Amazing 1 Day Trip in Dry Tortugas National Park: Snorkeling & Scuba Diving

Dry Tortugas National Park is a national park located in the state of Florida, United States of America. The park consists of seven islands, including Dry Tortugas itself, but not all islands are open to visitors. The national park was established to protect these areas. It’s an oasis to truly get away from it all and discover new places and experiences.

Dry Tortugas National Park history

The area was first discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513 and named for the abundance of turtle doves or tortugas that live on the island. In 1622, a shipwreck occurred near the Dry Tortugas and most of the survivors were captured by pirates. Over the next few years, several more ships sank in the area and it became known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Dry Tortugas National Park Panoramic View
Visit Dry Tortugas National Park Pedro Lastra

In 1825, construction began on Fort Jefferson, a massive coastal fortification. The fort was used as a prison during the Civil War and housed notable prisoners such as Dr. Samuel Mudd (convicted of conspiracy for his role in Lincoln’s assassination) and Ferdinand Mangold (a member of John Wilkes Booth’s conspirators).

Dry Tortugas National Park Places To Visit
Things to do in Dry Tortugas National Park Matthew Paulson

Dry Tortugas National Park things to do

Today, Dry Tortugas National Park is a popular tourist destination. Visitors can enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, bird watching and visiting Fort Jefferson.

Best snorkeling and scuba diving at Dry Tortugas National Park

One of the most popular activities in Dry Tortugas National Park is snorkeling. The water is crystal clear and there are plenty of fish to see and coral reefs to explore. The clear, warm waters offer excellent visibility and are teeming with marine life. Visitors can therefore discover coral reefs, shipwrecks and a wide variety of fish species.

Dry Tortugas National Park Fish
Scuba Diving in Dry Tortugas National Park Matthew Paulson

There are several dive sites within the park, including the popular Fort Jefferson Reef. This reef is located on the shore of Fort Jefferson, America’s largest masonry structure. Home to a wide variety of corals and fish, the reef is a great place for both novice and experienced divers. It is home to an abundance of wildlife. The Dry Tortugas is actually a group of seven small islands, named after the turtles that live there. The islands are also home to a variety of bird species, including the rare sooty tern.

Seaplane Adventures Beach
Ben Palmore
Dry Tortugas National Park Things To Do

For those who want to explore shipwrecks, Dry Tortugas National Park has many to choose from. Many of these wrecks date from the 19th century and offer a glimpse into maritime history.

The park also includes Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century fort that was used as a prison during the Civil War. Among the prisoners held at Fort Jefferson at the time were Dr. Samuel Mudd, convicted of assassinating President Abraham Lincoln, and Confederate politician Clement Vallandigham.

Seaplane Adventures Aeral View
Seaplane Adventures

Beaches to swim in Dry Tortugas National Park

Some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida are here, in the Dry Tortugas National Park. The white sand and clear blue waters make these the perfect beaches to relax and enjoy the incredible views. South Swim Beach, Dinghy Beach and North Swim Beach are places where you can combine swimming, sunbathing and kayaking. However, let us remind you that there is no place on the island where you can rent a boat or canoe. In general, these areas are called Garden Key.

Dry Tortugas National Park Fort Jefferson
Dry Tortugas National Park - Fort Jefferson Matthew Paulson

One of the best things about Dry Tortugas National Park is that it is relatively untouched by humans. This means that the water is clean and clear and there is plenty of fish and marine life to see. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a sea turtle or two. So make sure you pack your swimsuit and sunscreen.

Dry Tortugas National Park camping

Camping in Dry Tortugas National Park is only allowed in Garden Key. You can go to the campground without a reservation. It is really a unique camping experience due to its location.

Dry Tortugas National Park Tent Camping
Dry Tortugas National Park and Tent Camp BernieCB

Ways to get to Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is located in the Florida Keys, but it is not accessible by land. Therefore, it can only be reached by sea or air. The national park is 70 miles (113 km) from Key West. From Key West you can take a ferry, rent a boat or reach the island on your own boat. The ferry ride takes about 3 hours and the charter boat ride takes about 2 hours. If you prefer air transportation, you can check the details on the Seaplane Adventures website. Air transportation also takes about 40 minutes.

Seaplane Adventures Key West Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park seaplane Seaplane Adventures

Can you drive to Dry Tortugas National Park?

Dry Tortugas National Park is located about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. The park is only accessible by boat or seaplane.

Cheapest way to get to Dry Tortugas National Park

There are several ways to get to Dry Tortugas National Park, but the cheapest way is definitely to take the ferry from Key West. The ferry ride takes about 2.5 hours.

Best time to visit Dry Tortugas National Park

The best time to visit Dry Tortugas National Park is from April to June, when the weather is warm and dry. This time of year also provides the best chance to see wildlife, as the animals are active and easy to spot. July and August are the busiest months at the park, so if you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, plan your trip for another time. September and October offer cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, but be aware that hurricanes can occur in this period.

Loggerhead Key

Loggerhead Key is the largest of the Dry Tortugas islands. The island is also home to a variety of plant and animal life, including the loggerhead turtles that give the island its name. This island has clean water and white sand. There is a lighthouse in the center of the island and a broken house. It may sound strange but there is indeed a broken house on the beach. This place is not on the ordinary tour routes, you can come here by private boats. Private boats drop you off and give you some time. Then they come back and take you back. This is how it usually works.

Dry Tortugas National Park Loggerhead Key Lighthouse
Curt Peer

Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most beautiful and unique places in Florida. It is a must-see for anyone who loves nature and wants to experience something truly special. The park is home to a lot of plant and animal life, as well as some of the most stunning scenery in the state. If you are planning a visit to Florida, don’t forget to add Dry Tortugas National Park to your list of places to see. You can find all the details, prices and conditions on their website,