Located nearly 70 miles of Key West, Dry Tortugas are a group of seven islands composed of sand and coral reefs.
Discovered and named by Ponce de Leon in 1513 afer he caught some 160 sea turtles there (tortugas means turtles in Spanish), Dry Tortugas is said to have been a refuge for pirates and their plundered riches. In the early 1800’s plans for buidling a massive military fortress called Fort Jefferson on the islands began. The fortress was never finished, but its structure remains a central feature of the islands. It is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere and contains at least 16 million bricks. Today, Dry Tortugas remains a refuge for bird and marine life. Only about 60,000 people visit the park each year. Its remote location makes it accessible only by sea plane or boat.