This seven island archipelago located about 70 miles off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico, has been object of pirates, stories of turbulent water and news of supposed stolen treasure. The Strait of Florida was full of Spanish ships that sailed between Cuba and Florida on the 1600s and 1700s. At that time wreckers where on the point of their greatest splendor since they lived from the cargo that they could rescue from sunken ships.
Lost treasure is not the only thing that makes this place so appealing
Currently there are no pirates or wreckers sailing around Dry Tortugas, but the possibility of finding treasure still makes a call to the ears of those searching for adventure. For instance, in 1985, treasure hunters rescued 450 million dollars in silver and gold from a sunken Spanish galleon. Lost treasure is not the only thing that makes this place so appealing for visitors but also that Dry Tortugas is the third largest coral barrier reef in the world and moreover, it is the only tropical reef in the continental United States. Besides, even if the name is somehow confusing because it might make you think of Dry Tortugas as a dry place, the park is 99 percent underwater.
The most active nesting sanctuary in Florida
Coral is not the only thing that calls the attention of visitors in Dry Tortugas but that it remains the most active nesting sanctuary in Florida. As a positive consequence of the active protection of marine life in the park, the four endangered species of turtle, some of which can reach 300 pounds, have seen a dramatic population rise. The biggest nesting ground for the tropical species in the continental US is the rookery of up to 80 000 nesting sooty terns located on Bush Key.
The tern nesting season extends from February to mid-September, but if you plan your visit for the rest of the months of the year one of the best things to do could be to take a walk at low tide. In those months the sandbar bridge between Bush and Garden Key is not submerged, so it will be the perfect place to spot some of the 300 bird species that pass through.
When to pay a visit?
Although Dry Tortugas National Park is opened the whole year, the best times to pay your visit there will be late spring or early summer. In late spring you can see bird migrations and in early summer you can see the greatest concentration of turtles of the area. Because of the park' s remote location, it is the perfect spot for those seeking adventure. With no phone towers or public restrooms, it is better to plan the trip in advance and be sure to carry all the things that you might need, generous amounts of water bottles and snacks. The ferry scheduled arrival time is 10:15 a.m. and departure time is 3 p.m., camping overnight is also allowed on the key but you have to do your camper reservation when purchasing the ferry ticket to make sure you do not have any problems.