The Best Time to Visit Dry Tortugas National Park

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!

Overall Best Time to Visit Dry Tortugas

Rusting lighthouse pictured atop Fort Jefferson during the best time to visit Dry Tortugas National Park with blue skies and warm weather

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

Brick path leading to the beach outside the Fort pictured during the least busy time to visit Dry Tortugas National Park

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

Path over the water with people walking on it pictured during the best time to visit Dry Tortugas national park

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.

These include:

  • 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.

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