Touring Fort Jefferson “Dry Tortugas” National Park

What is Fort Jefferson, and Why Should You Visit?

Fort Jefferson National Park is the largest brick structure in the western hemisphere and is among the 10 least visited national parks in the United States!

Simply imagine getting flown out to a remote island where there’s a grand brick structure in almost the same exact condition as when it was in use!

You get to experience true history at Fort Jefferson National Park. There are no fences, no ropes, and no alterations to keep you from walking around the park just like when troops were stationed here! The only areas that are prohibited are those reserved for the 8 park rangers who maintain the grounds – that’s it! And the prohibited area is hardly noticeable.

And there’s more to the park than just the massive brick structure – you can go checkout exotic birds at the bird sanctuary or go snorkeling just outside of the fortress’s walls to explore all the beautiful marine life that thrives along the reef!

Hop over to my article, Irma Can’t Hold the Keys Back, for an overview of my trip to Key West, Florida!

Getting to Fort Jefferson

There are two methods of transportation you can take to get to Fort Jefferson:

  1. By ferry, or
  2. By seaplane.

I highly highly recommend visiting Fort Jefferson by seaplane. Yes, making the trek out to the park by seaplane is much more expensive than taking the ferry, but you’ll also have a much better experience – here’s why:

  • The ferry takes approximately 2.25 hours both ways (that’s 4.5 hours bobbling about on the ocean!), and you’re only allotted “a little more than 4 hours” of exploration time. More time in transport than actual adventuring time… that’s awful! The seaplane takes approximately 40 minutes each way, and… you get
  • The ferry won’t provide you with an amazing aerial view of Key West, Fort Jefferson, and shipwrecks – sharks – dolphins – sea turtles when you travel by ferry.

If you haven’t guessed by now, we traveled via seaplane.

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Boarding the Seaplane for Fort Jefferson!

Just look at the amazing view of Key West you get when you take-off! I was blown away by how gorgeous the entirety of the flight was.

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Takeoff View of Key West, Florida, from the Seaplane.

And not only is the view of Key West gorgeous, but just marvel at how cool Fort Jefferson looks when you’re making your landing!

Activities at Fort Jefferson

No matter your transportation of choice, you won’t be disappointed by the activities Fort Jefferson offers:

1. Touring the Fortress

Like I said in the opening, the fortress has no fences, no ropes, and no alterations to prevent you from exploring! You get to experience the fort exactly as it was, with some general wear and tear, when 2000 troops were stationed here!

We quickly chose a picnic table to set down our snorkeling gear, which was provided by Key West Seaplane Adventures, and headed for the courtyard! Quick note regarding leaving our stuff: no one messed with anything! What other tourist attraction can you go to and leave items without fearing they’ll be stolen? Nowhere!

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The Adventure Family Atop the Fort Jefferson Parapet.

We rounded the corner and headed up the stairs for an overview of the fortress, the grounds, and the surrounding waters. And my oh my… it was breathtaking!

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Fort Jefferson Courtyard From the Parapet.

We walked around the perimeter of the fort, along the second floor that was open to the public, and all throughout the courtyard. Of everywhere we explored, the “Chapel” was by far mine and Nikki’s favorite!

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Placard in the Bastion Explaining the “Chapel’s” Significance.

Needless to say… Nikki and I had a stellar photoshoot in the “Chapel!” Special thanks to Pentax for the bitchin HDR Landscape mode – we put it to great use!

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Aly Looking Out to Sea.

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One of the Five Bastions Known as the “Chapel.”

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Nikki Walking Down an Endless Brick Hallway.

And yes… I proudly shoot with a Pentax K-70, 18-135mm Lens… didn’t think they were still around did yah?!

These photos were taken using the 18-135mm lens, which came with my camera. I’m in the market for a new lens – specifically the 15-30mm Pentax Lens – as it’s more suitable for landscape and portraits, which is my jam!

