The Florida National Park That's Almost Completely Underwater

When one thinks of USA's national parks, images of the red rocks in Utah, white sand dunes of New Mexico, glaciers of Montana, and geysers of Yosemite might pop into mind. However, a state that's lesser known for its national parks and more known for making whacky headlines has one of the most unsuspecting hidden gems in the country: Florida's Dry Tortugas National Park.

What makes Dry Tortugas National Park especially unique is that it's almost completely underwater. Completely secluded and preserved, this national park is only accessible via seaplane or boat, making any visit that much more intimate (and difficult, though by no means impossible). Dry Tortugas National Park is best known for its pristine crystal clear waters, impeccable coral reef system, and the infamous Fort Jefferson, a former US military coastal fortress that is the largest brick masonry structure in the Americas. While there are no hotels within the national park, nearby Key West is a great city to base yourself in if you want to visit this underwater phenomenon.

A completely off-the-grid experience

Dry Tortugas National Park is the epitome of off-the-grid. Because of its remote location, a visit requires some additional planning prior to travel. It is completely inaccessible by car, and the only ways to get there or via boat or seaplane. The most common option for visiting is taking a day tour from nearby Key West.

You'll also want to pack accordingly, and we don't only mean your swimsuit. There are no restaurants, shops, fuel, water, or food in the park, according to the National Park Service. While the Yankee Freedom ferry ride provides meals, the park itself has zero options. It's wise to bring a few snacks, and thanks to Florida's overpowering sun, it's advisable to bring water.

There are also no hotels on the island, though adventurous travelers can opt to camp overnight. If you plan to camp, reservations are not accepted, but you will be guaranteed a camping spot at Garden Key. Plan to use compost toilets (which are closed from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. daily), and bring charcoal so you can take advantage of the gas camping stoves or charcoal briquettes.

Depending on your outlook, best or worst of all, there is absolutely no cell service or Wi-Fi in Dry Tortugas National Park. While it adds to its charm of being completely off-the-grid, this can add a sense of anxiety (or relief) to overall travels. But, hey, who needs to stare at a cell phone when you have waters this blue right under your nose?

Recommended activities for Dry Tortugas National Park

Small in size but packed with a punch of adventure, Dry Tortugas National Park has a wide variety of activities for visitors to partake in. The most common activities are typical aquatic adventures, such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking and paddle-boarding, but the options certainly don't end there. Fishing is also common here, where you can fish in the almost exclusively Gulf of Mexico waters. If you plan to fish on a private boat, a boat permit is required. It's important to note there are no shops in the park to buy gear and spearfishing and lobstering is prohibited.

You'll want to check out Loggerhead Key, the largest island in Dry Tortugas, notably named after the abundant presence of turtles. One of the most famous landmarks of Dry Tortugas National Park is Fort Jefferson. If you want to indulge in a historical experience, it's worth booking a guided tour of Fort Jefferson, but if you're limited on time, you can simply visit. A great way to get a little taste of everything is by booking a ranger-guided tour to take you around the park.