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Seaplane Tours to Dry Tortugas & Fort Jefferson Morning, Afternoon or Full Day Tours

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70 miles west of Key West, Florida lies one of North America's most inaccessible National Parks, the Dry Tortugas. The park is renowned for its marine life, pirate legends and sheer unspoiled beauty. It is dominated by its central feature, the majestic Fort Jefferson, the largest brick building in the western hemisphere.

Step back in time and explore the history that is Fort Jefferson. Sunbathe on a remote white sand beach or snorkel the living reef in the warm crystal clear waters.

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Last updated: June 13, 2024

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Book dry tortugas & fort jefferson.

   Head 70 miles west of key west (112 km west of key west) and you’ll reach a remarkable group of islands called the Dry Tortugas. Remote and isolated, the islands are almost entirely undeveloped by man and a haven for wildlife. Whether you take our day trip or stay overnight you’ll find our Dry Tortugas charters are second to none.

   There are just a few ways to get to the Dry Tortugas by sea, and only Key West Charter Boat can book you on them all: public ferry, private sailing catamarans, and high-speed ocean-going powerboats.

   Call us or fill out a quote form for information on Dry Tortugas charters. Or book online now. Tickets for the ferry Yankee Freedom III are a click away.

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girl snorkels during a Dry Tortugas Public Charter

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Charter Type Charter Type Dry Tortugas Charter Deep Sea Fishing Charter Flats Fishing Charter Private Custom Charter Sailing Charter Large Group Charter Overnight Charter Sunset Charter Boat Rental Cuba Charter Jet Ski Rental Spearfishing Charter Snorkeling Luxury Yacht Charter Scuba Diving Glass Bottom Boat Lobstering Charter Dolphin Watching Corporate Boat Party Wedding Charter Film Production Charter Other

Duration Duration Half Day (4hrs) 3/4 Day (6hrs) Full Day (8hrs) Multiple Day

Number Of Participants Number Of Participants 1 2 3 4 5 6 More Than 6

Location Location Key West (Lower Keys) Islamorada / Marathon (Middle Keys) Key Largo (Upper Keys) Dry Tortugas Cuba Other...

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The Beautiful birds of Dry Tortugas National Park

Americas Oceanic National Park

Rising out of deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico, the Dry Tortugas are a migration waypoint and breeding ground for hundreds of thousands of birds. Birding enthusiasts will definitely want to bring binoculars for spotting sooty terns, masked booby, and the magnificent frigate bird, to name a few. And anglers will want to bring their rods and reels. The fish population here is also impressive, with over a dozen species to catch, including blackfin tuna, grouper, wahoo, mahi-mahi and sailfish.

Designated a national park in 1935, the seven islands that make up the Dry Tortugas are a protected area for marine life and habitats. That designation has ensured the islands remain the way Mother Nature intended. It also makes them a snorkeler’s paradise. Visitors from the world over journey here to explore the amazing ecosystem of coral reefs, mangrove islands, and calcified outcroppings.

We’ve Got Fort Jefferson & Loggerhead Key

Dry Tortugas Charters supply you with mask, snorkel, and fins, you’ll enter a beautiful underwater world—a unique ecosystem of aquatic plants and the marine creatures that depend on them. Schools of brightly colored tropical fish, sea turtles, rays, starfish, and conch cohabitate in perfect harmony. In order to maintain nature’s fragile balance, snorkelers are not allowed to touch the living coral. Please leave the reefs in the same beautiful condition in which you found them.

Like many places in the Florida Keys, snorkeling in the Dry Tortugas can be enjoyed by experts and novices alike. The shallow waters (5 to 15 feet) are easily accessible straight from the beach. Even if you’ve never snorkeled before, you’ll get right in the swim of things very quickly. So have fun. And please remember to use reef-friendly sunscreen.

An aerial shot from above Dry Tortugas National Park

More Dry Tortugas Info...

A step back in time.

You won’t be the first person enchanted by these picturesque islands. In 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon stopped here during his search for the legendary Fountain of Youth. Setting foot on the soft, powdery beaches, Ponce de Leon claimed the islands in the name of Spain. But what to call them? The answer didn’t take long. So taken by the abundance of sea turtles living here, the explorer named the islands  Las Tortugas , The Turtles. (“Dry” was added later when it was discovered the islands had no fresh-water springs).

No visit to the Dry Tortugas would be complete without exploring, snorkeling or scuba diving Fort Jefferson. Built by the US Army Corp of Engineers in the 1850s, the historic fort is a massive installation sprawled over most of Garden Key. Used by the Union army during the civil war, Fort Jefferson acted as both a coastal defense fortification and a prison.

Among those imprisoned here was dr Samuel Mudd, the physician who treated Abraham Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth as he fled south from Washington D.C. Fort Jefferson was never finished and eventually abandoned as a working fort. Fortunately, it is a working museum. Reservations for private guided tours can be made in advance of your trip by Key West Charter Boat.

Private Charters To Loggerhead Key

Three miles west of Fort Jefferson you’ll find Loggerhead Key, home of the Dry Tortugas lighthouse. Also known as Loggerhead lighthouse, the 157-foot tall structure first entered service in 1858, and was only recently removed from operation in 2015. Once the most powerful lighthouse in the United States, Dry Tortugas light has been said to be “a greater distance from the mainland than any other light in the world.”

When approaching the Dry Tortugas, the lighthouse can be spotted jutting into the sky like a giant pencil, providing a clear navigation point for captains to follow. Private vessels are required to check-in and file a boat permit on Garden Key before visiting Loggerhead Key.

Dry Tortugas Fishing

Fishing charters to the Dry Tortugas frequently combine the sport of angling with the luxury of yachting. Many sportfishing boats are as well-appointed as large power yachts, with air-conditioned salons, state-of-the-art entertainment systems, and fully-stocked fridges and bars. So they’re well suited for the non-anglers in your party.

The fishermen among you will find the 70-mile trip an excellent trolling opportunity. It’s not uncommon for the fighting chair to be occupied for the lion’s share of the journey west. Once you reach the Dry Tortugas, drop anchor and everyone jumps in. There will be plenty of time for more world-class fishing on the ride back to Key West.

Ferry service from key west Florida to the Dry Tortugas on Yankee freedom iii leaves daily from the town dock and takes about 2 1/2 hours. Dry Tortugas National Park prices are available by booking online.

Dry Tortugas Transportation Info

Other questions regarding ferry travel can be answered through our live chat feature or by calling Key West Charter Boat. Just mention Dry Tortugas National Park / Dry Tortugas ferry prices. We’ll check schedules, availability, and costs.

Your round-trip ferry visit will be a full-day event, so remember to pack accordingly: sunscreen, bathing suit, sun hat, etc. With advance reservations, you also have the opportunity to spend the night camping on the islands. With our Dry Tortugas charters, your options are vast.

 Dry Tortugas Charter Options

A special permit is required by the department of the interior and available through the National Park Service. Key West Charter Boat can make camping arrangements for you but you must plan ahead. Space is limited and slots sell out 9-12 months in advance.

The ferry is big, comfortable and relatively fast. But if you want to get there even faster, charter one of Key West’s high-speed private boats. With the right sea conditions, private charters can take you from Key West ferry terminal to Fort Jefferson in as little as 90 minutes.

Dry Tortugas Catamarans & Yachts

Traveling to the Dry Tortugas by sailing catamaran is an experience in itself. With the wind as your engine, the big cats are a surprising combination of speed, space, and comfort. Holding 30 people or more, catamarans are perfect for big private groups and corporate outings.

Custom catering is available, including food, wine, beer and soft drinks. Snorkeling  gear can be provided as well. Private charter a cat and a trip to the Dry Tortugas becomes an ocean-going party.

No matter how you get to the Dry Tortugas, you’ll find these isolated islands, unlike any place you’ve ever been before. The combination of turquoise water, pure white sand, extraordinary wildlife, and no high-rise hotels is unique and special. Call Key West Charter Boat or fill out a quote form to learn more. Or book a trip immediately online.

The Dry Tortugas National Park was absoulutley stunning.  We took a private charter and spent the day exporing these beautiful islands.

Charter Type Charter Type Dry Tortugas Charter Deep Sea Fishing Charter Flats Fishing Charter Private Custom Charter Sailing Charter Large Group Charter Overnight Charter Sunset Charter Boat Rental Luxury Yacht Charter Cuba Charter Jet Ski Charter Spearfishing Charter Snorkeling Scuba Diving Glass Bottom Boat Dolphin Watching Lobstering Charter Corporate Boat Party Wedding Charter Film Production Charter Other

We’ve Got Fort Jefferson & Loggerhead Key Covered

Beautiful stars as seen from the Dry Tortugas National park

Book Dry Tortugas Fort Jefferson

   Call us or fill out a quote form for information on Dry Tortugas charters. Or book online now. Tickets for the ferry Yankee Freedom III are a click away.  

Public trips

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Private trips

Charter Type Charter Type Dry Tortugas Charter Deep Sea Fishing Charter Flats Fishing Charter Private Custom Charter Sailing Charter Large Group Charter Overnight Charter Luxury Yacht Charter Sunset Charter Lobstering Charter Boat Rental Cuba Charter Jet Ski Charter Spear Fishing Charter Snorkeling Scuba Diving Glass Bottom Boat Dolphin Watching Corporate Boat Party Wedding Charter Film Production Charter Other

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Dry Tortugas Transportaion Info

Dry tortugas charter options.

Custom catering is available, including food, wine, beer and soft drinks. Snorkeling   gear can be provided as well. Private charter a cat and a trip to the Dry Tortugas becomes an ocean-going party.

I brought all 40 of my family to the Dry Tortugas via this amazing companies ferry.  The trip was comfortable and the food delicious.  Did I mention that Fort Jefferson was stunning.  Five stars all the way!

A lighthouse at the Dry Tortugas National Park

Charter Type Charter Type Deep Sea Fishing Charter Flats Fishing Charter Private Custom Charter Sailing Charter Large Group Charter Overnight Charter Sunset Charter Boat Rental Dry Tortugas Charter Cuba Charter Jet Ski Charter Spear Fishing Charter Snorkeling Scuba Diving Glass Bottom Boat Dolphin Watching Corporate Boat Party Wedding Charter Other

Relaxing at one of the beautiful Dry Tortugas Beaches

Dry Tortugas Beach Relax

The Beautiful birds of Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas Birds

Stars seen from a Dry Tortugas Camping Trip

Dry Tortugas Camping Trip

Historical Canons of the Dry Tortugas

Dry Tortugas Canon Fire

A hall at Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas Fort Jefferson Hall

An aerial shot from above Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas Fort Jefferson Aerial

People snorkeling at the Dry Tortugas National Park.

Dry Tortugas Snorkel Trips

A baby turtle swims at the Dry Tortugas

Dry Tortugas Turtle

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Marlin jumps during a Dry Tortugas Charter

Custom Fishing

Custom Fishing Trips…

The cabins of one of our Dry Tortugas catamarans.

A Deliciously Fun Time…

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The Best Or Nothing…

Dry Tortugas Spearfishing a Mahi Mahi

Key West Charter Boat,

3200 Harriet Ave,

Key West, FL 33040

United States Of America

Phone: (305) 587-3499 Email: [email protected]

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DRY TORTUGAS DAY TRIPS

Fort Jefferson, Loggerhead Key & The Dry Tortugas Day Trips

Charters from key west to visit the dry tortugas & fort jefferson, join us for this unforgettable day trip with fun in the sun charters, now offering excursions from key west to the dry tortugas, loggerhead key & fort jefferson for groups of up to 6 people..

Located 70 miles west of Key West, these remote national treasures are accessible only by boat or seaplane. Our Fort Jefferson & Loggerhead Key Day trip ensures comfort and excitement aboard our comfortable center console charter boat. Dive into history as you explore the massive brick fortress of Fort Jefferson, guarding strategic sea routes. Loggerhead Key has amazing beaches and snorkeling directly off the beach in shallow water, along with beautiful paths leading to an astounding lighthouse. Relax on pristine beaches, snorkel in crystal-clear reefs, cast a line for some fun fishing, and soak up the sun on this adventure-packed journey. With Fun In The Sun Charters, experience the beauty of the Dry Tortugas without the crowds, promising a day of adventure, history, and natural wonders.

DRY TORTUGAS CHARTERS

Key West Fishing Charters

36ft Invincible

Highend center console, starting at $675 per person or $3500 private.

Embark on an exclusive voyage to the Dry Tortugas with Fun In The Sun Charters’ meticulously crafted day trip, ensuring an unparalleled adventure starting at $675 per person (minimum of 5 persons required for the trip to depart). This excursion promises an intimate experience with a maximum of 6 guests. Explore the historic Fort Jefferson, perched on the remote Garden Key, guarding strategic sea routes. Dive into the crystal-clear waters to discover pristine reefs teeming with marine life. Please note that the trip does not include food, drinks, or park fees. However, guests have the option to upgrade their experience with gourmet meals and refreshing beverages. For those seeking an exclusive experience, a private trip can be arranged for $3500, accommodating up to 6 guests. Embark on a day filled with exploration, relaxation, and unforgettable memories amidst the natural wonders of the Dry Tortugas with Fun In The Sun.

We Are By Appointment Only, Please Do Not Arrive To Our Locations Without Contacting Us.

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6810 Front St, Key West, FL 33040

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Perfect Dry Tortugas Day Trip: What to Know and How to Get There

view of fort jefferson from the seaplane during a dry tortugas day trip

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you buy or book through one of these links, I may earn a small commission .

Are you looking to level up your Key West vacation, and experience something unforgettable? If so, a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park is about as epic as it gets – especially if you take the seaplane.

In fact, the Florida Keys do not actually end with the highway in Key West, but continue 70 miles west into the Gulf of Mexico. The ending point is the Dry Tortugas archipelago, where you can find Dry Tortugas National Park. Due to the close proximity to Key West, it is entirely possible to visit Dry Tortugas on a day trip.

The main draw of the national park is visiting hexagonal Fort Jefferson on Garden Key. As there is no accommodation in Dry Tortugas other than campsites, a day trip is the sole option for most visitors. That means the biggest decision is whether to travel by ferry or seaplane.

Below, I am covering everything to know for a Dry Tortugas day trip, whether by sea or air. As my hubby and I took the seaplane, I will also give a bit more detail on whether this pricier option is worth it.

Spoiler alert: spectacular views impending.

Note: This post was originally published in May 2021, and was last updated in December 2022.

The Ultimate Day Trip to Dry Tortugas National Park

Water surrounding Fort Jefferson from the roof

Table of Contents

Dry tortugas quick facts, how to reach dry tortugas national park.

  • Should You Take the Seaplane or Ferry?
  • Should You do a Full Day or Half Day Trip?

Is the Seaplane to Dry Tortugas Worth it?

  • What to do on a Dry Tortugas Day Trip

What to Bring on a Dry Tortugas Day Trip

From the moment I saw my first aerial photo of Fort Jefferson, I immediately added Dry Tortugas National Park to my bucket list. When Aaron and I eventually booked our Miami to Key West road trip , I finally had the chance to turn this dream into reality.

