WELCOME TO MARATHON
Located in the heart of the Middle Keys, half way between Key Largo and Key West, between Mile Markers (MM 60) and Mile Marker 47 (MM 47). Marathon is the second largest city in the Florida Keys and has a low to medium non-towered international airport for private jets and charter services.
The Middle Keys have 13 islands and are known for their beaches, coral reefs and wide variety of residential neighborhoods. The islands of Marathon are Boot Key, Knights Key, Hog Key, Vaca Key, Stirrup Key, Crawl and Little Crawl Key, East and West Sister’s Island, Deer Key and Fat Deer Key, Long Pine Key and Grassy Key. The island has a Home Depot, Publix, Winn Dixie, Kmart, West Marine, Marriott, Hyatt, and the new, luxury Isla Bella Beach Resort at Knights Key.
A true sense of community infused with vacationers and transient boaters
There are approximately 9,000 residents who live on the island and half of them are seasonal residents. Some live on a boat tied to a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor, the city’s marina with 350 mooring balls. Volunteerism and social activities abound. Popular social clubs include the Marathon Garden Club, Marathon Yacht Club, San Pablo Catholic Women’s Club, Zonta Club of Marathon, Key Colony Beach Fishing Club and many more. It’s a friendly place where everyone knows your name. Where locals won’t honk their horn at you when you’re driving, if you take a few extra seconds when the red light turns green. Residents are noticeably kind and helpful.
Marathon residents respect and honor all veterans, active military, law enforcement and first responders in many ways. From parades to pancake breakfasts, to a sincere thank you handshake. The Disabled American Veterans, Marathon Elks Lodge and American Legion (VFW) all have active chapters on the island.
WHAT TO EXPECT
A city quietly transforming its curb appeal on land while surrounded by pristine waters
Marathon is one of the few areas in the Florida Keys with a beautiful white sandy beach. Sombrero Beach faces the west where Sombrero Lighthouse can be seen off in the distance. The lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in the Florida Keys. Sombrero Beach Park has picnic pavilions, restrooms, volleyball courts, a natural kayak launch and snorkeling corals right along the shore.
Tucked next to the 7 Mile Bridge, residents with boats have the convenience of accessing both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Boats with fishing towers or sailboats with a mast less than 65 feet tall can pass under the highest point of the 7 Mile Bridge. The next closest tall bridge is 23 miles to the northeast, at Channel 5 in Fiesta Key.
Residents who live in Marathon are of all ages. A wonderful mix of retirees, young families and everyone in between. There are three schools in the city: Marathon High School, Marathon Middle School and Stanley Switlik Elementary School. Fisherman’s Community Hospital built in 1959, suffered irreparable damage. Construction commencement of the new Fisherman’s Community Hospital, a $40 million facility, is set for some time in 2019.
Marathon Community Park is a huge hometown park with tennis courts, ball fields, skate park and outdoor amphitheater where festivals take place year round. The island also has a hometown community theatre and movie cinema who offer beer and wine.
Florida Keys Country Club is the island’s 9 hole golf course. Pre-Irma, it had 18 holes. The golf course suffered severe damage. Locals still have access to the golf course while new plans are in the works. The Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce is one of the finest chamber’s we’ve participated in actively promoting local businesses and hosting exciting monthly events. Those include business after hours, luncheons and breakfasts.
Most work hard and play hard, volunteerism is second nature
There is so much happening in Marathon during the winter season. Festivals and events almost every weekend and when the clock strikes 5pm, happy hours kick-in and Marathon has some of the best in the Florida Keys. At Sparky’s has all you can eat shrimp and chicken wings are just 30 cents each. Castaways serves up the best sushi happy hour deal on the island with a variety of sushi rolls around $7. At Keys Fisheries’ upstairs bar on the gulf side, everyone is served a tropical shot at sunset, to toast the ending of beautiful day. They also serve fresh stone crab claws, from right off the boats, for $3 each during season. Florida Steak and Lobster House starts their happy hour early, from 1130am-6pm and has an extensive happy hour menu ranging from $6-8ish.
If you’re not working or drinking, you’re likely fishing and Marathon is the place. The island has two hometown tackle shops: Capt Hook’s Marina & Dive Center and The Tackle Box. Talk with these locals and you’ll up your catch. January - March, Sea Square Charters and The Tackle Box host free fishing classes at Hyatt Place Faro Blanco. The marina here is one of the finest on the island with dockage for boats up to 120’ in length, fuel and a 1950’s 65 foot tall restored white lighthouse. Lighthouse Grill, at the marina, has a covered outdoor tiki bar and great lawn for special events.
Marathon has five wildlife and research centers: Dolphin Research Center, The Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys Encounters, Pigeon Key Foundation and the Marathon Wild Bird Center at Crane Pointe Museum and Nature Center. They offer educational programs, wildlife observation and fulfilling volunteerism opportunities. Most full-time residents are members and support them all.
Where boating and wildlife watching is addicting
While most people pass on through on their way to Key West, those who’ve been out on the water in Marathon realize the island’s secret - dazzling snorkeling reefs, cool fishing spots, and the chance to play with dolphins in the wild. Where seeing manta rays, manatees or tarpon roll is a common occurrence. Residents are surrounded with clean air, beautiful ocean water and endless sunshine.
A varied mix of stilt homes on dry lots and oceanfront homes, some low rise condos
Popular neighborhoods in Marathon include Coco Plum, Sombrero Beach, Little Venice, Marathon Shores, Morton and Stirrup Key.
Stilt homes on deepwater canals can be found in the $500s and dry lot stilt homes from the $400s. Estate oceanfront homes can easily surpass $3 million. There are few RV parks scattered here and there. One level homes are phasing out as flood insurance rates continue to rise. Lots are available to build a home but un-permitted lots are required to go through ROGO (Rate of Growth Ordinance) approval which restricts the total number of residents on barrier islands. The estimated date for maximum capacity is June 2023. After that, new home building would require tearing down an existing permitted property. Dry lots can be found in the low $100s. Oceanfront and canal lots begin in the low $200s.
Marlin Bay Yacht Club, on the gulf side, is one of the newer gated communities on the island. This resort-style enclave with luxury residences and modern boat slips has many amenities; a heated beach entry swimming pool, hot tub, fitness center, sauna, steam room, concierge services, and more.
The City of Marathon does permit 7-day vacation rentals with proper licensing. Beyond the city limits, there is a 28-day minimum for Florida Keys vacation homes.
ANNUAL FESTIVALS IN MARATHON
Florida Keys Celtic Festival - January
Pigeon Key Art Festival - February
Coral Head MusicFest - February
Marathon Seafood Festival - March
7 Mile Bridge Run - April
Marathon Bull & Cow Dolphin Tournament - May
Battle in the Bay Dragon Boat Festival - June
4th of July Fireworks at Sombrero Beach - July
Hero’s Tribute Fireworks at Hawks Cay - September
YOU’LL FALL IN LOVE WITH
The people, the foodie scene and the 7 Mile Bridge
Marathon is one of the easiest places to make friends. Everyone has a story and shared passion for the Florida Keys. Locals refer to the Keys as the ‘rock’ and their smiles quickly turn into frowns when they have to head to the mainland for any reason. Locals don’t mind trading off brand label shopping for new fishing gear.
Sombrero Lighthouse and the 7 Mile Bridge are the most incredible backyard playgrounds. When the seas are flat, you’ll find locals unplugged and out on the water. There are many restaurants in Marathon to visit by boat such as Burdines, Sunset Grill, Lighthouse Grill at Faro Blanco, Island Fish, and Keys Fisheries.
Marathon is the Heart of the Florida Keys,.