Happy Sunday Everyone!
Back in January of 2018, my husband and I decided that our next travel goal was to experience every single US National Park. While I have been visiting National Parks for as long as I can remember with my family, my husband is new to this and has a little catching up to do! 🙂 However, one park that I had not been to (until last weekend) was Dry Tortugas National Park, which is a chain of islands 70 miles off the coast of Key West. Since this is one of the most remote National Parks, and many people aren’t even aware it’s there, I am sharing our experience with you today.
How to Get There
Okay, so there are three ways to get to Dry Tortguas, all of which leave from Key West, including:
- Private charter boat
- Sea Plane
- The Yankee Freedom (which is the National Park owned ferry)
We opt to take the ferry as it is the most affordable and let me tell you….it was amazing! We were not only served lunch, but also breakfast and endless coffee and water during the excursion. The staff was extremely helpful and super enthusiastic- which I always appreciate!
Pro Tip: Since the ferry is the most affordable, it commonly sells out so be sure to book your ticket as early as possible.
It takes about two hours, one-way, to get to Fort Jefferson (The fort is on the main island of Dry Tortugas- Garden Key). I will say that the seas were a little high the day of our tour so some people got a little seasick. This is rare as the ferry is quite large and takes waves very well but if you are prone to motion or seasickness, I recommend taking precautions early on to avoid this as it can really ruin your trip.
What to Do
Once the ferry reaches land at Fort Jefferson, you will have about four hours to explore. Here are some ideas of what to do while on the island.
- Tour the Fort
- Walk to Neighboring Island Bush Key (this can be done only at low tide by a sandbar)
The history at the fort is undeniable and the stories told by the tour guide on the group-led tour are very interesting. Also, as the “Tortugas” name indicates, turtles are plentiful here so I definitely recommend taking some time to go snorkeling as you may get see one of these beautiful creatures.
Pro Tip: The Yankee Freedom provides snorkeling gear so there is no reason to bring your own unless you prefer your own gear
Once the time was up on the island, we started the two-hour long trek back to Key West. During this time you can change into warmer clothes (if necessary) and grab a drink from the bar and just relax. Depending on what time of year you go you may even get lucky and see a sunset.
Overall, this National Park exceeded my expectations and I recommend taking the trip out to Fort Jefferson if you plan to visit Key West at any point in the future.
If you end up visiting the park, comment below on your experience.