That said, I knew virtually nothing about this isolated national park. If you are starting from scratch like me, here are some quick facts to bring you up to speed:

  • Fort Jefferson is located on Garden Key, and is the largest brick building in the western hemisphere.
  • National Park entry is $15 per person; National Park Passes are also accepted
  • Dry Tortugas is made up of seven islands: Garden Key, Loggerhead Key, Bush Key, Long Key, Hospital Key, Middle Key, and East Key
  • The word tortugas is Spanish for turtles, due to the large amount that inhabit the surrounding waters. The word “dry” was later added to the name to indicate to other sailors the lack of fresh water on the islands.
  • There are restrooms on Garden Key, but they close once the ferry arrives due to environmental concerns. After that, you must use the ferry’s restrooms, even if you traveled by seaplane.

View of shipwreck in turquoise water from the seaplane

Dry Tortugas National Park can only be reached via boat or seaplane. There are two main companies to book through:

  • Ferry: Yankee Freedom III
  • Seaplane: Key West Seaplane Adventures

The more inexpensive option is the ferry, which offers a full day trip. Travel time is two and a half hours each way, leaving approximately four and a half hours to explore the island. 

The second alternative is the seaplane.  This cuts your travel time down to an exhilarating 40 minute journey each way.  For those unfamiliar with seaplanes, these bad boys can take off and land on the water, which is how they come and go from Dry Tortugas.

This is the option my husband and I opted for, since I can’t resist the idea of sea views from above.  The seaplane flies much lower than a commercial jet for even better sightseeing. We were able to pick out dozens of sea turtles in the water below.

Should you take the Ferry or Seaplane?

Here is a quick comparison of key differences between the ferry and seaplane for a Dry Tortugas day trip:

ferry docked at garden key

  • Travel Time: Approx. 2.5 hours each way
  • Tour options: Full day only
  • Refreshments: Lunch provided, snacks and drinks available for purchase
  • Cost: $200 per adult
  • Time at Dry Tortugas: About 4.5 hours

Check in before your full day tour at 7 am at the Key West Ferry Terminal. Find it in the Historic Seaport at 100 Grinnell Street.

As this is right in downtown Key West, you may be able to walk or bike from your hotel. There is also a parking garage available across the street, but it comes a bit steep at $40/day.

Next, you will join 175 other passengers on this high-speed catamaran to Garden Key. During the ride, you have the option to sit in the cabin or on the deck, while getting an overview of the park and enjoying the scenery.

Seaplane on the white sand beach at Dry Tortugas

  • Travel Time: 40 minutes each way
  • Tour options: Full or half day
  • Refreshments: Water and soft drinks provided, but must pack your own food
  • Cost: $371 per adult for half day; $644 per adult for full day
  • Time at Dry Tortugas: 2.5 hours for half day; 6.5 hours for full day

Check in a half hour before takeoff at Key West International Airport . Don’t worry – you will not need to pass through security.

You can pick your own seat on the plane, and might even end up being the copilot! Every seat has headphones to hear the pilot point out various sights during the flight, as well as music when he isn’t talking.

While there is limited free parking near the tour company’s office, it might be easier to Uber.  The airport is just a ten-minute drive from Duval Street.

Should you do a full or half day trip?

For the seaplane, you can choose either a full day or half day tour.  The half day tour is around half the price of the full day, and could be all you need if you’re not a big snorkeler.  Two and a half hours on the island is enough to enjoy the beach and tour the fort. 

The full day is twice the price, but gives you the chance to spend 6.5 hours relaxing on a remote island.  If you’re a snorkeling enthusiast, you’ll definitely want this extra time to explore all around Garden Key. 

If you do the full day tour, your day will start early for departure at 8 am. We woke up around 6:15 am to get ready in advance of our 7:30 am check-in at the airport.

Travel Savvy Tip

If you choose a half day on the seaplane, I highly recommend doing the tour that begins at 8 am.  You will have two hours on the island before the ferry arrives, giving you time to appreciate the beauty and solitude of your surroundings.  The beach gets packed once the ferry shows up, and shade spots virtually disappear. 

An island seen from the seaplane on a Dry Tortugas day trip

While the seaplane to Dry Tortugas is more expensive, there are several reasons why I found it to be totally worth it:

  • The chance to explore Dry Tortugas before the ferry arrives
  • Less time in transit and more time on the island
  • Amazing views of the water, shipwrecks, and sea creatures below
  • The unique opportunity to land and take off on water

view of ferry from seaplane

Amazing views aside, there is nothing like the unique experience of taking off and landing on water.  Upon landing at Dry Tortugas, the plane pulls right up to the beach for the passengers to disembark.

For nervous flyers like myself, landing and takeoff was really smooth and didn’t feel much different than land.  The only difference I noticed was that it seemed to take a bit longer at sea to pick up speed for lift. While at Dry Tortugas, we actually did see one seaplane abort their initial takeoff, but it simply turned around and took off in the other direction.

What to Do on a Dry Tortugas Day Trip

There are plenty of experiences to have during a Dry Tortugas day trip, both en route and while you’re there.

brunette girl in baseball cap and white dress walking along top of Fort Jefferson during Dry Tortugas day trip

First off, you will see some great scenery en route to Dry Tortugas. If you choose the seaplane, make sure you take a look at the beautiful view of Key West from above while departing. 

The trip to Dry Tortugas takes you through very shallow water, which is aqua with patches of dark blue and ribbons of sand dunes rippling in sections.  Even on the ferry, you may see dolphins and a couple shipwrecks along the way.

Upon arrival, there is nothing like the stunning approach from the seaplane, when the hexagonal shape of Dry Tortugas comes into view.  This is definitely a big photo moment.

While on Dry Tortugas, explore Fort Jefferson and be sure to walk along the top. That is where you will find the best views of the turquoise water below. Also, be sure to observe the seaplanes landing and taking off from the beach all day long.

Go to the beach

girl in pink swimsuit standing in super calm waters around Garden Key and looking out to the horizon

There are a couple small beaches on Garden Key with gentle waters for wading, swimming and snorkeling. Per our pilot’s advice, Aaron and I set up camp on the south beach due to the abundance of shade. 

The water and feeling of being somewhere so remote had an instant calming effect.  We could have been in the Caribbean if I didn’t know any better.  We soaked up every second of the hour and a half we had of this quiet island before the ferry arrived.

With more people, the beach filled up quickly and shade spots disappeared. The environment then became more of a party atmosphere with drinks, music , and games. 

Explore Fort Jefferson

row of arches inside Fort Jefferson

Fort Jefferson is a huge, largely empty brick building that is stark, yet striking in appearance.  If you book the ferry , your ticket includes an optional forty-five minute tour of the fort. Otherwise, it is self-guided, and you basically have the run of the place.

Both the second floor and rooftop offer incredible views. Definitely watch your step if you choose to climb to the top, as there are no rails, but don’t forget to enjoy the cooling breeze.  Mind any signage blocking off sections from the public, as this is for your safety.

We loved exploring Fort Jefferson during the last hour and a half of our day. By this time, most visitors were at the beach, and the fort was not very busy at all. I recommend wearing sturdy sneakers for comfort and safety, as you’ll be trekking and climbing on hard, and sometimes uneven, surfaces.

Dry Tortugas is huge for snorkelers, with shallow waters full of vibrant sea life just a short ways from the beach. Our seaplane pilot kindly informed us of the best snorkel spots to check out upon dropping us off. 

I’ll be honest here – I did not have the best time snorkeling at Dry Tortugas. While the water is conducive to beginner and advanced snorkelers alike, I struggled with the gear the seaplane provided. 

My goggles kept fogging, and my snorkel kept filling with small amounts of water.  Since I did not feel comfortable getting too far from the beach while repeatedly fixing my gear, I cut my time short.  That said, I was able to see a small amount of sea life in the water near the fort.

birds on bush key at dry tortugas

If you visit Dry Tortugas between February and September, you are in for some good bird watching. During this time, approximately 100,000 Sooty Terns and Brown Noddy Terns descend onto Bush Key for nesting season. There are no other nesting colonies like this in North America.

While Bush Key is closed during these months, you won’t miss these birds during your visit. They can easily be seen flying around from neighboring Garden Key, though you may want to bring binoculars for a closer look. You’ll hear these birds as well, as they cause quite a racket!

Take Lots of Pictures

girl sitting in window sill of arch shaped window at Fort Jefferson

Be prepared to snap away during this trip! With the colors in the water changing throughout the day, there is always a new view to capture.  Every time I thought I’d taken enough photos, I’d see some other dreamy section of the water that I couldn’t resist photographing.

If you take the seaplane, the pilot will advise you to sit on the same side of the plane on the way back as you did coming. This allows you to see views of shipwrecks and islands that were opposite your seat earlier. Our pilot also graciously offered to take anyone’s picture in front of the seaplane who wanted one. 

As we approached Key West International Airport, I had unreal views over the beach at Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park , as well as Smathers Beach as we approached the runway. 

  • Food for lunch (if taking seaplane)
  • Cell phone for photos (there is no service on the island)
  • Sunscreen (we like this reef safe variety )
  • Change of clothes for the trip home
  • Good sneakers for exploring the fort
  • $15 cash per person for national park fee (or National Park Pass) for seaplane; fee is built into ferry ticket, so Park Pass holders are entitled to a refund

Note that both the seaplane and ferry companies provide snorkel gear. The seaplane also provides a cooler for any food and drinks you bring. 

If a day trip to Dry Tortugas is not a bucket list worthy experience, then I don’t know what is. Whether you take the seaplane or ferry, you cannot pass up the chance to spend the day on a remote island full of history.  Especially if you are willing to spring for the seaplane – the views are so worth it!

Are you planning a visit to Dry Tortugas? Would you take the ferry or seaplane?

Visiting Dry Tortugas National Park is an unforgettable experience - especially on the seaplane.  A visit to Dry Tortugas, one of America's most remote National Parks, can easily be added to any Key West trip.  It only takes a day of your Florida vacation to snorkel around Garden Key, explore Fort Jefferson, and lounge on a pristine beach.  A day trip to Dry Tortugas is a must during any Florida Keys vacation.

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My Itchy Travel Feet

My Itchy Travel Feet

The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

Best Dry Tortugas Day Trip From Key West

This article may contain referral links. Read our DISCLOSURE

Are you looking for the best Dry Tortugas day trip? Read our tips on about a national park adventure that departs from Key West. Florida travelers, you are going to enjoy this remote trip that includes sailing to an off-the-beaten-path national park .

Guest contributor, Erika Nelson, is here to share her tips for a Dry Tortugas day trip. It’s the perfect addition to a Florida Keys road trip .

And, yes, Dry Tortugas has recovered from 2022 Hurricane Ian enough for visitation, although there are some restrictions in place.

Table of Contents

Plan a Dry Tortugas day trip for adventure in Key West

Snorkelers enter the water from a sandy beach on a Dry Tortugas day trip.

After a couple of days enjoying the fun things to do in Key West , Florida, adventure was calling. My husband and I are big National Park people, and one of the more remote parks is the Dry Tortugas, about a two and a half hour boat trip from this southernmost U.S. city. 

If you’re visiting Key West and want a little adventure, a trip to day trip Dry Tortugas National Park might be the thing to do. The park is 70 miles west of Key West at the end of the Florida Keys in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dry Tortugas National Park ( official website ) is a haven for snorkeling, along with birding, and civil war history. If you’re looking for a quiet, remote escape, this fits the bill.

The Dry Tortugas are named for the turtles that early Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon found on the islands. Later, the English added the word Dry since there is no fresh water on the islands.

How to get to Dry Tortugas National Park

A seaplane lands in the Gulf of Mexico's aqua-colored water.

You can reach the islands either by buying tickets on the Yankee Freedom III, going by private charter or taking a sea plane trip . We went on the Yankee Freedom III—official ferry service to Dry Tortugas for the National Park Service—which added some adventure to the trip

White ferry ship pulled up next to a small dock at Dry Tortugas National Park.

The Yankee Freedom III leaves around 8 AM to reach the remote Garden Key. It is worth arriving ahead of time to get an early boarding number.

This is especially true if you want to sit on the open top deck. If you prefer sitting under cover, choose the inner deck.

Your ticket includes breakfast and lunch. Enjoy breakfast on the beautiful sail to Dry Tortugas.

After arriving at Garden Key, lunch is served and can be eaten on the boat or on the island. If you decide to enjoy lunch on the island, be aware that Garden Key is a carry in-carry out place so you’ll need to bring trash from lunch back to Yankee Freedom III.

The boat leaves around 3 p.m. for the sail back to Key West, Florida . At that time the bar opens for drinks (not included) and snacks.  

My husband and I enjoyed several hours at Fort Jefferson on Garden Key. A 5-hour sailing trip on a beautiful late February day, round-trip  from Key West, added to the fun.

Explore Civil War history on a Dry Tortugas tour

The brick exterior of Fort Jefferson surrounded by Gulf of Mexico.

Fort Jefferson is an important Civil War fort built on Garden Key. Although it never saw any battle action, it was the fort where Dr. Samuel Mudd was imprisoned for his alleged part in the Lincoln assassination by John Wilkes Booth.

Dr. Mudd treated Booth for injuries sustained from jumping out of the Presidential box after shooting President Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre. This made Mudd a national traitor.

He was imprisoned on the island until 1869. After helping fight a yellow fever outbreak that infected the island, Dr. Mudd was released.

History fans, especially Civil War buffs, should take advantage of the full fort tour that’s offered daily. If you only want a bit of Fort Jefferson’s history, there is also a shorter tour available. Both tours work around the Yankee Freedom’s schedule.

The coral beaches around the fort make fantastic snorkeling if the weather is good. The Yankee Freedom III provides snorkeling equipment. If you come on your own, either by boat or seaplane, you may need to bring your own equipment . Check with your tour provider first.

Things to do on a Dry Tortugas National Park day trip if you don’t snorkel

White seabirds on a post

If you don’t snorkel, you can walk around the fort and even see some fascinating sea creatures just by looking down into the water. One thing to remember is that coral beaches are made of rough coral, not smooth sand.

You’ll want some decent sandals or beach shoes for walking.  From the beaches you can even see some of the other keys across short stretches of the Gulf of Mexico.

Black seabird with white head flying in the sky

One thing I discovered while cruising out to Garden Key was how many birders visited this park. This is the one place in the entire lower 48 states where you can see semi-tropical birds such as Magnificent Frigate bird, Brown and Black Noddies, as well as nesting Sooty Terns.

Sotty Terns spend more of their time out over the open waters, but up to 80,000 come here to nest on Bush Key from January through the summer. The key is closed to visitors during nesting season—March to September. If you bring binoculars, you may be able to spot them from Garden Key. 

Staying overnight on a Dry Tortugas trip

Lighthouse surrounded by palm trees

Since these islands are run by the National Park Service, limited primitive camping is available. The Dry Tortugas National Park website, recommends making reservations 8-12 months in advance. Also check for details about length of stay.

Campers should bring everything needed, including water —remember, these are the Dry Tortugas—as there is no food or drink service on Garden Key. Don’t forget equipment that you will need. Yankee Freedom III is your ride to this off-the-beaten-path camping experience.

If you’re looking for a boomer travel adventure in the Florida Keys, pack a bathing suit, sunscreen, towel and a camera for a fun national park experience like no other.

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Plan the Perfect Dry Tortugas Day Trip from Key West

Florida , North America , United States

Sandy shore along Bush Key in the Dry Tortugas

Taking a Dry Tortugas day trip from Key West was our top priority on our Florida Keys road trip. Despite being located near a major tourist destination, it’s actually one of the least-visited national parks in the United States due to the difficulty accessing it. It’s certainly not a cheap excursion, but I was so glad we were able to make it out to the islands.

