The Dry Tortugas National Park is about 70 miles west of Key West. The park is 100 square miles, but it is mostly water. Seven small islands make up the park. The islands are only accessible by boat or seaplane. Garden Key is probably the best known as it is the home of Fort Jefferson.
Spanish explorer Ponce de León was the first European to discover the islands in 1513. He gave the islands their name, Las Tortugas (The Turtles) because of all the sea turtles. The lack of springs are responsible for adding ” dry” to the name.
After the war of 1812 the fort was built to help protect the southern coastline of the US. During the Civil War the fort remained under Union control. Fort Jefferson was never completed by the US. It was used as a prison until 1874. The most famous prisoner was Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who treated John Wilkes Booth after he asasinated Lincoln.
As part of the ferry package, snorkeling gear is included. What a wonderful experience.