Florida's 3 National Parks - Travel Squad Podcast

Florida’s 3 National Parks

We’re taking you on an adventure through the three wild and beautiful Florida national parks. Boat rides with alligators, snorkeling with sea turtles, diving and swimming in the ocean are all things you can do at the national parks in Florida.

Florida’s three national parks are all within driving distance of each other so you can check all three of your list in one long weekend trip. All three have sights to see and you won’t want to miss any of them!

3 National Parks in Florida

  1. Dry Tortugas
  2. Everglades
  3. Biscayne

3 Unique National Parks in Florida – Episode Transcript

1 (37s):
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Travel Squad podcast. Today, we are giving you a breakdown of Florida S three national parks.

4 (1m 3s):
Yeah, and Florida is three national parks include the famous Everglades, National Park, Biscayne, National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park.

2 (1m 13s):
The Everglades and Biscayne are both in the Miami area. So they’re super close to a major Florida destination and Dry Tortugas is a little bit more difficult to get to not impossible. It’s just a little bit further south in the Florida keys.

3 (1m 28s):
I live in Miami. I talk about it all the time. I want to live there one day. I’ve actually never been to any of these parks. So I’m super excited to hear all about them. In fact, the last time I was in Miami, back in November, I was trying to get to Everglades National Park, but there’s something up with, you can get an Uber there, but you can’t get it back. We didn’t have a rental car, so it didn’t end up working out, unfortunately, but I’m super excited to hear about it right now, which is why our very first park we’re going to talk about by my request is Everglades

2 (1m 56s):
Kim buckle up because you’re about to experience Everglades,

1 (2m 1s):
Wait, Everglades National Park lives up to the swampy crocodile filled landscape that Florida is known for. And it’s actually the third largest park in the contiguous United States. And it is super, super easy to get to from Miami. It’s only about an hour west of Miami and only about an hour and a half Southwest of Fort Lauderdale. So super accessible.

4 (2m 27s):
It’s so crazy how close it is to Miami. Given the fact what Brittany just said, third largest park in the contiguous United States. Interestingly enough, it is actually the largest tropical wilderness in the United States. And on top of that, it’s the largest wilderness of any kind that’s east of the Mississippi. So any place wild that you could think of, nothing is bigger in terms of sheer wilderness than Everglades east of the Mississippi.

3 (2m 54s):
So I know that I messed up by not coordinating properly, to be able to get to see this national park. But while I was there, I learned something. So a squad tip for everyone, that’s visiting Miami. There are tourists kiosk and tourists, little offices around Miami that sell day trips to the Everglades. So it comes with your ride there and back and your ticket in it out.

1 (3m 15s):
That’s a great tip Kim. So going to the Everglades, we all know how Florida is, whether it’s super hot, super humid, you can go to the Everglades during any season, except for, I wouldn’t recommend going during hurricane season. That’s a, one-time a year, I would say, probably hold off and not go to the Everglades.

2 (3m 31s):
So I just really quickly want to tell a story about Florida and the humidity. Because I remember years ago, I was living in Beirut Lebanon, which is right on the Mediterranean. And it was a terrible summer in terms of weather. And what I mean by that it was 104 degrees, 105 degrees every single day, with 80 to 90% tile humidity, it was hot. And I had a friend who lived there, who was from Florida. And I showed up at her house one day in tears because it was so hot and I was soaking wet from the humidity. And I just burst into tears saying, this is miserable. And she said, yeah, this is bad, but it’s worse in Florida. And she just put this terrible, terrible idea of Florida in my head.

2 (4m 16s):
But now when I went to Everglades, it was in January and it was not as bad as I was expecting.

