Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida (Wiki/Marque1313)

Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida (NPS)

Fort Jefferson Moat, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida (Wikimedia/Direnzoa)

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida (NPS)

Sunset over Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida (NPS/Linda Friar)

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What to do in Dry Tortugas National Park

When Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon stumbled upon these seven islands some 70 nautical miles west of the Florida Keys, he dubbed them the “Dry Tortugas” for, you guessed it, their lack of fresh water and the abundance of sea turtles. As the years wore on, the islands garnered a reputation as a hostile hangout for pirates and their treasure. The pirates are gone (and the treasure is still a mystery), but the wealth of marine and bird species remains. Of the park’s 64,000 acres, just fewer than 100 of them are land above the ocean. To get to Dry Tortugas, you’ll need to charter a boat or seaplane, and the unspoiled islands are fiercely protected with restrictions on the number of tour companies. Once you’re in, days are spent fishing, diving, or snorkeling. By night you can camp in Garden Key, a no-frills site that supplies only picnic tables and grills.

  • Dry Tortugas National Park Travel Q&A

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