Situated in the heart of the Florida Keys, the Islands of Marathon are a vacationer’s Paradise!
This vacation planning guide for Marathon is designed to provide you with all the tools and information you need to create the perfect holiday in the Florida Keys.
If you still have questions, please Contact Us and we’ll gladly help you with your vacation plans.
So Much to Do On the Water
What attracts most visitors to the Islands of Marathon is the water. With the Atlantic Ocean to our south and the Gulf of Mexico to our north, there is no shortage of places to play on and in the water. Fishing, diving and snorkeling on North America’s only living coral reef is unparalleled for water sports enthusiasts. Adventure seekers get a thrill from parasailing and jet skiing. Kayak eco-tours through the native Florida Keys mangroves are a delight for nature lovers. Whether poling a flats skiff, zipping along in a center console, cruising in a yacht or gliding in a sailboat, the waters surrounding the Islands of Marathon are seventh heaven to boaters.
Activities Abound on Land Too
On land, visitors have a wealth of attractions, activities and events to fill their day. You can swim with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center, get up close and personal with turtles at the Turtle Hospital, go back in time to the days of Flagler’s Folly at Pigeon Key and revisit the era of Marathon’s Bahamian settlers at Crane Point. Pristine beaches and parks, bicycle and walking paths all afford you venues to soak up the glorious sights of the Islands of Marathon. Annual events such as the Original Marathon Seafood Festival and the Pigeon Key Arts Festival charm locals and tourists alike year after year. Toss in the Battle in the Bay Dragon Boat Festival, National Pig Days and the Seven Mile Bridge Run and you have something for everyone!
At the end of your fun-filled day in the Islands of Marathon, prepare to treat your taste buds to a culinary holiday! The Florida Keys waters offer up a bounty of fresh fish and seafood, and Marathon’s culinary treasures are known for their innovative preparation. Specialties include spiny lobster, Key West pink shrimp and stone crabs, yellowtail snapper, grouper, hogfish and dolphin (mahi-mahi). If you’re lucky enough to catch your own fish with one of Marathon’s excellent charter captains, take it to your restaurant of choice and feast on cook-your-catch. Prime steaks, lip-smacking Southern barbecue, monster burgers, sandwiches and tasty regional salads round out the offerings. Key lime pie is a local favorite, and each restaurant boasts it has the best in town. Be sure to try them all!
You will surely enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of Marathon’s restaurants, cafes and tiki bars. Dress code is always relaxed or, as we call it, Keys-casual. Shorts, shirts and flip-flops are appropriate for everyone, everywhere. Some restaurants have an indoor, air-conditioned area, while others are wide open under a tiki hut. Some offer full service bars, while others serve beer and wine only. Some are located directly on the Overseas Highway, and some are hidden gems down a side road. Many welcome four-legged friends. You will have fun finding your favorite.
If you still have the energy, stay out for some great live music and local entertainment. Rock and roll, trop rock, surf rock, country, blues, grass, pop … Marathon’s many entertainment venues offer live music to suit all tastes. Marathon also has a movie theater and a live community theater group that produces plays, concerts, readings and more. The Middle Keys Concert Association hosts artists from around the world.
Accommodations in the Islands of Marathon range from cozy hotels and motels to destination resorts. There’s a place to fulfill every vacation fantasy within any budget. Many boast on site boat dockage or boat rentals so you can thoroughly enjoy the crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico that envelope our Islands. There is a great number of private vacation homes especially well suited for family getaways, and Marathon has many highly rated vacation rental companies to find the perfect property for your family. Full service RV resorts and campgrounds, such as world renowned Bahia Honda State Park, are scattered throughout Marathon and the surrounding areas. Why, you can even rent your own private island!
Shop Til You Drop
The Islands of Marathon offer a plethora of shopping outlets. You can readily pick up anything you may have forgotten or choose a beautiful souvenir of your time on our Islands. Whether it’s your first time here or you’re back for a repeat visit, you will surely want to indulge yourself in some of our tropical fashions, distinctive jewelry, local art and collectibles and delicacies made from our native key limes. All of the essential happy hour fixings are readily available as well as all the provisions to stock your vacation rental home. Drop your cell phone overboard? Forgot your camera? No problem – we’ve got you covered! Don’t forget the gift for your house or dog sitter.
