National Park: Dry Tortugas, Key West, Florida

by Cie McCullough Buschle on April 17, 2012

in Outdoors with Kids, Travel Ideas

What’s west of Key West?

Go about 70 miles west and you’ll find the remote Dry Tortugas National Park, seven islands and the surrounding coral reefs, including historic Fort Jefferson. The Tortugas contain myriad and copious amounts of sea life swimming among beautiful coral reefs, as well as legends of sunken ships and buried treasure. Only go if you like snorkeling, picnicking, camping, scuba diving, saltwater fishing or bird watching.

You can’t drive to Dry Tortugas; the only way to get there is either by seaplane, boat or ferry. The Sunny Days Catamaran, an 85-foot high-speed power catamaran, offers excursions for $145 per adult, $100 per child. Expensive, but this includes both breakfast and lunch. The trip is 8 – 9 hours long, which includes two hours travel each way.

Fort Jefferson is located on Garden Key, the largest of the islands. There are no vehicles on Garden Key, but you can go camping. A seven day pass is available for only $5 per adult. Camping facilities are extremely minimal, and can be seen in the upper left corner of the picture below. Be warned though, there is no fresh water available on the island and hence the turtles, or Tortugas, are Dry.

Fort Jefferson at the Dry Tortugas. The clear waters in shallow areas surrounding the fort, seen easily in the photo, are popular for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Fort Jefferson at the Dry Tortugas. The clear waters in shallow areas surrounding the fort, seen easily in the photo, are popular for snorkeling and scuba diving.

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Cie McCullough Buschle lives with her dog Einstein and a cat named Burton Guster. She is a lifelong traveler and enjoys researching history through holidays, toys, and everyday objects. Cie is a sculptor and co-owns The Creative Chameleon, a place where kids and adults can create, paint, celebrate, and just have a lot of fun. Sometimes you can find her time traveling back to the Middle Ages as part of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

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