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sight seeing tour on your way to ft. jefferson in the dry tortugas, 70 miles west of key west. All coral, living and dead, is protected from collection. Walk over to the beach to the west of the ruins to enter and swim around the point to them. The photo opportunities are endless, people were snorkeling as well as some staying there camping on the island. Snorkeling Dry Tortugas is accessed by boat or sea plane. We are a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Breakfast Lunch. Return Departure 3:00pm. The snorkeling here is like no other, in terms of the amount of sea life, color, and movement you will see underneath the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Then we like to swim back towards the beach and go to the third spot. When Dry Tortugas snorkeling, be careful not to brush up against this coral like substance. Ponce de Leon first named this area Las Tortugas. use of snorkeling gear. We enjoyed our trip with them. It also has the best snorkeling … Some tour operators allow you 3, sometimes up to 4, hours of snorkeling time. Here is the sure way to find the patch reefs. capacity 175 passangers . There are also a nice variety of small fish, mostly immature. at the fort where you can explore the fort, snorkel the coral heads , or just relax on the white sandy beaches. The trip to the Dry Tortugas was enjoyable and the cite, itself, was fascinating for anyone that is a history buff, but if you're going there for the snorkeling there are a few things to think about. DRY TORTUGAS – If you can swim – okay, if you can float – then you can snorkel and the best snorkeling in North America is at Dry Tortugas National Park, nearly 70 miles west of Key West. Duration to : 2.5 hours each way. The boat trip itself is worth it, with wild dolphins often chasing and leaping in your wake. Once you get out there you are actually snorkeling Fort Jefferson. You can also reach the park by seaplane charter, although it is pretty expensive. Dry Tortugas National Park is situated at the southwest corner of the Florida Keys reef system, the third largest in the world. Shipwrecks are just as abundant as marine life here at the park. They do this by accumulating into little colonies that eventually congeal and form the solid structures of the reef. And once we found them we figured out the best way for you to find them with ease. A great day snorkeling Dry Tortugas. Dry Tortugas National Park offers some of the best snorkeling in North America. Green turtles are endangered in Florida, so the USGS launched a project to track them at Dry Tortugas National Park. beer and wine available . Check out more reviews of the Yankee Freedom ferry on TripAdvisor. You have to be careful not to get hurt on the old rusty metal, but there are tons of fish and nice corals growing on the pilings. Still, at one point there were o… If you’re new to snorkeling, Dry Tortugas is the perfect place to do it, because when the ferry arrives around noon, a few dozen of the tourists will head straight for the beach to snorkel… Other sea life that make the coral reef their habitat include the tentacled sea anemone, lobster, and sponges. Too much human contact is harmful for the reef, and make sure to not step on a coral head thinking it's a rock. You can walk around outside, and it is a heavy, stable boat which is good in case of big seas. Found a better price online? You simply follow the outside of the moat wall circled on the map (there is no snorkeling in the moat). The picture out the window on the right is from Mudd's cell. There are also two snorkeling areas near the beaches and old docks. So take the opportunity to go on what will likely be your most rewarding and successful snorkeling trip ever and head out to Florida's Dry Tortugas National Park. For an amazing snorkeling day trip, take the ferry or hire your own private boat and head to the Dry Tortugas. A light breakfast and sack lunch were part of the fee. U.S. Geological Survey Copyright Â© 2006-2020 Galen Piehl & Nicole Atkins While I really liked our trip to the Dry Tortugas and saw some interesting things while snorkeling there, I would have to say there are better and cheaper alternatives if the snorkeling is what you are after. The guides will tell you to swim 50 to 80 yards straight out from the fort to find them. For a snorkeling adventure like no other, make sure to get over to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson National Park. You enter the water from a wonderful white sand beach on the left side of the fort (from the ferry docks). It makes you focus on each small thing as it comes along and you check out smaller fish than you would normally pay attention to in a bigger snorkeling area. Read more about snorkeling Dry Tortugas on the National Park website. The boat trip was a pleasure and we had very calm seas both directions. Touring the Fort (Dry Tortugas Snorkeling and Fort) In 1825, a lighthouse was built on Garden King here in the Dry Tortugas. reviews of the Yankee Freedom ferry on TripAdvisor, snorkeling Dry Tortugas on the National Park website. But the name dry was added not long afterward because of the lack of fresh water. All