2. Bird Watching

Of the three activities I’ve listed, bird watching was the only one we didn’t get to experience. I have this in here mainly as information for those of you who visit – there is an amazing bird sanctuary at the other end of the island. The birds were buzzing while we were there… but we chose to spend our time at the fort and in the water.

3. Snorkeling

The waters that surround Fort Jefferson are absolutely to die for! And, compliments of Key West Seaplane Adventures, we were able to experience them with an awesome snorkeling excursion!

Stay tuned for some GoPro footage of our snorkeling adventures, as well as where our favorite spots for snorkeling were!

Be Among the Few Who Visit Fort Jefferson

Nature and history in its rawest form await you at the “Dry Tortugas!” Few will ever venture here, and of those who do shall receive a touristy experience unlike any other. Take a break from drunken Duval Street and all the other mainland attractions that get congested with cruise ships and common tourists… do something different that will enrich your experience! I cannot recommend touring Fort Jefferson more.

Reminder to Just Say Yes!

And, more importantly as always, say yes to experiences that present themselves to you! Life is full of fun and wonder – don’t be stuck at home wondering what life could be like, should be like, would be like… drop that nonsense! Get out there, say yes, and never look back!

Aly’s Camera Choice

All of the pictures were shot with my Pentax K-70, 18-135mm Lens and edited by me using Adobe Creative Cloud.

I’m in the market for the 15-30mm Pentax Lens so be on the lookout for when I post photos using that bad boy! Landscape and portrait photography are my passion. That being said, feel free to checkout the Pentax K-70 Body Only (silver) and upgrade your first lens choice!

Follow ME 🙂

Click on the links below to follow me on my social media accounts, and definitely subscribe to my blog for more of my exciting Yescapades!

As a disclaimer, I was not paid by any of the above linked sites. This review is solely mine without any monetary compensation. However, I will receive a small kickback from Amazon if you decide you want to become a Pentaxian like me! I couldn’t recommend the Pentax K-70 and Adobe Creative Cloud more – look at all my pictures if you don’t believe me.

Deep Sea Fishing in the Florida Keys

Never had I ever… sounds like a drinking game… been deep sea fishing before! And for someone who gets crazy-bad motion sickness, it’s not exactly an activity you raise your hand and volunteer for.

That being said, I’m so overly excited that I was able to go deep sea fishing with my Adventure Family during my trip to Key West, Florida!

If you’re looking for someone to take you out to catch some fresh, delicious fish, look no further than Linda D Sportfishing! Keep on reading to find out why, and checkout my blog post about my overall trip to the Florida Keys by following this link: Irma Can’t Hold the Keys Back.

Deep Sea Fishing – The Basics

The basics of deep sea fishing are quite simple:

  • Take motion sickness medication. I cannot stress this enough – even if you don’t think you’ll get sick, why risk it? Once you’re sick there’s no turning back so take precaution before you hop on the boat. I took MECLIZINE – generic from CVS – and it did wonders for me!
  • Let the Captain know if you get motion sickness. I’m always the first to volunteer this information! This way the Captain knows, the Captain’s crew knows, and they can ensure you have an enjoyable time – or at least they can try.
  • Aim overboard if you’re going to lose your breakfast. This may not always be the rule so I encourage you to ask the Captain for the proper protocol before this is even an issue. Because once it becomes an issue… well… it’s ugly.
  • Wear a white, long sleeve shirt; apply sunscreen regularly; and dawn a hat to protect your skin from the sun. Putting on a long sleeve shirt may seem counter-intuitive, but the glare from the water is no joking matter. Especially when you couple the glare from the water with the inability to go inside the cabin to find solace from the sun – remember: motion sickness.
  • And for those of you who get motion sickness like me: Do not go inside the cabin. The cabin is your worst enemy! Seriously… do not go in the cabin.

I’ll leave deep sea fishing technique advice to the experts.

