Our whirlwind of a summer continued over this holiday weekend as we were in Key Largo, Florida for my beautiful friend, Kayla’s wedding! You can take a peak at her amazing venue and wedding in the following two photos. Since Luke and I had never been that far south in Florida previously, we decided to take advantage of the location and visit the three National Parks that are located in that proximity. The Everglades and Biscayne National Parks will be in their own post later this week but I couldn’t wait to show you how unique and beautiful Dry Tortugas National Park was on our visit!
Dry Tortugas National Park is located approximately 70 miles west of Key West with accessibility only by seaplane or ferry/boat. We deliberated between the two options, however ultimately our choice came down to time and cost. The seaplane afforded two costly options with at least in the half day option had reduced time on the island. The half day option cost $319/person and 2.5 hours of island time and the whole day excursion cost $578/person and 6.5 hours of island time. We ended up going the route of the ferry that included 4.5 hours of island time at a cost of $175/person. Included in the cost of the ferry was the $10/person park fee, a tour of the fort, breakfast, lunch, water, and access to snorkeling gear. The whole process on the ferry was smooth and seamless with the crew being very detailed as to what to expect on the island, as well as full of helpful suggestions, which removed much of the apprehension with respect to the unknowns that come along with any new trip. Luke and I had never been snorkeling before and were much relieved that during the 2.5 hour ferry ride they even showed an instructional video regarding the basics of snorkeling, ultimately making our first time easy and problem free.
The ferry to Dry Tortugas has check in at 7:00 AM in Key West so Luke and I spent the night in the there, which allowed us to explore the area on the previous day. We fit in walking to the Southernmost Point in the Continental United States, as well as a tour of the Hemingway House, before stumbling upon the beautiful sunset at Mallory Square!
Upon arriving on the island, Luke and I set off first to explore Fort Jefferson using the National Park Service’s Self Guided Tour that afforded a large amount of information. This massive, unfinished fort was being built just prior to the Civil War (1846), however due to the growing Navy and other mounting factors construction ceased in 1875. We explored much of the fort in approximately 2 hours and could have spent a lot longer looking in every nook and cranny. The fort is in three levels, i.e., ground, middle, and roof, of which you can access each through five sets of spiral staircases with each level offering unique and amazing views as seen from the photos below!
After we finished exploring the inside of the fort we took a break from the heat and humidity to get lunch before we took the 0.6 mile hike around the moat that surrounds the outside fort. We had a blast looking at the coral and fish that surrounds the island, observing all sorts of wildlife. In the photo below you can even see turtle nests that are located throughout the beaches.
After our meander around the fort we picked up our snorkeling gear and headed to the water with our remaining two hours that we spent trying out snorkeling for the first time. We even saw a five foot plus normal looking fish that promptly shocked us based on our Michigan norms. Luke and I both rank this trip as one of our favorites that we’ve taken together and would highly recommend it for anyone! Just keep that sunscreen handy!