4 (4m 21s):
Well, that’s because you went in January, but not to discourage anybody point being, I’m sure you understood Florida is humid, but that shouldn’t detract you from wanting to go to Everglades. And just so you are aware, most of Everglades isn’t even really on land. There’s very few portions of the park that is actual land. Most of it is swamp or saw grass that’s coming out in the wetland area. So only a little bit of the location. Can you actually get to a area to park and do stuff around and otherwise you have to be on a boat

1 (4m 54s):
Fact. Most of it is on the water. And so for the longest time, the national park system was not charging an entrance fee into this national park. But I would say within the last year or two, they’ve actually made it mandatory that you have to pay $30 to go into the national park now. And the $30 is valid for a seven day permit to enter.

4 (5m 15s):
So if you have your own boat and you are going to be doing it yourself, you need to have an entrance fee to the national park. Otherwise, if you’re going to do some of the activities where you get on a boat, but you don’t have it, you don’t have to pay that fee because the fee that you paid to do your guided tours, which we’ll talk about, include that entrance to the national park

2 (5m 33s):
Question for you. We usually get the national park pass. Is that included in

1 (5m 38s):
Yes, you can use that national park pass to enter this national park. So as Jamal said, most of the park is on the swamp. And so I thought, what a way to better go to this national park and experience it then on an air boat, I’ve always seen

3 (5m 53s):
Like so cool

1 (5m 54s):
Videos with the airboats in it. And I was like, I want to ride one of those. So that’s what I did. I booked us an air boat tour. Why don’t you tell us about it, Jamal?

4 (6m 3s):
I mean, this was just straight, pure, exhilarating to do. I loved it so much. I mean, whenever you see Florida, or even for that matter, the buyers of Louisiana, which is another swamp plant area, what do they have? They have the air boats and they’re the big, giant boats that are super flat and it can’t even have their propellers in the water because it’s so swampy. So it has the big giant fan that gives you the propulsion and the push and it just glides on the water. And it’s so awesome. You see all the amazing scenery, the wind in your hair. I love it. But to go back to what you were saying, Zayna when you were mentioning the national park pass and does that count for the entrance fee?

4 (6m 44s):
If you actually book a guided tour with most of the companies down there, if you show them your national park pass, you get a discount. Because again, like I said earlier, they do charge you an entrance fee within that ticket. So if you show it to them, then they charge you less for it. So that’s one thing to keep in mind.

1 (7m 3s):
Yeah. So the company that we used and I really love them. So I’ll recommend them was called Everglades, safari park. And it’s open every single day between like nine and 6:00 PM. And if you buy your tickets online, you can save like $3 per ticket. And then if you show them your national park pass, you can also save an additional $3 per ticket. And the ticket itself is only like $28 for the ride. So you can save a lot of money by booking online and already having your national park pass.

4 (7m 30s):
Yeah. And this company was really cool too, because beyond just the airboat ride, they do have a wildlife nature show that they have at the end of it. They’re going to go over the differences between crocodiles and alligators because Everglades National Park has both. And another unique fact about Everglades. It’s the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators live together, no other place will you find that everywhere else is either just crocodiles or just alligators? Florida here at Everglades is both. So another unique thing, and they go over the differences between them and you really do learn a lot

1 (8m 6s):
And the airboat is good for all ages. And it’s also good if you’re prone to motion sickness, because you don’t get motion sick on this boat. At least I didn’t. And I’m very prone to motion sickness. Jamal’s mom. She went on this trip with us too. It was a family trip. We just did like a little side day before we left out of like Fort Lauderdale area on a cruise. And Jamal’s mom, she’s like, she was almost 70. At this point, she had a hoot of a time on the airboat.

2 (8m 33s):
Couldn’t wipe the smile off of her face. She was so excited. She had so much fun. Like it really is exhilarating. And like Jamal said, and they will give you your plugs because it is going to be loud. And then squad tip is, wear your hair up or like in a ponytail or something because I wore my hair down. And let me tell you, your hair is going to be blowing everywhere and you want to pay attention to what you’re seeing, because you’re going to see a lot of Crocs out there.

