We could not leave Key West without visiting the Dry Tortugas island , which is about 110 km distant and easily reachable by a regular catamaran ferry service.
The Island was discovered by the Spanish seafarer Ponce the Leon in early 17th century who named it “Tortugas” because at that time so many were the amphibious reptiles found in the island
Fort Jefferson , one of the largest fortifications in the Caribbean, was built in the island in the 19th century by the American government to protect the South-eastern Gulf of Mexico trade route from the threat of piracy.
The fort was detention center during the American Civil War for Union Army deserters and civilian convicts.
The bastion was also the prison lodging for Dr. Samuel Mudd accused of conspiracy in the plot to assassinate President Lincoln.
The name Dry Tortugas comes from a warning in the seafarer maps that there was no potable water in the island that nowadays is a paradisiacal tourist destination in Key West area.
The island is distant only 170 km from Cuba and has been, for more than sixty years, the destination of desperate Cuban refugees , using the most fragile sea crafts that trying to reach American soil .
Hence the display of those improvised escape vessels from Havana’s communist regime has become an additional attraction for camera enthusiastic visitors.
But the main attractions of Dry Tortugas besides its historic attribute are the unspoiled beaches, incredibly clear sea and magic snorkelling opportunities of sea life and shipwrecks, which we enjoyed fully.
On the return trip we met unexpected choppy waves, which was a “fair price” for the wonderful experience of visiting Dry Tortugas island.