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Aly & Nikki Deep Sea Fishing Aboard Linda D! (This was in Calmer Waters After we Had a Motion Sickness Occurrence.)

Deep Sea Fishing with Linda D Sportfishing!

On to the good stuff now that I’ve talked motion sickness to death! As I mentioned earlier, Why should you choose Linda D Sportfishing? Easy – Captain Billy has an awesome boat, awesome crew, and is beyond committed to ensuring you have an awesome experience!

WE FISHED

We arrived at the dock a little after 07:30 to embark on our deep sea fishing excursion. Swim apparel, long sleeve white shirts, sunblock, hats, shorts, lunches packed by our resort (Margaritaville Resort, Key West, FL), and of course some cold ones… we were ready for action!

Once we were out to deep sea, we put out the chum and Captain Billy and Shaun started setting us up with bait. I was lucky enough to be the first one with a fishing pole in hand, body positioned firmly against Linda D’s sturdy starboard side bulkhead. And, as luck would continue to have it, I was the first to catch… drum roll please… a baby shark! I had no idea sharks were so strong!!! See below – Shaun had to help me…

After my intense shark battle, the fish started biting like crazy! Grouper and snapper alike were being hauled into the boat at a rapid rate! Adventure Dad, Wild Bill, even caught a Blue Parrot! We threw the Blue Parrot back of course, but not before admiring its scales and snapping a quick pic!

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Adventure Dad, Wild Bill, and His Blue Parrot! Don’t Worry… We Threw It Back:)

I don’t know how Shaun and Captain Billy were able to pull all of our fish into the boat and re-bait our lines in such a timely fashion – guys have deep sea fishing on lock… that’s for sure! I barely had any time to grab my beer and take a sip!

We returned to shore with many Grouper and Snapper trophies! All of which we couldn’t wait to eat! Deep sea fishing truly works up an appetite, and I think with my stomach anyway so…

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Adventure Family Returned to Land with Our Awesome Fish!

And I know there’s a lot of fish in this photo! Do not stress – we donated what we couldn’t eat to locals on the island for personal consumption. Nothing went to waste.

WE SWAM

We did have a moment of sickness… not me, but I was definitely feeling it… while we were getting tossed around pretty good. So, to ease the suffering, Captain Billy and his crewman, Shaun, pulled in all of our gear and steered us toward calmer waters where we could take a swim! We did continue to fish after our swim break… just to be clear.

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Adventure Family Men Taking a Swim Near a Preserved Island.

WE ATE

When the day had ended, we packed it all in and headed towards shore. Shaun fillet’d as much of our fish as we were able to eat, and Captain Billy called in a favor to make us a dinner reservation at the New York Pasta Garden Restaurant for the same evening. The restaurant has a special menu setup so that they can cook your fresh catch!

Fresh yellowtail sashimi, grilled grouper fish over fresh steamed vegetables, and pasta! Nothing tastes better than when you know it’s fresh, and you worked so hard for it!

In Conclusion…

Look no further than Linda D Sportfishing when planning your deep sea fishing excursion in Key West. From the crew to the fish you get to feast on at the end of the day, you’re in for a perfect experience!

And hey – maybe you’ve read to the end of this post and you’re thinking, deep sea fishing really isn’t for me… That’s okay too! Checkout my full article about what I did during my trip to Key West here to see what other awesome activities you can fill your trip with: Irma Can’t Hold the Keys Back. For instance, we toured Fort Jefferson National Park, which is one of the least toured national parks in the United States – checkout this article to learn about my day trip: Touring Fort Jefferson “Dry Tortugas” National Park.

Reminder to Just Say Yes!

And, more importantly as always, say yes to experiences that present themselves to you! Life is full of fun and wonder – don’t be stuck at home wondering what life could be like, should be like, would be like… drop that nonsense! Get out there, say yes, and never look back!

Aly’s Camera Choice

All of the pictures were shot with my Pentax K-70, 18-135mm Lens and edited by me using Adobe Creative Cloud.