4 (9m 1s):
Yeah. So like printing was saying it’s really, really smooth. It has the excitement and the thrill of a rollercoaster without the jerkiness. Like I was saying earlier, you really do just glide on top of the water and they do sharp turns without it really feeling sharp. It’s just such an amazing experience, but they also will at some points, turn off the boat, go over what it is that you’re seeing. Talk about the landscape, talk about the animals. We saw so many crocodiles, alligators, different wild birds, and it’s just really unique to be out there. But that’s really mostly what you can do. Most people that are going to be visiting Florida, unless you live there, you don’t have your own boat.

4 (9m 41s):
So this is truly the only way to see the Everglades. Since most of it’s on the water at the one area that we are familiar with, where it is part of the park on land, they do have a bike trail, but that’s pretty much the gist of it. Most of it is to be seen on the water.

1 (9m 57s):
So I would highly recommend the air boat tours, but there’s so much more that you can do. If you’re visiting Everglades, you can vote, you can kayak, you can canoe. I was a little afraid to do like some kayaking and canoeing. Like I was like, what would happen if we came across a crocodile or alligator, or if we fell in the water, I wasn’t really ready to risk my life at a national park, which is why we chose the airboat. But those are some options.

4 (10m 23s):
Well, I just want to say going back to our big bear episode, when we talked about kayaking and canoeing, Brittany and I kicked ass when we were doing that, Brittany and I are very strong kayakers and canoers. And I agree with Brittany, I’m a little timid that a crock may come and somehow push my boat over and, or a kayak over I’m going to fall in, but based on yours and Zena’s performance cam, when you guys were at big bear, if you guys were to do it together, I don’t know if you guys would have survived. I think you guys may have been eaten by a crock out there or something.

2 (10m 53s):
Okay. One I drank before we went in those communities. So that’s not fair.

3 (10m 59s):
Do you remember the Riptide in the air?

4 (11m 2s):
No, I don’t. I think that’s an excuse,

2 (11m 4s):
Whatever, whatever. We also had, the weight of Emma, Kim’s beautiful dog in

1 (11m 10s):
The seven pound dog.

3 (11m 11s):
She’s 12. So you know how your Yellowstone and grand Tetons are known for bear attacks and vice and attacks. And you hear about them in the news is croc attacks or alligator attacks, a common thing you hear about in the news about the Everglades.

4 (11m 26s):
You know, I haven’t really heard anything about that. I only know the stereotype that the Everglades is a good place to go to dump a body because the Crocs I’ve learned that from stereotypes. And I used to watch the show Dexter. He did that all the time. Guys. I promise you, I’m not a closet serial killer, go into the Everglades, but I have not heard of that. I’m sure people have and been stupid, but I’m sure more people are attacked by bears and alligators and Crocs and Everglades.

1 (11m 57s):
So some other things you can do in the park, our bike, they have lots of biking trails, a birdwatching bird viewing people are into that. I haven’t gotten into that, but you know, if that’s your thing, go do it. There are lots of wild birds out there. You can also camp again. I probably wouldn’t camped in this park because I’m afraid of the crocodiles. What if I have to pee in the middle of the night and a crock comes up on me and

2 (12m 18s):
Snatches you

3 (12m 20s):
Right in the booty

2 (12m 21s):
Snatching.

1 (12m 23s):
But if you’re spending like a week in Florida, there’s no reason why you can’t do Everglades Biscayne and Dry Tortugas national parks all in the same trip. And that actually leads us into our next national park Biscayne National park

2 (12m 37s):
Biscayne.

4 (12m 38s):
So Brittany and I are the only ones who have been to Biscayne because all the times that Kim’s going to Miami, she’s being a bougie little B and living it up and not enjoying nature, the national parks like she should, because she doesn’t have The Squad to motivate her on that one. But Zana, you haven’t been either. Cause we only did Everglades as the family when we went on the cruise. So Brittany and I went on a specific vacation to finish up the two remaining national parks that we had and Biscayne is about an hour, hour and a half drive south of Miami. So really close, close to the Everglades region. And another unique thing about it, it’s pretty much all out in the water. So very few spots that you can get to on land and Biscayne is really to preserve the coral reef structure, the manatees that they have in the area and the beautiful Florida waters that they have along the coast.

