What Is The Duration Of A Boat Tour From Key West
The duration of cruises and boat tours from Key West depends on the type of tour.
- Sunset cruises last approximately 2 hours.
- The kayaking and snorkeling boat tours last half a day, ranging from 4.5 to 6 hours.
- Dolphin watching and sunset boat tours last approximately 3 hours.
- Boat trips to Dry Tortugas National Park last a full day, approximately 10 hours.
Seaplane Vs The Ferry Vs Private Charter: Which One Is Better
If you just look at cost, the private charter is the most expensive option. There is also a big price difference between taking the seaplane flight and the Yankee Freedom Ferry.
Half Day Seaplane + National Park Fee: $376Yankee Freedom Ferry :$190Price Difference: $186
So, it costs an additional $186 for an adult to fly to Dry Tortugas National Park than to take the ferry.
Worth it? We thought so.
The flight is awesome, getting into the park early is nice perk, and having a full afternoon in Key West after this excursion is also a big advantage.
Below I list more advantages and disadvantages for each mode of transportation.
- Fastest way to and from Dry Tortugas National Park
- Scenic flight over the Florida Keys
- Can visit the Dry Tortugas with low crowds before the ferry arrives or late in the date once the ferry departs
- The half day tour is a little too short
- The full day tour seems a little too long
- Cant bring camping gear or scuba equipment
- 4.5 hours on the Dry Tortugas, a nice amount of time on the islands
- Can bring camping gear, scuba equipment, and kayaks
- Private tour of Dry Tortugas National Park
- You can customize your itinerary
- You can visit Loggerhead Key
Private Charter Disadvantages:
- Seasickness is possible
What We Did
If you have any questions about how to get to Dry Tortugas National Park, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Florida:
Dry Tortugas National Park: Day Trip Snorkeling & Camping
Planning a vacation to Key West? Be sure to include a visit to Dry Tortugas, one of the least-visited U.S. National Parks. Located 70 miles from Key West, Dry Tortugas is over 100 square miles of small islands, coral reefs, and marine life. Learn everything you need for a Dry Tortugas National Park day trip or camping overnight!
A Dry Tortugas day trip from Key West checks a lot of boxes: secluded white sand beaches, spectacular snorkeling, and exploring history with stories of pirates and a 19th century fort. Visiting Dry Tortugas feels like a getaway to an undiscovered Caribbean Island. It also has the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys!
True adventurers can even camp at Dry Tortugas overnight to have its beaches and nighttime stars all to themselves after the day trip crowd heads back to Key West.
Ready to pack your towel and snorkel? Keep reading for the best tips on how to get there ferry, private boat or seaplane as well as history, what to bring along, and how to make the most of your Dry Tortugas day trip or camping overnight.
Cant wait?See availability and prices for the easiest way to take a Dry Tortugas day trip: the Yankee Freedom III Dry Tortugas Ferry
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History Of Dry Tortugas
The Dry Tortugas got their name when Juan Ponce de Leon, the first known European to see the islands, visited in 1513. He caught so many sea turtles that he referred to the islands just as Tortugas. The dry part was added later because of the lack of fresh surface water on the islands.
The 16th and 17th centuries were a golden age of piracy in the Florida Straits. Spanish treasure ships sailed this route between Cuba and the Keys, often meeting with pirates or hurricanes. Treasure hunting of shipwrecks continued for centuries, including a 1985 discovery of $450 million in silver and gold from a sunken 17th-century Spanish galleon.
In 1846, five years after Spain sold Florida to America, construction began on Fort Jefferson, still the largest masonry fort in the Western Hemisphere.
Today, Dry Tortugas National Park is 99% underwater! It encompasses 7 islands known for clear blue waters, nearly 300 species of birds, and some of the least-disturbed coral reefs in the Florida Keys. This is due in part to its UNESCO designation as part of the Everglades and Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve.
Arriving at Dry Tortugas is awe-inspiring! The white beaches and blue waters are nothing short of spectacular.
When Should You Go Boating To The Dry Tortugas National Park
I did this trip in Augustand I would not recommend boating to the Dry Tortugas this time of year . South Florida is then very hot and the wind is also at its weakest and most variable. I slept on the catamaran trampoline every night it was that bad!
I think the Spring or early Fall are the best time to take a private boat to the Dry Tortugas. Why?
Less risk of tropical mischief
The heat is less intense and the weather is more settled
There is less risk of cold fronts which can barrel down with intense winds and squalls
Fishing in the fall as the water cools offers great chances at catching wahoo along the drop
Weather is the biggest factor to plan for. You want your best chance of a settled weather window. Aside from the anchorage at Fort Jefferson, there are really very few protected anchorages along this route.