Rights Reserved. In fact, our prices are up to 56% Cheaper*, Dry Tortugas National Park is the #1 Dry Tortugas Concierge in Key West. In fact Nicole saw the biggest Tarpon she had ever seen, and it gave her a little startle. half-day excursion. The Yankee Freedom provides daily ferry service from Key West, Florida to the Dry Tortugas. The predatory fish include pompanos, groupers and mackerels, the other kind include snapper, pagellus and conodon. guided tour of the fort. It was a great experience. Depending on where you will be staying there are several operators that will take you snorkeling on the reef for around $35 per person. The fort was abandoned in the late 1800s and was taken up by pirates at times. Friendly interaction between snorkelers and the animals assures future generations of being able to see the beauty beneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Kayaking. Snorkeling The Dry Tortugas. There is one ferry that makes this trip called the Yankee Freedom Ferry. There are a good number of small but healthy corals, both hard and soft, and some sponges. Snorkeling is part of the fun on a Dry Tortugas day trip. We spent about two hours straight having fun in the water. Dry Tortugas National Park Key West: Snorkel, Dive, & Explore the Gulf. But we did find them, and it was well worth it. There are large, fast ferries that make regularly scheduled trips to the park for about $100 per person. Many of the smaller isles often disappear and become a part of the undersea snorkeling environment. You can snorkel on the outside, but not the inside. The islands are made up of reef and sand. This page will tell you how to find all four snorkel spots, your options for getting to the island and what else you can see around the fort. A Dry Tortugas day trip from Key West checks a lot of boxes: secluded white sand beaches, spectacular snorkeling, and exploring history with stories of pirates and a 19th century fort. You are, after all, in their home. There are tons of fish around these patch reefs, from large to small. Snorkelers merely walk into the water with their gear and start snorkeling. Dry Tortugas Snorkeling. Now they are just poles in the water. Tortugas means turtle (there used to be a ton of them here). Shortly after the construction of Fort Jefferson began an effort to fortify one of the most strategic deepwater Anchorage’s in North America. The islands are made up of reef and sand. Besides the amazing marine life and birds, the fort is really very interesting to walk around in. There it is. In fact you used to snorkel Fort Jefferson National Monument before the area was expanded to include seven islands and redesignated Dry Tortugas National Park. See the yellow arrows. If you visit Key West, Florida, in search of snorkeling, be sure to venture 70 miles west to the Dry Tortugas (nps.gov/drto) or you'll miss an opportunity of a lifetime. The reason Dry Tortugas snorkeling is so ideal is because the islands themselves are part of the coral reef that surrounds Key West and the islands in this area of the sea. adults $356.00 children 12 years & under $284.80 Make sure and bring a book if you come by ferry, because it does take a couple of hours each way. Once you get out and start seeing down the line of the other wall (the other yellow arrow), you will be at the reef. Snorkeling is in only four to seven feet of water, straight off a brilliant white sand beach. Snorkel and Swim With less than 1% of Dry Tortugas National Park being dry ground, the best way to see this remarkable national treasure is by getting in the water. The second Dry Tortugas snorkeling spot that offers much better snorkeling than the moat, are a series of four to six small patch reefs that are very healthy in shallow water. It is actually an entire day of fun, and well worth the trip and expense. We'll Price Match It. After the boat docks at Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas, there is an optional guided tour of historic Fort Jefferson which takes about forty minutes. Adam Hollywood was the tour guide once we got off the boat and he has a wealth of knowledge about the history of Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas. One of the most popular Key West snorkeling tours, a thrilling expedition to Dry Tortugas National Park offers astonishing coral reefs, brilliant marine life and intriguing wrecks.Because close to 99 percent of this incredible park is under the sea, the best way to tour this national treasure is by slipping on a mask and fins and diving right into the park’s pristine aqua waters. The best snorkeling in this area is on the moat wall itself. drinks on board. Maybe the best thing about snorkeling along the wall is actually that it is all small and a little spartan. *Current prices are 30% cheaper than cruise lines. There is a boating permit required for all vessels here, which includes kayaks. Its shallow waters have spectacular views and are perfect for beginners and experts. We may receive a small part of the sale, at no cost to you. They are low in nutrients and, in fact, any overabundance of nutrients can ruin the fragile ecosystem. 