After all those keys, connected by that convenient road, the nicest islands in the archipelago require a little extra effort. Ponce de León named them Las Tortugas (The Turtles) for the sea turtles that roamed here. A lack of freshwater led sailors to add a ‘dry.’ Today the Dry Tortugas are a national park under the control of the National Park Service and are accessible by boat or plane.
The park is open for day trips and overnight camping, which provides a rare phenomenon: a quiet Florida beach. Reserve months in advance through the Yankee Freedom III, which provides ferry service to the island. The sparkling waters offer excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities. A visitor center is located within fascinating Fort Jefferson.
In March and April, there is stupendous bird-watching, including aerial fighting. Stargazing is mind-blowing any time of the year.