Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Day Trip to the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys

“Even if you don’t normally get seasick, it’s a good idea to take a Dramamine today”, the voice over the loudspeaker announced.

The waves were averaging between 3-6 feet, which means some waves have the potential to be much larger. We were in for a bumpy ride.

It was 7 a.m., and we were waiting for our boat ride to Fort Jefferson Island in the Dry Tortugas, a small group of islands around 70 miles from Key West. The Dry Tortugas is a remote National Park that consists of 7 small islands, but the majority of the park is made up of the water surrounding the islands. I’ve wanted to visit this remote island for years, so I was extremely excited when we were able to partner with Viator and hop on their Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip by Catamaran tour.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

After a short discussion on what to expect for the day, we boarded our boat and got ready for the wild 2.5 hour ride that was ahead of us. Although we did hit some rough seas on our tour, it’s not the norm—most days you should have fairly smooth sailing and sunny skies. The waves we encountered were caused by some rough storms that passed through the area, and there was also a cold front that covered almost the entire state of Florida. Bad weather aside, the day couldn’t have turned out any better.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Once we were on board the boat, we could help ourselves to the breakfast buffet of meats, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, bagels, coffee, juice and plenty other items to pick from. While we sailed, the onboard naturalist told us stories of the seas and about the islands that we passed along the way.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

We started out the day sitting inside, but after people started to put their seasickness bags to use, we made our way to the back of the boat for some fresh air. There is also an upper deck with both inside and outside seating.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Even with the waves, the boat ride seemed fairly quick, and soon enough we were entering the boundaries of the Dry Tortugas National Park and spotting Fort Jefferson on the horizon.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

The boat pulled up to the docks and we were free to roam the island for the next four hours. What had been cold and gloomy weather when we boarded back in Key West, faded away and turned into brilliant blue skies with warm 75ºF weather.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

We were mesmerized by the bright white sand and the never-ending turquoise waters that surrounded us. After stepping off the boat, we knew four hours wouldn’t be long enough on this gorgeous remote island and we started to scheme plans for a return camping trip one day.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

While on the island, you can swim, relax on the beach, snorkel (the gear is included!) or tour the old military fort on either a 1 hour tour or on your own. Bird watching is also a popular activity on the island as there are hundreds of different birds that pass through the islands throughout the year.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

We started our day off with taking some photos—we just couldn’t resist snapping hundreds of photos of the scenes that unfolded everywhere we turned. Wandering around the island, we found giant conch shells washed up on shore, Pelicans sunning themselves on the docks, sailboats in the water, old canons ready for battle, and endless seas as we walked the perimeter of the fort.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

One of my favorite parts of the island was the moat that surrounded the fort—the wall of the moat is around 4 feet wide and you can walk along the entirety of it. The views from this portion of the island were absolutely fantastic.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Although we didn’t join in on the official tour of the fort, we did explore on our own and read the various signs for information on the island’s history. The fort was built in the 1820’s and although it was never officially completed, it served as a military base and a prison. Most of the prisoners were there for war crimes and burglaries, but the island was also home to four prisoners that played a part in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Lunch is also provided with the tour and you are free to grab a bite from the lunch buffet anytime between 11:30 and 2:00. The buffet is stocked with deli meat, cheese, bread, veggies, potato salad, chips, fruit and sodas—basically the perfect grub for a picnic. We made giant sandwiches and made our way to one of the several picnic tables near the fort; I was pleasantly surprised how fresh and delicious all the food was!

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

After one last stroll on the beach, it was time for our island visit to end. We boarded the boat and geared up for another rough ride back to Key West, but to our delight, the waves had calmed down and it was smooth sailing on our 2.5 hour boat ride home. We relaxed on the back of the boat again and watched as the island faded into the horizon. It was the perfect end to a day spent in a little slice of paradise.

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip with Viator, Florida Keys

 

Have you ever been to the Dry Tortugas?

Special thanks to Viator for providing us with a complimentary tour. As always, all opinions are our own.

39 Comments
  • Les Petits Pas de Juls
    Posted at 04:20h, 04 March Reply

    Oh my! I need to go back to Key West and sail to Dry Tortugas now!
    Thanks for yet another great tour! Pictures are absolutely fantastic !

