This 2-hour cruise was an absolute delight. The 70-foot boat has an open upper deck for dolphin sightings with the wind in your hair and an enclosed lower deck for viewing the reef beneath the boat. The crew was pleasant and it wasn’t packed with passengers so you can actually relax and enjoy the ride without having to put anyone or their child in a choke hold.
The trickiest part of the cruise is finding the boat. They say that they take you out to the reefs of John Pennekamp State Park, but you don’t board inside the park. Instead, drive about 3 miles south past the park entrance on Overseas Highway and park at the marina located next to the Hilton. Check-in is inside the hotel lobby in the gift shop. Once everyone was aboard we traversed the waterway out toward Molasses Reef.
It’s a 45-minute ride out to the reef so we hung out on the upper deck for the first half of the trip, drinking fuzzy navels and hoping that the birds flying overhead didn’t poop on our heads or cups.
As we got closer to the reef and the boat’s speed slowed a bit we headed downstairs to start viewing some shit. It’s ill advised to try to look through the glass at higher speeds because you’ll likely puke.
Within minutes we saw a reef shark and three green turtles swim beneath our feet. It was a thrill. When we were directly over Molasses Reef, a crew member pointed out fish, coral, and plants while giving information about the ecosystem. Turns out it’s one of the largest reefs in the world.