09 May Kayaking Through the Mangroves at John Pennekamp State Park
Twisting and turning our way through, we arched back to skim under the low hanging trees. As we maneuvered our kayaks carefully towards the other side of the mangrove cluster, I wondered if we were on the right path. The path we chose, was indeed correct, and it led us through the tight and narrow paths of the mangroves in John Pennekamp State Park.
John Pennekamp State Park is located in Key Largo, and it extends three miles into the ocean to encompass coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass swamps. Activities in the park range from diving, snorkeling, and kayaking to relaxing on the beach, camping or taking a tour on a glass bottom boat. We visited the park on our weekend getaway to the keys with our friends, Alex and Heather, from Outside the Den. As we only had a few hours to explore, we decided to rent kayaks by the hour and explore on foot a bit after.
After renting our kayaks and providing the rangers with our information in case we ran into any problems out on the water, we were able to head on over to our kayaks for a brief overview of the area. Thankfully, we were provided with a map–it would have been super hard to navigate the mangroves without any reference points!
We chose a path that was to take approximately 1-1.5 hours roundtrip and then set off on our way. The water was pretty calm, so it was a perfect day to set out on our adventure. There are around 2.5 miles of mangroves to explore–some areas are wide open channels, and others are so tight and narrow that you may wonder if you are on the right path.
Photo Credit: Outside The Den
When venturing through the mangroves, make sure to keep an eye out for the beautiful birds flying above and the marine life you might spot under your kayak. Some areas are so dense with seagrass that it almost feels like you will get stuck in the shallow water, but keep paddling and see if you can spot any fish below. Also, watch out for boats, too! Depending on the path you choose, you may have to cross a boat channel, and sometimes boaters don’t follow the rules and end up in areas they shouldn’t be.
With a variety of rental options, you can rent kayaks (and paddleboards too!) by the hour, or for a half or full day. Kayaking makes for a nice relaxing day, especially when you are back in the secluded mangroves of the Florida Keys, and it’s one of our favorite activities to do in the area!
Have you ever been kayaking before?