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photo of kids snorkeling at dry tortugas

things to know

Are there restrooms at the fort?

There are no public restrooms available at the park. Visitors will be required to use the facilities provided onboard the Yankee Freedom III. Composting toilets will be available for visitors to use within the campground and after 2:30 PM. Composting toilets are specially designed toilets that do not require water or chemicals and they can accommodate a small number of users. These toilets are extremely fragile, and throwing trash or other materials into composting toilets is strictly prohibited.

Can I bring home seashells, coral and other natural objects I find on the island?

Collecting is prohibited. Help protect the Dry Tortugas! Please do not remove seashells, coral, sand, brick, glass, stone, metal or any other natural or historic objects from the premises. If you find an artifact, please do not move or disturb it, and promptly call park staff.

Are there any closed areas in the fort?

Some areas of Fort Jefferson are closed to the public. For your safety, please do not enter these clearly marked areas and follow all park regulations. The interior of Fort Jefferson and East Key are only open during daylight hours. Bush Key is closed from February through mid-September due to bird nesting. Hospital Key, Loggerhead Key and Long Key are not accessible without National Park Service permission.

Are there any areas that you are not allowed to fish?

  • The moat, moat wall, and within 300 feet of moat wall
  • Vessels moored at the Garden Key Dock
  • Helicopter pad area
  • North and South beaches

Fishing is allowed from the shores of the Dry Tortugas as long as you have a current State of Florida salt water license which must be purchased before boarding the Yankee Freedom III.

Image of Yankee Freedom Guests

general questions

Is fishing allowed on the island?

Fishing is allowed from the shores of the Dry Tortugas as long as you have a current state of Florida salt water license which must be purchased before boarding the Yankee Freedom III.

Can we bring scuba gear to the Dry Tortugas?

Scuba gear is not allowed, but we do provide you with snorkel gear and fins for snorkeling the reefs along the shores of the island.

Do cell phones work at Fort Jefferson?

No, there are no cell phone towers in the Dry Tortugas.

Can I make bonfires on the beach, or bring lighter fluid to start my grill?

Flammable liquids and bonfires are not allowed. You may use self-starting charcoal or sterno for cooking on the grills that are provided.

Do you have corrective lens masks for snorkeling?

No, however they can be rented from our local dive shop. You will need to make arrangements for renting a corrective lens mask before your trip; please contact us for more information.

How deep is the water in which we will be snorkeling?

The designated snorkel area is right off shore, and depths generally range from very shallow to 15 feet.

map of fort jefferson

how to get here

Where does the ferry depart from?

The Yankee Freedom III departs from the Key West Ferry Terminal, 100 Grinnell Street, in the Historic Seaport.

Where is parking for the trip?

We recommend parking in the City Parking Garage on Grinnell Street, across the corner from the Ferry Terminal. The garage provides shaded parking for $13/day. There is no free parking available in Key West.

How do I get there from off the island?

  • When crossing onto Key West, turn right onto North Roosevelt Boulevard (US1).
  • Follow North Roosevelt to Palm Avenue (there is a traffic light at the intersection and a marina on the right).
  • Turn right on Palm Avenue.
  • Palm Avenue will curve to the left and change names to Eaton Street; continue on.
  • Turn right on Grinnell (there is a traffic light at the intersection).
  • The entrance to the Parking Garage is on the left, 1.5 blocks after the turn.
  • CAMPERS NOTE: To unload your gear, continue past the Garage to the end of Grinnell Street. You may park in front of the Ferry Terminal to unload and then move your vehicle to the Garage.

How do I get there if I am staying on the island?

Ask your concierge or host for the best route to the City Garage.
*If you are taking a taxi, tell them to take you directly to the Ferry Terminal.

> Get Directions to the port
> Get Directions to the parking garage

photo of soldiers barracks fort jefferson

What to bring

What should I bring on my day trip to the Dry Tortugas?

  • Bathing suit
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses and hat
  • Binoculars
  • Beach Towel
  • Change of clothing (during your journey back to Key West, you are welcome to use Yankee Freedom III‘s three fresh water rinses before the return trip home).
  • CASH (The park operates a small gift shop selling books, postcards, T-shirts, and other souvenir items, however, they do not accept credit cards. The Yankee Freedom III accepts cash and credit cards. The galley serves a large assortment of sodas, snacks, candy, beer, wine, tropical drinks, T-shirts, cameras, dramamine, etc. Click here for more galley information.)
  • Sturdy pair of walking shoes
  • You may bring your own snorkeling gear if you wish.
photo of yankee freedom III ferry

operating times

Check in time: 7:00 am (campers 6:30am)
Boarding time: 7:30 am
Departure time: 8:00 am
Arrive at Fort Jefferson: 10:15 am*
Fort Jefferson Tour: 11:00 am
Lunch: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Depart: 3:00 pm
Arrive in Key West: 5:15 pm*
*Times may vary depending on weather
photo of boarding the dry tortugas

about the trip

How long is the trip from Key West to Fort Jefferson?

The ride on the Yankee Freedom III usually takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Are trips available year round?

