Sitting about 70 miles West of Key West The Dry Tortugas is a 100 square mile National Park made up of 7 small islands: Garden, Loggerhead, Bush, Long, East, Hospital, and Middle Key. Fort Jefferson, which sits on Garden Key and is one of the most recognizable historic forts in the United States, sits on the edge of the main shipping channel between the Gulf of Mexico and the western Caribbean. It was originally built in the mid 1800's to protect and monitor access to the United States through the Gulf of Mexico. Today Fort Jefferson is the park's centerpiece for history buffs and boating adventurists alike looking to escape the day-to-day grind and get away from it all.
JOURNEY TO THE DRY TORTUGAS
Stock Island Marina Village in Key West is the perfect launch location for an extraordinary sail to The Dry Tortugas. Situated just outside of Key West city limits this marina is one of the newest in the region, boasting a brand new 100-room boutique hotel, dog park, fitness center, dockside pool, as well as a stunning new bar and restaurant amongst other amenities you'll love to both start and end your bareboat charter.
We recommend your bareboat charter journey to The Dry Tortugas begin during the morning hours as you'll be able to enjoy a leisurely Key West sunrise while sipping on some morning coffee or tea. If the wind is coming from the north you'll find your first few sailing hours to have generally calm waters as Stock Island Marina sits south of Key West, which means wind is mostly blocked by the island. This steady northerly wind (or no wind at all) offers an extraordinary opportunity to enjoy some morning yoga on deck, which many of our guests rave about! If your morning starts off with a brisk southerly wind, though, don't worry you'll still enjoy some incredible time sailing at speeds of 7.5 knots or more!
As your bareboat charter departs the marina channel and heads west toward The Dry Tortugas you'll see several points of interest off your starboard side (right side of the boat when facing forward). Immediately you'll see airplanes landing and departing from Key West International Airport and the nearby Key West Naval Air Station. The rumbling of aircraft engines will quickly fade into the background as you pass Smathers Beach, the largest public beach in Key West and a very popular spring break destination where you'll find jet ski rentals, windsurfing, volleyball and more. Within a few miles your bareboat charter yacht will pass Edward B. Knight Pier, one of the most well-known spots on the island to check out those famous Key West sunsets people always talk about. If you have time while in Key West this pier is a must-visit, especially since it's typically free from the cruise ship crowds that generally occupy the island's other well-known sunset spot, Mallory Square. As you approach the western-most side of the island you'll come upon Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Florida's southernmost state park and home to a number of trails, secluded beach spots for a romantic afternoon, paddleball and volleyball, snorkeling areas as well as a mid-1800's fort originally built to defend the U.S. coastline. Keep a close eye out as you head west from here because the primary cruise ship channel into and out of Key West passes just to the west of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.
Sipping your freshly brewed morning coffee in the crystal clear waters of The Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most relaxing and gratifying ways to wake up. The serenity around this remote park is truly remarkable, especially as the sun rises over The Florida Keys roughly 70 miles to your east.
With less than 1% of this national park being actual dry ground, the most effective way to experience The Dry Tortugas is through snorkeling. The historic moat wall, decommissioned pier pilings, and the historic Windjammer shipwreck attract some of the most unique marine life anywhere in the region. Don't be surprised to see large grouper, tarpon, and hogfish near the pilings, while the moat wall and other areas around the island attract amazingly colorful reef fish including parrot fish, angel fish!
In addition to snorkeling and swimming around the park feel free to bring a stand-up paddle board to explore the crystal clear shallow water around the park. Want to spend a night on land? No problem! With proper permitting you can pitch a tent at Garden Key on a clear night and enjoy an unforgettable night of star gazing.
Recommended Duration: 4 days - 6 days Distance from Stock Island Marina: 70 miles Activities: Beach relaxation, paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, sunset viewing, star gazing, bird watching, Boca Grande Key, The Marquesas Keys