Dry Tortugas National Park is located about 70 miles west of Key West at the end of the long reef that stretches from Miami out into the Gulf. Its remote location is the reason it receives so few visitors annually, but it’s a worthwhile journey for those who make the trip. The park is mostly aquatic, with miles of open sea and only a few small islands. The largest of these houses a massive brick fort, surrounded by a moat, dating back to the 1800s called Fort Jefferson. This is where the Dry Tortugas ferry docks, where the park’s tiny visitor center is located, and where overnight visitors will be able to camp.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links and should you choose to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.

How to get to Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas ferry boat docked in Dry Tortugas National Park

Since it’s way out in the middle of the water, you definitely can’t drive there. There are three main ways to visit assuming you don’t have your own boat and the navigational skills to get yourself there. The most cost effective (though still not cheap by any means) is the Yankee Freedom boat. This was the option we chose for our Dry Tortugas day trip and while it certainly made for a long day, we enjoyed the whole time.

Click here to read my review of our day on the Yankee Freedom III.

Another option is to travel to the Dry Tortugas by seaplane. This is such a cool option, and watching the planes taxi up to the beach made me a little jealous that we hadn’t arrived in style that way. I priced out a seaplane to Dry Tortugas though and it cost more than our round trip flights all the way from Detroit to Miami. If you can swing the cost, it’s a much faster trip than taking the Yankee Freedom and would allow you to spend more time actually exploring the park.

Seaplane along the sandy beach on Bush Key in the Dry Tortugas

The last option is to charter a private boat. You can find various boat operators in Key West that will take your group on a dedicated sailing to the national park. This will most likely be the most expensive option, but it could also give you additional flexibility in terms of the length of your visit and which of the small islands you spend time at.

What to do on your Dry Tortugas day trip

If you’re planning a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, you’re probably going to be limited to the main park area around Fort Jefferson . There are other smaller islands and snorkeling areas, but once the ferry or seaplane drops you off you won’t really have a way to get to them. If you’re taking a private charter you may be able to explore a little more.

Entrance to Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park

The National Park visitor center is located in massive Fort Jefferson. It was constructed back in the 1800s to secure American shipping lanes from New Orleans around to the East Coast or over to Europe. All the materials and supplies for the troops stationed there had to be brought in from the mainland as there isn’t much in the way of resources on the islands – not even fresh water. Despite these challenges, it was actually the largest of this type of fortification built by the US Army during this era.

Brick archways in Fort Jefferson as seen on a Dry Tortugas day trip

Our boat fare included a short talk about the history of the park, particularly focusing on the significance of the strategic location. We also learned that it had once been home to an endless amount of sea turtles, which is why the Spanish originally named the islands Las Tortugas. The British eventually changed the name to Dry Tortugas to signal to their sailors that there was no fresh water to be found there even though there was a good harbor. Why were the turtles important? Apparently, they were an ideal source of meat for sailors back in the days before refrigeration.

Turquoise waters viewed from a window in Fort Jefferson

After our talk, we made a circle of the fort and climbed up to the very top. Fort Jefferson was never fully completed because its weight caused the foundation to sink – oops. It’s also been damaged by decades and decades of constant ocean waves and occasional big storms so walkways are uneven and several areas are cordoned off for safety reasons. The top level is mostly covered with grass and there are worn paths through it, but not much in the way of guardrails.

Grassy pathway atop Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park

This little bit of decay and the ability to walk right up to the edge gives the fort a slightly wild feeling that you don’t get in most tourist spots in the United States. I’ve been to plenty of other historic spots in the National Park System and don’t recall this level of openness anywhere else. You can walk right up to the edge of the three-story fort and if you’re walking without paying attention, it’s completely possible to just step off the edge and take a 40+ foot fall. An article I read before visiting but can no longer find said that there had been a handful of visitors who had taken the plunge into the moat over the years, but there was no word on their ultimate fate. The moral of the story is be careful if you visit , and keep a sharp eye on your kids if you’re traveling with them. I also recommend bringing some sturdy shoes if you plan on exploring the fort.

If you’re there during late fall or winter, don’t miss a chance to walk out on Bush Key . This area is closed during nesting season from March-September, but outside of those months, you can walk through it. This area is closed to swimming, but of course, there were a couple people still in the water there because the rules apparently didn’t apply to them.

One note about this area: the sand is not soft. It’s more like little chips of coral. I had intended to walk the beach barefoot, but it was not fun at all. It’s not quite as bad as walking on Legos, but it still wasn’t a great feeling. I tried popping my flip flops back on, but that only made it worse because I was getting chunks stuck between my foot and the flat surface of the shoe. My fiance had water shoes on and enjoyed the experience much more than I did.

Large seashell and coral pieces on the beach in Dry Tortugas National Park

All along the shore, we found huge seashells and small pieces of broken coral. There were dozens of large (what I believe to be) horse conch shells along the walk. I’ve never seen so many shells in one place before. As it is a National Park, please leave them behind for other visitors to see.

Large frigate bird with wings spread against a blue sky background

This area also had a whole group of enormous frigate birds . They were mainly just sort of hovering on the breeze, but there was one point that one of them picked up a stick and then dropped it. Another one caught it out of the air and then dropped it too. Yet another bird grabbed it before it hit the ground and I joked that they looked like they were playing quidditch. Their wingspan is definitely a sight to behold though.

Dry Tortugas snorkeling

After our walk on Bush Key, we decided it was finally time to get in the water. There are two snorkeling areas designated on the island around Fort Jefferson. We headed out to the North Coaling Dock area, but the waves had increased on that side of the island and it looked like visibility wasn’t going to be great. We headed back to the other side near the South Coaling Dock and found a lot more people hanging around. The water was much calmer here and had that crystal clear look you always dream about. I definitely recommend scouting out each area before you decide where to get in the water as you may find one area – the top level of the fort is a great place to do this as you’ll have an aerial view.

Turquoise waters and sandy beach at Fort Jefferson

I definitely expected the water to be a little bit warmer than it was out in the Gulf, but it wasn’t bad for someone who grew up swimming in the Great Lakes. You won’t find any reefs within shore distance here, but there is some coral growing along the brick walls of the moat and lots of colorful fish. It’s actually a great spot to try snorkeling for the first time because the water is shallow and you’re close to shore. Depending on the weather conditions, there’s a decent chance you’ll be sheltered from any waves that might be coming in and out of any currents as well.

I found a cool spot by following the edge of the moat almost to the corner. There’s a hole under the moat where a pipe runs out and there was a whole group of large fish just hanging out there.

Colorful tropical fish and coral in Dry Tortugas National Park

If you don’t want to get in the water to snorkel, you can walk along a pathway dividing the moat from the open water partway around the fort. It originally would’ve connected the two snorkeling areas, but over the years, the seas have broken through and created a gap so you have to turn back the way you came. However, from this walkway, you can look straight down into the water and see the fish and even some coral up along the wall. You also always have the option of just hanging out on the beach and enjoying the sun, sand, and sounds of the sea.

If you’re heading out on a private charter, there’s a decent chance your guide can take you to other snorkeling areas that are in more open water and have more substantial reefs.

Broken windows in Fort Jefferson looking out onto the ocean

What to pack for your Dry Tortugas day trip

The Dry Tortugas are very remote and there isn’t much in the way of park services so be sure to come prepared.

  • Bathing suit – (I have this super cute one-piece in black and adore it.)
  • Water bottle
  • Battery pack – You’ll want to be able to charge your phone on the go.
  • Sunscreen – Try to bring reef safe kind.
  • Water shoes or sneakers for the rough sand on Bush Key
  • GoPro or other underwater camera
  • Flip flops for the beach
  • Cash if you want to purchase anything at the National Park gift shop
  • Food (If you’re taking the Yankee Freedom ferry, you’ll get a light breakfast and decent lunch, but otherwise you’ll be on your own and there are no concessions for purchase.)

Don’t forget to save this post about Dry Tortugas National Park on Pinterest for inspiration later!

Turquoise waters in front of Fort Jefferson with text overlay reading, "Plan a day trip to the Dry Tortugas"

This is one of the places I need to go to once travel resumes – it looks so gorgeous. So many tips – definitely pinning this for later.

So interesting, I have never heard about this National Park before! It’s good to discover this kind of remote and less touristy places! Thanks for all the info!

The dry tortugas is such a beautiful place! Clear waters and conch lined shores, what more could you want?!

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Dry Tortugas National Park: A Delightful Day Trip from Key West

Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the least-visited, but surely one of the most unique, gems in the U.S. National Park tiara. For most, the highlight is a massive sentinel red brick redoubt, Fort Jefferson, that stands resolute and in stark contrast to the bright blue skies and crystalline Gulf of Mexico waters that surround it. 

Dry Tortugas National Park

Table of Contents

Visiting the Dry Tortugas on a Day Trip

The 100-square mile Dry Tortugas National Park as a whole is 98% water so the primary ways to access the fort are either via float plane or the more accessible Yankee Freedom III ferry from Key West . Experienced sailors can pilot their own vessels there too, or you could charter a boat. The ferry crosses the 70 miles to Fort Jefferson in just over two hours. During that time, a simple but hearty breakfast is served, and a guide preps the passengers with a history of the park’s evolution, from fort constructed between 1846 to 1875 to designation as a national park in 1992. 

For most of the ferry ride, you can see a 360-degree view of ocean all the way to the horizon. If you’re lucky, you might be treated to sightings of dolphins, floating turtles, or other sea life. There’s notable excitement among the passengers when the massive, six-sided, two-story fort—which is made of 16 million bricks and is noted as the largest masonry building in the western hemisphere—comes into view. 

The only land in the park is comprised of seven islands, the largest of which is Garden Key, some 70% of which is now consumed by Fort Jefferson. Ponce de Leon discovered these islands in 1513 and found them to be full of turtles, which at the time were an excellent, and self-replenishing, food source. They jotted ‘Las Tortugas’ on their maps to let future Spaniards know that these islands were that period’s equivalent of a modern fast-food drive-through. Later, British sailors found the islands but noted that there was no freshwater to be had. So, they added the word ‘dry’ to give the area its unique, multi-lingual name. 

Aerial view of Dry Tortugas National Park

Catching the Ferry from Key West

The ferry boards at 7:00 a.m. and returns to Key West at 5:15 p.m. Be sure to pack some diversions for your kids for the rides out and back. Our teens enjoyed playing a collaborative word game on a tablet, and we brought along a deck of cards as well. Note too that, assuming there are no issues with the passage out or back, you’ll only have about five hours to spend in the actual park. Be sure to make the most of your time! 

Pro Travel Tip : Have one of your party arrive early at the ferry to reserve your spot in line as seating is “first come, first served,” and the best seats go quickly

Touring the Dry Tortugas on a Day Trip

My kids listening to our day trip tour guide in the Dry Tortugas

Once the Yankee Freedom III docks at Fort Jefferson, you have the option of joining a presentation by their guide. The ferry company offers an optional, short initial introduction to the island that’s a brisk 15 minutes. Our particular guide was excellent, being impassioned, very knowledgeable, and entertaining (even still our kids were bored by the presentation). You then have the option to join the guide on an extended tour of the fort itself, which lasts another 30 minutes. 

The fort is clearly a marvel of early logistics, as well as engineering. It was designed to be a massive gun platform, bristling with 420 cannons. Each of the 16 million bricks had to be shipped to the island, first from Pensacola and then, during the Civil War, all the way from Maine! Granite stones for staircases, iron ‘Totten’ shutters and curved tracks that supported the cannon, mountains of mortar, and everything that the workers needed to survive, including fresh water, had to be shipped in. 

While the fort never fired a shot in anger (it was actually never entirely finished—nor fully armed), its very presence may have been enough to deter both pirates and foreign governments from trying to restrict the prosperous Gulf shipping lanes that it guarded. The fort itself wasn’t the only deterrent, as it also watched over an excellent, deep-water harbor. While bandits or foreign navies might have been able to sail outside the range of the fort’s many guns, they couldn’t avoid the U.S. Naval ships that would harbor, refit, and resupply here. 

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park

The fort is a delightful maze of spiral staircases, gun emplacements, and instructional interpretive signage and displays that any history buff will eat up. While care must be taken on the sometimes uneven or even crumbling infrastructure (which may be a challenge to anyone with mobility issues), a view from the grassy top of the structure is not to be missed. Care must be taken on any of the upper levels, as there are no railings to prevent falls and the compounding effects of time, the sea air, and natural erosion have made many of the bricks quite loose. Absolutely keep a close eye on small kids.

As you look out over the expansive parade ground, barracks ruins, and remaining structures, it’s easy for your mind to wander back into time and contemplate the spartan life of a soldier, laborer, or slave here. Untainted fresh water and good food was always in short supply while heat, humidity, mosquitos, and utter boredom were not. Scurvy was always a threat as was the dreaded Yellow Fever, on occasion. The fort’s population peaked at about 2,000 inhabitants, including more than 1,700 military personnel as well as officers’ families, laundresses, lighthouse keepers, a doctor, cooks, and other support staff. 

During the Civil War, while the Confederacy claimed the northern, populated, parts of Florida , the Union maintained its presence at Fort Jefferson (and in Key West as well). Throughout the conflict, northern warships used the fort’s harbor as they ran missions to maintain the blockade against the South. The isolated fortress was also used as a prison. It primarily housed Union deserters but its most famous resident was Dr. Samuel Mudd, who notoriously aided John Wilkes Booth by giving him medical attention for a broken leg after he had assassinated President Lincoln.

The military eventually abandoned the brick behemoth in 1874 but it was used as a coaling station for ships of the line for some time after. Fort Jefferson was actually the last stop of the USS Maine before it sailed on to Havana, Cuba and its explosive end there. 

kids snorkeling on a key west day trip to the Dry Tortugas

Snorkeling in the Dry Tortugas

Once you’ve had your fill of the island’s history, it’s a good time to head back to the ferry for another simple but hearty meal at lunchtime. Then, it’s time to get into the water. Passage on the Yankee Freedom III includes the use of their own snorkel gear—and the snorkeling in the Dry Tortugas is fabulous. Among the national park’s coral reef and sea grasses, you might spot brilliant yellow Smallmouth Grunts, gray Angelfish, a variety of Groupers, Stoplight Parrotfish, and the appropriately named Sergeant Major fish. 

The fort is surrounded by a moat wall, which offers the rare opportunity for those who aren’t snorkeling to accompany those who are. While my daughters delighted in spotting fish and my wife motored along in the water, determined to circumnavigate the entire structure, I strolled along next to them, happy to stay dry while snapping photos of both my family and the fort as I moseyed along the wall. 

My kids snorkeling in the water on our Dry Tortugas day trip

Wildlife Spotting Opportunities

Wildlife above water includes Sooty Terns (sometimes in masses), whose only regular nesting site in the entire U.S. is on nearby Bush Key, various Noodies, and magnificent Frigatebirds. Five turtle species visit Dry Tortugas, including Loggerheads and Leatherbacks. The turtles nest on Bush Key, which is often cordoned off from visitors during the nesting season. 

How do You Get to the Dry Tortugas?

Dry Tortugas National Park is located in the Florida Keys, off the coast of Key West. While the booking a day trip via the catamaran ferry is the most convenient, accessible, and the most affordable option to get to Dry Tortugas on a day trip (adult tickets are $180, children 4-16 are $125), it does limit your time there and those five hours go quickly. The return trip to Key West is a great opportunity to unwind as you might play board games, read, enjoy the ocean, or have a cocktail. 

