What do people think of this as a paddling destination? Can you put kayaks on the ferry from Key West? Is paddling around the islands interesting and fun? Is it exposed too much? What is the camping experience like? Bird watching?
It is only good for saying “I camped and paddled in the Dry Tortugas”
You would do a lot better by taking off with your yak from the lower Keys and doing day trips to some of the outer keys like the Lower Harbor, The Snipes or Cayo Agua. -No cost, and you do your own thing!
We took the day trip out just to see how it would be for what you want, and after seeing it decided not to.
If you take your kayak out to the Dry tortugas, unless the ferry has changed their rules, they won’t take anything longer then 16 feet.
Once you get there, you set up your tent with a bunch of other people, and have a bunch of tourists gawking at you.
You can circle the perimeter of the Key which will take you a half a day going slow, and then there are a couple of other samll Keys which you can’t land on.
The fort is a very interesting take in, but you would save a lot by leaving the kayak behind and just taking the day trip out and back on the ferry.
And all of this would have to be coordinated with the weather, (as you well know about the weekly winter cold fronts that sweep through the Keys)
The snorkling there is not much different than from along the rip rap at Bahia Honda.
Hope this helps a bit.
If you are interested in some off shore Key paddles, let me know, I can send you a bunch of good ones, or if you are thinking of next winter, you could possible catch up with us.
We already have three months all booked down there.
On the birds: it is a hit or miss thing.
One year the Magnificent Friggit Birds will have their rookery on one key and the next year they will move to another.
We can almost always count on finding a rookery of one species or another, and some awesome remote sandy beaches.
not in complete agreement
We talked the ferry guys into allowing our full length kayaks on the ferry. We avoided the gawking tourists by paddling to adjoining keys and around. When the tourists left at 3 the place becomes quiet and remote…and very relaxing. We spent 3 days (2 nights) there and would do it agaon. But do not miss the great paddling opportunities in the keys just north of Key West along the highway. Calm, clear, shallow seas and sandy beaches with no footprints.
Dont forget your camera for some great shots of the fort.
Shark fishing with a hand line from the ferry dock at nights was also a high point.
Bring lots of water and make a charcoal Hobo stove for cooking.
Thanks for the info
We are not sure about our plans yet for next winter, which is why I have been checking out possibilities. We have a camping trailer now – an Aliner pop up – which is light enough to be pulled by our Outback and low enough that we can put our QCCs on the car.