Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain
Seven islands make up the Dry Tortugas. Located in the Gulf of Mexico almost 70-miles west of Key West, access to Garden Key, the site of historic Fort Jefferson, is by boat or seaplane. One of the more remote national parks, a visit to Dry Tortugas National Park requires some pre-planning and we purchased tickets on the Yankee Freedom early in our visit to Key West.
It took a little over two hours to get there and the seas were rough sending the catamaran up and down with the churning waves. Focusing on the horizon only made us queasy. Arriving at the dock we took part in the guided tour of Fort Jefferson. The explorer Ponce De Leon discovered the islands. He caught over 100 turtles here, hence the name: Tortugas or turtles. The Fort was used for early defense of the United States, later it was used as a prison until it was turned into a National Monument and then a National Park.
After our tour we headed back to the boat for lunch and then grabbed some snorkel gear for some amazing time in the water. The water is a beautiful color of blue and we enjoyed it immensely. Best snorkeling in Key West!
The trip back was as turbulent as we expected and we decided to stay outside on the upper deck, which helped us gain our sea legs and not lose our lunch. While we were enjoying a conversation with another couple a F15 fighter jet buzzed the boat. The pilot must have been less than a hundred feet above us and the sound was immense and didn’t catch up to us until the jet had passed. Camera shutters were clicking, people were clapping, and the adrenaline was pumping as the jet climbed and came back around for another pass. This was something that we and the other passengers won’t soon forget.
We made it back to enjoy the sunset. Then we turned our attentions back to Key West and Duval Street!
Up Next: We are famous!
Visited December, 2013