Nestled halfway between Key West and Key Largo, Marathon shares the laidback maritime atmosphere found throughout the Florida Keys. Whether you want to splash around in the clear turquoise water or get in a few rounds of golf, you'll find Marathon has all the amenities of a resort town. Enjoy sailing, seafood and swimming in equal measure before retiring to your choice of dozens of hotels and all-inclusive resorts.
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of Marathon's attractions directly involve the ocean. Many of the hotels and resorts are found in the eastern half of the city, and you can find a number of public beaches south of the Overseas Highway, which spans the entire length of the Keys. The western end of the city is dominated by homes, restaurants, stores, more hotels and more shoreline.
Like the rest of the Florida Keys, Marathon has miles and miles of public beaches. Most hotels have beachfront access. If you want to explore a part of the island away from your home base, driving is an easy way to do so; finding public parking won't be an issue. Both Sombrero Beach in the west and Curry Hammock State Park in the east are popular picks. For a more natural beach, try Coco Plum Beach, which offers a pavilion, parking and restrooms but little else that would detract from the stunning seaside scenery.
If gazing at the peaceful waters isn't enough, Marathon has several public boat ramps for travelers looking to fish or sail. Parking is ample, and you'll also be able to stock up on supplies at the boating stores scattered across the city. If you don't own your own watercraft, charter a boat and take a tour to explore the Keys.
Although Marathon is fairly long, it isn't wide, so most of the parks have access to a beach. Curry Hammock is a fairly popular camping destination with approximately 24 parking spaces for RVs and campers.
Vacations should be relaxing, but that doesn't mean they can't also be educational. Take the kids to The Turtle Hospital and Dolphin Research Center to learn about some of the wildlife native to the waters around Marathon. At Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, you can even swim with sharks and other saltwater fish!
For a little more adventure, you can sign up for kiteboarding, snorkeling, kayaking and scuba diving. Professional lessons and equipment rentals round out Marathon's excellent selection of aquatic activities.
Your standard American fare of burgers, steaks and pizza are never hard to find, but Marathon is best known for its always-fresh seafood and Caribbean cuisine. Most eateries are located on the western side of Marathon. Though the town is smaller than Key West and Key Largo, Marathon teems with delicious seafood freshly prepared.
While Marathon is home to a small airport, most travelers arrive at Key West International Airport (EYW), approximately one hour away. The Overseas Highway connects the entire island chain, and it takes about two hours to drive from Key West to Miami. All of Marathon's hotels are easily accessible from this major roadway. If you don't have a car of your own, you can use the bus service, which also runs the length of the Keys.
Marathon hotels start at around $90 per night, while some of the nicer resorts cost closer to $300 per night. If you stay in the western half of the city, you can walk to a variety of restaurants. Hotels in the eastern half of the city are a five-minute drive from nightlife and shopping, but you might enjoy the quieter atmosphere these accommodations offer.
Because it's surrounded by ocean on all sides, Marathon enjoys a comfortable climate year-round. The average high ranges from 77 to 91 degrees, so the city itself never grows too hot or cold. Unlike some of the coastal cities to the north, the Keys always have temperate waters. If at all possible, make your hotel reservations for any month between September and May to take advantage of ideal weather and smaller crowds. Whatever beachside activity appeals to you, Marathon undoubtedly offers it. This calmer alternative to Key West serves up endless tropical fun.
* Prices reflect the lowest "base rate" found over the next 30 days. Rates are subject to change and may not include taxes and fees, hotel service charges, extra person charges, or incidentals, such as room service. All rates are displayed in USD unless otherwise noted. Converted rates are provided for your convenience. They are based on today's exchange rate, but the hotel will charge you in the local currency.