  • Julie
    Twitter:
    Posted at 07:00h, 05 March Reply

    I love boats and ferries and all things seaworthy. But I have such an aversion to ‘better take your Dramamine’ that I feel I might have actually chickened out at the last minute. I mean, puking on a boat is not my idea of a great time. Or maybe it would just be better not to know 🙂

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 16:00h, 12 March Reply

      Yeah, I can definitely see that–puking on a boat is no fun! I don’t ever get seasick, but thankfully the Dramamine worked for Micah! If you do ever have the chance to go, hopefully it’s a calmer day! I think we just hit a patch of bad weather!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Mini Guide to Dry Tortugas National ParkMy Profile

  • Michelle
    Posted at 07:00h, 05 March Reply

    This is definitely a bucket list location for me. Every photo I see is incredible. Probably one of the most unique places in the NPS
    Michelle recently posted…Mountain Biking from Chiang Mai to Chiang RaiMy Profile

  • The London Mum
    Twitter:
    Posted at 08:29h, 05 March Reply

    Oh wow! Those beaches just look glorious! I’m terrible on boats, so a sea sickness pill for me if I’d been on that boat! lol

  • Carol Colborn
    Twitter:
    Posted at 11:29h, 05 March Reply

    We were in the Key West twice, 2010 and 11 but never got to the Dry Tortugas! I regret that so much after reading this and looking at those awesome photos!

  • Jeanne
    Twitter:
    Posted at 12:33h, 05 March Reply

    Definitely a bucket list thing for me too!I so want to see this place! I’m going to FL in a few weeks to spend some time with my son, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to go to Court Jefferson. The cost is prohibitive since I have stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and I’m poor! LOL. I don’t understand why the boat is so expensive other than they have a monopoly. You can get to the Bahamas cheaper than that! This place is a one of a kind location. I searched and searched for the past six months looking for some kind of discount but never saw ONE! Ugh….maybe I’ll be wealthy in my next life…..and I’ll spend a week there!

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 15:52h, 12 March Reply

      Yeah, it is a spendy adventure–that’s why we waited so long to visit, too. If you do decide to go camping, the camping fee is pretty cheap so it would bump the cost down quite a bit on a per day basis. Hope you can make it work or find a discount sometime!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Mini Guide to Dry Tortugas National ParkMy Profile

  • Darlene
    Twitter:
    Posted at 00:14h, 06 March Reply

    Wow! The island looks amazing! turquoise waters and white sand. Definitely looks like paradise. Looks like you had a really great time 🙂

  • Brenda Tolentino
    Twitter:
    Posted at 02:31h, 06 March Reply

    I’ve been to Key West but not the Dry Tortugas. Your pictures are amazing and now I must put it on my list. How beautiful the ocean looks and the island just looks idyllic and you’re absolutely right, the views surrounding the moat of Fort Jefferson is fantastic!
    Brenda Tolentino recently posted…Crispy Chicken Adobo RecipeMy Profile

  • Brianna
    Twitter:
    Posted at 09:11h, 06 March Reply

    Ok, I’m definitely adding a trip to Dry Tortugas on my next trip to the Keys.How can I pass up a chance to visit one of the most unusual national parks in the US?

  • Wandering Carol
    Twitter:
    Posted at 10:02h, 06 March Reply

    This makes me want to explore Florida more. I’d never even heard of the Dry Tortugas, but your photos are dreamy and I love that it’s a bit remote.

  • Lotte
    Twitter:
    Posted at 13:31h, 06 March Reply

    Wow oh wow, what an amazing pictures! I had never heard of this place but it looks totally gorgeous…
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  • Aileen Adalid
    Twitter:
    Posted at 17:57h, 06 March Reply

    Wow… your photos look amazing and I bet it all encapsulated well how the place looked like! I haven’t been to the U.S. yet but you bet I’ll be taking note of this place. Thank you for sharing!
    Aileen Adalid recently posted…On the Road: Discover Europe’s Hidden Gems with Daytrip!My Profile

  • Vicky and Buddy
    Twitter:
    Posted at 19:31h, 06 March Reply

    I’ve been to the Keys a few times but I have yet to go to Dry Tortugas. I’d love to though. This day trip sounds like just the right amount of time to spend there.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 15:09h, 12 March Reply