I’m in the market for the 15-30mm Pentax Lens so be on the lookout for when I post photos using that bad boy! Landscape and portrait photography are my passion. That being said, feel free to checkout the Pentax K-70 Body Only (silver) and upgrade your first lens choice!

Follow ME 🙂

Click on the links below to follow me on my social media accounts, and definitely subscribe to my blog for more of my exciting Yescapades!

As a disclaimer, I was not paid by any of the above linked sites. This review is solely mine without any monetary compensation. However, I will receive a small kickback from Amazon if you decide you want to become a Pentaxian like me! I couldn’t recommend the Pentax K-70 and Adobe Creative Cloud more – look at all my pictures if you don’t believe me.

Irma Can’t Hold the Keys Back

Irma may have wreaked havoc all throughout Florida’s beautiful chain of islands, but I’m happy to report that the Keys are back in business!

Last November I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Key West, Florida, with my Adventure Family. The weather was fabulous, debris from the hurricane was consolidated, and everyone had assumed normalcy in paradise!

But First, Coffee

For starters, my bestie (Nikki) and I flew out on a red-eye from San Diego to Miami on a Thursday. Landed early as… well you get it… and grabbed coffee straight away! I picked a cute spot that wasn’t too far from the airport and was somewhat along our route since we had a solid 3 hour + drive ahead of us. Nikki and I can’t survive without coffee – addiction? … oh most definitely.

Panther Coffee was adorable and so was the neighborhood. Panther Coffee is situated in the super trendy Arts District in Miami, Florida. Grab a cup of Joe and take a nice stroll to check out all of the amazing street art! I do recommend being in that neighborhood later than we were though… maybe closer to the time where people are in the neighborhood for work. We had at least one interesting encounter, and I needn’t say more.

Irma’s Destruction

After we got our coffee fix, we hopped on the road and set cruise control towards our tropical oasis. Along the way we definitely saw the turmoil that Irma had brought to the Keys – watch the short video below (apologies for my weird noises as I react to what I’m filming). Mind you, Irma struck land on 10 September 2017, and we were driving through on 10 November 2017. I can’t even begin to imagine what the true devastation must have looked like before people band together to clean up the mess.

The Florida Keys Are Back in Business!

But enough of the sad! Let’s get to the fun! And… more importantly… let’s get to the purpose of this post: The Florida Keys are Back in Business!

What did we do on our trip to Key West?

  1. We stayed at the Margaritaville Resort,
  2. Went deep sea fishing with Linda D Sportfishing,
  3. Flew over preserved waters to explore and snorkel around Fort Jefferson National Park, and
  4. Explored Key West’s mainland!

And, to top it all off, we did all of this in a place that had been devastated by a category 5 hurricane no more than 2 months prior!

MARGARITAVILLE RESORT, KEY WEST

So, you might be thinking to yourself, which resort should I stay at in Key West? Or you might be thinking, should I stay at a B&B instead?

There are many options to consider since the town thrives off tourism. Though I’ve only personally stayed at one place in Key West (Margaritaville Resort), I can assure you it’s a great option! The resort is located within walking distance of the majority of the main attractions in Key West:

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View from our Hotel Room at the Margaritaville Resort in Key West, Florida.

And if hanging out at the resort is your thing, then look no further! The resort is situated beautifully along the water! It’s clean, air conditioned, and has extremely friendly staff. Not to mention an awesome bar up above the pool with a gorgeous look out over the water.

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Margaritas Around at the Margaritaville Resort Poolside Bar.

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Seared Ahi Tuna Snack from the Bar Menu.

The only negative I will add to this review is that cruise ships… massive cruise ships… dock just outside this resort. Imagine you’re looking out of my hotel room window, and the only thing you see is a gigantic cruise ship – no joke. That was the view from our room when we were checking out… so fortunately we weren’t stuck with that view for our entire trip.

