Readers' Choice: John Pennekamp Coral Reef and State Park
Arrrr, mateys. Ya can join th' landlubbers over at Pennekamp or Biscayne National, sissy sinking it's called, or ya can have a real ol' time adventure down the way at San Pedro's grave. Way the hell back in 1733, a husky blow doomed a Spanish treasure fleet to Davey Jones's place, and another time a 270-ton ship of Dutch origin known as the San Pedro sank to her watery end a little more than a mile off Indian Key (in eighteen feet of sapphire-color seawater) at a place name o' Hawk Channel. While some dag-blamed scalawags have stripped her of her treasures, there remains a mother lode of excitement at this spot near Islamorada. Crusted ballast stones mark out the shape of the Dutch galleon (the wood body, like the golden age of seafaring, is long gone), while replica cannons and the ship's actual anchor add picturesque elements. At 271 years of age, the San Pedro might be Florida's oldest "artificial reef," but the fish and crabs judge not. Mooring buoys provide anchorage for schooners and kayaks alike, and if ya be without sails, hire a boat and captain at nearby Islamorada ("the purple island"). Have a mug or three of mead while ya wait.