While planning my trip to Florida, I decided I had to go snorkeling - no exceptions. After lots of research and weighing pros and cons, I decided snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park would be a magical experience and immediately booked a tour for my fiancé and me. Unfortunately, our outing was canceled the morning we were scheduled to snorkel; the wind was too strong, and going would have been dangerous. Here’s why we still went to John Pennekamp and why we still recommend you go.
For starters, the workers were really kind and knowledgeable. After informing us that our tour was canceled, they offered to allow us to go later in the day or get a refund. Unfortunately, we had a flight back home to catch and couldn’t wait. Instead, we asked them what they suggest we do and they recommended kayaking in the Mangroves at their facility. What are mangroves, you ask? Mangroves are shrubs or trees that grow in saltwater and are home to lots of wildlife such as fish, birds, turtles, and even manatees.
After careful consideration, we finally decided to do it. Let me tell you, this was an experience I didn't expect to love as much as I did. First of all, the water isn't blue or as transparent as the beaches (it's more of a green color), but the wildlife and adventure make up for it. As I stated earlier, it was a pretty windy day so we were the only two in the mangroves: other people didn’t want to kayak against the wind, or maybe they thought it was unlikely they would see any wildlife.
About halfway through our time, we stopped to see if we could see any fish underwater: to our surprise, we got to see a MANATEE! This was most likely because we stopped paddling our kayak, so it must have felt more comfortable in our area. It swam right next to us, and we could not believe it! We tried to follow it but sadly, it disappeared into the water. Even now, months later, it's so cool to think about!
Once the water calmed down a bit, I ended up snorkeling in the water and got to see lots of really cool fish. Eventually, the kayaking trail came to an end. The workers were shocked when we told them what we saw. They genuinely seemed happy for us and shared their experiences seeing wildlife. Even if we didn’t see all that we did, I could still recommend this place simply for the views and wonderful employees.