The Middle Keys, Florida Keys
The Middle Keys encompass Marathon Key at the west, Key Colony Beach, Grassy Key, Duck Key, and Long Key at the east. The area, known as the heart of the Florida Keys, spans more than 20 miles and offers great variety of activities and visitor amenities.
The Middle Keys have a family-friendly atmosphere. The communities have preserved Florida’s fishing heritage, maintaining the traditional Keys lifestyle that brings snowbirds back year after year.
TRAVEL TIMES BY CAR (APPROXIMATE):
Marathon to Key Largo: 65 minutes
Marathon to Islamorada: 40 minutes
Marathon to Big Pine Key: 35 minutes
Marathon to Key West: 80 minutes
Marathon to Miami International Airport: 2.75 hours
Marathon to Ft. Lauderdale International Airport: 3 hours
Use our handy Yelp! feeds to see all the restaurants, shopping, diving, fishing, arts & entertainment, beaches, bike rentals, boating, parks, rafting/kayaking. coffee/tea, tours, and nightlife in the area. Choose your area below.
The average temperature in Marathon ranges between 75 and 91 degrees in August, the warmest month, and 56 and 77 in January, the coolest month.
- Sombrero Beach is a beautiful park and beach at the end of Sombrero Blvd. (Webcam here) In 2001 the City redeveloped Sombrero Beach to include total handicap accessibility. A lovely sandy beach on the Atlantic Ocean frames a shady park with picnic pavilions, volleyball courts, restrooms and showers. It’s also a turtle nesting beach. From April through October it is not unusual to have Loggerhead turtles (primarily) coming on to the beach at night to lay their eggs. During active turtle nesting season the City limits human activities in the vicinity of active turtle nest establishments. Turtle nest areas typically represents less than 10% of the available beach area. The remainder of the beach is open for our visitors and residents to enjoy. The hours are from 7:00 a.m. until dusk. To get there turn South on Sombrero Beach Road and drive to the end of the road. You are there!” MM 50, OCEANSIDE, MARATHON , FL
- Bahia Honda State Park is one of Florida’s southernmost state parks, known for beautiful beaches, magnificent sunsets, and excellent snorkeling. Dr. Beach named Bahia Honda as America’s Best Beach in 1992. More recently, it was selected as a Trip Advisor 2014 Traveler’s Choice. Visitors can picnic on the beach and take a swim, or simply relax and enjoy the balmy sea breezes that caress the shores year-round. Anglers can fish from shore or bring a boat and launch at the boat ramp. The park’s concession rents kayaks and snorkeling gear and offers boat trips to the reef for snorkeling excursions. Bahia Honda is an excellent place to see wading birds and shorebirds. The nature center can introduce nature lovers to the island’s unique plants and animals. Full-facility campsites and vacation cabins are available. It’s located between Big Pine Key and Marathon. 36850 Overseas Hwy, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, Phone (305) 872-2353.
- Coco Plum Beach - Coco Plum Beach is also on the Atlantic Ocean. It is more of a natural beach area with an adjacent wetland area. There are restroom facilities and a covered pavilion available. Coco Plum Beach is a turtle nesting beach also. To get there turn South on Coco Plum Drive and the beach entrance is 1.4 miles on the right hand side of the road. The hours are from 7:00 a.m. until dusk.
- For information about mooring buoys, marinas, boat ramps, paddling trails, safety and courtesy see the site maintained by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
- For up-to-date weather forecasts visit NOAA’s official marine forecast site
- For tide information, visit Salt Water Tides.
- See additional boating resources at the Florida Keys’ official tourism website
- For boat rentals, see our Directory
- For kayak rentals and eco-touring, see our Directory
- See additional fishing resources at the Florida Keys’ official tourism website
- For charter suggestions, check Marathon Yelp, Long Key Yelp, or Key Colony Beach Yelp
- Good introductory information at Florida-Keys-Fishing.org
- Florida Keys news and forums at FloridaSportsman.com
SNORKELING & DIVING ATTRACTIONS
Marathon’s reefs offer great variety in coral formations and fish life. The crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean reveal a marine wilderness comprised of an extensive spur-and-groove coral complex and numerous well-developed patch reefs. Each reef is populated by a vast array of Caribbean tropical fish and invertebrates, with the fascinating addition of both modern and historical shipwrecks to complete the tremendous sport dive appeal of the region.
- Adelaide Baker – This historic shipwreck features a pair of huge stacks in only 25 feet of water, a vivid reminder of the days when steamships plied the Florida Keys.
- Sombrero Reef – This traditional favorite of the Marathon dive portfolio is marked by a 140-foot lighted tower. Coral canyons and archways provide refuge for schools of grunt and snapper while solitary barracuda appear to stand sentinel.
- Coffin’s Patch – This is not a single reef but a conglomerate of six distinct patch reefs, each with a unique identity defined by a predominant coral species. For example, at Pillar Coral Patch dozens of intact pillar coral heads thrust their fuzzy polyps to snare passing nutrients. Snorkelers will especially appreciate the shallow elkhorn forests found throughout Coffin’s Patch in less than 20 feet of water.
- Delta Shoals – Here a vast network of coral canyons fan seaward from a sandy shoal, offering wonderful opportunities for both diving and snorkeling amid elkhorn, brain, and star coral heads.
- The Thunderbolt – This 188-foot ship is the queen of the Marathon wreck fleet. Sunk intentionally as a dive attraction on March 3, 1986, she now sits perfectly upright in 115 feet of water. Her superstructure is coated with colorful sponge, coral, and hydroid, providing refuge and sustenance to large angelfish, jacks, and a variety of deep-water pelagic creatures.
