It’s rare these days that Steve and I both have a new experience, but that’s just what happened on our trip to Key West. Neither of us had ever flown on a seaplane… until we did it last week! If you’re considering taking the seaplane to Dry Tortugas National Park (or anywhere), this guide will help you know what to expect!
Key West Seaplane Adventures is the only airline that flies to Dry Tortugas National Park, so there’s no need to shop around. Booking was easy to do on their website, or if you prefer, you can call to make your reservation. The woman who helped us was also very kind to answer all of our questions, too.
The half-day tour is $361, with 2.5 hours on the island. This was plenty of time for us, and because we went on the first flight of the day, we had a couple of hours practically to ourselves before the ferry arrived.
The full-day tour is $634. That’s an 8-hour excursion, with 6.5 hours on the island where you can explore the fort or go snorkeling.
*Prices do not include the cash-only $15 park entrance fee.
Related: What to Expect on a Tiny Plane
Along with transportation to the Dry Tortugas, you’re also getting one of the most beautiful scenic flights you’ll ever take! You’ll see sunken ships, sea life, shifting sands, and Fort Jefferson from the air!
Snorkeling gear is included in the price of your reservation. You’ll get a snorkel, mask, fins, and a vest. Towels, reef-safe sunscreen, long- and short-sleeve moisture-wicking shirts, and hats are all available for purchase if you forgot any of those things.
Bottled water and soft drinks are also included in the price of your flight. You can bring your own water because there is no TSA security, but you won’t need it. They also provide a cooler with ice to keep it cold.
More here: The Best Snacks for the Flight
The day of your flight, you’ll need to arrive at the General Aviation section of the airport and check in at the Key West Seaplane Adventures office half an hour before your flight. Our Uber driver knew just where to drop us off, but if you’re driving, you can actually park for FREE!
You’ll sign a waiver and get your snorkel gear when you check in. All you need to know is your shoe size. And if you have a small face like me, child-size masks are also available!
We were also kindly given a map of Garden Key, where Fort Jefferson and the good snorkel spots are located. Here’s ours all marked up with where to go! You’ll also be directed to an informational video about the flight, snorkeling, and the fort.
Coming soon: Which is Right for You? Ferry vs. Seaplane
Inside the Seaplane
The seaplane is a DHC-3 DeHavilland Turbine Otter Amphibian aircraft, which you can read more about on their website. It has both floats and wheels, so it can take off and land on either land or water! The plane can accommodate 10 people, plus the pilot, and it was actually much more spacious than I thought it would be.
Each seat is a window seat and has its own headset so you can listen to music and a narrated recording, as well as the pilot. John was our pilot, and he was great about pointing out things to see.
Read on: Travel Splurges Worth the Cost
The Scenic Flight
I’ve taken a few scenic flights in my travels, so trust me when I say this was one of the most beautiful. The water is just so clear and blue, and the sand is so white and bright, you can see clearly to the bottom. It’s also relatively shallow the whole 70 miles from Key West to the Dry Tortugas. That means the shipwrecks along the flight path are also quite visible, and there is even a mast sticking up out of the water!
Shipwrecks aside, you’re sure to see one or more form of sea life. Sharks, rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and more are all swimming around down there, so be on the lookout! You will be able to sit on the same side on the way back as you did on the way out, so you will be able to view all the scenery.
Here are the best tips I have for you so you can have a great trip! Make no mistake, #3 is the most important.
- Eat before you leave, and bring snacks for the half-day trip.
- Eat breakfast before you leave, and bring a sack lunch with you for the full-day trip.
- The best place to watch the seaplane take off and land is the helipad by the restrooms. I missed this, but next time I won’t!
Read next: What to Know Before You Visit Key West
Have you flown in a seaplane before? Comment below to tell us about your experience!
Love this post? Pin it for later!