Number One for Family Vacations!
The Islands of Marathon are number one in family fun destinations! There’s nothing more precious than family time, and Marathon offers activities and world-class attractions to suit every member of the family. The relaxed attitude throughout the Florida Keys washes all the cares of the real world away … if even for a short time. Families have the chance to relax, reconnect and reinvigorate. Marathon is situated in the very middle of the Florida Keys with Islamorada and Key West both a short drive away for day trips.
Perfect Setting for Groups and Corporate Retreats
Removed from the fast-paced world of everyday life, the Islands of Marathon are the idyllic setting for gatherings of all variety. Our uniqueness and hospitality are the perfect backdrop for corporate groups, executive retreats, weddings, family reunions and other business and social events. Marathon has many talented professional meeting and wedding planners to take care of all the arrangements for your perfect event.
Scenery Like Nowhere Else
It’s truly a Technicolor life in the Florida Keys. From the burst of golden yellow at sunrise to the shimmer of crystal aqua blue water and the richness of multicolored flowers, trees, birds, animals and fish to the ardent reds, oranges and purples at sunset, the Islands of Marathon are a remarkable sight. Many refer to the locals as colorful, too. That’s just fine with us.
All things revolve around the sea here in Marathon. The Florida Keys began thousands of years ago as a string of underwater living coral patch reefs on the edge of the continental shelf. At some point, the reef emerged as a land mass, the corals died and the fossil remains became the coral bedrock that now comprises the basis of the Keys. As the climate warmed through the ages, hardwood hammocks and shoreline mangrove habitats established themselves and nurtured a colorful community of flora and fauna.
During your stay in the Islands of Marathon, you will encounter both native and non-native animal species. On the ground, look for geckos and lizards darting around. Just to our west in the Big Pine Key area, keep your eye out for the diminutive key deer, thought to be descended from the white tailed deer.
Shore birds and wading birds are abundant, and birders from around the globe come to Marathon every year for the Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival. The most prevalent are brown pelicans, American white pelicans, cormorants, snowy egrets and great egrets, great white herons, roseate spoonbills, white ibis, ospreys and frigate birds. The Florida Keys aviary hosts the American bald eagle, peregrine falcon and migrating songbirds.
Beyond the plethora of fish species, the natural aquarium of the Florida Keys includes manatee, starfish, sponges, stingrays, horseshoe crabs, sea turtles and bottlenose dolphin.
Ahhhh … the Weather
You would be hard pressed to find finer weather anywhere else in the continental United States than right here in the Florida Keys. Our average air temperatures vary only by about 15 degrees season-to-season. The tempering effects of the Gulf Stream, the Straits of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico produce a mild tropical climate. The average year-round temperature is about 75 degrees, with peaks near 90 during the summer and lows in the mid-60’s during the winter months.
The Florida Keys has two seasons: wet and dry. May through October is our rainy time with some periods experiencing four to five inches of rain, while November through April is generally dry and sunny. Hurricanes are a way of life here, especially during the hottest times of the year. Fortunately, we have been spared any serious effects from hurricanes over the past several years.
Relax and Enjoy the Casual Atmosphere
When packing for your vacation to the Islands of Marathon, keep in mind the casual, relaxed atmosphere throughout the Florida Keys. Pack for optimum comfort as you will be spending most of your time outdoors enjoying all sorts of activities. Shorts, shirts and flip flops are the local uniform! A light jacket or sweater is a good idea for cool evenings and air-conditioned restaurants. Sunglasses and hats will protect you from the year-round strong Florida Keys sun.
Getting to the Islands of Marathon is a Breeze
Most visitors fly into Ft. Lauderdale or Miami Airport, rent a car and take the scenic drive along the Overseas Highway. You will want to take your time to savor the magnificent tropical surroundings. Where else in the world can you see the Atlantic Ocean out one side of the car and the Gulf of Mexico out the other? You can also fly into Key West Airport and drive to Marathon. For those who own their own plane or choose to charter a flight, Marathon has a private airport with car rental companies on site. Cruisers come by boat and stay in one of Marathon’s marinas or resorts with dockage.