunset ended up being a dud but there were some pretty cotton candy colors reflected in the waters around the rocks.