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Adults Only Sunset Cruise With Champagne Party From Key West
This sunset cruise from Key West is specially designed for an adult audience. The atmosphere is intimate and the number of passengers is limited to 14 people.
The cruise includes champagne, red and white wines, beers and soft drinks, as well as a cheese buffet to be enjoyed with drinks. Some bottles of fine champagne, such as MoÃ«t et Chandon, are available for purchase.
Enjoy the best sunset over the sea from Key West on this 2-hour cruise.
Why Do They Call It The Dry Tortugas
Tortugas means turtles in Spanish, and Ponce de Leon himself caught over 100 sea turtles during his time on the island. The name Dry Tortugas was later given to the island to indicate to other mariners that the land mass lacked fresh water, which was an extremely important detail for seafarers to know.
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What Are The Dry Tortugas
The Dry Tortugas are the last seven coral islands that flow westward from the Florida Keys into the Gulf of Mexico. Here you will find some of the most pristine waters in the United States. The Dry Tortugas is a designated preserve, and the marine life here is protected, and spearfishing and lobstering are prohibited.
In 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the Islands, as he did much of Florida. He named the island Tortuga, which is Spanish for tortoise, because of the enormous sea turtles that inhabited the islands and waters of the area.
The area was proclaimed a National Park in 1935 as the Fort Jefferson National Monument, after the fort on Garden Key. The site was renamed the Dry Tortugas National Park in 1992. One of several parks in the waters of the Florida Keys, the Dry Tortugas National Park has a water area of 100 square miles. This gives you a vast area to explore, snorkel, dive, and enjoy the peacefulness of nature.
Private Charters To Loggerhead Key
Three miles west of Fort Jefferson youll find Loggerhead Key, home of the Dry Tortugas lighthouse. Also known as Loggerhead lighthouse, the 157-foot tall structure first entered service in 1858, and was only recently removed from operation in 2015. Once the most powerful lighthouse in the United States, Dry Tortugas light has been said to be a greater distance from the mainland than any other light in the world.
When approaching the Dry Tortugas, the lighthouse can be spotted jutting into the sky like a giant pencil, providing a clear navigation point for captains to follow. Private vessels are required to check-in and file a boat permit on Garden Key before visiting Loggerhead Key.
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How To Have An Epic Day Trip To Dry Tortugas By Seaplane
Looking for things to do while in Key West, or if you live in South Florida and want to go on an adventure check out Dry Tortugas National Park! Going to Dry Tortugas by seaplane is such a fun day trip from Key West.
Dry Tortugas National Park is located 70 miles west of Key West, FL, and is only accessible by ferry, seaplane, or private boat, making it one of the least-visited national parks. If you want to experience beautiful coral reefs, marine wildlife sightings, & historical Fort Jefferson, this remote national park should be on your bucketlist!
Getting To The Dry Tortugas By Ferry
The Yankee Freedom is the ferry that connects Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park. Going by ferry turns your visit into a full day experience and most of that will be spent on board the ferry.
Cost: $190 per adult, $135 for children 4 to 16, $180 for students, seniors, and active militaryNational Park Fee: Included in the ferry ticket priceCamping trips: If you plan to camp, the fee is $210Length of Time: 10.5 hours
Check-in time is at 7 am . The ferry departs at 8:00 am and it takes 2.5 hours to get to Dry Tortugas National Park. You spend 4.5 hours in the park. At 3 pm, the ferry departs Dry Tortugas National Park, and you will arrive in Key West at 5:30 pm.
A breakfast snack, boxed lunch, and snorkeling equipment are included with the fee.
The ferry takes 175 people. At the galley, you can purchase alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, ice cream, and snacks.
During the cruise from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park, you will get to see the Marquesas Islands and lots of sea turtles during the voyage.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you plan to camp at Dry Tortugas National Park, you will have to take the ferry or a private boat to get here. You cannot bring camping equipment on the seaplane.
On the day we were here, Yankee Freedom must have been using a different boat, since this is not their typical boat they use to go to the Dry Tortugas. However, the boat in the photo above looks very similar to the Yankee Freedom ferry.
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Itinerary And Tips For Spending One Full Day In The Dry Tortugas
Since you only get one day in the Dry Tortugas , the plan is to maximize your time here. The ferry takes about 2 and a half hours to get to the park, and there are tours beginning right as you arrive at 11AM. Here is our recommendation:
- As soon as you disembark, find the shorter tour that will give you a brief history of the park. There is a longer 60 minute walking tour if you so desire, we opted for the brief overview. There are interesting points and facts about Fort Jefferson and why this was such a key location to defend!
