There are several island groups that are part of Florida Keys and an important tourist destination of all those island groups is Dry Tortugas. Geographically, Dry Tortugas is located in the Gulf of Mexico, at the far end of Florida Keys. It is roughly about sixty five miles from Key West. Given the proximity to Key West, if you are visiting Key West and want to go even further away from civilization, then Dry Tortugas is the island group to stay in.
Dry Tortugas, as you can tell from the name, was originally a Spanish settlement. Way back in the year 1513, the group of islands were discovered by a group of Spanish explorers headed by Ponce de León. Ponce de León is the person who called these islands Dry Tortugas because of two reasons. Tortugas means turtles in Spanish and they found a lot of turtles here. The dry part comes from the fact that there is no fresh water source on the island itself. Hence the name Dry Tortugas as in a place with turtles and no drinking water.
There are a total of seven islets that are part of Dry Tortugas. The seven islets are Loggerhead Key, Garden Key, Bush Key, Long Key, Hospital Key, Middle Key and East Key. Of these seven keys, the three most important keys are Bush, Garden and Loggerhead and they together constitute much of the land area of the island. In fact the remaining three are extremely small in their overall land area. For instance East key has a total area of about sixteen thousand square meters and is only two meters high. Middle key is at such a low level, depending on the season, it may not be visible for months together.
The disappearing and reappearing island is such a common phenomenon in Dry Tortugas that some islands which were previously meant to have existed are no completely under water. Bird Key was last spotted above waters in the year 1935 but has since gone underwater. Another key is the Southwest key which submerged in the year 1875 and is not visible above water now.
Travelling to these beautiful islands is only possible by water and air based transport. Most folks who visit this place do so on a boat from the nearest location, Key West. Others go on a plane. A place of interest other than the amazing scenery is the Dry Tortugas National Park which houses a large seabird colony, making this place the best place to watch birds.