Dry Tortugas is one of North America's premier birding hot spots during Spring migration. This National Park is famous not only for spectacular Ft. Jefferson but also for its colonies of nesting Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies, Masked Boobies, and Magnificent Frigatebirds. In addition to these birds, Black Noddies are regular visitors most Springs. Among the other birds that are expected to be seen on a trip down to the Dry Tortugas are: Audubon Shearwater, Roseate Tern, Bridled Tern, and with lots of luck the elegant White-Tailed Tropicbird. Seabirds aren’t the only birds that make the Dry Tortugas one of the best birding hot spots in the country; the trees on Garden Key usually hold many migrant birds. On a stormy day or night, during migration, the Dry Tortugas can become even more of a birder's paradise. Dozens of birds will seek shelter amongst the trees and bushes on the islands. We’ll need to keep our eyes and ears open for the unexpected! Long-eared Owl, Piratic Flycatcher, La Sagra's Flycatcher, Yellow-Faced Grassquit, Ruddy Quail Dove, White-tipped Dove, Fork-Tailed Flycatcher, Bahama Mockingbird, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Red-footed Booby and Cuban Pewee are some of the rarer birds that have been seen here. We also offer the only Fall tours to the Dry Tortugas; Fall is a great time to brush up on your confusing Fall warbler skills with many species present. We offer the finest tours available to the Dry Tortugas as well as the most tour dates!
Birds are the primary focus of these tours but good snorkeling and fishing is available using your gear. Exploring historical Ft. Jefferson or sitting in the shade of a palm tree to enjoy a good book are other activities available!
Joining one of our exclusive tours will give you the opportunity to observe these birds in the finest comfort available to the Dry Tortugas. Each tour is limited to 11 participants, which allows for more personalized service. Four cabins are available for passengers, one cabin for 4-people, one cabin for 3-people and two cabins for 2-people each. Our cabins are available with over and under bunks that are very comfortable. Our 60-ft air conditioned yacht, the M/V Playmate offers:
- comfortable beds
- good food
- large observation deck
- shaded rear deck
- two bathrooms with showers (1- boat shower, 1- full sized enclosed shower) All the comforts of home!
With Larry Manfredi’s great wealth of experience in the Dry Tortugas, all you need to do is relax and enjoy the birds!
The first night - Our journey begins in Key West at 7:00 p.m. with a champagne reception aboard the M/V Playmate. This will allow everyone to get to know one another and to take a tour of the boat. We will also review the birds that we can expect to see, as well as the safety precautions that we need to take on board. Once we are finished with our reception we can travel by car to search for Antillean Nighthawk that nest nearby our boat. Early the next morning we will leave for the Dry Tortugas.
Day 1 -We will travel to the Dry Tortugas through the Florida Straights (weather permitting) where we hope to see pelagic birds such as Brown Booby, Northern Gannet, Pomarine Jaeger, Roseate Tern, Bridled Tern, Audubon's Shearwater, and a remote possibility of a White-Tailed Tropicbird or Band-rumped Storm-Petrel.We will arrive at the boundary buoy of the Dry Tortugas around noon. We will then travel to Hospital Key, an island not much more than a sandbar. Here we will observe the only nesting colony of Masked Boobies in the continental U.S. After getting great looks at the Masked Boobies we will dock at Ft. Jefferson welcomed by the Sooty Terns calling "Wide-Awake! Wide-Awake!" We will spend the rest of the afternoon birding at Fort Jefferson, which is located on Garden Key. We will use a skiff to get closer to Bush Key and Long Key. This will enable us to get good looks at the nesting Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies and the displaying Magnificent Frigatebirds. We also have a chance of seeing Brown Boobies and, with lots of luck a Red-Footed Booby. We will also look for the rare Black Noddy. After dinner aboard our yacht, we will compile the bird sightings of the day.
Day 2 - Today, we will explore the Fort once again to find the migrant birds that arrived the previous night. We will then re-board the boat for breakfast and head towards Loggerhead Key where we will look for more migrants and perhaps a Short-Eared Owl (the West Indian race). Fork-tailed Flycatcher, White-tailed Tropicbird and Yellow-faced Grassquit are some of the rarities that have been seen here. After lunch we will return to Garden Key for more birding and stay until dusk before re-boarding the boat for dinner. After dinner we will again go over the bird sightings for the day.
Day 3 - After breakfast, we will tour the Fort once more looking for new arrivals. We will leave around 8:30 a.m. We will take a direct route to Key West traveling over shallower water than on our trip down. We will check some of the channel markers and navigation towers for Brown Boobies and Roseate Terns; other possible sightings may include Pomarine Jaeger, Audubon’s Shearwater and Bridled Tern. We will be arriving back in Key West between 3:30 and 4:00 p.m. This should give ample time for those with connecting flights from Key West to their final destinations. The Key West Airport is about two miles from where the M/V Playmate is docked which is located on Stock Island at Oceanside Marina. If you are planning to stay in Key West for the night there are many hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts available.
3-Day Tour: $995 Per Person
Deposit: $300 Per Person
Terms and conditions
Includes your accommodations aboard the M/V Playmate, meals, wine with dinner, snacks, beverages, and professional bird guiding services.
For the ultimate South Florida birding experience, combine your Dry Tortugas trip with the
“The Ultimate South Florida Tour.”