1 (13m 32s):
Yes. Biscayne protects a rare combination of Aqua Marine water. So beautiful, beautiful crystal clear waters, Emeril, islands, and fish Bejeweled, coral reefs. So when Jamal and I went, we actually went snorkeling at Biscayne because like Jamal said, most of the park is water. 95% of it is truly water.

3 (13m 55s):
Interesting. And how was the snorkeling?

1 (13m 57s):
The snorkeling was good. My only complaint about the snorkeling, like we saw lots of fish, but there were a lot of tiny baby jellyfish that would just give you like these little zingers and you were screaming. Yeah. And then we’re like, oh my God, like, are we going to get hurt? And no, they’re, they’re harmless little things.

3 (14m 17s):
They just zing you.

4 (14m 18s):
Yeah. I mean, there was a lot of them in the water, so you’re not going to be zinged by them all the time. They’re pretty much harmless. But Brittany said it so much more eloquently than I describing Biscayne. She put it better into words, but unless you have your own boat, you do again, have to use a company, take you out on a boat to do some snorkeling, which is exactly what we did. And what company did we use? Brittany?

1 (14m 43s):
He used the Biscayne National Park Institute to go on these adventures and they have more than just snorkeling. They have paddle boarding, boating. They have lots of different activities you can do to fit you and your family’s needs.

4 (14m 56s):
Yeah. And before you go out, since it is a national park, these are private companies that work within the national park to provide these tours. But before each tour, they do have a park ranger that comes out. They will talk to you about Biscayne. Give you a little bit about the history. What is there to preserve, tell you about the park. So you do get the experience of learning while you were there and then you have the fun out on the water. But what I was really, really excited about is as we were leaving the portion of the park that is on land to get out to the coral reef area, obviously they have to go slow as they go out. And our guide was telling us if we’re lucky, we’ll see the manatees.

4 (15m 37s):
Cause this is where they have the sea manatees. They’re really, really endangered. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see them, but if you go, you may be very lucky to see them. They’re going to be along the shore. But when you get out on the water, that’s where the coral reefs are going to be. And it was so amazing. And the water is so shallow too. I think he said the average death was about 15, 20 feet.

1 (15m 58s):
Yeah. It wasn’t very deep, but one thing I want to let you guys know, I’ve never been diving like scuba diving, but this is actually a really, really popular and good place to go scuba diving because of all of the coral reefs in the area. And there is actually some diving trails that explore like old shipwrecks, which if I was a diver, I would definitely be interested in

4 (16m 21s):
Doing find that gold.

3 (16m 24s):
That’s really

1 (16m 24s):
Cool. Yeah. There’s like six shipwrecks in the area because it’s so shallow. Gosh, people would bow in not realizing how shallow is and then they would crash their ship and then causes shipwreck. So now there’s six of them that you can explore by diving, which is a cool fact.

3 (16m 42s):
That’s cool. And I know that the water and Florida is warm. Was the water when you were snorkeling out here warm to,

4 (16m 49s):
Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s typical Florida water temperature, 75 degrees. It was really, really nice.

1 (16m 56s):
Just like going to the beach in Miami,

3 (16m 58s):
Sign me up.

1 (16m 59s):
And I don’t know if we mentioned costs, but because Jamal said most of the park is in the water. This park is free. So like if you were going to the parts on land, it’s free to go to. But of course, if you’re going to do an excursion like paddle boarding, snorkeling, a camping or anything like that, you do have to pay a fee or for your reservation. And what I saw the prices range to be about 59 to like $150 per person.

4 (17m 24s):
And again, depending on how long you wanted your snorkel adventure to be or whatever it is that you want it to do. So this is different than Everglades where in the past Everglades was free. If you had your boat to take out, can’t do that anymore. Biscayne. If you still have your own boat are going to be renting one yourself. You don’t need to do one of the tours and you can get out there on the water for free.