Book the Tour: Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip by Catamaran

By contrast, the transit with Key West Seaplane Adventures lasts only 45 minutes and provides about six-and-a-half hours on the island—it also offers beautiful views when landing. Cost for a full day is $625, or $500 for children 12 and under, and while snorkeling gear is included, meals are not. 

Camping is allowed on the island, but space is very limited—and is reserved well in advance. There are only eight camping spots, one group spot, and a small ‘overflow’ area. It is primitive camping (so bring everything—including your own water) and you must take the ferry as the weight of the gear is problematic for the sea planes (note too that ferry check in for campers is an hour earlier, at 6 a.m.) It is recommended that you inquire about eight to twelve months in advance to check camping availability and attempt to make a reservation. If you can snag a spot though, you’ll be one of the few people inhabiting Dry Tortugas National Park that night, as the only overnight guests are campers, boaters staying on their vessels, and a handful of park rangers. 

However you get there and however long you might stay, be sure to put fascinating and truly unique Dry Tortugas National Park on your ‘must see’ list for your future travels!

dry tortugas day trip from key west

Chez’ is a travel writer, tourism consultant and 15-year veteran of the travel industry. He focuses on adventure travel and family travel. He’s lived all over the U.S. and traveled to some 35 countries but has the most fun when he’s exploring with his wife and two daughters. His works have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Good Housekeeping, Rachel Ray Every Day, Family Fun, Fatherly, Yahoo Travel, Family Vacation Critic, Elevation Outdoors, Everett Potter’s Travel Report, TheFamilyBackpack.com, CincinnatiRefined.com, Greenmatters.com, WorldFootprints.com, Mountain Gazette, TheActiveTimes.com, BoundRound.com ( Australia ), Family Travel (Australia), and Twist Travel Magazine. He also does regular travel segments for the morning show of his local FOX affiliate. You can find him online at Chez Connects , and on Instagram and on Twitter .

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Dry Tortugas National Park: Day Trip, Snorkeling & Camping

Dry Tortugas Day Trips and Camping

Planning a vacation to Key West? Be sure to include a visit to Dry Tortugas, one of the least-visited U.S. National Parks. Located 70 miles from Key West, Dry Tortugas is over 100 square miles of small islands, coral reefs, and marine life. Learn everything you need for a Dry Tortugas National Park day trip or camping overnight!

A Dry Tortugas day trip from Key West checks a lot of boxes: secluded white sand beaches, spectacular snorkeling, and exploring history with stories of pirates and a 19th century fort. Visiting Dry Tortugas feels like a getaway to an undiscovered Caribbean Island. It also has the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys!

True adventurers can even camp at Dry Tortugas overnight to have its beaches and nighttime stars all to themselves after the day trip crowd heads back to Key West.

Ready to pack your towel and snorkel? Keep reading for the best tips on how to get there – ferry, private boat or seaplane – as well as history, what to bring along, and how to make the most of your Dry Tortugas day trip or camping overnight.

Short on time? Check out the top ways to visit Dry Tortugas:

  • Cheapest option: The Yankee Freedom III Dry Tortugas Ferry
  • Private Luxury Charter: Full Day Charter in Key West/Lower Keys

This article contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I might earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support in this way! Learn more in my Disclosure Policy .

Pin this Dry Tortugas day trip guide for later!

Haphazard Rating for Dry Tortugas National Park: (2 of 5).  Some areas recommended for experienced snorkelers; jellyfish spotted in the swimming area; bring Dramamine for the boat ride. To See: A 19th-century fort, amazing beaches, snorkeling, primitive camping, a million nighttime stars To Eat: Breakfast and lunch provided onboard the ferry or bring a picnic/cooler.  There are no restaurants on the island When to Visit: All year, but be sure to book in advance; and be aware of the Florida hurricane season June – October

Don’t miss my tips on the best things to do in the Florida Keys and the best Airbnbs in Key West , perfect for planning your Florida Keys getaway!

Things to do in the Florida Keys

The Best Things to Do in the Keys from Key Largo to Key West

Looking for the best things to do in the Florida Keys? Plan the ultimate itinerary with the best snorkeling, beaches, sights, tours and more from Key Largo to Key West! Includes must-try foods and hidden gems to make the most of your Florida Keys vacation.

History of Dry Tortugas

The Dry Tortugas got their name when Juan Ponce de Leon, the first known European to see the islands, visited in 1513. He caught so many sea turtles that he referred to the islands just as “Tortugas.” The “dry” part was added later because of the lack of fresh surface water on the islands.

The 16th and 17th centuries were a “golden age” of piracy in the Florida Straits. Spanish treasure ships sailed this route between Cuba and the Keys, often meeting with pirates or hurricanes. Treasure hunting of shipwrecks continued for centuries, including a 1985 discovery of $450 million in silver and gold from a sunken 17th-century Spanish galleon.

In 1846, five years after Spain sold Florida to America, construction began on Fort Jefferson, still the largest masonry fort in the Western Hemisphere.

Today, Dry Tortugas National Park is 99% underwater! It encompasses 7 islands known for clear blue waters, nearly 300 species of birds, and some of the least-disturbed coral reefs in the Florida Keys.  This is due in part to its UNESCO designation as part of the Everglades and Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve. 

Dry Tortugas - you can get there by seaplane or ferry and the beaches are spectacular

How to Get to Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas is accessible only by boat or seaplane. While the most spectacular views of the islands will be by seaplane, a charter boat or ferry are more budget options.

Cheapest Way to Get to Dry Tortugas: Yankee Freedom Ferry

The cheapest way to get to the Dry Tortugas is by The Yankee Freedom Ferry , an authorized concessionaire of the park.

The daily catamaran ferry to Dry Tortugas departs from Key West.  The ticket includes roundtrip transportation, both a buffet breakfast and lunch onboard, bathroom facilities, and showers where you can rinse off. Also included is snorkeling equipment and a guided tour of Fort Jefferson.

It takes 2 hours each way via ferry to Dry Tortugas, which leaves about 4-5 hours of time at the island.

The Dry Tortugas ferry drops passengers off at Garden Key but doesn’t provide transportation to other keys or areas of the park.  This is the one downside of taking the ferry.

Click here for ferry availability and for info on booking the Yankee Freedom Ferry online

Bringing Your Own Boat to Dry Tortugas

If you’re lucky enough to have your own boat, this will provide the best way to explore the Dry Tortugas. Get more information on boat permits here .

Dry Tortugas Seaplane Charter

For amazing views of the Dry Tortugas, consider booking a half-day or full-day excursion via seaplane private charter .

a seaplane on the beach at Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas Boat Charters: Fishing, Snorkeling, Diving and Wildlife

There are many authorized concessionaires of the park that provide services such as snorkeling or diving tours, guide fishing, sailboat excursions, or wildlife tours. Check out the list of Dry Tortugas charters here .

If you have a group or want to experience a private charter, check out this full-day luxury charter trip with great reviews and online booking: Full Day Charter in Key West/Lower Keys . The charter can accommodate up to 12 guests, so if you have a group it can end up being a comparable price to the ferry. The booking is for a “bareboat charter,” which means that food and drink aren’t included; so be sure to inquire about bringing along a cooler with lunch, snacks, and drinks for the day.

Explore Dry Tortugas National Park

What to Do At Dry Tortugas

There is more than enough to keep you busy for a full day at Dry Tortugas!

  • On the way, you’ll get to see views of Boca Grande Key, the Marquesas Keys and the Rebecca Shoal Channel.
  • After arrival, you can take a guided tour of the island, called Garden Key, and Fort Jefferson with a park ranger. You’ll learn about the history of the island and fort, including its use as a prison camp during the Civil War.
  • Walk around the perimeter of the Fort along the wall that makes up the edge of the moat, but be careful! To preserve the history, there are no railings; the paths are wide, so just stay alert.

photo of the moat and walkway that surrounds Fort Jefferson

  • Snorkel along the walls of the Fort, in the South Swimming Beach, out to see coral heads and (for more experienced snorkelers) the South Coaling Dock ruins. There is also good snorkeling in the North Beach area.
  • Walk along the pristine beaches and look for shells. Since it’s a national park, you can’t take them with you, but it’s still fun to see what you can find.
  • Explore Bush Key. During winter months, explore the shoreline of this uninhabited island. (It’s closed during spring and summer nesting season for birds not found elsewhere in the continental U.S.) Bush Key is generally accessible via a land bridge from Garden Key; but sometimes you can only reach it via kayak due to tides and shifting sands.
  • Explore Loggerhead Key. Located 3 miles from Garden Key, Loggerhead is accessible by small crafts including kayaks. Due to time constraints, I recommend only venturing to this key if you camp overnight. Here you can find shipwrecks, a lighthouse, and where the historic Carnegie Laboratory for Marine Ecology once stood. Named for its abundance of loggerhead sea turtles, Loggerhead Key has long been a haven for wildlife.

Loggerhead Key - Dry Tortugas

Dry Tortugas Camping

To get the most out of your Dry Tortugas trip, I recommend camping! While the facilities are very basic, the gorgeous scenery far outweighs any negatives. During our day trip, we just didn’t have enough time to enjoy all the amazing snorkeling spots plus take a tour of Fort Jefferson with the park rangers.

To camp, you must bring everything needed for your stay.   There is no food service, water, fuel or charcoal. After the ferry departs, only portable toilets are available.   In short, you’ll have crunchy beach hair, but one of the most beautiful and remote beaches in the U.S. almost to yourself.

Find more camping information here and pack a stargazing tent to maximize your time under the stars.

If camping doesn’t fit into your schedule, you should still visit Dry Tortugas for a day trip! But for your beach camping fix, you can check out these other beach campgrounds in Florida .

Fort Jefferson national monument upon docking at Garden Key island

Fort Jefferson History

Fort Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the Americas, which is no small feat if you imagine that all of its 16 million bricks had to be hauled in by boat!  The U.S. purchased the land from Spain around 1820 and eventually built a fort there.  

During the Civil War, Fort Jefferson was used a a prison for court-martialed soldiers and others as a means of cheap labor to finish the construction. This later included four of the men convicted of Lincoln’s assassination. One of them, Dr. Samuel Mudd, became a hero for hygienic practices he put into place as the prison’s doctor during a yellow fever outbreak, earning him a pardon for his crimes and an early release.

 In 1935 Fort Jefferson was named a national monument, and in 1992 the fort and Dry Tortugas together were designated as a national park.

Dry Tortugas Snorkeling map of teh best areas for snorkeling from the beach

A Day at Dry Tortugas National Park

Upon your arrival at Dry Tortugas, the park rangers give guided tours of the fort (included in the ferry trip).  

When I visited, we wanted to spend most of our time in the water. So we walked the perimeter via walkways which separate the fort’s moat from the open water, and then headed to the beach.  

Dry Tortugas Fort Jefferson view of teh beach

Dry Tortugas Swimming

The soft, white sand beaches at Dry Tortugas are perfect for relaxing. Since the park is more than 99% under water, you’ll definitely want to experience at least a quick swim! The South Swim Beach was especially calm during my visit.

view of the white sand Dry Tortugas Beach

Dry Tortugas National Park Snorkeling

The ferry provides a map of the best snorkeling spots.  Dry Tortugas is a great place for beginner snorkelers, since you can enter from the beach and snorkel in a calm area.

We stayed along the fort wall of the south swim beach and the south coaling dock ruins, where the pilings of the old dock are overgrown with corals.  To reach the pilings, you need to swim out from the beach and around large rocks.  I’d recommend that area for experienced snorkelers.  It’s a little bit of a swim, and the waves were stronger than in the protected beach cove.  

Dry Tortugas Coaling Dock Ruins Snorkeling

Beware the tarpon, but only because you might mistake the largest ones for small sharks.  (I only inhaled a teensy bit of water via my snorkel!)  We saw some jellyfish as well.  Bring dramamine if boats make you queasy, and of course reef-safe sunscreen and a towel. I’ve got more packing tips below.

dry tortugas day trip from key west

Get info on all the snorkeling and diving sites of Dry Tortugas here .

Looking for more snorkeling adventures? Check out my guide to sailing in the Virgin Islands with a catamaran charter vacation or day trip!

photo of a catamaran sailing in the virgin islands

Sailing the Virgin Islands: Airbnb & VRBO Catamaran Charters

Plan your best vacation ever with family or friends: sailing the Virgin Islands in a catamaran for beaches, snorkeling, and laid-back beach bars in the US Virgin Islands & British Virgin Islands!

Meals & Facilities at Dry Tortugas

If you visit Dry Tortugas via ferry, you’ll have breakfast and lunch on board the ferry. You can also use the restroom facilities on board at any time during your trip.

There are no other restaurants on the island. If you travel via seaplane or charter, your tour company will let you know what’s provided.

Dry Tortugas Packing & Gear List

In order to enjoy your time at Dry Tortugas, be sure to bring everything with you that you will need for your stay. You might be able to purchase some items on board the boat, but the price will be at a premium.

Dry Tortugas Day Trip – What To Bring/ Packing List

  • Bathing suit and cover up or shirt and shorts
  • Beach towel
  • Underwater camera like a Go Pro or Olympus TG-6
  • Hiking sandals are great for the boat and walking around the Fort (check out these options for women and also some for men – my favorites are by Keen )
  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • Sun hat for women , sun hat for men or a packable visor
  • If you burn easily in Florida’s rays, try a UPF shirt with sun protection (here are some options for women and some for men ). I’ve even worn UPF capri pants for snorkeling to keep my backside from burning!
  • The ferry will provide a snorkel, mask and flippers; but you can bring your own if you prefer. This Cressi kit is a good choice. If you wear glasses, consider a mask with the option of prescription lenses .
  • I always wear a Buff UPF headband when I snorkel to keep my forehead from getting burnt and keep my hair out the seal of my mask
  • A light sweatshirt or jacket for the trip back (can get a little chilly if you go on the deck)
  • Wide-tooth comb and travel-size spray detangler and any basic toiletries you might need (you’ll be able to rinse off but not take a full shower)
  • Dramamine or Bonine for seasickness, just in case
  • A beach tote to carry everything in , or a dry bag is great for keeping water and sand out of your stuff
  • If you burn easily or want some shade for kids, consider bringing a lightweight pop-up shelter

Dry Tortugas Fort Jefferson Lighthouse

Dry Tortugas Camping Checklist & Info

If you camp, you will need to bring everything you need for your stay, including water.   You can download the Yankee Freedom’s camping checklist here.  The ferry will drop you off with all of your gear, but you have a weight limit of 60 lbs of gear per person, not including water.  

If you can fit it within your allowed weight limit, consider bringing along a kayak and life vests so that you can explore other nearby keys like Loggerhead Key. Check with the Yankee Freedom when booking, as space might be limited; or consider an inflatable kayak like this one .

Depending on how long you book a campsite, you’ll then return via ferry on one of their subsequent trips.  The campers I saw returning looked happy, sunburnt, and a little wild!  It’s definitely on my bucket list to camp there at least one night.

If you camp, you can even night snorkel along the Moat Wall! Get tips here .

