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Dry Tortugas: shade, snorkeling, kayak?

New York City, New...
posts: 1
Dry Tortugas: shade, snorkeling, kayak?

Hello,

My boyfriend and I will be camping on the Dry Tortugas for one night in July, 2013. We are both very keen to go snorkeling, and want to get to the best snorkeling spots. In a promotional video we watched for the park, somebody recommended bringing a kayak. Does anyone second this? There is an extra expense, but if it means we will be able to reach better snorkeling, we'll do it! Also, do you think it would be necessary to bring a wetsuit in July for snorkeling? How warm will the water be?

Also, camping logistics:

1. What's the best way to create shade? I assume there will be little to no shade, and that it will be blisteringly hot. We'll have a small, 2 person tent with us. Has anyone tried one of those tarp/awning things you put over your tent? How effective was it?

2. How strict are they about enforcing the 50lb / person weight limit on the Yankee Freedom? We were thinking of bringing a cooler of fish to grill, but are worried this will set us over our weight limit.

3. How dangerous is the snorkeling? I have read all kinds of things about stinging coral and jellyfish. Should we plan on wearing full-length wetsuits? Are the sharks a problem?

4. What happens if you need medical attention?

Thanks!!

-Holly

7 replies to this topic
Cincinnati
posts: 16
reviews: 1
1. Re: Dry Tortugas: shade, snorkeling, kayak?

Holly - I don't see any replies here, but now that you have gone, I'm wondering if you can answer those same questions for us. We are a family of 4 (two teen boys) camping for 2 nights in July. Any help you can give us would be great! Thanks.

Fort Lauderdale...
posts: 5,846
reviews: 126
2. Re: Dry Tortugas: shade, snorkeling, kayak?

What kind of information are you looking for ?

There is some shade on the Island, but bringing a tarp sounds like a good idea.

We took the seaplane there and back so no idea on the weight limits.

I doubt sharks would be a problem, unless you made it so(IE chummed etc)

One rule I've always taught my kids is that if you see something in nature thats VERY ugly or VERY

pretty, STAY away from it, its trying to warn you. Teach your kids to ID Fire Coral, that would be my only concern.

The Fort is staffed by NP Rangers and Im sure they would provided any needed assistance.

Enjoy

New York City, New...
posts: 8
3. Re: Dry Tortugas: shade, snorkeling, kayak?

1. What's the best way to create shade? I assume there will be little to no shade, and that it will be blisteringly hot. We'll have a small, 2 person tent with us. Has anyone tried one of those tarp/awning things you put over your tent? How effective was it?

--- There is very little shade on the island. Outside of the Fort. I have gone in Feb, not too hot. If you camp in the extreme heat, shade would be advantageous, but there are few trees. Camping here is quite different from camping in the woods. After two days in the sun, sand and salt without a lake, it creates a unique experience.

2. How strict are they about enforcing the 50lb / person weight limit on the Yankee Freedom? We were thinking of bringing a cooler of fish to grill, but are worried this will set us over our weight limit.

---Although there are rangers near by to save you. Bring what you want and need. They want you to be comfortable and prepared. Carrying stuff to your site is not a problem. I would suggest a chair as there are only picnic tables. It's a unique experience, since it is primitive camping (no water, no shower, no nothing), but you can bring whatever you want. Backpacking is primitive camping, but you can only bring what you can carry.

3. How dangerous is the snorkeling? I have read all kinds of things about stinging coral and jellyfish. Should we plan on wearing full-length wetsuits? Are the sharks a problem?

--- When I was there, snorkeling was ideal. No jellyfish etc. There are no lifeguards. This is the main danger. I would recommend an inflatable snorkeling vest. It could save you, but is also great if you get tired. Best snorkeling was by the old docks. There is a reef a bit farther out in the ocean. Wildlife is not a problem. Just do not feed it. I did not see any large sharks, but there was a huge croc. No joke. They are not sure how he got way out there. Basically there is more than enough food for the wildlife, so they are not interested in humans.

Major danger in my opinion would be not being careful. One could easily fall off the fort, fall off the moat wall or swim beyond their abilities.

4. What happens if you need medical attention?

The island is really small. Maybe 3 rangers and 3 employees on the island. I think that one was an EMT. There is a helipad and boats. Minor first aid would not be a problem, but a hospital is far away. I asked about people dying on the island. They looked at me like I was nut. I thought that people must fall of the fort all the time, since there are basically no rails.

During the day, when the boat is there, it's hard to get some privacy. After the boat leaves, the place quiets down. The rangers mostly stayed inside. (But strangely, there were out in a minute when rules were broken, swimming in the wrong spot, feeding the fish, fishing in a wrong spot)) Since the island cannot sustain life by itself, people are always working. There is a supply ship that comes once a week with water, food, fuel, etc.

Milledgeville...
posts: 1
reviews: 3
4. Re: Dry Tortugas: shade, snorkeling, kayak?

We'll be going in a few months and I've done a good bit of research.

"1. What's the best way to create shade? I assume there will be little to no shade, and that it will be blisteringly hot. We'll have a small, 2 person tent with us. Has anyone tried one of those tarp/awning things you put over your tent? How effective was it?"

July will be pretty warm. I've been out there and there are some scrubby trees in the campground. You may or may not get a site with some shade. If it does get really hot the interior rooms of the fort are always cool, there is a small gift shop with air conditioning, and the ferry boat is there every day and you can get back on board it. You can also buy lunch, drinks, etc. on the ferry.

"2. How strict are they about enforcing the 50lb / person weight limit on the Yankee Freedom? We were thinking of bringing a cooler of fish to grill, but are worried this will set us over our weight limit."

We talked with the guy who is renting us a kayak to take about this. He said they are not strict at all about weight. The weight limit does not include water, icechest, food, kayak and gear (if you bring one). You really should consider renting a kayak to bring with you. He said just to not go crazy with bringing a whole bunch of extra gear and it's no problem. The new ferry is larger and he said they have plenty of room for the campers stuff.

"3. How dangerous is the snorkeling? I have read all kinds of things about stinging coral and jellyfish. Should we plan on wearing full-length wetsuits? Are the sharks a problem?"

I don't think it's dangerous but it could be painful if you brush up against stuff. The water will be plenty warm so you don't need a wetsuit for that. Sharks are around but have never been a problem.

"4. What happens if you need medical attention?"

There is a Ranger who is your contact in case of a medial emergency. Campers go through an orientation and this will be discussed but basically you just knock on his door and he can radio for help. A staff of rangers lives in the fort.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 1
5. Re: Dry Tortugas: shade, snorkeling, kayak?

can you post a link for the kayak rental. thanks

San Francisco
posts: 2
reviews: 3
6. Re: Dry Tortugas: shade, snorkeling, kayak?

I camped at DTNP last month, and the snorkeling was the mellowest I've ever encountered. No sharks, jellyfish, urchins -- not even those creepy moray eels. Coral has taken over a lot of the water structures, so most of the best snorkeling is along the moat wall and especially the ruins of the old coaling docks. I'm an avid kayaker, and I don't feel like I missed much not having one there.

Also, the camping isn't quite as primitive as you might think. The Yankee Freedom is there 4 hours a day with cold water, showers, etc. Even frozen cocktails! And previous poster was absolutely right about heat -- if it gets to be too much, just find a shady spot inside the fort.

Have a great trip!

Miami, Florida
posts: 1
7. Re: Dry Tortugas: shade, snorkeling, kayak?

Looking for a good two person kayak rental. Would you recommend the guy you mention?

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