2 (17m 43s):
I have a question, maybe, you know, this, maybe you don’t, but like the boats that are shipwrecked are these like pirates, like from a specific era.

4 (17m 51s):
I don’t know the answer to that, but it wouldn’t surprise me. You know, you’re close to The Bahamas, you’re close to the Caribbean. If we’re to believe pirates of the Caribbean, maybe they are, maybe they are, who knows.

1 (18m 4s):
It’s a light Jamal. And I said, we did Biscayne on the same trip as we did dry Tortugas national park on, which is the next national park we’re going to talk about. And only Jamal and I have been to dry Tortugas as well. So

4 (18m 17s):
What’s it like there? Well, so first off dry Tortugas is one of the most remote national parks that there is. So you really have to do more than a hop, skip, and a jump to get there. You got to put in the work first, it’s down south in the Florida keys. And the only way that you can get to it is one by either having your own boat and sailing out there to taking a sea plane or three using one company in particular that leaves out of key west and takes you on a day trip to dry Tortugas.

5 (18m 51s):
And which one did you guys

4 (18m 52s):
Do? Well, we did not take the sea plane adventure and we do not have our own bow. I don’t have my captain’s license, unfortunately, not yet. That’s correct. So we ended up using the tour company, dry tortugas.com and it will lead you to purchase a ticket on, I believe it was called the Yankee freedom was the name of the boat, but it is expensive. It costs $180 per adult to get out there for your round trip. But it’s for the full day now, dry Tortugas is a small cluster of islands. That’s about 70 miles south west of key west. And it’s famous for a couple reasons dried for two guys that we have some endangered sea turtles that are out there.

4 (19m 35s):
So if you know, you’re Spanish, you know, tornado goes is turtle, but they have a very famous military Fort from the 18 hundreds called Fort Jefferson. That’s on there and it’s actually one of the largest brick masonry buildings in the world. And they housed civil war criminals at that Fort, but it’s been decommissioned, but it’s still there for historical purposes. Alcatraz.

1 (19m 57s):
Exactly like an Alcatraz, like the key west version of Alcatraz. So like Jamal was saying dry Tortugas national park is about 70 miles off the shore of the key west. It does have like seven small islands that it includes. And it also has amazing coral reefs. So it’s a good place to go. Snorkeling, like Jamal said, the fee to ride the boat. The Yankee freedom is pretty expensive. It’s $180, but it’s an all day adventure. You wake up, you go to the docking station, like first thing in the morning, I want to say like 7 30, 8, they provide breakfast for you. They provide lunch. And then they actually do a tour of the Fort Jefferson. If you’d like to partake in that, if you don’t, you can go swimming, you can go snorkeling.

1 (20m 40s):
But at the same time, even though they do include a lot, there is a lot, you still have to like plan and bring. So you have to bring your own towel, your own bathing suit, sunscreen, all of the things that you would need to stay safe. Like while you’re at the beach,

2 (20m 52s):
I have a question for you guys. So you said you paid $180, but like, do you have to pay an additional fee because you’re entering into a national park. So is there any type of fee for that?

1 (21m 2s):
No, it was included in the ferry fee.

2 (21m 4s):
So if you have the national park pass, do you get a discount?

1 (21m 8s):
No, I don’t believe so. I also want to say that the entrance to the park itself is free. Like if you’re entering by sea plane or your own boat, I want to say there’s no entrance fee to this national park because it’s so, so remote. So everything is included in your ferry trip.

4 (21m 24s):
Yeah. The other islands that are around in the area, that’s part of dry Tortugas they’re not inhabited. No, one’s on it. One of them does have a lighthouse on it, but there’s no structures. There’s no place for you to get food out there. So the only place where they actually have legitimate workers is on the island that has Fort Jefferson, which is the one that we were taken to. And those people is just maybe like one ranger to provide a tour and the person working in the gift shop. And if you’re going to be going, because it is so remote, they don’t take credit cards out there cause they have no way to connect it to any sort of electronic system. They don’t have it set up via satellite. So it is all cash out there. If you want to buy something in the gift shop, but truly other than the food that’s provided to you by the tour for your breakfast and lunch, if you want anything else, you got to bring it.

