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Florida Keys: Dry Tortugas National Park

Ft. Jefferson from a seaplane
Ft. Jefferson from a seaplane

The best months to visit Florida are September and October, when rates are lowest and you avoid the crowds.

70 miles west of Key West, you’ll find Dry Tortugas National Park, North America's most inaccessible national park. The park lies in the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and is the true end of the Florida Keys. The Tortugas chain comprises seven small islands, coral reefs and other undersea attractions, and nesting areas for a variety of wild birds.

The park includes 64,657 acres of land above and below the water line – but less than one square mile of the total 100 square miles is above water!

When arriving by seaplane, you’ll see little land on the trip except for the tiny Marquesas Islands not far from Key West. The view of the Gulf is awesome, however.

The imposing walls of Fort Jefferson on Garden Key come into view seemingly out of nowhere. Fort Jefferson is a six-sided building constructed of 16 million handmade red bricks. There's also a surrounding moat, which was an engineering challenge and was not completed in 1873.

To get to the Dry Tortugas, you have two options: One is Key West Seaplane Adventures from Key West. This is the only air service to the Dry Tortugas, and the flight itself is an experience. If you splurge on one thing while in the Keys, this is it.

The other is high-speed boat service – which takes 3 hours compared to 40 minutes by seaplane – and offers a less-than-spectacular view.

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Ft. Jefferson from a seaplane
Ft. Jefferson from a seaplane

The best months to visit Florida are September and October, when rates are lowest and you avoid the crowds.

70 miles west of Key West, you’ll find Dry Tortugas National Park, North America's most inaccessible national park. The park lies in the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and is the true end of the Florida Keys. The Tortugas chain comprises seven small islands, coral reefs and other undersea attractions, and nesting areas for a variety of wild birds.

The park includes 64,657 acres of land above and below the water line – but less than one square mile of the total 100 square miles is above water!

When arriving by seaplane, you’ll see little land on the trip except for the tiny Marquesas Islands not far from Key West. The view of the Gulf is awesome, however.

The imposing walls of Fort Jefferson on Garden Key come into view seemingly out of nowhere. Fort Jefferson is a six-sided building constructed of 16 million handmade red bricks. There's also a surrounding moat, which was an engineering challenge and was not completed in 1873.

To get to the Dry Tortugas, you have two options: One is Key West Seaplane Adventures from Key West. This is the only air service to the Dry Tortugas, and the flight itself is an experience. If you splurge on one thing while in the Keys, this is it.

The other is high-speed boat service – which takes 3 hours compared to 40 minutes by seaplane – and offers a less-than-spectacular view.

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Comments
3

November is a great time to visit Key West and a Cheeseburger in Paradise makes a great Thanksgiving dinner!

The trip to Fort Jefferson is well worth it: week took the fast catamaran. While at the Fort, do take some time to go snorkeling.

Aug. 2, 2011

August is also a great time to visit. Lobster season starts this Saturday. Even if you don't dive for your own, there are many great restaurants that will be serving some awesome meals. Not to mention Key West Lobster Fest, which is next weekend. A good time is guaranteed for all.

Aug. 2, 2011

As our artist friend and local legend Dink Bruce put it, “To go to Key West without visiting the Dry Tortugas, is like going to the Grand Canyon and not looking over.” The water there offers some of the best snorkeling in the North America and living coral reefs are directly accessible from the beaches. From the shore you can see, diving, and bird watching.http://bit.ly/jJQBrU

Aug. 3, 2011

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