A Florida Keys road trip stirs up images in my mind of swaying coconut palm trees, vibrant aquamarine waters and of course its name sake, Key lime pie. In the center of it all is Marathon the very heart of the Florida Keys.
There are hundreds of islands “keys” that encompass the archipelago of the Florida keys. A majority of these keys are interconnected by a series of bridges. They make up the Florida Keys Overseas Highway spanning a distance of roughly 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West.
There are hundreds of islands “keys” that encompass the archipelago of the Florida keys.
photo courtesy of @thefloridakeys
The city of Marathon encompasses several key islands including Boot Key, Grassy Key, Knight and Vaca Key. Marathon has more of a permanent population compared to some of the other Florida keys. You will find all the amenities of a small town should you need groceries or need something other than your typical gift and souvenirs shop. This charming nautical seaside town has everything you need for an enjoyable vacation.
Where to Stay in Marathon?
The Courtyard Marathon Florida Keys
We had the opportunity to stay at the beautiful brand new Courtyard Marathon Florida Keys. This is not your typical Marriott Courtyard. This stunning hotel has tropical resort vibe. The sensational infinity pool overlooking Florida bay was surrounded by lush tropical greenery and swaying coconut palm trees.
There are plenty of places to relax around the pool and hot tub area with lounge chairs and umbrellas. There is a quieter area off to the side with comfy outdoor furniture and couches to sit back and read a book or enjoy a cocktail. Yes! Cocktails. This resort has a poolside tiki bar with drop dead gorgeous views. Just wait until you see the sunset from this tiki bar. They also have a poolside grill and tables.
There is a small beach area off to the side off the pool. They have beach lounge chairs set out on the sandy beach area. Perfect place to watch the boats in the Florida bay. Under a cluster of palm trees there is a hammock area that I absolutely adored. This little spot is so peaceful and relaxing.
The rooms at the Courtyard Marathon were spacious with a nice view of the bay and a small but functional balcony, cozy beds and a smart TV with Netflix to binge watch all your favorite shows. Honestly this hotel goes out of its way to be completely accommodating. It may be part of a larger chain, however it’s definitely has the feel and attention of local family resort. They pay attention to all the small details, right down to providing beach chair and umbrella for you to enjoy a day at the beach. You can find more information on the Courtyard Marathon here.
What to do in Marathon?
If you are seeking the sun and sand then head over to Sombrero beach. This is one of the best Florida Keys beaches and this picture perfect little beach has it all! Large soft sandy cove lined with palm trees. There are covered pavilions for you to enjoy a picnic lunch. Restrooms and changing facilities. Plus you can’t beat free parking.
Sombrero beach is a sea turtle nesting beach. During nesting season you will see the marked and protected areas. This beach is also used to release rehabilitated turtles from the nearby turtle hospital. The sea grass that will wash up on shore... yep you guessed it... turtle food. Just enjoy the beauty and nature knowing you are in a place where turtles make their home.
For directions to Sombrero Beach, map and park hours please click here
photos courtesy of @ thefloridakeys
If you would like to see some of the sea turtles up close, the Turtle Hospital in Marathon is an excellent experience for a personal encounter with these amazing sea animals. The Turtle Hospital fully functioning veterinary dedicated to rehabilitating sea turtles. They are open to the public and offer classes and education on sea turtle species, environment and habitat, types of sea turtle injuries, recovery and how you can help. The Turtle Hospital is a non profit charity and is fully supported by donation.
If you would like to more information on how you can visit and help the sea turtles click here.
A trip to the Florida keys wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the reef. Florida Keys snorkeling in the only living coral reef in the United States and is the 3rd largest in the world. Sombrero reef is part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This reef rests three miles from the shoreline making it a perfect place to experience Florida Keys snorkeling. With the spur and groove topography, it creates mini canyons and cave arches all within perfect depths to explore.
There are a great variety of corals, sponges and beautiful purple sea fans. This reef sits on the inner edge of the barrier reef. Creating a calm sanctuary for sea life. You will see a variety of fish species. The elegant French, Grey, Blue and Queen Angelfish. The Midnight, Stoplight, Queen and Rainbow Parrotfish. The Blue Chromis and curious Blue Tangs. Some friendly little Porkfish and Sargent Majors as well as a couple different Butterflyfish species.
Here is a listing of dive operators that will take you to Sombrero Reef.
A trip to the Florida keys wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the reef.
Crane Point Museum is a 63-acre tropical oasis in the heart of the Marathon. This nature center features forests of hardwood trees, a network of nature trails. Inside the nature center you will find a natural history museum that is dedicated to showcasing the history of the region and a beautifully restored home. They also offer trolley tours of the botanic gardens and historic sites around the property.
You can find more information on daily tours and admission here
Seven Mile Bridge. Of the 42 bridges connecting the Florida Keys, Seven Mile Bridge is the longest! The old Seven Mile Bridge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It runs parallel to the existing Seven Mile Bridge. You can access the Seven Mile Bridge from the west side of Marathon or from the boat ramp and parking lot in Little Duck Key.
Seven Mile Bridge and Bahia Honda State Park photos courtesy of @ thefloridakeys
Bahia Honda State Park
Just a few miles further is Bahia Honda Key and the entire key is part of the Florida State Parks. If you want stunning ocean and sunset views this park has it all! A well marked pathway will lead to the Old Bahia Honda Bridge. The Old Bahia Honda bridge will provide you with unobstructed view of the horizon as you watch the setting sun. It’s completely breathtaking. This park has camping, concessions, kayaking, snorkeling, bike or walking trails and two swimming areas to enjoy the Florida Keys crystal clear waters. You could spend your day exploring the park and end your day with a magnificent sunset.
Who doesn’t love a beautiful sunset?
Who doesn’t love a beautiful sunset? This time of day is such a simple pleasure but we rarely have time to sit back and enjoy it. This magical moment when the sky illuminates brilliant golden hues of orange and magenta. Watching the sunlight dance in between the clouds and create stunning flares.
Bahis Honda has some of the most picturesque places to enjoy the sunset. There are a couple areas where the horizon is unobstructed and you can enjoy the setting sun. This view from the beach with the old bridge in the background as the sun sets between the pilons is one of my favorite.
Remember to look back! Very often, you can find a palette of colorful skies in the direction opposite from the sunset. More information on Bahia Honda Park