John Pennekamp State Park Beach (Cannon Beach)

  • John Pennekamp State Park Beach - USA
    © Reinhard Link and licensed for reuse under this Licence Pinterest
  • John Pennekamp State Park Beach - USA
    © Jim E Maragos Pinterest
  • John Pennekamp State Park Beach - USA
    © bebatut and licensed for reuse under this Licence Pinterest

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, to give it its full name, is more than just a beach. In fact there are several beaches, all of which face into the calm waters of Key Largo Sound. That said, most of the park is underwater - it’s actually the first undersea park in the U.S., established in 1963.

The first thing to point out about the park and the beaches is you may be disappointed if you are expecting the coral reefs to be right off the sand.┬áJohn Pennekamp state park covers an area of around 70 nautical square miles and extends over 3 miles into the ocean. Truth is that stunning coral is a fair way out to sea and you’ll need a boat to get there.

There are two main beaches in the park; Cannon beach and Far beach. The best of these is Cannon beach which get its name from a pair of 17th century cannons which now overlook the beach. These came from a ship which was wrecked not far off the shore and more cannons and the anchor can still be seen if you snorkel out to the buoy.

The snorkeling off Cannon beach isn’t great and the water can often be a little murky. It certainly doesn’t compare to the world class diving further out. What the beach does offer though is a pleasant space to spend some time in with a small area of parkland behind and basic amenities. We wouldn’t necessary recommend planning your day around the beach, but it makes a great spot to relax between activities.

Neighboring Far beach is somewhat smaller. It has a similar sprinkling of imported sand and is dotted with palm trees, which can provide some shade. There are less facilities at Far beach, but this tends to make it less popular than Cannon beach.

Nearest town/city

Key Largo

Also known as:

Cannon Beach


Dog ban in force


  • Diving & snorkelling
  • Swimming/bathing


  • Shower

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