Breathtaking sunsets all year round, crystal clear green and turquoise waters that will hypnotize you as you drive South down on US 1, the main highway which connects these chain of islands, the Florida Keys is a nature tripper, beach lover, diver, boater and anglers paradise!
The islands of Marathon boast some of the best boating, diving, swimming and all-around watersports experience. We also have one of the most diverse fishing in North America; including deep-sea, reef or flats fishing. Doesn’t matter what month, various fishing targets await anxious anglers cruising Marathon and the Florida Keys. There’s a fish for every season and amazing snorkeling and diving experience for most of the year.
JANUARY and FEBRUARY
During the cooler months of January to February: our winter residents and visitors are in for a variety of activities and festivals. The nice, crisp air and comfortable weather is enticing and conducive for all kinds of outdoor events. All sorts of fish are also biting: amberjack, black grouper, gag grouper, Jack Crevalle, blacktip and lemon shark abound in the cooler waters of the Florida Keys.
For those more inclined to staying on dry ground, there’s the Pigeon Key Art Festival first weekend of February each year. Pigeon Key is a 5-acre island located 2.3 miles west of Marathon and it hosts a wide selection of artists from all over the country to showcase their art works in a historic, beautiful setting. Artists from all around the USA and the world come to this tranquil island to capture the unique beauty of the island and the Florida Keys and the annual Art Show is a fitting tribute to them. Right around the corner in Key Colony Beach, residents and visitors alike are having a ball with the annual Key Colony Beach Day Parade and Fair. An annual celebration to celebrate the birth of the city: there’s music all day, great food, vendors and outdoor fun for everyone. If there’s still time and energy left to spare, the all time favorite spots: Dolphin Research Center and Turtle Hospital are open almost all year round to welcome visitors.
The Dolphin Research Center is a dolphin focused facility located on Grassy Key, about 10-minute drive from Marathon. The 90,000 square ft series of saltwater lagoons are home to a family of dolphins and California sea lions. Meet and interact with dolphins and sea lions, all of whom live in natural, seawater lagoons in the Gulf of Mexico. Spend a couple of hours or all day, experiencing their personalities in fun-filled, narrated behavior sessions. In between, watch educational presentations, visit the tropical birds, play in the Spray ground or simply enjoy the beautiful, outdoor Florida Keys setting.
A tour of the Turtle Hospital is always an interesting, educational experience. The hospital located in Marathon on the grounds of the old Hidden Harbor Motel is a hit with parents and children alike who want to witness staff and crew: rescue, rehab and release sick and injured sea turtles. The people behind this operation are heaven sent to the endangered sea turtles’ survival in the Florida Keys.
MARCH and APRIL
As March approaches, tourist season is in full swing in Marathon and the Florida Keys. The two-day Original Marathon Seafood Festival is upon us and this second most popular festival in the Keys after Key West Fantasy Fest is a must go to event for a seafood lovers’ treat. Local fishermen who are members of the Organized Fishermen of Florida catch all the seafood and offer them fresh off the boat and cooked with a local flair! Their wives cook the coveted Key Lime pies and other local delicacies. The most popular item is a Florida lobster dinner. Last year, more than 2,000 pounds of local spiny lobster was served. There is also big demand for stone crab, shrimp, fish, conch fritters and conch chowder.
The annual event has also grown in popularity to include music, art show, boat show, rides, games and booths selling products ranging from souvenir T-shirts, seagrass hats, sculptures and more from over 200 vendors from all over the country.Another well-organized and popular Marathon event happens in April. The Seven Mile Bridge run, held annually by the Marathon Runners Club – is one of the few races that takes place entirely over water!
The local Sheriff's Department close the bridge between 6:45am and 9am, with the race kicking off at 7:30am. Runners (limited to 1,500 spots) therefore have up to 1 hour 30 minutes to traverse the bridge, and “beat the bus”: if they can't keep up with the pace they are picked up by one of a small fleet of yellow school buses. A post-race party follows after the finishing runners are returned to the starting area by bus.
Meanwhile, offshore fishing is also at its peak with excellent catching probability for dolphin, cobia, gag grouper, yellowtail snapper, mangrove snapper, mutton snapper, swordfish, mackerel and other delicious species.
Booking a charter is really simple and easy. There are numerous charter boat captains and head boats out there who are available for a fun-filled, adventure-packed fishing day to remember. There are also local restaurants who will clean and cook your catch for you 5 or more ways as you desire for a reasonable fee.
