One of the most interesting national parks in the United States sits just 68 miles off the coast of Key West, Florida. Dry Tortugas National Park is a protected area in the Gulf of Mexico.
It has a historic military fort and has some of the clearest water in the Gulf. It’s filled to the brim with wildlife, marine life, and historical significance.
It’s a popular destination for those who love being outdoors or want to cross another national park off their must-see list. If Dry Tortugas is on your travel bucket list, you need to plan your trip.
Since it sits right at the Florida Current and Gulf Stream meeting point, weather plays a huge role in when you should or shouldn’t visit the park.
But don’t worry — our travel experts have done the hard work for you and will show you the best, least busy, cheapest, and worst times to visit below. Let us be your guide!
Why You Should Visit Dry Tortugas
There are so many reasons why you should consider visiting Dry Tortugas at some point in your life. This diverse ecosystem is a beautiful site to see and offers something fun to do for almost everyone.
Some of the most popular things to do while visiting Dry Tortugas include the following:
- Going snorkeling or scuba diving
- Going kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding
- Camping on Garden Key
- Bird watching for over 200 species of birds
- Touring Fort Jefferson
- Looking for wildlife like manatees, sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, and fish
- Beachcombing for shells and other treasures
Overall Best Time to Visit Dry Tortugas
The best time to visit Dry Tortugas National Park will depend on your preferences, but most people agree that December to May offers the best weather for exploring the area.
South Florida gets extremely hot and humid in the summer months, so visiting in the winter through spring will provide you with some of the most comfortable weather.
Florida’s weather during these months is much cooler than average but still very comfortable for most people.
To give you an idea of how comfortable the weather is, here are the average high and low temperatures from December through May:
- December: High of 76 F and a low of 67 F
- January: High of 74 F and a low of 65 F
- February: High of 76 F and a low of 65 F
- March: High of 78 F and a low of 67 F
- April: High of 83 F and a low of 71 F
- May: High of 86 F and a low of 74 F
The humidity during these months is also much lower, so you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience. December through May tends to be one of the driest times of the year in Dry Tortugas, so rain and harsh weather shouldn’t affect your time here.
The one thing to note about this time is that it’s peak tourist season for Dry Tortugas, so you’ll likely have more crowds and potentially higher prices.
Snorkeling and diving are prevalent during this time too, but the absolute best time to visit for water activities is May through September since that’s when the water is the warmest.
Cheapest Time to Visit Dry Tortugas
The trip to Dry Tortugas can be costly, depending on where you’re traveling from and the time of year. If you want to experience the beauty of Dry Tortugas but want to save some money, you can visit during the cheapest time!
Like most vacation spots, the cheapest time to visit this national park is generally during the off-season. The off-season runs from June through November.
Since fewer people visit the park during these months, you can find accommodations in Key West for cheaper tours and other more affordable rates for the trip. Depending on where you’re traveling from, it might be even more expensive during this time for you.
For example, if you experience cold weather during these months, prices for flights out of your country may increase. It’s best to do your research on flight prices, accommodation prices, and more before making your decision.
Least Busy Time to Visit Dry Tortugas
If you hate large crowds and want more of the park to yourself, visiting Dry Tortugas between June and November is your best bet. These months tend to be the least busy but most affordable times to visit.
Temperatures rise dramatically during this time in Florida, which can be unbearable for some people, which is why many people visit in the high season.
Most people don’t want to deal with the excessive heat and high humidity levels during this time, but if you are okay with it, then more power to you. Another reason you’ll see fewer crowds during this time is that it’s hurricane season.
Tropical systems strike this region from June through November. While they’re predictable, if you don’t want to risk a hurricane or tropical storm ruining your plans, you might want to skip June through November when planning your trip.
Worst Time to Visit Dry Tortugas
We can’t discuss the best time to visit Dry Tortugas without covering the worst time. The most affordable, least crowded, and worst times to visit are all the same, from June through November.
We’ve already touched on the fact that this is hurricane season and that the temperatures get very hot, but how hot do they get?
