Fort Jefferson at the Dry Tortugas National Park

One destination you won't want to pass by on your visit to Dry Tortugas National Park is historic Fort Jefferson on the island of Garden Key. Your Key West, FL vacation wouldn't be complete without taking The Yankee Freedom Ferry 70 miles west to this snorkeling paradise, whose crystal clear waters allow you to easily view the exotic underwater species of fish and coral.

Discover why snorkeling in the Dry Tortugas at Fort Jefferson is the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys! The brilliant living coral reef, protected for forty years, is North America's only living coral reef. Nothing can prepare you for the natural beauty you will encounter, from incandescent fish, to sea sponges, jellyfish, anemones, lobsters, stingrays and nurse sharks!

Enjoy the calm, warm island breeze as you beachcomb on some of the prettiest white sand beaches in the world at Fort Jefferson, Key West. Fort Jefferson is on the Dry Tortugas island of Garden Key and is a great American landmark! Construction of the fort began in 1846, lasted 30 years, and was never completed. Its original purpose was to protect this strategic sea location along the world's busiest shipping routes as the United States expanded into the Caribbean. It also provided ships a place to resupply, repair, or seek refuge from tropical storms as they patrolled the Gulf of Mexico or the Straits of Florida.

Visitors can tour Fort Jefferson on Garden Key on their own, or take the guided tour and learn more about the history of this massive brick fortress, such as how it was used as a prison during the Civil War. Plan to spend an entire day participating in the numerous adventures available at Fort Jefferson and the island rapture of Garden Key. Swim or kayak around the base of the towering fort, sunbathe on the pristine beaches, or gaze out to sea and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins!

One thing many visitors to Fort Jefferson are not aware of is the interesting bird-watching you can do in the Dry Tortugas. Bird and nature enthusiasts from all over the world come to the Dry Tortugas for their exclusive birds, such as the peregrine falcon, the sooty tern and yellow-billed cuckoo.

Getting to Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas Island is half the fun! You'll cruise the immaculate blue ocean on a high-tech ferry, enjoying the sun from the observation deck, or from inside the air-conditioned cabin. During the 2-hour voyage, you will see uninhabited islands, pass legendary shipwrecks, and probably see dolphins and sea turtles!

The Yankee Freedom Day Trip includes a full day of fun at Fort Jefferson, departing Key West FL in the early morning, providing continental breakfast, snacks, drinks, and souvenirs. Spacious and comfortable seating are available inside and out, and a convenient cocktail bar on the upper deck serves refreshing alcoholic beverages, sodas, and fresh fruit juices. Pizza, burgers, and hot dogs are available for purchase as well as several snack choices. The Yankee Freedom Day Trip also provides complimentary snorkeling equipment and a tour at Fort Jefferson on Garden Key!

Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortuga Islands is a whole other world! Come to the Dry Tortugas off of Key West FL and discover waters considered to hold some of the healthiest underwater wildlife in the world!