4 (22m 11s):
Cause there’s nothing being sold to you on the island.

2 (22m 14s):
I have a question for you guys again. So you said it’s an all day thing. So like what time did they pick you up? And did you have options to like get picked up at different times for different tours? Or is it like a one day, one tour?

1 (22m 25s):
I want to say it’s one day, one tour, but the boat stays docked there. So like, if you want to sit on the boat for whatever reason or have lunch in find the boat, you’re able to do that as well. And I think they do that because it takes two and a half hours to sail there from the key west. So they just keep them boat dock there. And then when you’re done snorkeling or swimming, they actually have a place where you can rinse off and shower off one end of the boat. And we did say that you can go snorkeling. They do provide you snorkeling equipment while you’re there. And while we were there, we found out that there is an area it used to, I think, support a Wharf. And they’re just kind of like pulls in the water now, but the fish are really attracted to them.

1 (23m 5s):
So I did some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever done in my life out at .

2 (23m 11s):
Were you scared of crocodiles?

4 (23m 12s):
No, they’re too far out there. You’re in the middle of the ocean at this point, you know, in the Florida keys, maybe there’s crocodiles. And I know we were saying that this is in the key region. Yes, but it’s not part of the main cluster. Like Brittany said, you have to take two and a half hour boat ride. It’s about 70 miles out. This is a tiny little island in the middle of the ocean. So there’s no cracks, no nothing. So you’re in a tropical paradise, beautiful water, tropical fish, parrot fish. We even saw some barracudas, but they’re all attracted to those pilots that are left from the old war. So you’re having coral, that’s growing on that. And you have all the different species of coral that you could see the brain coral, the fin coral. It’s just absolutely amazing. And I’ve snorkeled in several places in the world.

4 (23m 55s):
Nice places, Hawaii, Philippines. But I will agree with Brittany, this is some of the best snorkeling that I’ve ever done because all of them are so concentrated in one spot.

3 (24m 4s):
Okay. I have two questions for you guys. How long? Not counting the boat ride where you there?

1 (24m 9s):
I would say probably five

4 (24m 10s):
Hours.

3 (24m 12s):
About two hours boat, five hours. About two hours boat. Yes. And then breakfast and lunch were included. How was the food?

4 (24m 20s):
The breakfast was pretty standard. So breakfast was served to us after we started sailing. They had some, you know, boiled eggs, yogurt bagels with cream, cheese juice, coffee, pretty standard, nothing special really on that. And it was good. It’s nothing. That’s absolutely special though. Right. But for lunch it was set up a face style. So you could go back and get as much as you want. They had sandwiches, salad. I believe they had like some burgers and fries.

3 (24m 51s):
You know, I love me a buffet

4 (24m 53s):
And yeah, so it was set up boot face style. And obviously then you had your own individual chips. So they had like Doritos and other types of chips too, that you can have on the side. So, and that was on the boat, but you can take your food out and have it on the island or you could have stayed in the air conditioning of the boat and eating it on there. So you have all those options of what you can do.

3 (25m 16s):
And

2 (25m 16s):
What was the alcohol selection light?

4 (25m 19s):
There was no courtesy alcohol selection. You had to purchase it, but that’s an

3 (25m 23s):
Accurate purchase.

4 (25m 24s):
It was available for purchase

1 (25m 26s):
Or other snacks available for purchase too. Like if on the way back while we were sailing home, because they don’t provide dinner, they had popcorn, they had chips, they had candy bars, they had a whole snack bar. Nice. So Jamal, Mr. Historian, why don’t you give us a little bit of a background on Fort Jefferson?

