The Unique Islands of the Dry Tortugas

One of Key West's most consistently popular tours is the Dry Tortugas Day Trip. The Dry Tortugas is a group of small islands out in the Gulf of Mexico, about 68 miles off the coast of Key West. They are a designated national park and truly one of the most unique national parks. The islands are known for three things: the excellent snorkeling, the phenomenal bird watching, and the presence of a massive 19th-century fort. If you are coming to Key West Florida and looking for the most unique kind of experience available, read on. The Dry Tortugas day trip will provide you and your group with an unforgettable adventure to a truly unique environment.

Getting Out to the Dry Tortugas

Currently, you can only reach the Dry Tortugas by boat. Due to their distance from Key West as well as certain restrictions, taking a private boat is feasible but not all that simple. The best way to get out to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson (and the way the majority of travelers choose as their means of getting to the islands) is via one of two passenger ferries that together transport a total of 200 curious travelers out to the islands. 200 might sound like a lot, but both ferries regularly fill up to capacity, especially during Key West's high season from January through June and on weekends. If you are thinking of making the trip out to the Dry Tortugas while you are in Key West, it's a good idea to plan well in advance and make your reservations several weeks before your trip.

What You Will See on the Dry Tortugas

There are three main attractions and things to see when you are out on the islands of the Dry Tortugas. First, the coral reef gardens. The Dry Tortugas are known as the best place to go on a Key West snorkeling trip. This is partly due to the dense and teeming coral reef gardens that surround the islands and it is partly due to the proximity of the coral gardens to the islands. You can literally swim out to the corals from the beach on the Dry Tortugas, as opposed to getting on a boating vessel to reach them, the way you have to do with most other Key West snorkeling excursions. The second thing you will see out on the Dry Tortugas is birds. Lots and lots of birds. Bring your binoculars and do some research on the kinds of birds that you might see out there. The third thing you will definitely see on the Dry Tortugas is the massive fort located on Garden Key. Fort Jefferson is huge all-brick fort that was built in the 19th century and that was used as a military prison during the Civil War. You will learn all about the history of Fort Jefferson on a 45-minute historic guided tour offered by both ferries to day trippers.

Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson Camping

Twelve lucky campers can enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of actually camping on the remote and isolated islands of the Dry Tortugas. As popular and exclusive as the Dry Tortugas day trip is, camping is even more exclusive and equally as popular. Adventurous campers who want to know what it is like to sleep on an island in the middle of the sea, some 70 miles from the nearest civilized town, can actually experience this out on the Dry Tortugas. Camping out there is highly limited, with each ferry being allowed to transport a maximum of six campers per day. While campers can enjoy the amenities of the Day Trip on the first day of their camping experience, the rest of their camping is completely primitive. Primitive camping means campers must bring everything they will need to use to sustain themselves and live comfortably for a few nights on the islands with them.