The Dry Tortugas National Park and Historic Fort Jefferson. Spend a day visiting an incredible American landmark. Fort Jefferson sits on Garden Key, a small island in the Dry Tortugas Islands chain just seventy miles west of Key West, Florida. Tour the massive brick fort which was built at sea to defend the United States' maritime interests. Fort Jefferson is a natural wonderland of crystal clear waters, coral reef and white sandy beaches. Visitors come to enjoy all kinds of adventures. Come swim, snorkel, beachcomb, bird watch, kayak, picnic, sunbathe or just relax on the moat wall and stare at the sea.
Cruise aboard a high-tech 65 foot high-speed catamaran. The Dry Tortugas Fort Jefferson Ferry provides a comfortable, smooth ride through the Gulf of Mexico. Transit time to Fort Jefferson is appx. 2 hours. Enjoy the sun or shade from the ferry's observation decks, or enjoy the view relaxing in the spacious air-conditioned cabin.The ferry features comfortable cushioned seats, three restrooms and a fresh water rinse shower. A full galley serving snacks, soft drinks, beer, wine and mixed drinks (on return trip only) is open throughout the trip. Enjoy a continental breakfast with an up-scale lunch buffet served at noon. Our veteran captain and friendly crew are there to make your adventure fun, comfortable and safe.
During the remarkable trip, you will see the uninhabited back country islands, travel through the famous Key West fishing flats, pass legenday shipwrecks and see the beauty of the Spanish-named Marquesa Islands. These blue waters teem with marine life so keep your eyes open for the wild dolphins and sea turtles often spotted along the way. Our onboard naturalist will give you an orientation about the National Park and the park's natural surroundings and gladly answer any questions you may have.
Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson by Fast Cat Ferry
National Park Excursion
Once you arrive at Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson, you are free to explore the fort on your own or join the park staff naturalist on a guided tour. This 40 minute tour is an opportunity to learn about historic Fort Jefferson. Notably, Fort Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere. Construction of the fort started in 1846 and continued for 30 years. Construction was never completed. Its original purpose was to protect sea-lane control during America’s expansion into the Caribbean. Fortified with cannons, the fort was never engaged in a single battle. During the Civil War, Fort Jefferson was used as a military prison and housed Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who set the leg of John Wilkes Booth - Lincoln's assassin.
President Theodore Roosevelt designated Dry Tortugas National Park a wildlife preserve in 1908. See some of the world's rarest birds. Over three hundred bird species visit Garden Key each year making the Dry Tortugas Islands a world-renown bird-watcher’s destination. Turtle nests are a common sight on the beaches and all nests are protected as all the wildlife in the National Park is. Climb atop the fort for a panoramic view of the surrounding ocean and the opportunity to sight large fish and dolphin.
Dry Tortugas is a snorkeling paradise.The vibrant coral reef has been protected for almost forty years. Exceptional coral specimens, sea fans and abundant sea life make snorkeling here some of the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys.The water here is crystal clear giving you remarkable views of an exotic underwater world. Many guests choose to stroll the white sand beaches and simply beachcomb the shoreline.
Join us for an extraordinary excursion. Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson may be one of the most memorable adventures of your lifetime.
- Complimentary snorkeling equipment
- Fully narrated 40 minute fort tour
- Complimentary soft drinks, water
- Snorkel pristine coral reef
- Swim in crystal clear waters
- Enjoy a picnic on the beach