Cruising Destination: Marathon Florida

Beautiful Florida Keys
Mention “The Keys” and thoughts of world-class fishing and lobstering, enchanting tiki bars, mellow island music, sandy beaches and crystal clear “Windex Water” materialize. Marathon offers all of the above (and a whole lot more) and makes a great long-weekend getaway for friends and/or family.

Marathon is found at the midpoint of the Florida Key’s island chain along what is variously known as the Florida Keys Scenic Highway, the Overseas Highway, or simply A1A. It’s actually a collection of seven keys (Vaca, Fat Deer, Grassy, Knight’s, Boot, Long Point, Crawl) and assorted smaller islands, all of which conspire to create a fishing and vacation getaway second to none.

Marathon’s heritage is rooted in the sea and simple, seafaring traditions. The Conchs, as the crusty Key’s residents are known, are friendly, the seafood is fresh, the fishing is in a word, awesome, and there’s a wealth of things to do to satisfy everyone in your party.

The name “Marathon” is thought to have been bestowed by workers on the Florida East Coast Railroad who labored at an unrelenting pace day and night until its completion in 1912.

Marathon is an ecological gem. At Crane Point you’ll find a nature preserve, a museum, hiking trails and the famous Aderly House, a Historical Landmark. The Dolphin Research Center offers unique opportunities to swim with Flipper’s descendents. And the nearby Turtle Hospital rehabs and releases injured sea turtles and offers a safe, permanent home to those unable to return to the wild.

Dive and fishing charters abound. Try diving the wrecks off Sombrero Reef and the Coffin Patch and keep your eyes peeled for buried treasure! As for catching fish, reef fishing presents all variety of snapper and the wiley barracuda. Out in open water you’ll find sailfish, dolphin fish, wahoo, marlin, shark, blue fin tuna and amberjack, especially near the Marathon West Hump. And on the flats there’s outstanding fishing for tarpon, permit and the coveted bonefish.

A cruise to Marathon from the greater Tampa area is best done in two full days with an overnight in Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City or perhaps at anchor at the mouth of the Shark River, weather permitting. Shortening the time by trailering your boat to a halfway point is also an option, as is taking the drive all the way to Marathon.

Once you reach Marathon, there are many places to tie up for however much time you have. Two of our favorites include the Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key, a premier island resort and marina featuring restaurants, a spa, swimming pools and all variety of water sports. Contact Hawks Cay at 800-432-2242 or reservations@hawkscay.com. Our other favorite is the Indigo Reef Resort & Marina, which features luxury marina villa homes, boat slips, the nearby Marine Sanctuary and all kinds of seasonal excursions. Indigo Reef can be reached at 866-643-5397 or by email at info@indigoreefresort.com.

What are you waiting for? Marathon is waiting!

Happy Boating!

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About the author: I was born a commercial fisherman’s daughter in Cortez, an old fishing village off the west coast of Florida where you can still experience “Old Florida” and get a really good grouper sandwich. I went to school and became an anesthetist, after privileged years of practice, I jumped ship to work in the family business – Cannons Marina. I love my job and the view. I am crazy about my dog Gnarly. Being out on the water is magical. I still get giddy every time I see a dolphin. Often I brag that I had the opportunity to swim alongside a humpback whale – it was freaky and pretty amazing. My life is no doubt boating, but I also love paddle-boarding cooking and travel.

Navigating Fun.