45 min. An orientation of the Keys and Dry Tortugas National Park is provided by the onboard naturalist, and sightings of both dolphins and sea turtles are common during the excursion. Take the official Dry Tortugas National Park Ferry, the Yankee Freedom, to visit Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National park. Still, at one point there were over 1000 troops stationed on this tiny 16 acre plot of land. While heading out for the best snorkeling trip of your life out in the Dry Tortugas, keep in mind the delicateness and fragility of the coral reef. They are circled in red on this snorkeling map. Snorkeling and Diving in Dry Tortugas Located in the southwest corner of the Florida Keys reef system, Dry Tortugas National Park is a remote park that is more than 99% water. The park is located a good 70 miles west of Key West across open ocean, and being this remote it can only be accessed by ferry, seaplane or private boat. Notice they are lined up perfectly with the two walls of the fort? As you paddle yourself atop the surface of these turquoise waters, you can see down below the coral reefs and seagrass beds! Along with the fun of snorkeling Dry Tortugas National Park, Fort Jefferson is a place of history for sure. Dry Tortugas National Park is home to history and natural wonders above and below the waters’ surface. But the name dry was added not long afterward because of the lack of fresh water. The first snorkeling Dry Tortugas area is the easiest to find and explore. Ponce de Leon first named this area Las Tortugas. Along with the fun of snorkeling Dry Tortugas National Park, Fort Jefferson is a place of history for sure. Because the foundation of the Dry Tortugas islands and park is ancient coral reefs topped by a shallow basin stacked with another layer of living coral reefs, the area is positively teeming with marine animals just below the water’s surface. But if you are like us, it is pretty hard to know what 50 to 80 yards is in the water, and it can be kind of daunting to just swim out that far trying to find some small reef structures. These fish feed themselves on small animals among the reef, seaweed and sometime even the reef itself. Start swimming out from either side, keeping yourself in line with one of those walls. Safari by Snorkel. This is an area of pilings that used to support a wharf. It is another set of old wharf pilings and it is worth checking out if you have time. The staff on the Yankee Freedom can help you plan your snorkel … Besides the amazing marine life and birds, the fort is really very interesting to walk around in. There are certain species of fish that live in the coral reef almost exclusively and are typically called reef fish. I can’t wait for the next snorkel adventure. Sea turtles used to be very prominent in the Dry Tortugas ("Tortuga" actually means turtle in Spanish) coral reef but have been victims to hunters and their presence in the Tortugas have diminished considerably. Snorkeling Dry Tortugas National Park is the best available from Key West, and it is pretty darn good! Dry Tortugas Charters supply you with mask, snorkel, and fins, you’ll enter a beautiful underwater world—a unique ecosystem of aquatic plants and the marine creatures that depend on them. They include labridae, parrotfish, and butterflyfish. Departure 8:00 am. The reef that makes up the Tortugas is a fringe reef, which is the type of reef that is attached to a shore or border. This high speed, state of the art catamaran is the perfect way to sail across the 70-mile run to the Dry Tortugas. Review of Dry Tortugas National Park. Dry Tortugas & Fort Jefferson. Some of the best snorkeling at Dry Tortugas National Park is along the walls of the moat. To prove it we are matching all online pricing on the tours we offer. Reviewed March 11, 2015 . There were also a wonderful variety of colors of Christmas Tree Worms. Key West visitors who have gone out to the fantastic stretch of seven islands called the Dry Tortugas will tell you that the absolute best snorkeling in Key West is on the Dry Tortugas. We supply complimentary snorkel … They get stellar reviews on TripAdvisor. Despite their low-nutrient balance, the coral reef is an ecosystem teeming with animal life. Snorkeling at Fort Jefferson was so fun that I’m hooked. The Dry Tortugas also has a considerable amount of fire coral in the area. The Dry Tortugas is […] Tortugas means turtle (there used to be a ton of them here). Dry Tortugas Snorkeling Adventure | Key West Ferry Boat to Dry Tortugas National Park includes use of Snorkeling Gear. Key West Seaplane Adventures is the company that flies to the Dry Tortugas. Schools of brightly colored tropical fish, sea turtles, rays, starfish, and conch cohabitate in … This is actually a pretty good snorkeling area. It was named … It can cause painful, stinging, burning sensations, and if you're allergic to it, may result in nasty wounds. Another nice thing is that if you have family who don't snorkel they can walk along the moat wall right beside you as you swim along. Other fish that make the reef their home or are often found among the reef are the ones that swim above or around the reef and either prey on the smaller reef fish or eat seagrass. Also, be respectful to the wildlife that make the reef their home. After a couple