Why You Should Visit Dry Tortugas National Park

Visiting Dry Tortugas was one of my favorite days in the Florida Keys, with easy beach-access snorkeling and a pristine setting.  Be sure to book early, as even the day trips sell out weeks in advance.  And consider overnight camping at Dry Tortugas to have the park and beach nearly to yourself!

Dry Tortugas day trip

Want to turn your vacay into an epic adventure? The best way to experience the Florida Keys is with a road trip from Miami to Key West! Get my ultimate itinerary planner!

Florida Keys Road Trip - Miami to Key West Road Trip

Miami to Key West Drive: Ultimate Florida Keys Road Trip Guide!

Taking a Miami to Key West road trip is a classic U.S. adventure. Get ready for the open road with this ultimate Florida Keys itinerary planner including sights, stops, and hotels for your Miami to Key West drive!

Dry Tortugas National Park & Fort Jefferson Resource List

Booking/information.

  • Book the Yankee Ferry excursion via Viator, a TripAdvisor partner
  • Dry Tortugas National Park site
  • Private charter list  of boats and seaplanes

Additional Resources

  • Camping checklist  courtesy of Yankee Freedom
  • Downloadable map  courtesy of Yankee Freedom
  • TropicalSnorkeling.com  advice on Dry Tortugas

Where to Stay in Key West

  • We loved our stay at the Southernmost Beach Resort , especially its location and nighttime dining on the beach
  • Get my guide to the best Airbnbs in Key West
  • Search more Key West hotels

Looking for more Florida travel ideas? Check out my post on how to swim with manatees in Crystal River, Florida! Love to snorkel? Grab my packing and gear list for snorkeling trips !

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Dry Tortugas National Park Snorkeling

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I was a travel hot mess, but I got better! I kept the name and now blog my best tips for culture + adventure travel from around the globe. Follow along for travel advice, destination guides, and photography from faraway lands and at home in Washington, DC.

Travel Writer | Photographer | Licensed Drone Pilot Member, Society of American Travel Writers (SATW)

Phil and Garth

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip from Key West, USA

Last updated: 2nd June 2022

dry tortugas day trip from key west

In this post we will tell you all about our Dry Tortugas National Park day trip from Key West. Dry Tortugas is Florida’s 3rd  national  park and most of it is underwater – 99%. It’s remote, isolated and distinctive comprising 7 small islands over 100 square miles. We especially loved the superb snorkelling here,  it’s  a bucket list adventure and half the fun is getting there!

Table of Contents

America’s National Park in the Middle Of The Sea

70 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico lie a cluster of 7 small uninhabited coral and sandy islands that make up one of the most unique national parks in the world – The Dry Tortugas National Park.   Famous for its remoteness, natural beauty and  wildlife – birds, marine life and protected coral reefs. Plus one of the largest coastal forts ever built – Fort Jefferson.  Most of the islands in the park are closed to the public to protect the wildlife like nesting turtles and birds, however you can easily visit one of the islands, the second largest – Garden Key on an epic day trip from Key West.

Arriving at Garden Key, one of the islands that make up the Dry Tortugas National Park.

Arriving at Garden Key, one of the islands that make up the Dry Tortugas National Park

Panoramic views taken of Fort Jefferson and Garden Key's beaches

Panoramic views taken of Fort Jefferson and Garden Key’s beaches

Phil and Garth standing on the seawall that creates the moat around Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park

Phil and Garth standing on the seawall that creates the moat around Fort Jefferson

How To Get To Dry Tortugas from Key West

There’s 2 ways for tourists to visit Dry Tortugas from Key West. The quickest and most glamorous way is by seaplane which takes 40 minutes. The other way is on the official ferry the Yankee Freedom III which is what we did. It’s an exciting full day tour – the adventure lasts 10 hours from start to finish. The price includes park entrance fees, breakfast, lunch, soft drinks, snorkelling gear and an optional 45 minute guided tour of the fort when you arrive.

It takes 40 minutes to get to Dry Tortugas from Key West by seaplane

It takes 40 minutes to get to Dry Tortugas from Key West by seaplane

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip

Getting there by ferry.

First off you must plan when you want to go as you will need to book your ferry tickets well in advance – we’re talking months in advance! it gets booked up quickly. We got up early and checked in at 7am and departed Key West promptly at 8am. The impressive 110 foot catamaran travels at 30mph and takes 2.5 hours to reach the Dry Tortugas National Park. After having a decent breakfast onboard, we sat on the open air upper deck to soak up the sights of the marine life. On the way we saw dolphins, turtles, jelly fish and lots and lots of flying fish. We’d never seen them before, it was amazing watching them leap out of the water! On arrival you have 4.5 hours free time to explore before the journey back to Key West.

You'll need to book tickets for the official Dry Tortugas National Park Ferry, The Yankee Freedom III months in advance

You’ll need to book tickets for the official Dry Tortugas National Park Ferry, The Yankee Freedom III months in advance

Just like our shock at the price of a Disneyland day pass we paid 2 weeks earlier on our road trip, the ferry day trip is also expensive ($190pp) however we both thought the experience was well worth it. It’s a beautiful and unique destination, think of it as a bucket-list worthy day trip.

Camping at Dry Tortugas

If you have more time, the ferry company has options for camping overnight (maximum of 3 nights). Camping here is very basic as there’s no facilities, apart from a compost toilet. So you’ll need to take your own water and supplies and there’s no mobile phone coverage. We will definitely do this option if we get the opportunity to return to the Florida Keys. It must be a thrilling experience to escape to a tropical island and have it all to yourself once the ferry and seaplanes have left. We love the idea of swimming here under the stars at night as the Dry Tortugas National Park has zero light pollution.

If you fancy camping at Fort Jefferson you might need to book 12 months in advance!

If you fancy camping at Fort Jefferson you might need to book 12 months in advance!

Fort Jefferson

Fort Jefferson is the main attraction on land to see in the park. It was built to protect and control the Gulf of Mexico’s busy shipping lane to the USA and to provide US Navy ships refuge from patrols. Construction began in 1846 for 30 years, the fort was nearly finished but never actually completed and eventually abandoned as a military base.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip - Fort Jefferson, part of the Dry Tortugas National Park

Exploring Fort Jefferson, part of the Dry Tortugas National Park

It’s really impressive, especially when we first saw it from the ferry emerge out of nowhere on the horizon. Stepping inside we were struck by the remoteness and the sheer scale of the place. The fort structure remains suprisingly well intact, we imagined it would be in a more ruined state. How they built this fortress in the middle of the sea is mind boggling!

History & Design

Right in the middle of America’s Civil War, Fort Jefferson was built, mostly by prisoners and enslaved African Americans contracted by the US Army. Conditions were very harsh because of the heat, lack of fresh water, hurricanes, shifting sands, mosquitoes and disease. An estimated 16 million hand-made bricks were used to build the 6 sided design with two storey casemates – the gunrooms that housed the large cannon guns. Each storey had 150 cannons with more on the top of the fort, in all a total of 420. However they were never used in battle, but they did serve as a major deterrent to enemy ships. The design of Fort Jefferson also included a system for collecting valuable rainwater and wrought iron shutters built into the lower casemate walls for shielding the cannon’s crew in-between firing.

Dry Tortugas - America's unique national park at the end of the Florida Keys.

Dry Tortugas – America’s unique national park at the end of the Florida Keys.

Fort Jefferson is America's third largest fort and spectacular coastal fort

Fort Jefferson is America’s third largest fort and spectacular coastal fort

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip - Phil standing at one of the corner bastions

Phil standing at one of the corner bastions

Inside the casemate rooms, there are over 2,000 arches at Fort Jefferson

Inside the casemate rooms, there are over 2,000 arches at Fort Jefferson

A lovely view of the grounds framed by an arch of a casemate

A lovely view of the grounds framed by an arch of a casemate room

One of the information panels shows old photographs of the barracks before it was knocked down.

One of the information panels shows old photographs of the barracks before it was knocked down.

In the middle of the fort’s 16 acre grounds stood a three storey barrack, a home for 1,000 soldiers. It was damaged by a fire in 1912 and knocked down in the 1960s, all that remains today is the foundation. There were other one storey buildings built such as kitchens and magazines – the buildings to store gunpowder reserves.

An old magazine building used to store gunpowder

An old magazine building used to store gunpowder

Look inside the barrel of the cannon for grooves which made projectiles spin for 3 miles

Look inside the barrel of the cannon for grooves which made projectiles spin for 3 miles

View from one of the cannon windows on the lower level

View from one of the cannon windows on the lower level

To protect the fort from amphibious assault a seawall and moat were built and to also provide protection from the rough waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The fort also served as a military prison for captured Union deserters. Its had some famous prisoners including Dr. Samuel Mudd for his involvement in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

The seawall and moat surrounding Fort Jefferson

The seawall and moat surrounding Fort Jefferson

The army left in 1874 and by 1888 the cost of maintaining the fort could no longer be justified.  In 1990 most of the fort’s cannons were sold for scrap metal. It was then designated a wildlife reserve in 1908 with operations transferred to the Department of Agriculture. In 1935 Fort Jefferson was declared a National Monument and went on to gain National Park status in 1992.

Dry Tortugas Snorkeling

99% of the Dry Tortugas National Park is underwater. The protected living coral reef here is at the end of the Florida Keys reef (the 3rd largest reef in the world). Dry Tortugas is considered to be the best place for snorkeling in the whole of the Florida Keys (and the Caribbean) because it’s the least disturbed and unspoilt.

Snorkelling at Dry Tortugas National Park

Snorkelling at Dry Tortugas National Park

Next to the moat, one of the pristine beaches for snorkelling

Next to the moat, one of the pristine beaches for snorkelling

We were itching to get into the crystal clear water, Phil’s not mad about snorkelling however Garth loved coming face to face with the fish. Just below the surface is an abundance of marine life, over 400 species of tropical fish!

Some of the best snorkelling is found on the outside of the moat’s seawall. You might see brain coral, reef squid, hogfish, tarpons, barracudas and nurse sharks. Old wooden pilings that stick up out of the water are also a great place to snorkel. Some of these used to hold old coal warehouses to restock Navy ships.

Our favourite part of the day was just relaxing, floating around using our noodles in the warm water.  Noodles are available for free when you pick up your snorkelling gear.

Old pilings that stick up out of the water are a great place to snorkel

Old pilings that stick up out of the water are a great place to snorkel

Garth relaxing with a noodle in the gorgeous turquoise water.

Garth relaxing with a noodle in the gorgeous turquoise water.

Phil enjoying the sun and the water of Garden Key

Phil enjoying the sun and the water of Garden Key

There’s no doubt the beaches are incredibly picturesque because of the perfect turquoise water, the colour and shallow depth reminded us of our time we spent the Maldives , it’s so beautiful here. If you don’t fancy swimming then take some leisurely walks down one of the beaches and check out the numerous conch shells scattered around the sand. There’s lots of different shells to see plus other wildlife like hermit crabs crawling around.

There's very little shade on Dry Tortugas, however this small beach offered a little

There’s very little shade on Dry Tortugas, however this small beach offered a little

View across the neighbouring island - Loggerhead Key

View across the neighbouring island – Loggerhead Key

Dry Tortugas Map

Map showing the best areas for snorkelling outside Fort Jefferson on Garden Key

Map showing the best areas for snorkelling outside Fort Jefferson on Garden Key

Birdwatching at the Dry Tortugas

Many twitchers come here for the bird watching opportunities. Over 300 species have been spotted here. Spring and autumn are the best time to witness migratory birds. Expect to see thousands of sooty terns who use the park as a stopover. Other birds you might encounter include peregrine falcons, brown pelicans, yellow-billed cuckoos, brown noddy terns and double crested cormorants.

Plenty of bird watching opportunities at the Dry Tortugas National Park

Plenty of bird watching opportunities at the Dry Tortugas National Park

Oh and if you were wondering – the name ‘Tortugas’ comes from the Spanish word meaning turtles, named after the large quantities of turtles the original Spanish explorer found here. ‘Dry’ was added later to the name to warn people about the lack of fresh water.

Yankee Freedom III Dry Tortugas Itinerary

  • 07:00 Check In (Campers check in 06:30)
  • 07:30 Boarding commences
  • 08:00 Depart Key West
  • 10:15 Arrive Garden Key for Dry Tortugas National Park
  • 4.5 hours free time on island
  • 11:00 Optional free guided tour of Fort Jefferson (45 minutes)
  • 11:00 – 13:00 Lunch is served
  • 15:00 Depart Dry Tortugas
  • 17:30  Arrive back in Key West

When To Visit Dry Tortugas National Park

  • May to October is high season . It’s summer and conditions are perfect for snorkelling and there is very little wind. It’s also the time for the Atlantic hurricane season, so keep an eye on the weather forecast.
  • November to April is low season . It’s winter so snorkelling is not great. visibility is poor because of the rough waters. It’s also windy, so the ferry crossing can be uncomfortable.

Dry Tortugas National Park Practical Information & Advice

Phil and Garth's Top 5 Dry Tortugas National Park Tips

Phil and Garth’s Top 5 Dry Tortugas National Park Tips

Phil and Garth’s Top 5 Dry Tortugas National Park Tips

  • Tip #1: Watch out if walking barefoot on the beaches, there’s loose bricks hidden and sticking out of the sand.
  • Tip #2: Take coral reef safe sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, beach towels and binoculars for the birdwatching.
  • Tip #3: When snorkelling look, but don’t touch – the coral and reef fish are all protected.
  • Tip #4: There’s no mobile phone coverage or wifi here – so expect to be off grid for your adventure.
  • Tip #5: If you suffer from sea-sickness, take tablets with you incase the sea is rough getting there.

How We Did It

  • We visited Dry Tortugas the first week in May, the weather was perfect.
  • It cost us $190 each, check the Yankee Freedom III website for the latest ferry price.
  • More information on the official Dry Tortugas National Park website .
  • We paid for 4 nights at the Kimpton Lighthouse Court Hotel  in Key West.

Pin our Dry Tortugas NP Travel Guide for reference

Travel guide to Dry Tortugas National Park

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Tours Key West

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Dry Tortugas Ferry

Dry Tortugas Ferry Pic 1

Dry Tortugas / Fort Jefferson Ferry an Extraordinary Journey

Due to limited availability on The Dry Tortugas Ferry , reservation request must be made by filling out a “check availability” form. In addition, we ask you to review this trip’s cancellation policy prior to booking — it has recently changed and YOU are responsible for reading this information.

Discover the wonders of Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida’s magnificent underwater paradise, with the convenient and scenic Dry Tortugas ferry service to the fort. Located just 70 miles from Key West, this 100 square mile marine sanctuary is a nature lover’s dream. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of its sparkling blue and green waters, home to a thriving coral reef ecosystem and abundant marine life.

What to Expect

  • luxurious cruise to the Dry Tortugas!
  • air-conditioned main deck, spacious upper sundeck (with both shaded and exposed areas).
  • comfortable seating, 150 passenger max
  • 3 restrooms, and a full galley stocked with snacks and beverages, wine, and beer.

Dry Tortugas National Park is renowned for its rich biodiversity, serving as a vital habitat for various species. You’ll have the opportunity to observe fascinating bird species, such as the sooty and noddy terns, which nest exclusively on Bush and Long Key. Additionally, the park offers a sanctuary for endangered and threatened sea turtles, including loggerhead and green sea turtles.

What’s Included?

