Safety

Two safety signs on the beach

Be safe - It's a Long Way to the Hospital

The Dry Tortugas National Park has much to offer! To reach this remote ocean wilderness one must travel by boat or plane over 68 miles of open sea.

  • Visiting such an isolated place means that you need to be prepared, not only for rough seas, but for primitive conditions.
  • There are no public phones, restrooms or snack bars.
  • Make sure you bring anything that you may need, such as protective clothing, sunscreen, or medication (especially for motion sickness). You will not be able to purchase these items in the park.
 

Important Safety Tips

If you have any questions, please talk to a Park Ranger before enjoying the park's resources.

  • A designated snorkel area is located near the campground. Snorkeling along the outside of the moat wall or around the pilings of the south coaling dock is recommended.

  • Before snorkeling, make sure that all equipment fits properly. There are no guards on duty, so swim at your own risk. No swimming or snorkeling is permitted inside the moat.

  • An approved dive flag must be displayed at all times when snorkeling outside of the designated snorkel area.

  • For your safety never snorkel alone - always use the “buddy system”

  • If you need to stand up, stand on the sand. Never stand on coral or seagrass, as standing can kill these valuable resources.

  • Shipwrecks and all historic artifacts are protected by law.

  • Do not disturb coral or shells. All coral, living and dead, is protected from collection.

Plan Ahead:
Kayakers must be able to self rescue and re-enter their kayaks. If you are unable to re-enter your boat you must be able to immediately call for help. If you call for help you must know or be able to describe your location. You must have a way to signal a searcher. Signals must be visible at night, in daylight, from a plane, or a boat.

Questions to Ask BEFORE Kayaking/Canoeing:

  • Have you left your trip plans with a fellow camper?
  • Do you have a VHF radio?
  • What is your plan for self rescue?
  • How will you call for help if you need it?
  • How will you identify your location if you are able to contact searchers?
  • How will you signal searchers?
  • Do you have an anchor or sufficient line to tie off to buoys or markers to minimize drift?
  • Is the weather forecast for winds less than 10 mph and calm seas for the duration of the open water kayak trip?
  • What are the tides and currents?
  • Are they favorable for your planned trip?
  • Does everyone in your group have open water kayak experience?
  • Are the kayaks sit-on-top self bailing kayaks?
  • Are the kayaks brightly colored?
  • Are you aware of landing areas and swim areas on Loggerhead Key?

Questions? Talk to a Park Ranger on the island before heading out.

Wildlife at Dry Tortugas National Park is plentiful! Birders as well as marine life enthusiasts will not be disappointed at the park. It is important to remember that all wildlife is protected and wild. Never approach, touch, or collect any wildlife during your visit.

Remember:

Dry Tortugas Has Two Seasons
The Dry Tortugas experiences essentially two seasons; winter and summer. Regardless of the time of year you choose to visit the park, it is highly stressed that you be informed of the weather. This is especially true for those traveling to the park in their own vessels.

  • To see the National Weather Service offshore forecast for the area of the Dry Tortugas, click here.
  • For current weather observations as reported by the Park Service weather station located on Fort Jefferson, click here

Heat at Dry Tortugas
For visitors traveling from cooler climates, the heat and humidity at Dry Tortugas can be much more than they used to. Be sure to arrive prepared with sun protection including breathable clothing, sunscreen, and a hat.

Learn more about weather at the park here.

Last updated: May 11, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

40001 SR-9336
Homestead , FL 33034

Phone:

305 242-7700

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