Visit Dry Tortugas: where the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico converge

It sounds like something out of a pirate movie: a remote island far from civilization, a tiny speck in the ocean where the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico converge. Situated 70 miles off of Key West and accessible only by boat or seaplane, Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas, otherwise known as Dry Tortugas National Park, is one must-see destination on your Florida road trip. There, you’ll find some of the best snorkeling anywhere in the United States and lots of history to learn while visiting the historic fort.


Photo: Amanda Mims

Here’s how to plan your trip:,h2>

1.) Book a campsite

Go to RV campground in Key West or the lower keys. There is plenty to do here, so you will want to spend a while before or after your Tortugas trip exploring Key West and some of the other islands. Some Key West hotspots include Mallory Square, Sloppy Joe’s Bar, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and the  Key West Aquarium.



Photo: Kevin Mims


Photo: Kevin Mims

2.) Reserve your spot

You can go on the Yankee Freedom III, that will take you on the 70-mile journey from Key West to the Dry Tortugas. The folks on the Yankee Freedom III will serve you breakfast and lunch on the large, 250-passenger catamaran. Freshwater rinse showers are available on the boat. Alternately, book a seaplane for a faster journey and stunning aerial views of the island and water. Keep in mind that seaplane trips will allow for fewer people per trip and much less gear.


Photo: Amanda Mims


Photo: Amanda Mims

3.) If you plan to camp at Fort Jefferson, here’s some great tips

The main island and site of the 19th-century fort, pack your camping gear, including tent and sleeping bags. You can even bring a kayak or stand-up paddleboard along if you make arrangements with the ferry service ahead of time (an extra fee applies). There is no drinking water available on the island and campsites are primitive, so it’s important to bring along enough water for everyone who is going with you. If you don’t plan to camp, just go for the day and bring only the usual items needed for a day at the beach, such as sunscreen, water to drink and sunglasses.


Photo: Kevin Mims

That’s about it.

Book far in advance to ensure your Key West campsite and spot on the Dry Tortugas ferry. Winter and early spring are good times to visit, as summer can be very hot and shade is limited for camping.