As you embark on this unforgettable journey, the Yankee Freedom ferry provides an exceptional experience. Enjoy a fully narrated 45-minute tour of Fort Jefferson, an impressive historic landmark situated within the park. Indulge in a delicious breakfast and lunch (campers, arrival day only), and take advantage of complimentary snorkeling equipment to explore the vibrant underwater world.

Your ticket includes entrance to Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson, guaranteeing an awe-inspiring adventure. Join us on this incredible boat ride, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, including the captivating Marquesa Islands and Boca Grande. Enhance your exploration of Florida’s hidden gem, Dry Tortugas, and create cherished memories along the way. Book your Dry Tortugas ferry trip today and embark on an extraordinary journey into nature’s splendor. Don’t forget your National Park Pass for added convenience! You might also like: Dry Tortugas Seaplane  https://tourskeywest.com/product/dry-tortugas-seaplane-half-day

What to Bring

To make the most of your trip, we recommend bringing some essentials. Ensure your comfort with comfortable footwear, a hat, sunglasses, and a bathing suit. Don’t forget your towels, a change of dry clothes, sunscreen, and a camera to capture the memories. And if you’d like to unwind during the voyage, bring along a light jacket or sweatshirt and something to read.

dry tortugas day trip from key west

Rules & Regulations

  • Confirmed reservations may only be made up to six months prior to the date of travel. To hold seats for later dates please call our reservation line at 305-587-4386. Payment in full will be due 6 months prior to travel date.
  • Reservations are non-refundable. Rescheduling requests must be received at least one week prior to date of travel. If you miss your trip you have 3 years to use your fares for standby space-available travel only. For details see https://www.drytortugas.com/reservation-cancellation-policies
  • Reservations will be held until 10 minutes (7:50am) before departure and then released to standby passengers. Late arrivals will be accommodated only if space is still available.
  • Adult Fare includes $15 Park Entrance Fee. Park Pass holders please present them at Check-In for refund.
  • We require a minimum of 2 hours in advance to book this activity online.
  • Coast Guard Security Regulations require that each adult passenger present photo ID at Check-In.

Reservation & Cancellation Policies

You are responsible for reading this information.

Terms and Conditions Reservations are non-refundable except in cases of trip cancellation by Yankee Freedom. If you miss your trip for any reason you will be given a 3-year period to use your fares for standby space-available travel only. Standby order will be determined the morning of the desired trip based on your order in the standby queue at the Ferry Terminal and paying status. Paying standbys will have priority over missed-trip standbys.

There is no pre-trip standby list

Reservations will be held until ten minutes (7:50 am) before departure and then released for standby use. Day trip reservations are for the same-day round trip only. If you do not return on the same day as your outbound leg you will be charged the one-way fare to return. You may not split outbound and inbound legs of a day trip reservation among multiple parties. If you wish to split payment for a reservation among multiple parties you must do so by 6:00 pm Eastern time the day before your trip by calling the reservation line at 305-294-7009. We reserve the right to deny boarding to anyone whose apparent condition may present a danger to themselves or others while onboard the vessel. We do not guarantee specific weather, sea, wildlife, or visibility conditions on any trip. Prices, policies and restrictions are subject to change.

Rescheduling

To reschedule Day Trip reservations you must phone the Yankee Freedom ticket office (305-294-7009) by 6:00 pm Eastern time one week before your scheduled departure. To reschedule Camping reservations you must phone the Yankee Freedom ticket office (305-294-7009) by 6:00 pm Eastern time two weeks before your scheduled departure. Rescheduling will be accommodated only if space is available for the requested dates. If you do not reschedule by these deadlines and do not take your reserved trip you will have a 3 year period for standby use as noted above. Camping reservations will be good for Day Trip standby only and will be refunded the original fare difference when the trip is taken. There is no standby for Camping.

Yankee Freedom III is contractually obligated to the National Park Service to operate daily in all weather unless sea conditions may compromise safety. Rain, lightning, or any weather conditions ashore are often localized and do not indicate conditions at sea or in the Dry Tortugas. Check forecasted weather for the day of your trip and call the Yankee Freedom ticket office (305-294-7009) by 6:00 pm Eastern time two days before your reservation if you wish to reschedule (see restrictions above). NO refunds will be issued for weather conditions unless the trip is cancelled by Yankee Freedom. If you are susceptible to motion sickness we recommend taking Dramamine or other motion sickness remedies prior to departure. Dramamine or the equivalent will be available for sale on board the vessel.

FAQ’S

Is there free parking.

No, there is a Key West City parking garage across the corner from the Ferry Terminal, at the corner of Caroline St. and Grinnell St. (low day rate, shaded, payment by credit card only)

What time does the ferry depart daily?

Operating Times: Daily. Day trip check-in at 7:00am. Dry Tortugas / Fort Jefferson Ferry boards at 7:30am, departs at 8am, returns at 5:30 pm.

Does the ferry operate on Christmas day?

No, we are closed Christmas Day.

Where does the ferry depart from?

Check In/Vessel Location: The Key West FerryTerminal, 100 Grinnell Street, at the Historic Seaport. The nearest intersection is Grinnell & Caroline Street

What can I bring?

Is there a park entry fee.

Yes, there is a $15 entrance fee to Dry Tortugas National Park. The park also operates a small gift shop selling books, postcards, T-shirts, and other souvenir items. Please bring cash…the park does not accept credit cards.The National Park Entrance Fee is included in your total charges when you book your reservation and can be refunded if you present an Annual National Park Pass or Golden Age Pass at check-in the morning of your trip.

How long is thew ride over to the Dry Tortugas National Park?

Approximately, a 2-hours depending on the seas and conditions. When you take the Dry Tortugas Ferry to Dry Tortugas National Park, getting there is half the fun! During the two-hour ferry ride, you can see historic shipwrecks, marine life such as wild dolphins and sea turtles, and miles of crystal blue ocean. What makes the Dry Tortugas so compelling? Their natural beauty and isolation. This remote coral atoll is located 70 miles from Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, making it a dream EcoTour destination.

  • Check-In Day Trip: 7:00 am, Boarding Begins 7:30 am
  • Departure Time: 8:00 am, Returns 5:30 pm
  •  110′ Luxury Catamaran
  • Requires Each passengers name for US Coast Guard manifest
  • Full Payment is Due at Time of Booking

What’s Included

  • A ferry ride to Dry Tortugas National Park
  • An optional guided tour of historic Fort Jefferson
  • Complimentary breakfast and picnic lunch
  • Sanitized snorkeling gear
  • Plenty of free time for swimming, snorkeling, bird spotting, photography, and exploring the island .

What To Bring

  • Valid Photo ID Required
  • Sunscreen and Bathing suit
  • Sunglasses, hat and towel
  • Sturdy pair of walking shoes
  • You may bring your own snorkeling gear if you wish.
  • Change of clothing. During your journey back to Key West, you can use our onboard fresh water rinse showers.

You may also like: Dry Tortugas Seaplane   https://tourskeywest.com/product/dry-tortugas-seaplane-half-day

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Dry Tortugas / Fort Jefferson Seaplane - Half Day Flight

Dry Tortugas Seaplane – Half Day

Dry Tortugas Seaplane - Full Day Tour

Dry Tortugas Seaplane – Full Day Tour

CHECK AVAILABILITY

NOTE: This is a reservation request, NOT A BOOKING.

The National Park Service strictly limits the number of visitors per day. Demand for seats is far greater than our small capacity. Typically, we sell out around 14 days in advance. At peak times such as holidays, we may sell out up to 3 months in advance.

Book your Key West tours and attractions today

Wild and fun or a bit more upscale or laid back-as Conch travel experts we'll help you plan a trip that's perfect for you.

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dry tortugas day trip from key west

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3 Best Day Trips from Key West: Islamorada, Dry Tortugas, & Key Largo

Drone view of the Florida Keys USA

For most visitors to the Florida Keys , Key West is their ultimate destination. And while the southernmost point is undoubtedly the archipelago’s most popular, there are plenty of other places to see and things to do as you make your way up and down the Overseas Highway. Even if you want to rest your head in Key West each night, ferries and seaplanes shuttle visitors to the Dry Tortugas—a spectacular 19th-century military fort-turned-national park 70 miles west of Key West—each and every day. Or you can break up the three-and-a-half-hour drive to and from Miami with a stopover in one of the Keys’ other charming seaside villages, like Islamorada (where the tiki bar that gave birth to the Rum Runner is still standing—and still serving them up). Here, we've rounded up the three best day trips from Key West, so grab your sunscreen and get moving.

Click the link to read our complete Key West guide.

All products and listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Palm tree and sailboat Florida Islamorada

Islamorada, a collection of islands that includes Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key, and Plantation Key, is located midway between  Miami  and Key West (it’s a 90-minute drive to either location), making it the perfect stopping point if you want to break up your drive. But the village offers much more than just a place to sleep: it’s a seaside oasis that offers top-notch dining and accommodations (we recommend the intimate Casa Morada for a true hideaway, with just 16 romantic suites in a waterfront setting), and is also where you’ll find the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar, a stalwart tiki throwback.

Robbies Marina Miami

Robbie's of Islamorada Arrow

If Islamorada is the sport fishing capital of the world, then Robbie’s Marina is the one-stop venue you need to experience all the area has to offer. Whatever your preferred mode of water-based transportation, it’s here for you to rent: kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis, and fishing boats. If you’d rather let someone else be the captain of your ship, fishing charters and partyboats depart all day (when the sun begins to drop toward the water, sunset cruises with Sundance Watersports offer an epic end to the day). But even land-dwellers will find ways to keep themselves occupied, whether that means shopping (there’s an open-air market onsite with artwork, nautical-inspired signs and the like) or grabbing a cocktail and a bite to eat at the Hungry Tarpon (the tuna tacos, shrimp burrito, cracked conch, and Thai-style mahi fish fingers are among their signature dishes). But the most popular thing to do—as long as you don’t mind a giant fish lunging up out of the water toward you—is to fork over $4 for a bucket of bait and help feed the hungry tarpon (yep, that’s where the name comes from) that surround the deck and are always ready for a snack.

History of Diving Museum

History of Diving Museum Arrow

While nearby Key Largo is known as “The Diving Capital of the World,” the History of Diving Museum travels far beyond the Florida Keys —and even America—to trace humankind’s long love affair with the sea. It’s a surprisingly lengthy history, and one full of mesmerizing items that some people might not think would make for a memorable outing. The museum houses photographs, documents, suits, diving apparatus, and the world's largest collection of diving helmets—some of which look like they came straight from the set of Doctor Who . Because the museum is just a simple turn off the highway, it may seem like a few people just decided to stop to stretch their legs a bit. But once inside, the variety of things to do and see keeps them in place, perhaps for longer than they expected.

Holiday Isle Tiki Bar Florida

Holiday Isle Tiki Bar Arrow

The Holiday Isle Tiki Bar, which opened in 1969, is a bit like a time machine. Though it underwent a massive renovation (the establishment sustained a lot of damage following Hurricane Irma), it still maintains much of its original charm, and many of its original features—including floorboards with the names of some of its many visitors carved into them and a neon sign that serves as a sort of beacon to kitsch and cocktail fans. The space has all the requirements of a great tiki bar: soft lighting, beach views, a friendly, if raucous, crowd ( usually a mix of scuba divers, anglers, and hotel guests from the nearby Postcard Inn Beach Resort ); and a menu full of frozen drinks themselves seemingly frozen in time as the craft cocktail world has evolved around them. The bar is also supposedly the original home of the Rum Runner—rum, blackberry brandy, banana liqueur, lime juice, and grenadine—making it a destination for those with a cocktail bucket list.

Lorelei Restaurant  Cabana Bar Key West Florida

Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar Arrow

You came to the Florida Keys for the water views and the sunsets, and Lorelei Restaurant has both, plus the freshest seafood around. The Florida Bay views are pristine and the menu is a perfect mix of tropical dishes (try the conch chowder and smoked fish dip). If colorful cocktails lure you, the rum punch (coconut and dark rums, grenadine, pineapple juice, and orange juice) and Bahama mama (silver, gold, coconut, and 151 rums with pineapple, orange, and Key lime juices) are solid choices.

Casa Morada

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Is this the Keys or the Caribbean? The lines are blurred at this evocative hotel that conjures barefoot island living to a tee. Nightly rates include snorkeling gear, bikes for exploring Islamorada’s bike paths, and stand-up paddleboards—and there’s free yoga three days a week. You can also access the resort’s tiny but pretty private island via a footbridge from the “mainland” where the suites are located. There’s a freshwater pool on the island, as well as a hidden cabana and a pavilion where you can scope for passing manatees and dolphins and watch the sunset.

Florida Keys Brewing Company Florida

Florida Keys Brewing Company Arrow

The beautiful beer garden on the backside of this brewery has a Bavaria meets Islamorada aesthetic that's impossible not to love. Picnic tables sit under palms and flowering tropical trees, and bands often strum island tunes on the tiny outdoor stage. This is the Keys, so the beer is not exactly straight ahead. Only real fruit extracts like mango, passionfruit, and pineapple are used to season the brews. There are lagers, kolsch beers, browns, wheat ales, and IPAs on the menu. People love the Run Aground Brown.

Dry Tortugas National Park

DRY TORTUGAS

If you’re aching to explore something beyond Key West, but don’t want to stray too far, a two-hour-and-15-minute ferry ride will take you the approximately 70 miles from Key West to the Dry Tortugas, a small group of islands that once operated as a military fort and was re-designated as a national park in 1992. There are no luxury hotels to be found here (though you can spend the night if you don’t mind pitching a tent and camping), nor are there any quaint boutiques or cafes. This destination is for history lovers and outdoorsy types (but it's okay if your idea of “outdoorsy” is laying on the beach all day).

United States Florida Key West Park Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park Arrow

From a distance, the 65,000-acre Dry Tortugas National Park looks like what could be one of the world’s most stunning private islands: the sand is powdery and white, the water is a stunning shade of blue, and an impressive brick fortress overlooks this island utopia. But there's more. Get a little closer and you’ll see that the brick structure is actually a historic military fort, and that the cluster of islands’ only full-time residents are the diverse range of marine and wildlife. There are no hotels (unless you count a small campsite), nor are there are any bars, boutiques, or restaurants…though there is a tiny gift shop). If you're an outdoor enthusiast, you can choose to plant yourself on the beach and not move until your boat or seaplane (the only possible modes of transportation) is ready to take you back to the mainland, or actually get up and explore.

United States Florida Key West Restaurant Cuban Coffee Queen

Cuban Coffee Queen Arrow

Cuban Coffee Queen is a lively counter-service joint with three locations (all within one square mile of each other in the heart of town), any one of which makes an ideal spot for enjoying a bit of sunshine with your morning coffee. But don’t let the name fool you: Sure, they serve one of the best cups of joe in town—break away from your same-old caffeine fix and opt for one of their classic Cuban specialties, like a café con leche—but they serve up a whole lot more. Give the pressed Cuban bread with guava and cream cheese or one of their homemade sammies a try.

Yankee Freedom III Dry Tortugas Ferry

Yankee Freedom III Dry Tortugas Ferry Arrow

If you want to get out to the Dry Tortugas, you’re either going to need a boat or a seaplane—and if you don't happen to have a spare of either, the Yankee Freedom III is your next best choice. The ferry makes the two-hour journey to and from the Dry Tortugas each day, and the price of a ticket ($180 for adults, $125 for kids 16 and under) includes a comfortable boat ride, plus breakfast and lunch, complimentary snorkeling equipment, admittance to Dry Tortugas National Park , and entry to Fort Jefferson, a massive, though unfinished, military fortress that dates to the Civil War. For those who want to take a guided tour of the 16-acre facility, that’s included, too. Just know that there are no shops here, so you’ll want to remember to bring a beach towel and some sunscreen. (The ferry itself serves up drinks and snacks.)

