Things to know about Dry Tortugas National Park visit

Dry Tortugas National Park is about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. This national park is only accessible by boat or seaplane and is a 100 square mile park. The family-friendly National Park is home to Fort Jefferson, one of the nations largest 19th-century forts, stunning coral reefs and marine life, picturesque blue water and numerous species of birds. This park is a must-visit spot with your family.

This national park has been on our bucket list for over 4 years! Our family of 5 visited the National Park on January 1st and took the seaplane into the National Park. 

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Plan ahead

We booked our trip for New Year’s day approximately 5 months in advance. We took the seaplane in with Key West Seaplane Adventures for the 2pm half-day trip. 

Only accessible via air or ferry

The seaplane to the national park was about 40 minutes from loading to unloading. The flight was incredible, our pilot Marcus was amazing, giving history as we flew and pointing out wildlife. The kids enjoyed seeing 30+ sea turtles, sharks and sting rays in the clear blue waters as the plane flew about 500 feet above the water. 

Time of day

The 2pm trip was perfect for our family of 5, the ferry was leaving as we arrived, leaving our 10 passenger plane, another 10 from the other plane and a few over night campers on the entire island.  Our family felt like we had the island to ourselves. 

Your visit at Dry Tortugas National Park 

We did a self guided tour around the fort for about 45 minutes. This National Park is a great option for families because you are able to roam around the grounds of the fort. As mentioned before, our family was one of the few people on the island so we were able to take photos without anyone else around.

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After exploring Fort Jefferson, our family of 5 went snorkeling. Key West Seaplane Adventures supplies you with with snorkel gear for kiddos and adults along with a cooler of refreshments. Our family spent the last part of our day at Dry Tortugas National Park in the water and walking on the beach. 

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The National Park has changing rooms and outhouses on the island, we wore out swim suits on the plane and brought a change of clothes to change into so we didn’t ride back in the plane wet. I also packed a few snacks and there were picnic tables to have a snack at.  

Our pilot gave us a time to meet him back at the plane which 5:15pm. It was perfect because we were able to watch the sunset in the air as we arrived in Key West. 

One way or the other, whether by Ferry or Seaplane, don’t miss a chance if you are in Key West to visit this majestically beautiful National Park.  Definitely an experience we will never forget.  


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