4 (25m 43s):
Well, like I said, as I was intro-ing into dry Tortugas Fort Jefferson is an old military fortress. It is the largest brick masonry structure in the Western hemisphere encompassing about 16 million bricks. So like I said, could you imagine how far does off the Florida keys, 70 miles, how much bricks they had to bring out on the boats back in those days in the 18 hundreds, just to build that, I find that to be quite impressive. And it did house four prisoners that were convicted in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. So John Wilkes booth was an out there, the person who killed them, but for the co-conspirators were imprisoned out at Fort Jefferson just as well.

3 (26m 24s):
What an interesting little factoid.

1 (26m 26s):
Yeah. I also want to say that people were getting sick out there because there wasn’t a lot of fresh water or access to food and things like that. And some of the prisoners were actually being doctors and taking care of some other inmates. Isn’t that right, Jamal.

2 (26m 40s):
Oh my God. I thought you meant the tour. And I thought you said they had water.

4 (26m 47s):
No, no. She’s talking about prisoners. You know, they ended up getting sick because of lack of fresh water access that is out there. And I forgot the full story of it, but Brittany is correct. They lack

1 (26m 59s):
Of true plumbing systems to

3 (27m 1s):
Toss it in the ocean.

4 (27m 3s):
Yeah. So it was a combination of all of the above lack of water, unsanitary conditions. So a lot of the prisoners were getting sick and I think it was just really an understaffed for it because of its remoteness. So a lot of the prisoners had to take care of themselves, but you can see some interesting structures that are left standing within the Fort itself. They have one spot where you can see where the old kitchen used to be for the prison. And you can see lots of other stuff that make it quite unique, but other than the Fort itself, if you are going to go out there, realistically, the only thing there is to do is the water activities, which is going to be to snorkel.

4 (27m 43s):
So if that’s not your thing and you could really care less about history, this tour may not be the most ideal for you because like I said, there’s not a lot to do on the island itself.

2 (27m 53s):
Sounds fascinating to me,

1 (27m 55s):
It’s a huge structure. Like it’s a huge four and they let you either do a tour with the people that captain the ferry, or you can do your own self guided tour and they have some fun facts along the way. And you can go in the stairwells, you can walk on top of the Fort, like on the roof and just get a great view of the island. It’s super beautiful, super clear waters that you get to look out to and just kind of like see everything and see everyone out on the beaches and in the water. So I, I had a great time, but it’s a unique place and you’re kind of stranded there for five hours. So you have to figure out what you want to do.

2 (28m 30s):
So if you do the tour with the guy who captained you out there, is that at a cost? Like, why would you drink one over the other? No,

1 (28m 37s):
It’s free. But like, if you wanted to go snorkeling first and you didn’t want to do their tour, then you can do your own self guided tour.

2 (28m 44s):
Oh, I see what you’re saying. Okay, cool. That makes sense.

4 (28m 46s):
I want to give out a little squad tip here around the island. There are several snorkeling spots, but the best location to do is the south Wharf ruins. That’s where Brittany and I went. So again, there are other ruined areas where they have other wharves and the pylons and other spots around the island where they don’t. But the south Wharf ruins are known to be the better snorkeling on the island.

1 (29m 11s):
So that pretty much sums it up for the national parks. But while you’re at dry Tortugas you have to go back to key west. And while you’re in the Florida keys, you should really just take advantage of that. So I just want to give a few tips about that. Jamal and I stayed in the QS for two days and we had some good eats. We went to the Eaton street, seafood place and they had the best lobster rolls I’ve ever had in my entire life.

3 (29m 36s):
I’m guessing, I’m hoping you had key lime pie.

1 (29m 39s):
Yes. We had to try lime pie and Jamal actually learned that key limes were from where Jamal,

4 (29m 46s):
Well, the Florida keys. I had no clue that they’re called key limes because they specifically grow in the Florida keys. And I’m glad that you brought that up because even though we had our key lime pie in the keys, I learned about this when we were going out to Biscayne, because when you leave land, you do go through several islands that are privately owned to get out to the main water area. And they were saying that there’s a lot of key limes that are on those little islands leading out there. And I was like, like the pie, like to Brittany, I didn’t want to say it out loud and look stupid. And then she’s like, yeah, you didn’t know key limes come from here, had no clue. You learn something new every day.

