a very interesting thing to do when in key west is to visit dry tortugas island and fort jefferson national monument. fort jefferson is located about 60 miles west of key west on a small island. fort jefferson is best known as the prison that held dr. samuel mudd who set john wilkes booth's broken leg after he assassinated president abraham lincoln. you have two options in how to get to the dry tortugas. you can go by sea plane or by hydrofoil boat. i suggest the sea plane, one, it is faster and the trip only takes 35 minutes and you also get a fabulous view of the ocean and reefs on the way to the island. on the trip you will see huge sharks and rays as well as the site of the spanish treasure ship atocha. once at the island you will have time to explore fort jefferson and to snorkel the beautiful reef just off shore. you can call 1-800-326-3474 for reservations and information. or check their website http://www.gotothekeys.com/dry_tortugas_fort_jefferson_sea_planes.htm
This trip takes up an entire day but I wouldn't miss it for anything. This is hands down the best part of our trip to the keys. It is soooo beautiful there. The marine life was outstanding. Can't wait to go back. Highlight of our vacation.
The Dry Tortugas are 90 miles south of Key West - the Southernmost National Park. You can go there by sea plane, catamaran ferry, bareboat or your own boat.
See my VT Dry Tortugas page. You can camp there for a small fee, but you must pack in all your food, water, and fuel, and pack out all your trash. They supply salt water toilets or composting toilets, grilles and picnic tables.
Had never been snorkeling, and we heard this was the best place for beautiful coral reefs. Took the seaplane from Key Weest with about 6 others, supplied with drinks and the gear. Could see the Rays and other large fish swimming from the plane when we got really low- We looked around Fort Jefferson first, then went on down to the snorkeling area. What beautiful underwater sites-and way out we went, saw all colors and kinds of fish, coral, and a large grouper staring at me. Before heading back, after about 2/12 hrs., we watched the nesting birds swarming around. The plane ride was about an hr. Well worth the price to enjoy such a remote National Park!
Fort Jefferson is located on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas, about 68 miles from Key West.
The Dry Tortugas are part of the National Park system and can only be accessed by boat or sea plane.