Glass bottom boat tours leave from John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo, amongst other places in the Keys.
Expect to see common reef fish like parrot fish, zebra fish, barracuda, snapper, sargent majors, nurse sharks, sting rays, and even the occasional grouper. The Florida Keys -- that idyllic chain of islands reaching beneath the southern edge of Florida, elegantly dividing the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean -- are defined as much by their surrounding waters as they are by the islands themselves.
This is a perhaps the most relaxing way to explore John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park -- the country’s first undersea park -- and the adjacent Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
First launched in 1953, the Fury glass bottom boat was one of Key West’s original tourist attractions. If a cocktail sounds like the perfect accompaniment to a glass-bottom tour, choose the Key Largo Princess for a lovely exploration of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
The reef is average of six miles off shore in the Keys, making it very accessible and convenient to get to. Look for coral species like purple fan, a soft coral that’s prevelant in the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. The world of coral reefs and colorful sea life thriving beneath has an irresistible draw for many travelers.
Covering some 178 nautical square miles, this remarkable stretch of water is home to the Molasses Reef, seagrass beds, mangrove swamps and a colorful spectrum of marine life.


As charming as historical landmarks are, however, occupants will take comfort in knowing that the 1950s boat has been replaced several times over the years.
This smaller hydrofoil boat has a generously sized glass bottom viewing window made of magnifying glass, ensuring a good view for all passengers. Drinks (including soda, beer, wine, cocktails and signature frozen drinks) and snacks are available for purchase onboard. Glass bottom boat tours head out to the reef every day throughout the Florida Keys, from Key Largo to Key West.
Your tourguide on the glass bottom boatis well-informed and his or her speech will be full of fascinating facts about the coral reef you see. Glass bottom boat rides are among the most popular tourist attractions in the Florida Keys, because they offer everyone, regardless of age or physical ability, the opportunity to witness these treasures without ever getting wet -- unless you want to. The Spirit of Pennekamp is a spacious 65-foot high speed catamaran that can hold up to 130 passengers; snorkeling instructions and equipment are available for those who wish to get even closer to the mesmerizing reef or to check out the submerged Christ of the Abyss statue. Today the Fury is a million-dollar twin-hull catamaran with a sun deck, an air conditioned enclosed area, snack bar, restrooms and viewing windows for overlooking this continent’s only living coral reef. After speeding up to 50 mph out to coral reef gardens, the Ocean Vue stops long enough for guests to observe the reef from above or to jump in with snorkel gear. The 75-foot motor yacht carries up to 140 passengers, who can take in the colorful expanse from the sundeck or relax in the comfort of the air-conditioned main cabin.


It’s a great opportunity to learn about one of the best things about the Florida Keys, the amazing coral reef. Whether soaking up the midday sun or unwinding with the sunset cruise, passengers will enjoy informative and friendly narration from the ship’s captain and crew about the fascinating world beneath the glass.
After the reef visit, the boat continues to Dolphin Playground -- home to hundreds of dolphins -- where the glass bottom again provides an intimate view of these playful creatures. The boat’s design includes large flat viewing windows with plenty of room for passengers to sit, dangling their feet over the whimsical sights swimming beneath the boat. These tours are the perfect way for vacationers to see the coral reef, especially if they don’t have much time. The hull of the boat is fitted with glass panels through which you can see through to the water below. When the Captain of the boat hovers over coral reef, you’ll get to see everything clearly and up close…without getting in the water!



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