The first thing you’ll notice about Dry Tortugas is that it’s surrounded by water; the park got its name because there was no fresh water available while building Fort Jefferson, which is the centerpiece of the park. The fort was never completed, although it was used as a prison during the Civil War, so it’s historically significant, in addition to just being crazy. It’s not every day you see a giant fort out in the middle of the super clear, blue ocean. Navigating to the island was treacherous back in the day, so it is surrounded by shipwrecks you can snorkel up to. You can go on guided tours of the fort as well, but since this park is in the middle of the ocean, facilities are limited.
“take in the picturesque blue waters & superlative coral reefs and marine life”
Almost 70 miles (113 km) west of Key West lies the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. The 100-square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson, picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, and the vast assortment of bird life that frequent the area.
Excellent day trip and probably a great overnight camping trip. The Yankee freedom ferry ride was great. Fort Jefferson was great. Snorkeling was great. The only thing keeping this from 5 stars is the outrageous price tag on the ferry ride. Adults are nearly 200 bucks. If they offered gourmet meals it MIGHT be worth that, but the meals are barely continental in style.
If your indenpently wealth a day trip is the way to go. At $200 round trip per person, I wanted to get more out of it and decided to camp for 4 days. We brought our kayaks for an extra $20 which gave us the freedom to really explore. After the yankee freedom leaves at 3:30 it's your own private island. You can refill anything you forget including ice each day when the boat comes back. You can fish within a mile of the main island. Night stars are some of the best in the world.
We took the NPS-endorsed ferry for $170 pp and thought it was worth every penny. It takes 2.5 hours of travel to get there and the ferry crew feeds you breakfast and lunch aboard the boat. I recommend signing up for the fort tour when you arrive, grab lunch after that's over, and then spend the rest of the time snorkeling. The sea life along the moat was outstanding. We brought our own masks and snorkels but the ferry will lend you gear if needed. A friend carried a boogie board while out snorkeling which was helpful to take a rest and clear out our masks; you may want something that floats while you're out swimming and exploring.
So beautiful! Very remote, about 70 miles from Key West in the middle of the gulf. There is a ferry you can take ($170 for an adult) or you can take a plane. We took the ferry and you get a breakfast on the way there. It was small (eggs, toast, grapes, etc.) but filling. The Fort was great. You can sign up to take a tour or you can just walk around. You're there about 4 hours. You can also swim & snorkel which is absolutely stunning (so bring your swimsuit!). They also serve lunch which is sandwiches, chips, cookies, pop, etc. If you fly your travel time is a lot shorter but note that there are no bathrooms at Ft. Jefferson. If you take the ferry, you can use the bathrooms and the showers on board to rinse off sand. Very expensive, very remote but worth it to me. For me it was a once in a lifetime adventure so I'm glad I went.
YES! You can camp on the island and we definitely want to go back to do this. We have friends who did and they said it was amazing. The camping is dry camping so you have to bring in all your own water and food and there is no electricity.
By far one of the highlights of our trip! The crew is fantastic (we especially loved Hollywood) on the Yankee Freedom III. One of the best beaches we’ve ever been to.
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Dry Tortugas National Park
- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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Good for bird watching, boating, and 6 more activities.
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