Dry Tortugas National Park Activity Guides:
Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park Overview
Famed Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon stumbled on these little island gems in 1513 and promptly dubbed them Dry Tortugas for their lack of fresh water and abundance of tortoises. Through the ensuing centuries the islands gained a reputation for concealing pirates and sunken treasure, as well as their wildlife.
The pirates are gone, but the Dry Tortugas are still an unspoiled paradise rich in marine and bird species, making this island outpost popular for birders, scuba divers, and snorkelers. Excellent diving exists year-round with the waters at a warm 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months, and dropping to the low 60s in the winter. The best time to dive these waters is in the spring, summer, and autumn months; when the Gulf Stream eddies in, the visibility is better than the usual 40- to 60-foot range, and the currents vary from very little to stiff. More than 200 shipwrecked vessels lie within the park's boundaries, making wreck diving a popular sport. The islands are located almost 70 miles west of Key West, Florida.
Camp in an Island Paradise
The Dry Tortugas don't exactly roll out the red carpet for visitors. They're reached only by boat or seaplane, and because no fresh water is available on the island, visitors must bring all of the water and food needed for their entire stay. All the trouble is worth it to settle into one of a dozen primitive campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. A policy of "pack it in, pack it out" is strictly enforced.
Snorkel the Coral Reefs
The waters surrounding the Dry Tortugas are ideal for beginner and expert snorkelers with shallow diving accessible right from the beach. Colorful corals, tropical fish, starfish, and sea conches are just a few of the delights that await.
Dive for Wrecks
Between Key Largo and Dry Tortugas lies the only living barrier reef ecosystem in the continental United States. The reefs are typically shallow and constructed of hard elkhorn corals; boulder-size brain corals; tall, willowy sea whips; and giant purple sea fans. The reef is also a very popular and inexpensive spot for diving. More than 200 shipwrecks have been discovered in the region, and are open for exploration. Beginning divers may want to explore the City of Washington and the Benwood. More advanced divers may try to locate the Bibb, the Duane, or the Avanti, which sank in 1907 with a load of lumber and now acts as an artificial reef that spans 20 feet from surface to the seafloor.
Fish from the land or a charter boat at sea. Fishermen may catch grouper, amberjack, cobia, tarpon, mackerel, snook, red snapper, and other saltwater fish. Taking lobster is not allowed. Saltwater fishing licenses are available in Key West.
Patrol for Pelicans
The islands are famous for their birds and were designated a sanctuary to protect them. Some of the birds you're likely to see include pelicans, sooty terns, which nest on the islands between May and September, and many tropical species.
- 2 Answers
- Please tell me: what should I expect for weather
I am looking for info on the Dry Tortugas.I need to know what to expect for weather and daily ave temps in January,Feruary and March of any given year.
Thank you all
Asked on October 02, 2012 by watson | 66 views
- Answer this