Key Largo Florida

Key Largo may be the title of one of Humphrey Bogart’s most famous movies, but the town itself—which is the first one you’ll reach while driving onto the Keys—has a link to one of Bogart’s other films: the boat that ferried around Bogey and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen (it’s been restored to take guests on day trips as well as sunset dinner cruises). If you’d rather be in the water than on top of it, the town is also where you’ll find John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park—the country’s first underwater park, which is a must-see for scuba enthusiasts. Grab your sunscreen and get moving.

Bakers Cay Resort Key Largo Curio Collection by Hilton

Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection by Hilton Arrow

Open since February 2019 in Key Largo, Baker’s Cay Resort has been a hit with Traveler readers from the jump . It spans 15 tropical acres that were once a pineapple plantation tucked away off the busy Overseas Highway. The resort has 200 rooms but manages to maintain a boutique and intimate feel with winding nature trails throughout leading to quiet beaches. Rooms—including lavish suites with views of Florida Bay—have handcrafted wood furnishings, custom tile work in the bathrooms, and hardwood floors. On-site dining includes waterfront taqueria Dry Rocks, and Caribbean-Creole cuisine with bay views at the more upscale (but still Florida Keys casual) Calusa restaurant. Other amenities include a kids’ camp, two swimming pools with a waterfall grotto, and hammocks everywhere. The resort is super pet-friendly, too: dogs can swim in the water, walk on the beach, escape the sun in dedicated dog tikis, and even enjoy “yappy hour” specials.

Key West John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Arrow

The country's first underwater park, John Pennekamp is a scuba diver's dream—there are more than 250 species of tropical fish and 85 types of coral within its nearly 200 square nautical miles. Which means you’re going to want to plan an itinerary ahead of time: throughout the day, the park runs a number of snorkeling and scuba diving tours, and kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes are also available for rent. For less active types, a glass-bottomed boat tour will let you experience the park’s majestic underwater wonderland—all from a comfy, seated position. But the park’s most impressive, must-see feature is right there in its name: its coral reefs (they’re part of the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States, and the park was established in part to protect that). The park’s snorkeling and scuba tours are the best way to get an up-close view of these marine wonders, but the glass-bottom boat is a nice option for guests who are less inclined to get wet.

The African Queen Key Largo

The African Queen – Canal Cruise Arrow

Classic movie lovers will feel transported to Hollywood's golden age while being chauffeured around the Port Largo Canal aboard the steam engine-powered boat from The African Queen , the 1951 Oscar-winning film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Because the boat only holds about half a dozen people, a tour on board will feel quite intimate. Chat up your captain during the 90-minute trip to get the lowdown on Key Largo and its history. A heads-up: there's no bathroom on board, so be sure to make a pre-departure pit stop.

Florida Keys Wild Bird Center

Florida Keys Wild Bird Center Arrow

Spread across seven acres of mangrove wetlands that lead visitors on a boardwalk past rescued bird habitats to the open bay, this facility blends in with its surrounds. It feels wild, not manicured at all, but still safe and comfortable as you walk the boardwalk pathway to the area where it opens to mangrove fringed bay views of the undeveloped shoreline. Some 1,000 birds are rescued and rehabilitated by the facility every year, with many released back into the wild. Barn owls, pelicans, broad-winged hawks, great horned owls, and all manner of shore birds and pelicans are some of the characters you'll see. 

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Key Largo Conch House Arrow

The Keys is a place for seafood , and the Conch House is no exception. The food is simple here but exceedingly fresh, and serves as a nice departure from the usual abundance of fritters, fish, and fries found throughout the Keys. The emphasis is on healthy cooking, with the freshest possible fish prepared blackened or grilled with seasonal vegetables (or fries if you must). The must-try is huge portion of conch, and lobster ceviche.

Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder

Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder Arrow

This nonprofit organization is dedicated to rescuing dolphins, manatees, and other sea mammals, and visitors to the sanctuary can assist by doing anything from observing their resident animals from the dock and watching the team at work, to shadowing a trainer for the day. But the highlight for most will be getting to take a swim with the dolphins. Some of the other programming here shows visitors how to care for the animals; depending on the day and dolphin, you might see how a dolphin ultrasound is performed, or how to brush a dolphin’s teeth.

Snappers Restaurant Key West Florida

Snappers Oceanfront Restaurant & Bar Arrow

While Snappers has long been a Key Largo icon, it’s also a popular stopping point for travelers making their way from Miami to Key West (it’s about a 90-minute drive from South Beach), so prepare for a crowd and plan your trip accordingly. The waterfront setting, old-school décor, and history of the place make it rather boisterous regardless of whether you stop in for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch (which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features live jazz plus a build-your-own-Bloody Mary bar). The food leans Caribbean, and the menu changes slightly each day based on what's fresh—the hallmark of any great seafood joint—but you can't miss if you order the gator bites (lest there be any confusion, made from actual gator). If you’ve spent the day doing some fishing of your own, they’ll also cook up your personal catch of the day.

dry tortugas day trip from key west

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Island House Key West Resort

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Dry Tortugas Ferry from Key West – Cost, Length, Alternatives

The majority of people reach Dry Tortugas National Park via the Dry Tortugas ferry from Key West, which is called the Yankee Freedom III. The Yankee Freedom delivers people for camping and day trips to the island daily.

The Yankee Freedom III is a 110 foot luxury catamaran that started making trips from Key West in 2012. There is a large indoor air conditioned areas on the main level of the boat. There is also an outdoor area on the front deck of the boat and at the rear of the second level. There are three bathrooms at the rear of the boat on the main level, as well as a small gift shop and food service area. The ferry is powered by two Caterpillar 3412 engines and has a cruising speed of 27 knots. It also has a Vosper/MDI active interceptor motion-control system to automatically smooth the ride to Fort Jefferson. The ship has a passenger capacity of 250 persons although the park limit is 175 persons.

The ferry shuttles people from Key West to Garden Key. Garden Key is the largest island in Dry Tortugas National Park and the home of the famous and historic Fort Jefferson. Garden Key is currently connected by land with Bush Key and Long Key, although access to these areas may be restricted to protect important seabird nesting areas.

The Dry Tortugas ferry departs from Key West Bight, which is a historic 200 year old marina recognized by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. The address for the Ferry Terminal is 100 Grinnell St, Key West, Fl 33040. The ferry terminal is located on the north side of Key West between Mallory Square and the US Coast Guard property. There is a parking garage across from the Ferry Terminal. The cost of the City Parking Garage is $32 for the day (2021). The address of the parking garage is 300 Grinnell Street in Key West.

How long is the boat ride from Key West?

The trip from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park is approximately two hours and fifteen minutes. Visitors to the park on day trips are able to enjoy just over four hours on the island.

Dry Tortugas Ferry Cost (updated for 2021)

The ferry is the cheapest way to get to Dry Tortugas National Park. How much is the ferry for a day trip from Key West to the Dry Tortugas? The cost for an adult is $190. There is a $10 discount for active duty members of the military, seniors ages 62 or higher, and full-time students (age 17+). Children ages 4 to 16 are $135 each. Infants 0 to 3 years of age are free. How much is the transport fee for campers? The cost for a camping trip is $210 for an adult and $155 for a child between 4 and 16 years of age.

What is included in the trip?

The fare includes the entry fee for the national park, breakfast, lunch, snorkeling gear and guided tours of the Fort. If you bring a valid annual national park pass to check in for the ferry, the entrance fee to the park included in the price of the ticket will be refunded.

How to Buy Tickets for the Ferry

Tickets for day trips from Key West to Garden Key can be booked through the online reservation system created and run by the Yankee Freedom III. It can also be purchased in person at . Advanced tickets are recommended.

If you are planning to camp on Garden Key, you must call the Yankee Freedom III staff. Reservations for transport of campers is usually made 8 to 12 months in advance to ensure availability.

Ferry Cancellation Policy

Cancellations are required 48 hours before a camping trip departure and, for day trips, 3 PM on the day before you are scheduled to depart.

Other Options for How to Get to Dry Tortugas

The other options are Seaplane and Private Transport.

The check in time at the boat dock is 7:00 AM. If you have a valid annual park pass, present it at the check in for a refund of the entrance fee that was collected when you made your reservation. There is a waiting area inside as well as restrooms. Boarding begins at 7:30 AM and depature occurs at 8 AM. The check-in for campers is earlier – 6:30 AM in the morning.

We were running late on the morning of our departure and did not have time to stop at a drug store to pick up a waterproof camera, so we had to buy one on the boat. The informational briefing before boarding provided a variety of information such as what to do if you are feeling sea sick (short version – go outside at the back of the boat on the first level where it is most stable and tell a crew member so that they can give you a package of items including a vomit bag), the details of breakfast and lunch service, and operation of the toilets in the bathroom.

Boarding started immediately following the end of the briefing in groups of 25 – those people who received the lowest numbered pass during check-in were allowed to board first. If you want to secure a good seat on the ferry, you need to get there early.

Breakfast was available immediately during boarding and is served until 8:30 so you have about thirty minutes to get food. This proved plenty of time for us to eat and make a second trip. There was an assortment of options including cereal, bagels, cream cheese, ham, cut cheeses, fruit and drinks such as milk and orange juice. Coffee and hot water (tea) are available throughout the journey. After breakfast was over, they put out items for sale in the breakfast area.

Lunch is served on the boat from 11 AM to 1 PM. It starts around thirty minutes after the boat docks. There were drinks in coolers at the front of the The lunch on our trip included three kinds of bread ready for your choice of turkey, ham, tuna salad, cheeses, lettuce and tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, peppers and pickles, and fruit salad. There was also a selection of individually bagged chips, cans of Pepsi, bottles of water and a few other drink options.

Souvenirs and Ship Store

The ferry sold a number of souvenirs and essentials including a magnet, pin, playing cards, batteries, patch, sunglasses, water bottle, coffee tumbler, hats, sunscreen, shirts, beach towel and waterproof camera. I had already bought a dose of dramamine (motion sickness medication) for $1 immediately after getting on the boat.

There were three bathrooms at the back of the boat.

Informational Tours

During the boat ride, we also learned that they offer tours of the fort. At 11 AM, they offer a 20 minute “tour” of the fort. It is really a short history of the importance of the islands and why the United States built one of their biggest forts in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. At 11:30, they hold a longer 1.25 hour tour. The longer tour actually walks around the fort. We took the short tour and sat inside the fort at a group of benches while we listened to the guide. Each of the tours is limited to 25 people each but they promised to add another tour if there was sufficient demand. If you take the longer tour, they advise you to grab something for lunch between 11 and 11:30 AM so that you don’t miss lunch (which ends shortly after the tour, and they don’t want you to worry or go hungry!). It was recommended that you don’t do both tours (they overlap), so plan how you would prefer to spend your time.

Snorkeling Instruction

The other thing that we learned during the boat ride was how to snorkel. They run a brief video that explains where to snorkel on the island, how to ensure that you have the right gear, putting on your equipment as well as how important it is not to touch the coral. You do not need to worry about bringing gear – the ferry provides snorkeling equipment for everyone that signs a waiver of liability. It is available starting at around 11 AM on the dock. For those that go to the beach, there is a salt water spray wash on the dock and a few fresh water open showers at the back of the boat. There are also changing rooms on the dock – there was a line for them around 2:15 PM. They request the snorkel equipment be returned by 2:30, about 15 minutes prior to the boat’s departure at 2:45pm.

Dry Tortugas National Park Birds of the Dry Tortugas Dry Tortugas Camping Dry Tortugas Fishing Dry Tortugas Ferry Dry Tortugas Kayaking Dry Tortugas Seaplane Dry Tortugas Weather Fort Jefferson Visitor Center Key West Loggerhead Key Sea Turtles of Dry Tortugas Snorkeling Dry Tortugas

dry tortugas day trip from key west

How to Visit Fabulous Dry Tortugas National Park (and What to Do There)

T he Dry Tortugas National Park is a remarkable South Florida gem that merits your attention. Situated just 70 miles from Key West, it holds the distinction of being the most remote National Park in the United States.

Steeped in awe-inspiring American history, it boasts stunning beaches, exceptional opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving, and is part of the world’s third-largest reef system. Prepare to be captivated by the mesmerizing coral formations and the island’s rare bird species. Notably, the park is also home to fascinating shipwrecks.

Here is an outline for how you can visit the Dry Tortugas National Park, only accessible by boat or seaplane, and explore its remarkable Fort Jefferson ruins.

Without a doubt, Dry Tortugas is an exquisite destination that offers pristine natural beauty and unparalleled azure waters that will leave you in awe.

What Is Dry Tortugas?

Dry Tortugas is an expansive 100-square mile park and island, one among seven, strategically positioned off the coast of Key West. This secluded haven in the Florida Keys boasts a rich historical tapestry. Its discovery by Ponce de Leon in 1513, during which he encountered over 100 sea turtles, led to the name Tortugas, meaning “turtles”.

Over the course of nearly two centuries that followed, the islands became a notorious hideout for pirates, who launched daring attacks on merchant shipping.

A Fort Jefferson Intro

Dominating the landscape of Garden Key is the formidable fort, Fort Jefferson, constructed in 1846 and unrivaled by any other fortification in the nation, despite its incomplete state. In addition to its military significance, Fort Jefferson served as a Union prison camp during the period of the Civil War.

Remarkably, the fort comprises a staggering 16 million bricks, each painstakingly transported to this remote and hard-to-reach island location. One can only imagine the enormous logistical challenges involved in such an undertaking.

How to Visit Dry Tortugas National Park

In 1935, President Roosevelt designated Fort Jefferson a national monument, adding it to the prestigious National Register of Historic Places. Subsequently, in 1992, the Dry Tortugas, including Fort Jefferson, were welcomed into the esteemed roster of the National Parks System.

Today, visitors have the delightful opportunity to experience the captivating beauty of the Dry Tortugas through various means, such as seaplane, ferry, or private boat . For most individuals, the Yankee Freedom III ship serves as the favored and cost-effective mode of transport, which incidentally, I also chose.

The Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon first discovered this island chain in 1513 and called them Las Tortugas, meaning The Turtles, for the great number of sea turtles found there. The latter name, Dry Tortugas, was intended to warn seafarers that the islands contain no fresh water. – Key West Travel Guide

The Yankee Freedom Ferry

Experience the beauty of Dry Tortugas via the Yankee Freedom III ferry. Purchase tickets online and come to the terminal dock, at 100 Grinnell Street, bright and early for an 8:00 AM departure. Once on the island, you’ll have four hours to soak in the breathtaking sights.

To make the most of your trip, don’t forget to bring your swimsuits, a change of dry clothing, beach hat, towels, sunscreen, motion sickness medication, games/cards/books, water shoes, sunglasses, and camping supplies if you’re staying overnight. Remember to pack a dry bag for wet clothing and a waterproof phone case.

Please note that aerial drones are not allowed.

