Results 1-8of 8 Reviews
July 28, 2009
From journal Fun and Sun in Key West
bowling green, Kentucky
January 1, 2007
From journal Florida Keys
August 18, 2006
From journal Key West with the Whole Family 2006
East Berlin, Pennsylvania
March 18, 2005
Shortly after you arrive (10 to 10:30am) there is a guided tour of the fort. The guide tells you the history - and WHY there is a fort in this particular out of the way place. One wonders to themselves what it must have been like when there were 2,000 people living on this little spit of land (Garden Key is SMALL - the fort takes up most of the land area).
After the tour there is a buffet lunch for ferry guests - seaplane guests have a packed lunch. Then, many folks go snorkeling to see an array of coral and multicolored fish literally using every color in those 64 crayon packs, I think... Those who prefer to stay dry often walk around the moat, as by looking down from it, one can also see some coral and fish - many times starfish and other such creatures as well.
Later in the afternoon there is sometimes an additional tour - ours was up into the Harbor Lighthouse. There is a small gift shop for postcards, books, and other small souvenirs. Then, for daytrippers, it's time to leave (about 2:30pm). For those who are more adventurous, check on camping there (see my camping entry in this journal).
From journal Exploring the Dry Tortugas, Everglades, and Disney
March 5, 2005
If your preference is for large coral and you don't mind snorkeling somewhat away from shore, start at the fourth swim buoy (counting from the right) and work your way back to the third buoy. The coral there is fabulous, and while you are not in super-shallow water it's still only 15 feet deep or so - and very clear. Near here there are also two anchors and a chain that links them lying on the ground.
For beginners who want a nice taste of the basics - or for starters in general - snorkel around the moat of the fort. You will see coral and many brightly colored fish and it's all shallow water. The south coal docks have schools of fish, but if you can only do one, do the north docks.
As a warning, some large barracudas swim these waters - they are friendly. We saw one who looked to be 6 feet long (named "Fred" according to the rangers who live there). We also saw many in the 3- to 4-foot range. None were aggressive.
Our best recommendation for snorkeling is to camp on the island for a few days. We stayed 3 nights and wish we had stayed 1 week. When the public ferries are in port, the place has a couple hundred people poking around, so snorkeling can get relatively crowded. Compared to other more accessible places, it's still not crowded, of course, but if you camp there, snorkeling after the boats leave is awesome. Also, towards sunset is when we were able to see and swim with rays (three types) and even a green sea turtle.
We used our own equipment. We have dry snorkels, which are worth the price, especially for kids, but also for anyone who doesn't like that occasional shot of seawater in the mouth when you opt to go under to look at something (or a wave comes).
The Dry Tortugas is a great place to learn to snorkel. Much of the water is shallow and snorkeling is literally right off the beach. We let our three boys go alone (with a buddy) and had no fear at all that they would get lost, attacked, or drown. We saw everything: rays, a turtle, a squid, huge varieties of all sorts of fish, conchs, and many varieties of coral. Actually, the only things we didn't see that we wanted to were sharks and eels.
We love it there and would easily return again.
March 26, 2004
Our boat trip included a wonderful buffet lunch and snorkeling equipment. The weather was 80+ degrees and was a fun filled adventurous day. The islands of the Dry Tortugas are beautiful and the history of Fort Jefferson is very interesting. A "must do" if you are in the Florida Keys.
From journal The Florida Keys
February 4, 2004
From journal Key Largo to Key West
Key West, Florida
June 28, 2006
The park was fun, the history of it was cool. There are also haunting tours of it if you want to experience it. The island has lots of shade, tables, benches, etc., so it is accommodating for everyone. It isn't overcrowded, although you'll want to claim your picnic spot early.
The kids loved the water and running free in the grass fields within the fort. Climbing to the upper level of the fort was not for them, but they loved the rustic feel of it all and the pretending of "holding down the fort" through the windows.