2 (30m 25s):
I learned something new with you right now.

1 (30m 27s):
So we had key lime pie from the key west key lime pie company and they have full pies or you can buy these individual mini pies and they’re about 6 95 and Jamal and I got them frozen and you can throw them out. And when you’re ready to eat them, have them fresh, which was what we recommend to do, because if you’re in the key west at all, it’s so humid. So we just took it home. It was ready by the time we drove to our Airbnb,

3 (30m 53s):
You can also get them at tons of restaurants. When I did visit key west, I didn’t go out to dry Tortugas, but I did eat key lime pie fresh at a restaurant.

1 (31m 1s):
And while you were in the key west, did you have any key lime beer?

3 (31m 4s):
I did not. That was a huge miss.

1 (31m 7s):
Yeah. At one of the restaurants we stopped at, I had a key Billy, which is an ale with key lime juice and it was pretty

3 (31m 14s):
Good. We recommend 10 out of 10,

1 (31m 16s):
10 out of 10. Nice.

4 (31m 17s):
I would recommend you didn’t throw that in there. I got to say the whole

3 (31m 21s):
Out of 10 would recommend,

4 (31m 23s):
But at the same time, another feature of key west is going to be the iconic Southern most point in the continental us sign. So key west is actually 90 miles from Cuba. That sign is a historical landmark. And I don’t know if it would be a cool thing to be the homes that live on the corner of that or not because you have so many tourists that just line up to take their photo of it. But they’re going to hate me if they’re listening to this, that landmark is at the corner of Whitehead and south street, but it’s a very famous spot where it has the Southern most tip of the United States or the contiguous United States, 90 miles to Cuba.

4 (32m 4s):
When you were there, you went to it though, right?

3 (32m 7s):
You can’t go to key west and not go to it.

4 (32m 9s):
Right. But one thing I want to say about key west, and I know we’re getting off the national parks, which is what we were talking about, but anyone who hasn’t been and you go, I always heard key west. I always thought it was going to be so nice, beautiful beaches. And I was pretty unimpressed with their beaches, what it looked like. I mean, it was like a college town, which was cool, but it was kind of swampy. And I really wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting it to be like pristine. Cause I always thought it was like this beautiful vacation spot and it just, wasn’t what I imagined it to be.

3 (32m 41s):
Yeah. I kind of got the same impression with the beaches specifically. I had really high expectations and when I got there, they weren’t that clean. So I just thought the beaches of Miami were better, but Miami sets the bar so high with the beaches. Anything else in key west that you guys did?

1 (32m 57s):
No. I think that pretty much sums it up. I just want to say that, you know, if you take a week to go to Florida, you can do all three national parks in one week and knock them all off your list.

4 (33m 7s):
Yeah. And again, even if you don’t want to make the adventure to dry Tortugas cause it is expensive. It is very, very remote. I would say if you’re in Florida, specifically Miami at the very least do Everglades, it is so, so fun. I mean, I enjoyed all three of them, but as you guys know, we are national park enthusiasts. It’s on our bucket list to hit them all. But Everglades was just something else and something really special that I really enjoyed.

3 (33m 34s):
All right. It looks like we don’t have a question of the week this week. So please send us in your questions of the week. You can email us, find us on any social media channel. Thank you guys so much for listening to us this week. We hope you liked the episode. Like I said, keep the adventures going with us. Follow us on Instagram at Travel Squad Podcast, tag us in your picks and let us know where you’re going. You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, and we have a private Facebook group now Travel Squad mom. So join that and join the conversation with us there.

2 (34m 4s):
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4 (34m 11s):
And as always, please subscribe, rate and review our podcast and tune in Every Travel Tuesday for new episodes.

1 (34m 18s):
Make sure to pack your bag and grab your password and stay tuned for next week’s episode.

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