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“Bring your snorkel!”

Ranked #2 of 180 things to do in Key West
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed March 21, 2013

An exotic day trip to a place mostly forgotten by history as the required destination of Dr. Mudd. His crime was setting the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth. Dr. Mudd probably did not appreciate the beauty of the clear blue water as snorkels weren't widely used in his time.
I arrived via seaplane but saw powered boats and those under sail arrive also. This is a small place but well worth the time and effort to come here as most National Parks are.
I stayed in Summerland Key, drove to Key West to fly over. Take your camera!

1  Thank Paulette S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,726 - 3,730 of 4,081 reviews

Reviewed March 21, 2013

Just the trip from Key West to Dry Tortugas is worth it. We took the Fast Cat; the trip which included breakfast, lunch (the food is edible, but nothing great), drinks and snorkeling equipment. The ride was 2 hours each way and they gave us plenty of time to explore the fort, eat, swim/snorkel, etc. Lots of interesting history of the fort (it was really hot when we went), but we cooled off at the beach where my sister was stung by a jellyfish. The staff was well equiped, helpful and nice; they had first aid for all sorts of accidents. They were able to give my sister something to take the sting out of her jellyfish sting. An extremely fun day!

3  Thank Kristin771973
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2013

My husband and I took a sea plane from key west to the island for the day. The history of the fort was interesting and the grounds were beautiful. We toured the fort both inside and out. We also took the opportunity to snorkel. We even took a short nap on the beach. It was all and all a very relaxing day!

1  Thank Trish K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2013

A rather long trip for a fascinating piece of history. The water around the island was warm and turquoise, but with the surf stirred up we didn't scuba dive. Still, the fort tour and the site were amazing.

Thank Boston41
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 18, 2013

I have been to the keys many times but this was the first time I visited Dry Tortugas. I am going to try and give a thorough account/review of my trip to help travelers decide if this trip is something that will be worth it to them...so here we go....

First and foremost...taking a seaplane to Dry Tortugas is the most expensive, interesting, convenient way to tackle this excursion. I took the 1/2 day tour and it cost $280...whereas a 1/2 day excursion via the ferry costs approximately $165. That makes for a difference of $115 dollars. Here is where YOU can decide which option, if either, is most appealing to you and your budget....

To reach by Dry Tortugas via the ferry takes 2hrs each way. To reach Dry Tortugas via a seaplane takes 40mins each way. What that translates to is nearly 3 extra hours of time you get to spend snorkeling, taking pictures, touring the fort, etc. If you take the seaplane that leaves at 2pm...you literally land at Dry Tortugas when the herd of 150+ people are leaving the island via the ferry. This means that you will literally have the place to yourself! I believe there was approximately 30 people on the island while I was there compared to 200+ if you take the ferry. I was also literally the ONLY person snorkeling...which was quite nice as well. If you elect to take the seaplane, you will see a birds-eye view of the keys that you cannot see in any other way! You only fly about 500ft above the water and you can literally see sharks, stingrays, and manatees swimming in the water below. You will also see various island formations, ever-changing water colors, shipwrecks, etc. I have never taken off/landed on the water in a plane before and that also sold me. Due to all the reasons I listed above....the extra $115 dollars was worth it to ME.

As far as the actual fort is concerned, it is a mixed bag. What I liked most about the actual fort is that you can literally explore every inch of it including walking on the top wall which gives you an AMAZING view for taking pictures and taking in the ridiculously gorgeous scenery. There isn't all that much to actually see/do in the fort...but Dry Tortugas isn't about the fort in my opinion. Dry Tortugas is all about the insanely pretty water, landscapes, snorkeling, picture-taking, and exploring. Scenery is the main attraction of Dry Tortugas.

As far as the snorkeling is concerned, you are completely free to snorkel wherever you want for however long you want. You won't have a guide or anything like that and there are shallow areas and deep areas to snorkel. There is tons of coral and fish to view. You can also explore the underwater fort walls, caves, etc. I got to admit that snorkeling myself was a bit unnerving because the keys is FULL of crazy aquatic life and I know how infested the florida keys are with sharks and this played with my mind a bit. I saw a barracuda that was longer and thicker than my own body and out of nowhere I saw a gigantic manta ray (HUGE specie of sting ray) gliding away into the abyss. You will DEFINITELY see a wide array of aquatic life while snorkeling and you can stick to a beginner experience if you would like or if you are more daring/experienced you can venture further out into the abyss where I guarantee you will see something crazy!

In addition to snorkeling, there is a very small, yet beautifully serene "beach" (quotes used to imply how small the "beach" truly is...but it IS a beach). You could enjoy a nice picnic on the beach, suntan, play in the crystal clear ice blue calm waters, etc. There is a small gift shop at the fort but you will need to bring your own food and drinks as none of these items can be purchased at Dry Tortugas. The essentials you should bring are a camera, sunscreen, snacks/drinks, bathing suit, snorkel gear, and a towel. If the cost of getting to Dry Tortugas isn't off-putting to you and if it doesn't put a significant dent in your budget...I would say the trip is entirely worth it if you enjoy the things that I have mentioned above. Cheers!

17  Thank CarsonRSX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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