MAY and JUNE
When the Spring break crowd has left, it’s one of the best times to be in the Florida Keys. The attractions are less crowded and the weather is perfect for wondering around, hiking and exploring the best that Marathon and the Keys has to offer.
Crane Point Hammock Museum & Nature Trail is located in the heart of Marathon. A 63-acre tropical oasis of hardwood trees, nature trails and educational displays for adults and children, it’s a secret hideaway for those who want to get lost in the woods. Crane Point offers more that a relaxing walk through history and nature. There are 2.5 miles of trails and wooden walkways crisscrossing the hammock. One trail leads to the Marathon Wild Bird Center, a bird clinic for injured pelicans, cormorants, egrets and other birds commonly found in the Keys. Everyone will enjoy a visit to the Crane Point, a destination on its own.
For some of the best snorkeling spots around, Sombrero Lighthouse Reef in Marathon is one of the most popular among avid snorkel enthusiasts. Known as a snorkeler’s dream, this fantastic spur and groove reef is full of interesting topography worth snorkeling and a variety of fish, profusion of sponges, coral and all forms of sea life to see. The reef also offers a nice range of depths, with mini canyons and even some sea cave arches to swim through for those who are brave enough to explore it. The reef is right on the edge of the barrier reef and you catch a boat from Marathon to the spot.
Swimming or just enjoying the warm ocean and the sunny skies is another favorite sport in these tropical islands. Right in our own backyard is Cocoplum Beach, perfect beach for a relaxing walk and a nice romantic stroll while collecting sea shells and looking out to the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Spend time here and get away from it all!
Sombrero Beach is a beach lover’s paradise. It offers everything: nice sand, blue waters and the amenities you need for a day on the beach. This well-known beach in Marathon offers picnic pavilions, volleyball courts, fishing spots, restrooms and showers. This is a good spot for those who want to see and be seen as it can get quite crowded.
JULY and AUGUST
Here they come! Lobster hunters will occupy and dominate the entire Florida Keys island chain trying to get their share of the spiny lobsters. For thousands of divers and thrill seekers all over South Florida, it’s game on as they hit the water for the lobster season. This annual event is comprised of two seasons: the 2-day mini season and 8-month regular lobster season. The mini lobster season is always the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. It’s always best to check with the Florida Fish and Wildlife and verify actual dates and regulations for the 2-day mini season.
The regular 8-month lobster season is always August 6 through March 31. If you wish to participate in lobster mini season or the regular season, you need a recreational saltwater fishing license and spiny lobster permit. Get your permits here! https://gooutdoorsflorida.com/
SEPTEMBER and OCTOBER
As September rolls in, Marathon and the rest of the island chain starts to slow down as winter residents and tourists try to stay away from summer showers. If you can stand the rain and the warm, humid weather (high 80s and low 90s), pack your bags and come enjoy the Keys at a much lower off-season rate. Which means you get to experience the same amazing sunsets, the beautiful ocean water, fresh seafood, delicious Key Lime pie and everything that everyone else would enjoy a few weeks later when the room rates surge during upcoming special events like the Key West Pride and Fantasy Fest!
A Mardi Gras-inspired parade may not come to mind when you think of the Florida Keys, but America’s southernmost point amps it up during Fantasy Fest, the most anticipated event of the year in Key West. Fantasy Fest is a 10-day, no holds barred party filled with costumes, body paint, drinking, dancing, living life to the hilt and plenty of skin showing. If you decide to participate and this is a must see and do experience: come with colorful over the top costumes and leave your inhibitions behind.
Started in 1979 by a small group of locals, the party was created to bring visitors to the island in what was a typically quiet season. It worked and the event has grown every year since its inception into a well-attended, wild extravaganza! Fun-loving revelers from all over the world bring their creativity and imagination as they descend upon Key West each year in October for 10 days filled with partying, parades and excitement. Each year, the organizers come up with a unique theme to begin the costume creative juices flowing early on for the season.
NOVEMBER and DECEMBER
While the leaves continue to fall up north, Marathon and the Florida Keys prepare for the occasional cold fronts that bring chilly weather. Visitors still find it relaxing and enjoy catching sun rays at beaches and pools with mostly sunny days and diminishing chances of rain.
November is one of the most tranquil months to visit Marathon except for the days when long weekend travelers visit during Veterans Day and Thanksgiving week. Bargain hunters are everywhere watching the weather forecast and waiting to snap up unbelievable deals. If you can time it right, this can be a great time to visit at a good price.