- Snorkeling spots from TropicalSnorkeling.com
The Seven Mile Bridge is the famous 7-mile long bridge connecting Knight’s Key to Little Duck Key. It was considered the longest bridge in existence when originally constructed. There are two bridges in this location: The older bridge, originally known as the Knights Key-Pigeon Key-Moser Channel-Pacet Channel Bridge, was constructed from 1909-1912 under the direction of Henry Flagler as part of the Florida East Coast Railway’s Key West Extension, also known as the Overseas Railroad. This bridge was badly damaged by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Although it was subsequently refurbished as an automobile highway bridge, it now serves as a fishing pier and provides access to Pigeon Key and the Pigeon Key Foundation & Marine Science Center.
Crane Point ‘s Museum of Natural History provides visitors with a rich display of local wildlife, marine life and natural and cultural artifacts: objects from Spanish explorations, butterflies, tree snails, sea turtles, Key deer, and tropical fish within a simulated coral reef cave. Walk the Nature Trails through a dense tropical forest and end up at a spectacular view of Florida Bay and the 1950’s Crane House. See birds up close and learn how injured birds are rehabilitated and released at Marathon Wild Bird Center. Additionally, visit the Creature Feature, an exhibit about native Keys’ animals which includes an observational bee hive. Spend time enjoying the lagoons and Marine Touch Tanks, home to various species of Keys’ fish and invertebrates. Play on a pirate ship at the Children’s Activity Center. Visit the second oldest house in the Keys, the Adderley House Historic Site, built by a Bahamian immigrant. 5550 Overseas Hwy, MM 50.5, Marathon, FL 33050, Phone (305) 743-9100.
Curry Hammock State Park is made up of a group of islands in the Middle Keys, with public access to swimming, a playground, picnic tables, grills, and showers on the ocean side of Little Crawl Key. The hardwood hammocks found on these tropical islands support one of the largest populations of thatch palms in the United States. Mangrove swamps, seagrass beds, and wetlands provide vital habitats for tropical wildlife. 56200 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050, Phone (305) 289-2690.
Long Key State Park was once the site of a luxurious fishing resort that was destroyed during the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Today, visitors can explore this island by canoeing through a chain of lagoons or hiking two land-based trails. The Golden Orb Trail leads visitors through five natural communities to an observation tower that provides a panoramic view of the island and its profusion of plant and animal life. Some of the best bonefishing in the Keys is found here. Full-facility campsites overlook the Atlantic Ocean. 67400 Overseas Hwy, MM 67.5, Long Key, FL 33001, Phone (305) 664-4815.
The Dolphin Research Center offers several exciting presentations daily demonstrating the dolphins’ high flying athletics, dolphin education fun facts, dolphin research, new behavior training, medical behaviors, and much more. Enjoy dolphin swims and other encounters, as well as other fun chances to touch a dolphin. 5890 Overseas Hwy, Grassy Key, FL 33050, Phone (305) 289-1121.
The Turtle Hospital was opened in 1986 with four main goals: 1) repair injured sea turtles and return them to the wild, 2) educate the public through outreach programs to local schools, 3) conduct and assist with research which aids the sea turtles (in conjunction with state universities), and 4) work toward environmental legislation which makes the beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles. Four species of sea turtle are treated at the Hospital: Loggerhead, Green, Hawksbill, and Kemp’s Ridley. The hospital receives numerous sick or injured turtles each year and the number of patients is usually about 45 at any given time (although this number fluctuates). Price of admission includes an approximate 45 minute educational guide of the hospital with a presentation and a 45 minute guide through the sea turtle rehabilitation area. Reservations are required, admission subject to cancellation due to emergencies or weather. 2396 Overseas Hwy, MM 48.5, Marathon, FL 33050, Phone (305)743-2552.
See additional resources on local attractions in the Middle Keys at the Florida Keys’ official tourism website.
- Marathon’s Dog Park. In 2009 a group of dog lovers “Friends of the Dog Park” came together to raise funds for a dog park at Rotary Park. The area next to the Rotary Children’s Park (between 75th and 76th Streets Oceanside) is designated for your four legged friends supervised off-leash dog play. There are separate areas for large and small dogs. Simple rules are posted at the park for everyone’s enjoyment of the park. The park is open from 7:00 am until dusk daily.
- Also see its Facebook page
- Dog-friendly Attractions
The Florida Keys Country Club has a golf layout that “spans 6,500 yards, creating a challenge for golfers of all levels. This course was crafted by Mark Mahannah. Touring professionals, serious club competitors and even casual amateurs enjoy this tough yet forgiving course that is rich with palm tree-lined fairways, lush manicured greens and breathtaking views. This is a must-play Florida Keys golf course that will have you reaching for every club in your bag during your round.” It also offers Har-True tennis courts.
There are public tennis courts available at Marathon Community Park as well as a playground, fitness trail, athletic fields, an amphitheater, and more.
is located directly on U.S. # 1 at 200 36th Street Ocean (MM 49). There are four tennis courts, a tennis wall, a combination hockey/basketball court (3 courts), two little league fields, and two soccer fields. There is also an X-treme skating park, two shuffleboard courts, two bocce ball courts, a batting cage, concession stand, amphitheater, picnic areas, and restrooms. This facility is handicap accessible. The park hours are 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
For additional parks in the area, see the City of Marathon’s website
- See a directory of Middle Keys shopping suggestions at the Florida Keys official tourism website.
- Shopping suggestions from the Marathon Chamber of Commerce site.
- Shopping destinations in the Middle Keys from Marathon Yelp, Long Key Yelp, or Key Colony Beach Yelp
AMENITIES & RESOURCES
- See our Business Directory for information on supermarkets, drugstores, healthcare, marine supplies, government, law enforcement, veterinarians, and other Keys resources you may want to visit during your stay.