Recent Experience Snorkeling the Dry Tortugas?

By Melissa

I am wondering if anyone has recent experience snorkeling the Dry Tortugas? I will be in the Florida Keys to snorkel in October 2024. Has anyone been to the Dry Tortugas in the last year or so? I read about the coral bleaching that has affected the Keys area. I’m trying to decide if I should plan to go to the Dry Tortugas on this trip or if I should maybe wait and go later.

Due to the cost and time involved I want to get all the information I can to make a decision. I have read reviews of people who have done the trip, but I have no idea if they do a lot of snorkeling or not, so I’m coming to the experts!

Here’s some information about my group. We all have our own gear and have snorkeled around the world. We have 3.5 days to snorkel. We will be staying in Marathon (Middle Keys). If we don’t go to the Dry Tortugas, we will take a boat tour(s) from the Keys that day instead.

Is snorkeling there far superior to that along the Keys? Is there more or different aquatic life? Is October a good time to visit or is there a better time of year? I know this is a very subjective question, but is the snorkeling there and/or the experience worth the cost, or would renting a private boat for the day around the Keys be better?

Suggestions and opinions are greatly appreciated. Thanks.


  1. Would you go on the Yankee Freedom as a day trip and snorkel around Fort Jefferson? It’s a fun trip but I don’t know if by October they’ll be finished with construction— currently one beach is closed, making the other side really crowded.

  2. My wife and I also took the Yankee Freedom for a day trip June 9, 2024. It leaves you a total of four hours at Fort Jefferson. We loved it though we were only able to snorkel for two hours. Walking back to the boat we spoke to two people who were camped out on the island for several days. When we were planning this trip nine months earlier I tried to talk my wife into camping out one night and she didn’t want to. On the ride back to Key West she confessed that she wishes we had camped out overnight at Dry Tortugas.

    P.S. In the past we also bought the cheapest snorkeling equipment we could find. This time we got gear recommended by Tropical Snorkeling and it made all the difference. Decent equipment can be had for reasonable price.

  3. I’ve been numerous times, though not recently. The best time is late Spring, when the water gets warm. In October, which is still in hurricane season, it could be hit or miss.

    If you take the ferry, you get to spend a good amount of time and will be able to snorkel all the areas. The best are the coral heads, off the main beach.

    The snorkeling there, when it’s good, is some of the best snorkeling from the beach. But it is a full day thing. You’d have to drive to Key West in the dark. And make reservations ASAP.

    There is very good snorkeling much closer to Marathon, at Looe Key, which many boats in the Big Pine area can go to. The other reefs in the area are all good, though many have lost a lot of coral. There are plenty of boats all over, going to all the different reefs.

  4. I don’t have recent experience, but if you do go, I recall the old coaling station area was fun, for fish, not coral. We saw baby squid there, so seems to be a nursery for young fish.

  5. I did the Dry Tortugas in April. We took a seaplane there which was amazing! One side of the beach was closed and unfortunately the other side was too rough to do any snorkeling. Still, we enjoyed walking around the fort and the seaplane ride over made our day. Just check weather conditions – if very windy, snorkeling will be difficult.


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