Why You Should Visit the Dry Tortugas National Park
Think of a remote deserted island surrounded by beautiful turquoise water. Imagine this island is enchanted with a history of Spanish explorers, soldiers, prisoners, and even pirates. Then imagine the only way to get to this island is to either take a two-and-a-half-hour boat ride that is so wild it will make even seasoned sailors question their sea legs or by seaplane, where you can do some pretty cool marine-life spotting.
Sound like the setting for the next Indiana Jones movie? Well, what if I told you its actually a real place that you can visit? Its called the Dry Tortugas and is located about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. Its a US National Park and may be the coolest place I have ever visited.
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Day Trip or Campout
First you’ll need to decide whether you want to visit for the day or camp at the Dry Tortugas for up to 3 nights. Yeah, you read that right, camp on a remote island for up to 3 nights. No, there isn’t a convenience store or coffee shop for many, many miles, so be sure to pack all that you’ll need. We did a day-trip, but plan on returning for a camping trip in the near future. When will you ever have the opportunity to camp at a place like this again?
The boat ride out to the Dry Tortugas is a trip in itself. The Captain pretty much begs everyone to take a Dramamine before they leave port to save the crew from cleaning up everyone’s breakfast. I took one and had no problems. The ride is beautiful as you cruise through the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico. The roller coaster ride begins when you hit Rebecca Channel. We had fair warning for this and sat tight and enjoyed the ride!
Check out the Yankee Freedom for more information on the ferry and what it all entails here.
The Beautiful Beaches
The island is rather small. It is mostly occupied by Fort Jefferson, but what drew me in as soon as I stepped off the boat was the beautiful beach that surrounded the entire island. We had some inside information that there is a trove of conch shells that wash up on the beach, so we went searching. We were not disappointed! We found hundreds of them in all sizes. The bright pink and orange shells really stood out on the shore.
I love US history, especially the Civil War period. Visiting Fort Jefferson was the icing on the cake. I’ve visited several Civil War forts in the past, but there was something special about this one. Maybe it was because the park rangers and other Dry Tortugas staff actually lived in the fort or maybe it was just the remoteness of it, but it felt different than the other ones I have been to.
For more information on the Fort and the Dry Tortugas National Park itself, check out their website here. The Dry Tortugas has a little bit of everything that makes for a great trip: sea adventure, history, and natural beauty. It is a definite add for your bucket list!