When boarding the Yankee Freedom, ticket holders are called in groups of 25. Arriving early ensures you get the best choice of seats on the multiple level boat. Once onboard, secure your belongings behind your chosen seat and wait for the ferry to set sail. Take this time to make any important calls or send texts, as there will be no cell service until around 5:00 PM.

During the journey, a professionally trained staff will offer a filling continental breakfast for about 90 minutes. Enjoy bagels, spreads, hard-boiled eggs, cereals, fruit, yogurt, juice, milk, and coffee. Cold water is available throughout the trip, and you can also purchase soda and bottled water.

More Yankee Freedom Notes

Experience the beauty of Dry Tortugas National Park in just a 2 hours and 15-30 minutes ride. Take the travel time opportunity to relax, read a book, enjoy the views, or even spot sea turtles and dolphins.

Four bathrooms are available at the back of the boat and should be used as directed to keep from getting clogs or backed-up toilets. 

Once the Yankee Freedom is docked, guests are free to come and go as they please. Take a break from the sun, rest, or explore the park. Then, come back to the ferry for the included lunch, between 11 AM and 1 PM. The spread consists of cold cuts, vegetables, bread, spreads, fruit, chips, cookies, potato salad, chicken salad, and sodas. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase.

And the best part? Your ferry ticket includes a 45-minute fully narrated tour of Fort Jefferson. Plus, all applicable entrance fees are included.

And when you get back to Key West , here are some restaurant suggestions.

Spending Time at Dry Tortugas National Park

You have four hours to experience the highlights of Dry Tortugas National Park! Start by joining a desirable tour with the onboard historian/naturalist to truly appreciate the grandeur of Fort Jefferson. Instead of exploring the fort on your own, why not have someone provide a concise 30 to 45-minute history lesson?

Gather in our comfortable seating area, surrounded by shady trees, to embark on your tour. Aside from the introductory tour, there are additional walking tours available at Fort Jefferson, although I personally didn’t partake in them.

Our tour guide, Hollywood, who is a member of Yankee Freedom’s staff, did an outstanding job! Through his passion and entertaining storytelling, my daughter Peyton and I were captivated by historical facts throughout the day. Hollywood has a unique talent for bringing history to life, sparking an unexpected interest in Peyton, who isn’t usually enthralled by history.

In addition to the tours, don’t forget to visit the small gift shop and museum at Fort Jefferson. It’s the perfect place to cool off, browse through souvenirs such as postcards, books, and apparel, or pick up national park merchandise like stamps and posters.

Dry Tortugas Reef Activities

Experience the wonders of the third greatest reef in the world at Dry Tortugas! Don’t miss out on this incredible snorkeling opportunity. Complimentary snorkel gear is available, along with convenient changing rooms at the dock.

Peyton and I eagerly put on our snorkel gear and headed into the stunning blue waters. Despite the strong current in the Gulf of Mexico , the underwater sight was absolutely breathtaking. Even with the sediment stirred up by other snorkelers, the visibility remained surprisingly clear.

We were amazed by the vibrant and diverse marine life, with fascinating fish of all kinds swimming around the beautiful reef. We even felt them brush against our legs at times. Who knows, you might even encounter a sea turtle or a shark!

We counted over 100 different types of fish and marine creatures during our adventure. Peyton spotted a magnificent five-foot stingray, while I had the incredible luck to see a seahorse. We were in awe of the grouper, parrotfish, angelfish, and lobster that surrounded us. We wished we had brought an underwater camera to capture these magical moments.

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, the Dry Tortugas National Park offers the perfect setting for snorkeling. You can also enjoy swimming, recreational fishing, and soaking up the sun on the warm sandy beaches. Remember to reapply sunscreen frequently due to the southern location and stay hydrated.

If you’re interested in birdwatching, Dry Tortugas is a haven for rare bird sightings . It’s a great opportunity to add new species to your birdwatching list or indulge in a new hobby.

Ferry Ride Back to Key West

Get ready for the most challenging part of your trip. The ride back to Key West can be quite rough at sea, so we recommend taking Dramamine around noon before starting your journey. Trust me, it’s important.

But don’t worry, the staff is fully prepared for any motion sickness. They have handed out special bags just in case. Peyton and I made it through without getting sick, but some people around us weren’t as lucky. The waves were rough and the ride was bumpy.

Remember that sailors do this trip every day unless there’s bad weather. So while it may be a bit complicated, you’ll be safe.

Dry Tortugas: A Trip to Remember

Our day at Dry Tortugas National Park was absolutely amazing. I had the best time snorkeling and learning about the history of the park. As a big fan of National Parks, I was thrilled to add a stamp to my National Park passport book.

I hope you’ll enjoy this beautiful park, island, and beach as much as we did. Happy travels!

Thanks to Yankee Freedom and the Florida Keys Tourism for hosting our trip. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.  

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We've got everything you need for how to visit beautiful Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson, and what to do while you are there.

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5 Questions With The June #DryTortugas Photo Contest Winner

june winner mathew aguilar

Meet Mathew Aguilar, our June 2024 #DryTortugas Photo Contest winner. We had the chance to ask him a few questions about his experience at the Dry Tortugas National Park. Read on to learn how he captured his amazing photo!

1. When did you visit the Dry Tortugas National Park? Did you arrive by seaplane, the Yankee Freedom ferry, or another way? My wife and I visited Dry Tortugas in March 2024. We arrived by the Yankee Ferry.

2. If you arrived by the Yankee Freedom, how was your ferry trip? We were worried our trip was going to be cancelled because the weather wasn’t the greatest, but we were lucky enough to still get to go! It was a bit of a rough ride because the waves ended up being higher than the estimated 3-5 feet. We were lucky to have pre-medicated with Dramamine because over half the passengers (and even a crew member) got seasick. That being said, the crew was incredibly amazing, and it was 100% worth it to make it to Dry Tortugas.

3. How did you capture your winning photo? What inspired you to take it? Did you use any cool camera gear? It was generally overcast on our trip to Dry Tortugas. However, when we got to the lighthouse, the clouds parted, the sun came out, and the lighting was perfect. I noticed it was an incredibly symmetrical photo, and I wanted to try and get the full breadth of the ramparts. Additionally, I loved the contrasting colors of the blue sky, the green foliage, the red brick, and the black cannon and lighthouse. I used a Ricoh GRIII with a wide conversion lens. The camera is very niche and usually used for street photography, but I’ve found it to be amazing for landscape photography due to its wide-angle lenses and compactness.

4. What made your trip to the Dry Tortugas memorable? Dry Tortugas was such an incredibly unique, beautiful, and historically-rich park. The beginning of the trip started off the memorable experience. We got lucky with last minute tickets on the last day of our trip to Key West, so when we got stuck in traffic that morning, I ran out of the car in a thunderstorm to see if we would be able to get through past the holdup as we didn’t want to miss out on the adventure. We made it to the ferry in time, and the weather wanted to give us one last gift with a bumpy ride. However, it was all worth it as exploring the fort was a wonderful experience, and we enjoyed getting to hear Hollywood talk all about its history. We loved walking around and just enjoying all of the peace and beauty Dry Tortugas had to offer.

5. What do you plan to do with your National Park Annual Pass? We want to visit all 63 national parks, and Dry Tortugas was our 25th. We plan to use our national park pass to continue our adventures into America’s natural beauty. We just visited Canyonlands National Park, and our next stop is going to be either Great Basin National Park or Olympic National Park.

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COMMENTS

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    Day Trips. Itinerary; What to Bring; Included w/ Trip; Onboard Services; Trip Details; Cruise in spacious comfort to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park aboard the Yankee Freedom, a high-speed ocean-going catamaran specifically designed for carrying passengers safely across the 70 miles of open water from Key West to the Park.The Yankee Freedom is 110' long and 30.6' wide, a ...

  2. Key West Day Trips To The Dry Tortugas

    Located 70 miles from Key West, the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson is an unforgettable day trip for the entire family. The Sooty Tern & the Brown Noddy Tern Nesting Season has begun! alert bar link Learn more. Yankee Freedom III, LLC is authorized by the NPS and the Department of the Interior to serve the public at Dry Tortugas National Park. ...

  3. Key West Ferry To The Dry Tortugas National Park

    Located in Key West, Florida, one of the jewels of the Yankee Fleet is the catamaran Yankee Freedom. The Yankee Freedom is the fastest, largest and newest state-of-the-art ferry transporting passengers to Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas National Park. The Yankee Fleet in Gloucester, Massachusetts has over 7 vessels and has grown to become New ...

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    What To Expect. This 10-hour journey departs from Key West on board the Yankee Freedom III, a luxurious, state-of-the-art, high-speed catamaran that ferries passengers from Key West to Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson National Park. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and take in the scenic beauty while cruising 70 miles off the coast through the Gulf ...

  5. Key West Seaplane Adventures

    Official site of Key West Seaplane Adventures. Proudly serving seaplane tours to Fort Jefferson and Dry Tortugas National Park. Book Your Adventure; 305-293-9300 [email protected] Seaplane To Dry Tortugas. ... Afternoon or Full Day Tours We are the only Seaplane Service to Dry Tortugas National Park .

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    Cruise from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park for a day of sightseeing. Enjoy waterfront sights, including Boca Grande Key, and the Marquesas Keys. Tour Fort Jefferson, stroll on the beach, and snorkel along the coral reef. Get great inclusions—snorkeling gear, breakfast and lunch, and a ferry ride. What's included.

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    The Yankee Freedom Ferry departs from Key West, Florida daily for day trips. Day trips offer a scenic 70-mile boat ride and about 4.5 hours for visitors to enjoy the park! ... The Yankee Freedom Ferry offers camping trips to Dry Tortugas! Camping at the park is primitive and careful planning is required for all campers. Reservations are ...

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    Head 70 miles west of key west (112 km west of key west) and you'll reach a remarkable group of islands called the Dry Tortugas. Remote and isolated, the islands are almost entirely undeveloped by man and a haven for wildlife. Whether you take our day trip or stay overnight you'll find our Dry Tortugas charters are second to none.

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    STARTING AT $675 PER PERSON or $3500 PRIVATE. Embark on an exclusive voyage to the Dry Tortugas with Fun In The Sun Charters' meticulously crafted day trip, ensuring an unparalleled adventure starting at $675 per person (minimum of 5 persons required for the trip to depart). This excursion promises an intimate experience with a maximum of 6 ...

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    Tour options: Full or half day. Refreshments: Water and soft drinks provided, but must pack your own food. Cost: $371 per adult for half day; $644 per adult for full day. Time at Dry Tortugas: 2.5 hours for half day; 6.5 hours for full day. Check in a half hour before takeoff at Key West International Airport.

  11. Dry Tortugas National Park

    Experience the day trip of a lifetime aboard The Official Key West Ferry of the Dry Tortugas National Park. Offering daily excursions to the Dry Tortugas. ... If you love Key West snorkeling, then Dry Tortugas National Park offers some of the best snorkeling and skin diving in North America, just 70 miles from Key West and the Florida Keys. The ...

  12. What To Do On Your Day Trip To Dry Tortugas From Key West

    Ride the Yankee Freedom Ferry. At Dry Tortugas National Park, the water is always beckoning. If you want to stay dry on your day trip, you can ride the Yankee Freedom Ferry. The Yankee Freedom Ferry offers visitors day trips from Key West, where it docks after each trip. This is a state-of-the-art luxury catamaran with a large, fully air ...

  13. Best Dry Tortugas Day Trip From Key West

    If you're visiting Key West and want a little adventure, a trip to day trip Dry Tortugas National Park might be the thing to do. The park is 70 miles west of Key West at the end of the Florida Keys in the Gulf of Mexico. Dry Tortugas National Park ( official website) is a haven for snorkeling, along with birding, and civil war history.

  14. Plan the Perfect Dry Tortugas Day Trip from Key West

    Dry Tortugas National Park is located about 70 miles west of Key West at the end of the long reef that stretches from Miami out into the Gulf. Its remote location is the reason it receives so few visitors annually, but it's a worthwhile journey for those who make the trip. The park is mostly aquatic, with miles of open sea and only a few ...

  15. Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip by Catamaran from Key West

    What To Expect. This 10-hour journey departs from Key West on board the Yankee Freedom III, a luxurious, state-of-the-art, high-speed catamaran that ferries passengers from Key West to Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson National Park. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and take in the scenic beauty while cruising 70 miles off the coast through the Gulf ...

  16. Exactly How to Plan a Dry Tortugas Day Trip from Key West

    Book the Tour: Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip by Catamaran. By contrast, the transit with Key West Seaplane Adventures lasts only 45 minutes and provides about six-and-a-half hours on the island—it also offers beautiful views when landing. Cost for a full day is $625, or $500 for children 12 and under, and while snorkeling gear is ...

  17. Dry Tortugas National Park: Day Trip, Snorkeling & Camping

    A Dry Tortugas day trip from Key West checks a lot of boxes: secluded white sand beaches, spectacular snorkeling, and exploring history with stories of pirates and a 19th century fort. Visiting Dry Tortugas feels like a getaway to an undiscovered Caribbean Island. It also has the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys!

  18. Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip from Key West, USA

    08:00 Depart Key West; 10:15 Arrive Garden Key for Dry Tortugas National Park; 4.5 hours free time on island; 11:00 Optional free guided tour of Fort Jefferson (45 minutes) 11:00 - 13:00 Lunch is served; 15:00 Depart Dry Tortugas; 17:30 Arrive back in Key West . When To Visit Dry Tortugas National Park. May to October is high season. It's ...

  19. Dry Tortugas Ferry

    Discover the wonders of Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida's magnificent underwater paradise, with the convenient and scenic Dry Tortugas ferry service to the fort. Located just 70 miles from Key West, this 100 square mile marine sanctuary is a nature lover's dream. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of its sparkling blue and ...

  20. Dry Tortugas Day Trip Ferry Tickets

    Almost 70 miles west of Key West, nestled among coral reefs, and white sandy beaches, lie seven remote islands called the Dry Tortugas. Unforgettable adventures await you on this most memorable Key West tour. FERRY DEPARTURE CHECK IN: 7AM BOARDING: 7:30AM DEPARTURE: 8AM ARRIVE AT FORT JEFFERSON: 10:30AM. DRY TORTUGAS & FERRY RETURN FORT ...

  21. 3 Day Trips from Key West: Islamorada, Dry Tortugas & Key Largo

    The ferry makes the two-hour journey to and from the Dry Tortugas each day, and the price of a ticket ($180 for adults, $125 for kids 16 and under) includes a comfortable boat ride, plus breakfast ...

  22. Dry Tortugas Ferry from Key West

    The majority of people reach Dry Tortugas National Park via the Dry Tortugas ferry from Key West, which is called the Yankee Freedom III. The Yankee Freedom delivers people for camping and day trips to the island daily. The Yankee Freedom III is a 110 foot luxury catamaran that started making trips from Key West in 2012.

  23. How to Visit Fabulous Dry Tortugas National Park (and What to Do There)

    The Dry Tortugas National Park is a remarkable South Florida gem that merits your attention. Situated just 70 miles from Key West, it holds the distinction of being the most remote National Park ...

  24. 5 Questions With The June #DryTortugas Photo Contest Winner

    Dry Tortugas was such an incredibly unique, beautiful, and historically-rich park. The beginning of the trip started off the memorable experience. We got lucky with last minute tickets on the last day of our trip to Key West, so when we got stuck in traffic that morning, I ran out of the car in a thunderstorm to see if we would be able to get ...