DEEP SEA FISHING WITH LINDA D SPORTFISHING

An activity that cannot be passed up when planning your trip to the Keys is deep sea fishing! As much fun as we had touring Fort Jefferson National Park, scroll down for more on that, no experience topped deep sea fishing with Linda D Sportfishing!

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Aly & Nikki Deep Sea Fishing Like Champs (we had a lot of help…)!

We fished all day with the help of Captain Billy and his fearless companion Shaun, and were even pointed in the direction of an amazing restaurant that cooked our catch of the day! We didn’t have all of the fish cooked for us as that would’ve been absurd – just look at the amount of fish in that photo! Instead, the fish we didn’t eat were given to the locals for personal consumption – nothing went to waste!

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The Adventure Family and Catch from Deep Sea Fishing.

For a more in-depth look at my deep sea fishing experience with Linda D Sport Fishing, follow this link: Deep Sea Fishing in the Florida Keys

TOURING FORT JEFFERSON, “DRY TORTUGAS”

Another activity that should ensure its position on your itinerary is a trip to Fort Jefferson, otherwise known as the “Dry Tortugas” for the islands lack of fresh water and perfect breeding grounds for majestic sea turtles.

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Aly & Nikki Atop the Parapet at Fort Jefferson National Park.

Fort Jefferson National Park is one of the 10 LEAST visited historic sites in the United States! This means that the grounds are preserved almost exactly as they were when the fort hosted almost 2,000 people at its peak! No gates, no “please stay behind the rope” banter coming from a volunteer who is annoyed with the endless volume of tourists day in and day out, no do not touch signs posted everywhere… the only areas that are off-limits are those reserved for the park rangers who maintain the historic site.

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Aly Overlooking the Fort Jefferson National Park Courtyard.

You can even snorkel in the crystal clear blue waters that surround the fortress to observe all sorts of beautiful sea life! Mind you, there are areas that are off-limits to snorkelers, but they let you know where those areas are – and the areas are only off limits to preserve the sea life.

For a more in-depth look at touring Fort Jefferson National Park, follow this link: Touring Fort Jefferson “Dry Tortugas” National Park

KEY WEST MAINLAND

So, here’s where we could’ve done better on our trip: we should’ve done all of the mainland activities we wanted before the cruise ships arrived…

While we were able to get a picture at the Southernmost Point of the United States… we waited in a ridiculously long line for at least 15 minutes to do so. Worth it? I don’t think so. Had we gone before the cruise ships arrived I highly doubt there would’ve been a line at all. So go before the cruise ships arrive! That’s my strong advice.

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Our Adventure Family at the Southernmost Point of the United States.

Sadly that’s pretty much all there is to show for our day activities on the mainland. I would’ve liked to tour Hemingway’s House, but again… cruise ships…

On my return excursion to the Florida Keys, which is an absolute must, I will be sure to update this section!

Reminder to Just Say Yes!

And, more importantly as always, say yes to experiences that present themselves to you! Life is full of fun and wonder – don’t be stuck at home wondering what life could be like, should be like, would be like… drop that nonsense! Get out there, say yes, and never look back!

Aly’s Camera Choice

All of the pictures were shot with my Pentax K-70, 18-135mm Lens and edited by me using Adobe Creative Cloud.

I’m in the market for the 15-30mm Pentax Lens so be on the lookout for when I post photos using that bad boy! Landscape and portrait photography are my passion. That being said, feel free to checkout the Pentax K-70 Body Only (silver) and upgrade your first lens choice!

Follow ME 🙂

Click on the links below to follow me on my social media accounts, and definitely subscribe to my blog for more of my exciting Yescapades!

As a disclaimer, I was not paid by any of the above linked sites. This review is solely mine without any monetary compensation. However, I will receive a small kickback from Amazon if you decide you want to become a Pentaxian like me! I couldn’t recommend the Pentax K-70 and Adobe Creative Cloud more – look at all my pictures if you don’t believe me.