Dry Tortugas National Park Beaches

The Dry Tortugas is a group of flat, sandy, dry islands about 70 miles west of Key West. There is, as you can understand, no bridge to the islands that comprise this incredible National Park. Garden Key is home to Fort Jefferson, which is where the tour boats will take you to spend the day. It is also where overnight camping is allowed. Unless you have your own boat, the only way you'll get here is to take a high-speed catamaran ferry out of Key West. It's a two-and-a-half hour trip, one way. I recently rode the Yankee Freedom II to the Dry Tortugas and it is the best day-trip I have ever taken. Absolutely the best.

 

 

Above is a video I helped produce & narrate when I was freelancing for VISIT FLORIDA.

Above: The crystal clear waters of the Dry Tortugas mesmerize everyone.

Above: The most popular beach on Garden Key is next to the camping area and just steps from easy shallow-water snorkeling and swimming.

Above: Bush Key is closed to visitors and is a major bird nesting preserve. Photo taken from atop Fort Jefferson on Garden Key.

Above and below: Snorkeling along the walls of the fort. The dark patches in the water are underwater grasses. Coral and fish are most plentiful beside the wall in about 4 to 5 feet of water.

Above: Shallow grass flats are grounded in coral sand.

Above: Snorkelers take a break and discuss what they've seen underwater.

Above: Tent camping is permitted on Garden Key and is very popular.

Above: Coarse sand on the upper beach is made up of coral fragments, shell fragments, and other skeletons of various marine life.

Above: The sand closer to the water is finer, but is still composed of coral and shell fragments. No quartz crystals are found in this sand.