Tuesday, October 10, 2017 : From Key West to Miami


We are not quite ready to leave Key West.

 

This morning, we wake up with the sudden, hence totally unplanned, idea to go out to Dry Tortugas National Park, a park located about 70 miles west of Key West, mostly made up of Fort Jefferson Island and a natural sanctuary dedicated to the reproduction of sea turtles. Quite predictably, the sanctuary is not open for visits. On the other hand, however, the fort and the island are accessible either with the ferry of with a seaplane. We choose the seaplane, which flies from Key West International Airport.

 

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Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park

 

We are lucky to be here in the low season, and we easily find seats on the next flight. The flight lasts 45 minutes and allows us to fly over very shallow waters, totally transparent, where the few boats look like hanging free. The sea landing is extraordinary smooth.

 

We begin with a visit of the fort, rich with history. Construction began in 1846, was immediately plagued by many incidents and delays, and was never fully completed. After the invention of battleships and long-range cannons, the fort had actually lost all strategic interest. Since it was never really used in conflict, it is in relatively good condition.

 

The island on which the fort is built is surrounded with shoals, and shipwrecks are frequent. There have been more than 200 since the 16th century. Quite predictably, the area is a heaven for divers and wreck hunters.

 

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One of the beaches at Fort Jefferson

 

After visiting the fort, we still have ample time for a swim on one of the beaches around the island. The nicest one is just outside the fort. After some searching, using finns and snorkeling gear supplied by the organizer, we can see many species of fish. In fact, a whole ecosystem lives right under our eyes. It is beautiful.

 

We take the seaplane again to Key West, and then drive to Miami, once again on Florida Keys Highway and its multiple bridges. We make it to Surfside, a quite wealthy northern suburb of Miami, long after dark.

 

Were it only for the sake of visiting Fort Jefferson, staying a few more hours in Key West really was worthwhile.