      Hope you can visit the Dry Tortugas sometime! A day trip was a great way to see the island! We’d love to stay longer sometime, but a day trip is a great amount of time!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Mini Guide to Dry Tortugas National ParkMy Profile

  • kami
    Twitter:
    Posted at 15:54h, 07 March Reply

    OMG, this place looks incredible! The colours are unreal. I must say I’ve never heard of Dry Tortugas but you definitely got me interested! Even if I’d be terrified to get there with such a huge waves!
    kami recently posted…Gothenburg, Sweden – a perfect Scandinavian getawayMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 15:04h, 12 March Reply

      Glad to get you interested in it! It was a gorgeous place and we couldn’t believe how pretty and vibrant the colors were! The waves were pretty bad when we were there, but I think we hit it during a patch of bad weather–don’t think they are always that bad thankfully!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Mini Guide to Dry Tortugas National ParkMy Profile

  • Ron Robbins
    Twitter:
    Posted at 19:46h, 17 March Reply

    The Dry Tortugas are certainly my speed of travel. Even with the choppy boat ride, it’s always worth the ride out. Have you done any deep sea fishing out that way?
    Ron Robbins recently posted…My Belizean Adventures on San Pedro Island, Belize!My Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:47h, 20 March Reply

      I agree–always worth the trip 🙂 I haven’t been deep sea fishing around the Dry Tortugas, but I went in Key Largo–it was probably almost 15 years ago now though! Would be fun to do some more fishing in the Keys!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Mini Guide to Dry Tortugas National ParkMy Profile

  • Nathalie
    Twitter:
    Posted at 10:21h, 19 March Reply

    Your video could be used by the tourism industry, it’s great! Thanks for showing us around Dry Tortugas National Park!
    Nathalie recently posted…The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning: a reviewMy Profile

  • stephanie olejniczak
    Posted at 10:42h, 03 August Reply

    I’m visiting key west this winter and am wondering how much this ferry costs? does it include snorkel gear?

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 13:38h, 03 August Reply

      Hope you have a great time in Key West! $175/person for the day trip ferry, but it does include breakfast, lunch, snorkeling gear and a tour of the fort and it’s an all day trip that gets back around dinner time. You can camp as well for a little bit extra. There are also seaplanes that arrive much quicker but cost upwards of $300/person. It’s on the spendy side, but it is such a gorgeous place–if you go we hope you enjoy it!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: Finger Lakes Region of New YorkMy Profile

  • Patricia
    Posted at 14:57h, 07 September Reply

    Beautiful pics. “Most of the prisoners were there for war crimes and burglaries, but the island was also home to four prisoners that played a part in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.” It was Dr. Samuel Mudd, Edmund Spangler, Samuel Arnold, and Michael O’Laughlen who were imprisoned for their involvement in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln though. It stopped being a military prison in 1888.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 04:06h, 16 September Reply

      Thanks for catching that–I guess I had my mind in the wrong timeframe when I was writing this 🙂 But yes, those were the guys that were there! Thank you!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Las Vegas #TravelShare Twitter ChatMy Profile

  • Barb Blacksher
    Posted at 20:42h, 19 January Reply

    We took this trip a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. The only bad part was the snorkeling because the winds were up and the waters around the fort were full of jellyfish. That certainly dampened my enthusiasm for snorkeling, but we were told it was very uncommon for so many jellyfish to be in the area.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 03:31h, 21 January Reply

      Glad to hear you enjoyed it, too, but that’s too bad about the snorkeling! We didn’t have great weather for snorkeling either, but we didn’t see any jellyfish that day at least. Hope you can try again sometime!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Horseback Riding in the Finger LakesMy Profile

  • Melissa Bretz
    Posted at 16:14h, 21 July Reply

    We took the sea plane out to the fort. It was pricey, but so worth it! You are there in 32 minutes and can we were able to check two things off our bucket list. They allowed us to bring our own cooler, umbrella, and beach bag. They gave us a cooler with water and the scuba equipment. Going by Sea plane gave us so much more time on the island. It is an amazing experience and we were so glad that we went. Very few people visit this state park due to the travel!

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