Since we do not have a road trip planned this month, I thought we would show you the one we took in February, 2016 to Key West and the Dry Tortugas National Park.
Visiting the Dry Tortugas National Park has long been on my bucket list. Malcolm was not as enthralled as I about taking the 70 mile ferry ride from Key West to the park, but he finally acquiesced and we booked the trip.
There are a few ways to get to the Dry Tortugas, but we opted for the two hour ride on the Yankee Freedom III, a high speed catamaran that departs from the pier in Key West at 8:00 am. Boarding is at 7:15 a.m. for day trippers and 6:00 for overnight campers. The full tour takes about ten hours from start to finish and is well worth the $175 pp price, which includes breakfast and lunch. A word of caution here – the ride can get a bit rough for the last thirty or forty minutes. You might want to consider something for motion sickness. We took Dramamine about a half hour before boarding and were fine. Other passengers were not so fortunate, but the crew handled things efficiently. In fact, the crew was wonderful and passed the time by offering lots of facts and history about Fort Jefferson and the surrounding islands. We remembered to take another pill about an hour before leaving the Fort and were once again, not among the unfortunate ones.
Enough about the ride. The destination is the reason for taking it in the first place. This is why you go there.
We spent the day exploring the fort from top to bottom, taking photographs and swimming in the crystal blue waters. The four hours passed quickly and before we knew it, we were called to board for the return trip.
Tip: Carry a beach bag with everything you will need for the day, including flip flops, sunscreen, snorkel equipment and towel for the beach. You will need sturdy walking shoes for the trail at the upper level of the fort and possibly a wind breaker if you go in a cooler month, as we did. The wind can be wicked up there, but the view is worth it.
You can learn more about Fort Jefferson and it’s amazing history here.
Because we live in Florida, we decided to drive rather than fly into Key West, which is an option from almost anywhere in the US. It is only five hours South, but we managed to turn it into a seven hour sight-seeing trip. It is much too hard to resist the siren call of shell shops and other ‘tourist traps’ along the way. (smile)
We stayed at the Casa Marina hotel, but there are many options for both luxury and budget hotels. We typically use Trip Advisor to help us with those decisions.
We discovered Duffy’s Steak and Lobster restaurant during this trip and highly recommend dinner there. The price is reasonable, the food hot and hearty, and the service was exceptional. Everyone recommends Blue Heaven for breakfast and we couldn’t agree more. You cannot go wrong with anything on the menu, but my personal favorite is the Lobster Benedict. Malcolm loves the homemade Granola and any of their specialty baked goods. You’ll appreciate the eclectic atmosphere here, especially on a crisp February day.
This post is about our Dry Tortugas experience, but there is much to say about Key West. We will make a more comprehensive Key West post in the future. For now, I will say that if it is not on your bucket list, it should be. Even if you don’t fall in love with it, (some people actually don’t) you will be glad you had the experience.