The Dry Tortugas National Park is not the kind of national park you can simply drive up to. This national park is actually mostly made up of water and is located some 68 miles off the coast of Key West Florida, basically in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Even with its seeming inaccessibility, thousands of visitors make the journey out to the Dry Tortugas each year. While most people get there aboard the Dry Tortugas ferries, a select few choose to take the comfortable and speedy Dry Tortugas seaplanes.
In fact, there is no faster way to get to the Dry Tortugas than aboard the seaplanes! On a flight that takes less than 45 minutes (compared to the over 2 hours it takes on the ferries), you will be able to spend more time on the islands of the Dry Tortugas, not to mention the fact that you get to spend part of that time with only a handful of visitors (as opposed to the nearly 200 that arrive on the islands once the ferries dock).
On top of these perks, taking the seaplanes also gives you one of the most unique airplane tours from Key West. On the way out to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson, the plane flies at a low altitude of 500 feet and you pass over picturesque marine environments including the coral atoll known as the Marquesas and the 20-mile stretch of clear shallow water known as Key West's "flats" area where you will spot all kinds of Key West marine life ranging from sharks to sea turtles. Each passenger on the seaplane has a window seat and a headset from which the pilot talks about the amazing sights you will see during your flight.
Have your cameras ready during this journey! The ride out there is itself filled with excellent photo opportunities, but the real shining moment comes as you arrive at the Dry Tortugas. Before landing, your pilot will circle around Fort Jefferson to allow you to get some of the most one-of-a-kind birds-eye views of the 150-year old fort in the middle of the ocean. You are definitely going to want to have pictures to show your friends back home.
After landing, you will be able to spend either a half-day or a full-day on the Dry Tortugas. Most people agree that the best Key West snorkeling is actually done on the Dry Tortugas. And all snorkel gear is provided at no charge. Beverages are also provided, but if you are doing the full-day excursion make sure to pack a lunch. In addition to snorkeling, you will also be able to explore the massive historic Fort Jefferson, lay out on the gorgeous white-sand beach, and look at the dozens of unique bird species that can be seen on the islands on any given day.
What To Bring
The following are items we recommend you bring if you are planning on spending just the day at the Dry Tortugas.
. Bathing suit
. Sunglasses and hat
. Beach Towel
. Change of clothing
. Pair of walking shoes
. You may bring your own snorkeling gear if you wish.