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Dry Tortugas: Florida’s World-Class Islands

Shipwrecks, former famous prisoners, and diverse marine life—the Dry Tortugas National Park has it all! The park is actually a group of seven islands, and the islands and water around it are all part of the protected area. The park draws in visitors with world-class snorkeling opportunities. The water is crystal clear, and the coral reefs attract a wide variety of marine life. Plus, there are also a number of shipwrecks lurking under the water—boats trying to pass through the shipping channel between the gulf and the ocean often wrecked near here, as the reefs and shallow areas formed what was called a “ship trap.”

The land also has a spooky history at Dry Tortugas. Garden Key’s large Fort Jefferson was never completed, and now sits unfinished, but well-preserved. Although the fort was never finished, it used to be a prison facility, thanks to the isolated location of the island. Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who set John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg after Booth assassinated President Lincon, was imprisoned on the island for four years.

Where Is it? In the Florida Keys. Fly to Key West International Airport (check prices), which is about 70 miles to the west, and take a boat.

Where to Stay? You can camp on the island at Garden Key. Bring your own tent and camping supplies, plus a $3 per person fee.

Who’s it For? Historians, snorkelers, ghosts.

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