Here’s a look at the average highs and lows in Dry Tortugas from June through November:
- June: High of 90 F and a low of 77 F
- July: High of 91 F and a low of 78 F
- August: High of 92 F and a low of 79 F
- September: High of 90 F and a low of 77 F
- October: High of 85 F and a low of 75 F
- November: High of 79 F and a low of 70 F
October and November have comfortable temperatures, but peak hurricane season tends to last through November, so it’s still not a great time to visit.
The last thing you want to do is be stuck in Florida with a hurricane coming or have your trip completely canceled due to one, so if that’s a worry for you, it’s best to skip these months.
Even without hurricanes, June through November is the rainy season in Dry Tortugas and Florida. However, June through November can be a decent time to visit, thanks to being the cheapest.
Plus, this is the time to visit if you prefer hot weather. This season is also the best time to visit if you want to see sea turtles nesting.
Things to Consider
Dry Tortugas attracts almost 80,000 people a year, so it’s not surprising you want to see what all the hype is about. Since Dry Tortugas is a National Park and located over 60 miles from the mainland, there are several things you’ll want to think about before you visit.
- How you’ll get there: The only way to get to Dry Tortugas is by boat, ferry, or seaplane. You’ll need to decide how you’ll get there in advance to ensure you can get a seat on the boat, ferry, or seaplane.
- The weather: Since the park is in the subtropics, sudden weather changes are common. You need to plan for strong winds, thunderstorms, and rough waters.
- The cost: You’ll need to factor in the price of transportation to the park, but there is also a park entry fee. You can find up-to-date information on fees on Dry Tortugas’ website.
- Food and water: You must bring any food and water you want because there are no shops or restaurants in the park. Remember to pack extra water, especially during the hotter seasons.
- Accommodations: You cannot stay at the park overnight unless you get a permit to camp at Garden Key. If you secure a permit, you must bring everything you’ll need, including tents, sleeping bags, food, and more.
- Protect natural resources: You need to respect the park’s ecosystem and historical fort. Stay on the paths, don’t litter, and follow all guidelines in place to keep the park pristine.
- Bring maps: If you’re looking for specific places within the park, print out maps to ensure you don’t get lost.
- There are no medical facilities: You’ll want to be extra cautious not to get hurt while you’re here. There aren’t any medical facilities, so be careful and bring all medications you might need during your trip. Don’t forget sunscreen to help keep your skin protected.
Frequently Asked Questions
As one of the least visited National Parks, it’s normal to have questions about visiting this incredible place. Here’s what other avid travelers are wondering about visiting Dry Tortugas National Park.
Are the Dry Tortugas worth visiting?
Absolutely! If you love National Parks, the ocean, and fascinating ecosystems, you’ll probably think visiting Dry Tortugas is 100% worth it. The stunning scenery and intriguing history also add to the park’s charm.
How far in advance do I need to book a trip to Dry Tortugas?
You should book your trip to Dry Tortugas at least a month before when you want to go. This rule of thumb is especially true if you plan on going on weekends during the peak tourist season.
Trips to the National Park via ferry tend to sell out quickly, so booking as far out as possible will ensure you visit this stunning park.
How long is the boat ride from Key West to Dry Tortugas usually?
From Key West to Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas, it should take you a little over two hours and then two hours back. This travel time can vary depending on weather and ocean conditions, though.
Is the ferry ride to Dry Tortugas rough?
The waters tend to be pretty calm, but the ocean is a powerful force, and things can change quickly. There are times when you’ll have choppier waters, so if you get motion sickness or are seasick easily, it’s best to pack motion sickness medicine.
Are there crocodiles at Dry Tortugas?
Typically, there aren’t any crocodiles at Dry Tortugas. Notably, there is one American crocodile that’s made Dry Tortugas home for about 14 years.
You can usually find this creature near Bush Key and Garden Key. For the most part, crocodiles aren’t something you should have to worry about when visiting the park.
So, When Should You Visit Dry Tortugas National Park?
Dry Tortugas National Park should be on every nature lover’s bucket list. This unique National Park off the coast of Florida makes for a great trip, whether traveling with friends, family, or solo. The best time to plan a visit is from December to May.
The average high and low temperatures are far more comfortable than the summer months, and you’ll have some of the best, clear skies weather during this time. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to see the park’s beauty for yourself today!