- Find a shaded spot to park your towels and bags on one of the beaches.
- Note: You are not allowed to leave any bags on the ferry so whatever you bring for the day you have to carry around with you. However, with so few people visiting the park you are able to leave your things in a central location and you dont really have to worry about theft.
Trips Rates And Descriptions
Below is a listing of all our current excursions, complete with a price and description to help you find exactly the type of trip that will suit you!
Read through what each trip has to offer and then refer to our schedule to find a date that works for your and/or your group. Rates listed do not include food costs, tackle rental, or customary gratuity. Remember that tackle rental is not available for Pulley or Rankin Ridge trips. Please let us know if you have any questions!
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Remember That Kimberly Can Also Officiate Your Wedding Nuptials Aboard So If You Are Looking For An Amazing Elopement And Honeymoon This Is A Fantastic Option For You
OR if you have another couple that would like to travel with you, two couples could take this five-day trip for less than $3000 per person . We have two staterooms, so we are perfectly set up for two couples.
OR If you are planning a girls trip or a guys trip we could create a fun excursion to meet your needs. Our queen bed in the v-berth can be made into two singles. The aft cabin has a queen bed and a single. PERFECT for 4 individuals!
We will make sure you are comfortable and have everything you need for this 5 night excursion from Key West to the Dry Tortugas.
Can You Stay Overnight At Dry Tortugas
Yes, you can and have the choice of camping ashore, on Garden Key or staying aboard your boat. If you stay on your boat, you must anchor a nautical mile from the Fort Jefferson harbor light. Anchorage is allowed in the area with sand and rubble bottom, and be clear of any channels where boats will travel.
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How To Get To Dry Tortugas National Park
- Fly into either Miami or directly to the Key West airport.
- The only way to get to Dry Tortugas National Park is via seaplane, ferry, or private boat
- Although more expensive, going by seaplane allows you to see the park from an aerial view, and is only 40 minutes of travel time.
- The ferry takes 2.5 hours to get to the island.
If flying in a seaplane is on your bucket list, going to Dry Tortugas by seaplane is a great time to do it! We opted to splurge for the seaplane to Dry Tortugas, and it was such a cool experience. I even got to ride in the cockpit with the pilot!
Dry Tortugas Or Private Boat
Hi all! I am trying to decide between two excursions. One, going on the Yankee Freedom or the other chartering our own private boat with Captain Tommy with Take me there Charters? Both get great reviews. Right now I’m leaning toward the private boat. I know a lot of people love the snorkeling at the Dry Tortugas but is it really worth the price and the time to get there and back? Having a boat among 6 friends all to yourself to go out and snorkel to a reef sounds like a more personal experience. I know you can tour the Fort at the Tortugas which would be great but the snorkeling portion is more what I am interested in.
I have never snorkeled in Key West. I say I am going to do it and then……the trip is over and I never did. So for all those snorkel lovers out there, tell me what you think? Any input will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!
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The Best Time To Visit The Florida Keys
The best time to visit South Florida is from November through March. This is after hurricane season and before it starts to get too hot. We lucked out when we camped in the Keys in mid-March for the kids spring break, it was cool enough at night for a campfire and long pants, but warm enough during the day to swim and snorkel.
Florida in early spring is our favorite! We also visited the Everglades National Park and spent one day in Biscayne National Park on this trip, and both places had great weather and were not too crowded yet. It was the perfect road trip!
Sunset Party Catamaran Cruise In Key West
A Key West vacation isn’t complete without enjoying a spectacular sunset over the ocean. The best way is clearly seeing it from a boat.
Take advantage of a boat tour to reach the open sea and enjoy the show. This catamaran tour also includes all the elements for a good party on board: live music, champagne and snacks. Among the dishes available, there are fresh vegetables, assorted cheeses, rolls and pancakes, as well as beer, wine, champagne and margaritas. Enjoy this beautiful evening at sunset!
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Spend The Day Your Way
World-class Key West sport fishing, offshore, wreck, reef, tarpon, shark, and so much more offering you the experience of a lifetime! FishMonster Charters provides fishing charters in the Florida Keys and Key West into the backcountry, out to the reef and South Atlantic Ocean.
island Jane Charters
Your customized island adventure awaits with Island Jane Charters. Embark on a beautiful trip on the Floridays & The Looking Glass both vessels are designed to give you the ultimate coral reef experience where you can enjoy sunset cruises, snorkeling, eco-tours & more
island Jane Charters