Boat permits are required for all vessels entering in the park before any recreational activity. Even if you are not planning on visiting Fort Jefferson, a boat permit must be filed on Garden Key. Boating permits apply to all recreational vessels including kayaks and dinghies, vessels operating under a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA), and commercial fishing vessels. The only vessels exempt from this rule are those transiting the area without interruption.
Vessels must anchor within 1 nautical mile of Garden Key on sandy bottom in the Historic Use Area (HUA).
The mooring is designed to hold up to a 100 foot recreational vessel. You are responsible for your vessel, inspecting the buoy, and checking that the buoy is holding as intended. Report any problems to NPS staff. It is intended to be used when weather and sea conditions are appropriate for the intended recreational use such as diving or snorkeling. It is not intended for use in all weather and sea conditions nor as a long term mooring.
Additional dive and snorkel sites can be found around the park that do not have mooring balls. Please consult with a Ranger for more information.
How to Obtain A Boat Permit
Boat Permits are FREE and can be obtained in person at the Garden Key Visitor Center or Park Headquarters Office. Visitors will also receive information regarding the Research Natural Area as well as park rules and regulations.
If you are boating in the park and have questions, park staff monitors VHF Radio Channel 16.
Click here for a copy of the Boat Permits and Mooring Balls brochure.
Last updated: April 11, 2016