Exploring Dry Tortugas National Park

A Journey With The Young Aficionado Chase Dalton

Grab your sense of adventure and get ready for an experience like no other! We explore the destination, the history, and the do’s and do not’s of the Dry Tortugas!

Your options for getting to the Dry Tortugas from Key West are by sea plane, ferry or private watercraft.  We were lucky enough to enjoy the latter.  Our day began bright and early as we mustered up the courage to wake up at 5:30 AM. We set out from the Key West Bight Marina, ready to explore the wonders that awaited us. The amazing dock masters at the marina went above and beyond to make sure our departure went smoothly. Their expertise and friendly assistance truly made all the difference. We were soon on our way. 

Dry Tortugas
Dry Tortugas
Dry Tortugas

By sea, the scenic journey to our destination approximately 70 miles away would take about two hours.  As our boat glided through the beautiful waters, we couldn’t help but be in awe of our surroundings. The shimmering blues and greens stretched out as far as the eye could see, creating a breathtaking backdrop for our journey. Along the way, we couldn’t resist stopping for a quick dip in the water. We decided to do some fishing at one point, cast our lines into the depths of the ocean, and eagerly awaited a tug on our hooks. The thrill of reeling in a catch only added to the excitement. 

Later, in sighting the imposing 19th-century fortress of Fort Jefferson we arrived at our destination. The remoteness of Dry Tortugas National Park adds to its allure. We had arrived at just the place to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. But first was finding a spot to park our boat. We carefully navigated in, mindful of the snorkelers and taking care to avoid any collisions with coral heads.

Dry Tortugas

Exploring the Hidden Gem of Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas

This remote paradise is home to two main islands, Loggerhead Key and Garden Key. While we chose to make it a day trip, camping options are available on Garden Key for the adventurous traveler.  The Dry Tortugas National Park offers designated areas for campers to set up their tents and spend the night under the stars. You can get a camping permit by visiting the park’s official website or at the visitor center upon arrival.

The uninhabited keys are a true paradise for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.  The underwater world surrounding the keys is teeming with marine life and vibrant coral reefs, is a haven for snorkelers and divers.  If birdwatching is your passion, then Loggerhead Key will captivate your senses, offering opportunities to spot rare and migratory birds in their natural habitat.

A trip to the Dry Tortugas is equally enticing to history buffs.  Stepping inside the walls of Fort Jefferson on Garden Key is stepping back in time.  As you roam its hallowed halls, your mind plays out the stories of pirates, prisoners, and the Civil War.  

The fortress was built during the Civil War and strategically positioned to safeguard vital shipping routes and protect against potential threats. Its intricate design reflects the ingenuity and engineering prowess of its time.  Fort Jefferson also served as a military prison for Confederate soldiers.  As you roam its hallowed halls, your mind plays out the stories of pirates, prisoners, and the Civil War. 

Dry Tortugas

At the end of the day, what truly made our journey to the Dry Tortugas incredible was the company we shared it with—a great group of friends who shared laughter, stories, and unforgettable moments. From watching the sun rise over tranquil waters to experiencing a thrilling fishing excursion together, we soaked up every moment.  It was truly a great time that will be etched in our memories forever.

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