Bucket List: Dry Tortugas National Park

Add this Florida Keys gem to your travel bucket list.

One of the most beautiful places in the world is located 70 miles west of Key West.  Welcome to the Dry Tortugas National Park, a hidden gem full of history and beauty all wrapped up in one.  It’s also one of those lifetime travel adventures you’ll want to add to your bucket list, here’s why. 

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Photo credit: Javier Figueroa

The Dry Tortugas is a group of seven small islands located 70 miles west of Key West and is accessible year-round via ferry or seaplane service. Visitors can explore the unparalleled historical resources and natural beauty of the islands as they tour Fort Jefferson, relax on pristine sandy beaches, snorkel in the clear blue waters and see beautiful tropical sea life and on any given day, there will be thousands of seabirds in the area for naturalists to enjoy.  Some of the best snorkeling and skin diving in North America are found here.  

Discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513, the Dry Tortugas was named after the large population of sea turtles living in the island’s surrounding waters. “Tortugas” means turtles in Spanish, and Ponce de Leon himself caught over 100 sea turtles during his time on the island.  

Fort Jefferson was built to protect one of the most strategic deep-water anchorages in North America. 

In 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt created the Fort Jefferson National Monument, and in 1992, all the islands and their surrounding waters were designated as Dry Tortugas National Park.

The Dry Tortugas is one of the least visited national parks, but that has nothing to do with popularity and everything to do with its remote location.  

Explore and discover the crystal-clear waters, stunning sea views and the beautiful and historic 19th-century built Fort Jefferson. 

Photo credit: Key West Seaplane Adventures

How to Get There – By Ferry or Seaplane

While there are only two ways to get there, Ferry or Seaplane, one thing is for sure; you’ll create unforgettable moments and memories that you’ll cherish forever.  

Photo credit: @drytortugas

Yankee Freedom Ferry
Journey from Key West to the Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson aboard the Yankee Freedom III Ferry!  This is a full-day excursion.  It takes 2 hours and 15 minutes to get there and you’ll have over four hours to tour the fort, snorkel and enjoy the beaches of the Dry Tortugas. Learn more about Yankee Freedom.

Key West Seaplane Adventures  – Key West Seaplane Adventures is the only air-service and convenient way to reach the Dry Tortugas.  Morning, afternoon and full-day tours are available. 

Half-day trip is just under 4 ½ hours gives you at least 2 ½ hours of island time.  Travel time is about 40 minutes each way. Full day trip is just under 8 hours provide you with over 6 ½ hours of exploration.   Charter flights are also available.  Learn more about Key West Seaplane Adventures.

Travel Tip:  Plan in Advance

One bit of advice, do not wait to book this day trip to the Dry Tortugas. So many visitors wait till they arrive in Key West to book only to find out there’s no room available.  Plan this trip well in advance to make sure you get that confirmation vs. sorry, sold out.

Special Promotion | Trip to the Dry Tortugas via Seaplane 

With this package, you will receive 

  • Two adult roundtrip passes onto Key West Seaplane Adventures flight to Dry Tortugas.
  • Overnight accommodations at Southernmost Beach Resort

Advanced reservations for Dry Tortugas are recommended. Price is based on a half-day excursion. Full day is available – for more information, please contact our vacation planners at 1 (855) 547-1751. An additional fee of $16 per person is payable upon arrival at Dry Tortugas.

Book the Seaplane Trip to Dry Tortugas

What people are saying 

Jeffery S. from Connecticut took the Ferry, and this is what he had to say via TripAdvisor.

‘This must be on your to-do list while in Key West!

We traveled to Dry Tortugas via the Yankee Freedom. What an amazing day! I have been to Key West three times before, not sure why I never did this trip before, I highly recommend it! The beauty of the aqua ocean, the boat ride, the snorkeling, the history, it is a must!!!’

Photo credit: Key West Seaplane Adventures

Ryan D. from Minnesota took the Seaplane and this is what he had to say via TripAdvisor.

Must do bucket list item.

Such a great experience! Kris was our pilot and such a great narrator on the flight out and back!! Very worth the trip! We did the afternoon half-day and when we landed the ferry was just leaving, so less than 75 people on the island for our afternoon adventure. Snorkel gear was great that was provided and had that once-in-a-lifetime adventure!! If you are on the fence…DO IT!!! You won’t regret it!”

Learn more about the Dry Tortugas National Park.

We agree a trip to the Dry Tortugas is a must-see, do and discover. Start planning today and make this dream a reality by adding it to your bucket list for 2022.  #somolife