The Yankee Freedom III travels to Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas National Park year round, with the exception of Christmas Day.

What is the cancellation policy? Are refunds given if there is inclement weather?

If you plan to cancel your reservation, you will need to do so by 3:00 p.m. the day before your trip and 48 hours before your camping trip departure. Trips are not cancelled due to rain. The captain may cancel the trip or issue a warning if he feels the conditions are too rough.

Are ID’s or passports necessary before boarding?

While you do not yet need a passport to travel within the United States, all adults must show a photo ID at check in. Seniors, Students, and active Military personnel should also bring their proper ID if they are eligible for discounts.

Can I bring my pets to Fort Jefferson?

No, only assistance dogs are allowed with passengers to the island.

photo of 420 heavy guns

the weather

What is the weather like at the Dry Tortugas?

The Dry Tortugas is considered to have a subtropical climate. Temperatures range from the mid-50′s to mid-90′s throughout the year. Always wear sunscreen whenever you visit.

photo of the islands of the dry tortugas

about the dry tortugas

Are there mosquitoes at Fort Jefferson?

No, there are no mosquitoes due to the lack of standing water on the island.

Are there restaurants and gift shops on the island?

There are no restaurants at the Dry Tortugas, but there is a visitor’s center and a book store. The Yankee Freedom III will provide breakfast and lunch on all day trips. Soft drinks and snacks are available in the galley which will remain open for cash sales. Water is available all day at no extra charge.

I am camping at the Dry Tortugas, is there anywhere to buy ice on the island?

There is nowhere to buy ice, although you can bring your own in a cooler. Remember, you cannot consume any alcohol from your cooler while aboard the Yankee Freedom III, as we have a liquor license and glass containers are forbidden.

Will there be sharks in the water surrounding the Dry Tortugas?

Yes, sharks are part of the majestic ecosystem of the Caribbean, although no Yankee Freedom III passenger has ever been injured by a shark. If you happen to see one swim by, simply look, but don’t touch!

Is there shade on the island?

Shade is very limited outside of Fort Jefferson. There is a covered area with benches on the dock where you can rest and take a break from the sun.

photo of brick fort jefferson national park

rangers at the fort

Do the rangers live at the fort?

Yes! There are about a dozen National Park Service personnel living and working in the Dry Tortugas. The group includes rangers, maintenance workers, and their families—enough to provide for the basic support and protection of the 100–square–mile park.

Employees have their own living quarters, complete with a kitchen, living room, and bathroom. Most live within the casemates of the fort. To help maintain their privacy, the housing area is closed to the public.

Rainwater provides employees with some of their fresh water. Using parts of the historic rainwater catchment system (first used in the 1850s), water is stored in a large cistern in the parade ground. A process known as reverse osmosis can also convert up to 1,000 gallons of saltwater into freshwater daily.
Electricity is provided by diesel generator. The generator runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, creating enough electricity to power employee residences, offices and public areas.

Job vacancies are filled through competitive hiring. Employees can remain as long as they choose; the typical length of stay is three years.

Park staff normally work ten consecutive days. When not working, the staff may choose to stay at the fort during their days off to do the same things that you do on your days off: sleep late, clean house, write letters, do laundry. About once a month a trip to town becomes necessary for running errands, shopping or just to see the latest movie!

Photo of yankee freedom three ferry

about the ferry

What am I not allowed to bring aboard?

Pets (other than certified assistant dogs), compressed gas canisters (such as propane or scuba tanks), flammable accelerants (lighter fluid, gasoline, kerosene, etc.), firearms of any type (pellet guns, cartridge weapons, bow and arrows, etc.)

Can we bring a small cooler with water, food, and beer to enjoy at the Dry Tortugas?

You may bring a small cooler with beverages to take to the beach; Remember, you cannot consume any alcohol from your cooler while aboard the Yankee Freedom III, as we have a liquor license and glass containers are forbidden. And don’t forget that the Yankee Freedom III provides you water and lunch for day trips and has a galley with drinks and snacks available for purchase!

Will I get seasick during the ride on the Yankee Freedom III?

The Yankee Freedom III is equipped with the “Vosper/MDI active interceptor motion-control system” a state-of-the-art ride control system that automatically dampens wave effects to smooth the ride to Fort Jefferson. Most people will not get sick, although you should take precautions if you are prone to motion sickness. There are various remedies sold at local pharmacies and in our galley which can help relieve motion sickness and will make your trip on the Yankee Freedom III more enjoyable.

Are there lockers where I can store my valuables?

There are no lockers on the boat or on the island. This is because no thefts have ever occurred. Additionally, all national park personnel are also police officers.

photo of Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trips

safety

  • Please hold on with one hand at all times when walking about the boat.
  • Life Jackets are available in the main cabin and on the upper sundeck. They are located under the bench seats.
  • Life rafts are located on the pilothouse roof.
  • This vessel is also equipped with life rings on the sundeck portside stairway rail, the main deck port bow and the main deck starboard and port side towards the stern.
  • Should we encounter rough seas please take a seat and stay seated until we are in calmer waters.
  • Kayaking Safety
    Click here for kayaking and safely regulations.

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