There's a place not too far from Key West, Florida, that's a bit of a secret. It's different because you can't just drive there. You've got to be a bit adventurous and take a plane or a ferry. It's about 70 miles out into the ocean.
This place is actually seven small islands. Each one is its own little slice of nature, surrounded by clear water. It's a cool spot because it's not just about the water and the sand. There's history here, too, with an old fort that's been around for ages.
Under the water, it's a whole other world. The coral reefs are full of life, and there's so much to see if you like snorkeling or diving.
But it's not just for people who love the water. If you're into history or just like seeing places that aren't crowded with tourists, this could be your kind of adventure.
So, where is this off-the-beaten-path destination? It's Dry Tortugas National Park. It's not your usual park, which makes it interesting. Stick around to learn more about what sets Dry Tortugas apart and why it should be on your travel radar.
Exploring the Islands of Dry Tortugas
Dry Tortugas National Park comprises seven islands with stunning surroundings. Garden Key, hosting the massive Fort Jefferson, is the most visited, while Loggerhead Key boasts a historic lighthouse and vibrant marine life.
The smaller Bush Key, Long Key, Hospital Key, Middle Key, and East Key offer more secluded experiences.
With these islands making up just about 1% of the park's area, the rest is an expansive marine environment, making every visit here a special encounter with nature. To reach this isolated natural wonder, consider the following options:
Yankee Freedom III Ferry
Departing daily from Key West, this ferry is a popular choice for visitors, providing a comfortable and scenic 2.5-hour journey to the park.
Key West Seaplane Adventures
For a faster and more panoramic experience, seaplanes offer breathtaking aerial views of the park and its surroundings, with flights leaving from Key West.
If you prefer a more personal journey, navigating your own or renting a boat to the park is an option, though it's essential to be well-prepared for the open sea.
Here are the boat rental company options:
- Key West Boat Rentals: Rent a boat for a personal journey.
- Barefoot Billy's: Offers a range of boats for different group sizes.
- Sunset Watersports: Provides various rental options, including for longer excursions.
Uncovering Dry Tortugas' Crown Jewel - Fort Jefferson
When you arrive, you'll first see Fort Jefferson, one of the biggest forts from the 1800s in America. This huge fort is made of over 16 million bricks, making it the largest brick fort in the country.
You can walk around where Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was in trouble for his part in Lincoln's assassination, was once held.
This place has a lot of stories tied to America's history. Originally built for military defense, it's interesting that no battles were ever fought here. It took 30 years to build this massive structure on such a remote island.
The fort's design is brilliant – it's shaped like a hexagon so that it can be defended from all sides.
Now, it's not just a big old fort; it's a place that lets you peek into the past to see how people lived and were imprisoned back then.
Dive deeper into the hidden wonders of Dry Tortugas National Park and its rich history by reading our detailed article: 'Dry Tortugas National Park: Uncover The Secrets Of A Tropical Paradise.'
Things to Do in Dry Tortugas National Park
Aside from the historical allure of Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park is brimming with activities.
Dive into the clear waters for some of the best snorkeling experiences in North America, where vibrant coral reefs and intriguing shipwrecks await.
Birdwatchers will be delighted, especially during migration seasons, as the park becomes a hub for various bird species. For a unique overnight adventure, camping under the stars on these remote islands is an unforgettable experience.
@haley_burleson Just realized i never posted our camping trip at DRTO back in February 😅 #DryTortugas #NationalPark #Camping #IslandCamping #FortJefferson #FloridaKeys ♬ Love You So - The King Khan & BBQ Show
Kayaking around the serene waters offers a peaceful way to explore the park’s natural beauty, so remember to bring your own gear.
Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy casting their lines in designated areas, adhering to the park's regulations. Each activity provides a different perspective on this isolated yet incredibly rich natural and historical treasure.
For a unique night-time experience, explore the bioluminescence and stargazing opportunities at Dry Tortugas by checking out our guide: 'Dry Tortugas National Park [A Dark Sky Paradise For Bioluminescence And Stargazing].'
A Special Place Just for You
Dry Tortugas is a park you can't get to by car, but it's worth the boat or plane ride. It's like a secret island adventure, with cool history and beautiful beaches.
If you're considering going, check with the park folks or the Florida info center first.
They'll help you out with what you need to know. This isn't just another destination; it's a personal invitation to a place as special as you are. Don't just read about it – come and live the experience at Dry Tortugas.