Fort Jefferson. Photo by Eric.
Remote Dry Tortugas National Park has relatively few vistors. The Florida Keys do not end at Key West; that is just where the road ends. Garden Key is actually the furthest west key. It was developed as Fort Jefferson, and later turned into a national park.
When we started planning our trip to Dry Tortugas, Eric told me that flying in a seaplane was on his bucket list. So, I arranged for a seaplane flight out to the remote key.
The Key West International Airport.
Eric in the seaplane.
Eric took my picture in the seaplane.
The cockpit of the DHC-3 Otter displays a mix of original gauges and modern navigational equipment. Photo by Eric.
Eric noticed that our pilot, Adam, was flying barefoot. How very Key West!
I noticed this near the airport. What happened here? Eric speculates it is damage that happened on the ground during Hurricane Irma.
Looking down at Key West.
Cruise ship in harbor at Key West. The Orion V, on which we slept, is in the cluster of small vessels in the distance.
The flight was 35 minutes out and 35 minutes back, and we were treated to lovely views like this! We just love flying in small aircraft.
Eric photographed these small keys.
The views were better from the starboard side of the plane, so Eric got better pictures of the keys.
Photo by Eric.
Wreck of the Priscilla.
My better shots were from the return trip. I had been pretty disappointed on the way out.
The scenery was spectacular.
Garden Key, home of Dry Tortugas National Park, with Bush Key and Long Key in the foreground. Long Key and Bush Key are closed to visitors to protect nesting birds.
Fort Jefferson from the water surface.
Eric took a picture of another seaplane through the window.
Our pilot, Adam, took our picture with the seaplane. Eric noticed the plane had been built in May, 1960.
Eric took a picture of another seaplane landing.
I found a pretty shell on the beach.
Eric took his traditional picture of the entrance sign. Our 22nd national park together!
Eric photographed the moat around the fort.
I took the stairs up on top of the ledge to take a picture of the fort. One side was closed because of yet more Irma damage.
Eric took a picture of the inside of the fort. We got a terrain 5 earthcache here, and also got another one in this park.
Eric photographed a lighthouse on nearby Bird Key.
We snorkeled out from South Beach. I was very excited to find a group of four cuttlefish!
Eric with his snorkel.
Our half-day tour gave us about two and a half hours on the island. It wasn't enough time in this beautiful place, but it gave us one more national park, and checked "fly in a seaplane" off of Eric's bucket list. You don't have to spend the money on a seaplane to visit Dry Tortugas; you can take a ferry. But given that the ferry costs $175 per person, it's worth the extra cost of the seaplane. Trips to Biscayne National Park, which is much closer to Miami, start at $39 per person and are a much better bargain.