of days enjoying the fun things to do in Key West, Florida, adventure was calling.My husband and I are big National Park people, and one of the more remote parks is the Dry Tortugas, about a two and a half hour boat trip from this southernmost U.S. city. There are four distinct snorkeling Dry Tortugas areas that are worth checking out. Affiliate Disclosure: You are supporting our snorkeling habit by buying products or clicking ads on the websites we link to on this page. The third Dry Tortugas snorkeling area is in the circled section at the bottom of our map. The fort itself was built in the 1800s to protect the waters into Florida but quickly became obsolete. Cottrell Key. Later the fort became well known as a prison, once holding Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor of John Wilkes Booth. Alternately, there is a twice-a-day seaplane service that takes about 40 minutes and offers about 2.5 hours at Dry Tortugas. The park’s corals and seagrass communities are among the most vibrant in the Florida Keys. Return Time 5:30. The snorkeling waters are a perfect 5 to 12 feet deep and very warm. There are two modes of transportation to the Dry Tortugas: by sea and by air. Another great way to explore Dry Tortugas is with a kayak! Reef snorkeling around Key West is only matched by the snorkeling found 70 miles to the west. Snorkeling the Dry Tortugas. Things to Do at Dry Tortugas National Park: Snorkeling, Swimming, and More Camping is a popular way to enjoy Dry Tortugas National Park, if you want more than just a few hours on the island. To reach the snorkeling at Dry Tortugas National Park from Key West, there is a once-a-day ferry that takes 2.25 hours each-way and provides about 4.5 hours at Dry Tortugas. The fourth snorkeling Dry Tortugas spot (the upper right hand circled area on our map) is the actually the same as the third, just in another area. The reason Dry Tortugas snorkeling is so ideal is because the islands themselves are part of the coral reef that surrounds Key West and the islands in this area of the sea. This is a short compilation video of our snorkeling adventure around Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida Keys. Unlike in most snorkeling sites, snorkelers on the Dry Tortugas do not have to catch a boat to get to the site of the coral reef-the coral reef is right off the shore! 70 miles due west of Key West. It is actually an entire day of fun, and well worth the trip and expense. The fort itself was built in the 1800s to protect the waters into Florida but quickly became obsolete. Make reservations for a Dry Tortugas Tour by booking online or contact us at (866) 575-5068. Snorkeling at Dry Tortugas. includes snorkel equipment and a cooler with soft drinks. Its crystal clear ocean waters abound with incredible marine life. Just off the southern tip of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico, sail or fly to the Dry Tortugas National Park and marvel at the wondrous unspoiled beauty that awaits. Once there, the patch reefs run parallel to the fort wall (you can see the little dark dots in the picture circled in red). We like to swim along the moat wall until we reach the north wall (top yellow arrow), then we swim out to the patch reefs and follow them back to the south. The waters surrounding the main Tortugas islands are shallow, clear and warm. The fourth snorkeling Dry Tortugas spot (the upper right hand circled area on our map) is the actually the same as the third, just in another area. Small primitive-type creatures called polyps are the ones that create the coral reef. The corals are not rocks, but these colonies of these tiny primitive creatures. The coral reef is an aragonite structure that is made up of living sea organisms. Sunny Days Fast Cat used to run a ferry to the Dry Tortugas, but they no longer do. On our map that is at the beginning of the lower yellow arrow, and the snorkel area is circled in red between the yellow arrows alongside the fort. There are several snorkeling and diving sites at Dry Tortugas, but no matter where you are, remember to not touch the coral/plants and keep your distance from any sea turtles. Many of the smaller isles often disappear and become a part of the undersea snorkeling … With the amount of places to go in the Tortugas water, you will definitely be able to fill up your snorkeling time. Cottrell Key is located 9 miles northwest of Key West on the Gulf side. 2 hrs. Still, there is a good chance that you will see at least a couple of sea turtles while out on the island. Whether you are a beginner or expert, you can enjoy a myriad of colorful tropical fish and living coral. Look at the map on the right. Learn more about our diving and snorkeling sites. Visiting Dry Tortugas feels like a getaway to an undiscovered Caribbean Island. The Yankee Freedom III, the official ferry of the Dry Tortugas, will transport you to this secluded eco treasure, just 70 miles west of Key West. There are places to swim and snorkel on both Garden Key and Loggerhead Key.Garden Key is the most visited of the islands in Dry Tortugas National Park because this is where the ferry and chartered seaplanes drop off passengers, plus it has attractions and amenities for tourists.