Day 2 (April 24rd 2020):
Weather was once again at the top end of windy that I wanted to sail in. We did see some boats go out, but they generally had much more experience then we do. The resort does not allow boats out if there are small craft advisories, and today was just at the edge of that limit.
Instead we grabbed the snorkel gear we brought with us (though they have stuff to borrow at the resort), and headed to John PenneKamp Coral Reef State Park. This state park is located about a mile up the road from the resort and it seems to fill up pretty fast, luckily we were up early and could easily find a spot to park at the beach. There was enough wind that day that the snorkel boats were not allowed to go out, otherwise we may have done that.
The first beach you come to is Cannon Beach. This is one of the more popular beaches and snorkel spots in the park. It's a large area to snorkel in, but dues to popularity, there isn't really a lot to see. The center of the beach is a deep pit that you can't see the bottom of, around the edges of that where about the only place we were able to see any coral or fish. There is a staged shipwreck to snorkel around in that was pretty neat.
After we explored the area for a while we walked down the path across a bridge to another beach. This one was a lot more deserted. We went out into the water staying to the sand strip and then looked down and there was an anemone looking thing on the bottom.
Then there was another and another. Then we realized the ground was COVERED with them. They were really interesting looking. Then we realized what they were.
Jellyfish, millions and millions of them covering the ground everywhere. We swam around the are watching them, every once in a while one would swim up, but for the most part they all just stuck to the ground. After about half an hour if felt like I was being stung by something all over my skin. I swam towards shore, and Nikki had felt it at the exact same time I had.
We walked a little further down the path and cautiously got back into the water on the other side of the peninsula. There were even less people here, which was a bit worrying. This wound up being the best spot though. There was a lot more living coral, and tons more fish. We were able to see a lobster and a lot of different types of fish.
I would recommend a snorkeling dive boat rather than snorkeling from shore. The best places to snorkel just can't be reached from land. We also talked to someone at the resort that night that recommended the kayaks through the mangroves, he said it was really fun.
After we were tired of swimming we headed down the chain of keys to Islamorada to a place called Robbie. It's a small tourist trap just off the road that gets fairly busy.
For a small fee you can get a bucket of fish to feed the giant tarpon. These giant fish will just completely out of the water to grab a fish in your hand. The Pelicans are also on the prowl and ruthlessly aggressive. I missed a picture of the one that bit Nikki hard enough to draw blood.
Nearby where the charter boats were cleaning their catch you could see a group of sharks swarming right near shore. We didn't end up eating here, but there are also some restaurants in the vendor area. If I wanted to go on a fishing boat charter, or rent a jetski, I would have probably chosen here to pick one up at.
For dinner we ate at Square Grouper which was probably the fanciest place that we ate at the entire trip. The good was good, but not the best that we had the entire time.
We ended the day just like every other, with drinks at the resort tiki hut watching the sunset.