Island Bliss: A 5-Day Guide to Marathon, Florida
In the middle of the Florida Keys island chain, right before the Seven Mile Bridge, is Marathon, Florida. This island is celebrated for its breathtaking shoreline, marine adventures, environmental stewardship and unique island ambiance that draws visitors seeking relaxation, adventure and a deeper connection with nature. Marathon, Florida promises a low-key tropical escape that captivates the heart and soul.
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Isla Bella Beach Resort & Spa
New in 2019, this Florida Keys resort spans over a mile of beachfront, meaning gorgeous ocean views from all 199 rooms and suites, plus on-tap watersports and fishing activities.
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Day 1: The best way to see the Florida Keys
One of the best ways to absorb the beauty of the Florida Keys is by flight, either by airplane or helicopter. The Florida Keys Flight Academy offers picturesque aerial tours and flights in their classic World War II trainer aircraft, a Vultee BT-13. For the most breathtaking view at 2,000 feet, join them for a sunset tour. Keys Helicopter Tours carry up to four passengers in their Robinson R66 for thrilling views of Bahia Honda State Park, the Seven Mile Bridge, Sombrero Lighthouse and nearby keys.
Have an all-American lunch at Burdines Waterfront, a Tiki-themed, top-deck joint serving burgers, fresh hand-cut fries, seafood plates and sandwiches, hushpuppies and generous slices of key lime pie.
Have you ever dreamed of an up close and personal encounter with sea turtles? The Turtle Hospital in Marathon is a haven for sea turtles who become sick from ingesting foreign debris and are injured by boat collisions and entanglement. The Turtle Hospital rescue team rehabilitates and releases their fully recovered patients. Visit their permanent residents, sea turtles that are non-releasable due to their injuries. One of them is bound to steal your heart. You can “adopt” your new sea turtle friend to support them in their long and happy life at the hospital.
For an authentic Florida Keys feast, visit Keys Fisheries is famous for its fresh, local seafood. Their extensive menu offers stone crab claws, oysters, conch, Key West pink shrimp, lobster, Hogfish, Mahi Mahi, Snapper and Grouper. If chic waterside dining is more your style, go to Faro Blanco’s restaurant, Lighthouse Grill. Enjoy an impeccable view of the bay and a diverse menu of upscale American fare and seafood dishes.
Day 2: Gorgeous Marathon, Florida beaches for snorkelers, sunbathers and nature enthusiasts
You'll find several of the best beaches in the Florida Keys at Bahia Honda Key, a small island separated by the Seven Mile Bridge from Marathon. Bahia Honda State Park is a well-maintained park sprawling over 500 acres with restrooms, a snack bar and gift shop, kayak rentals and snorkeling excursions to Looe Key Reef.
Bahia Honda State Park is the perfect place to beach hop, especially if you have kiddos in tow, as each beach has its perks. Calusa Beach is a white crescent shoreline dotted with palm trees and positions beach-goes with an iconic view of the delipidated Bahia Honda Railroad Bridge stretching over the ocean. At low tide, Loggerhead Beach reveals a sandbar that makes for excellent conditions for wading in shallow water and searching for shells and beach glass. Sandspur Beach is a mile-long stretch of white sand, seashells and calm, bright blue water.
From Bahia Honda, you’re a scenic 15-minute drive from Big Pine Key and several fantastic lunch options. Trianos Taco Company is a food truck off the Overseas Highway, open Monday through Thursday. They’ve received high praise for their delicious tacos and often sell out! Bagel Island Sandwich Shoppe crafts fresh house-made bagels and stacks them full of sandwich toppings. 7 Mile Cafe & Kava Bar serves smoothies, coffee, cold-pressed juices, paninis, pastries and energy-protein balls.
If you prefer to visit Marathon beaches without traveling far from your resort, Coco Plum Beach and Sombrero Beach are popular between locals and nesting sea turtles. Sombrero Beach is a true jewel of the Florida Keys. Its park facilities are well maintained with a playground for kids. Come for an excellent snorkeling experience, and stay for the beautiful view of turquoise water and Sombrero Reef Lighthouse in the distance. Coco Plum Beach is a quieter, low-key, dog-friendly location with vegetation suitable for hammocking.
End your beach day with a casual sunset dinner at the iconic tiki Island Fish Co. For a more upscale and less touristy dining experience, go to Barracuda Grill. Sit inside the cool fish-themed restaurant for its delicious, eclectic seafood menu.
Day 3: World-Class fishing in Marathon
Charter a fishing boat for the day for a self-caught catch-of-the-day dinner. The Marathon has incredible spots, making it a world-class fishing destination. Catch yourself a Tarpon, Blackfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo or a mighty Billfish on an offshore fishing trip. If you don’t have your sea legs yet and are new to the experience, reef fishing trips offer calmer waters swarming with Snapper, Grouper, Kingfish and Mackrel.
Clean and prepare your fresh fish for pan, and take it to Lazy Days South or Castaways Waterfront Restaurant & Sushi Bar for an easy, oceanfront dinner.
Day 4: Rejuvenate the island way - Marathon, FL, healthy restaurants and luxe spas
Indulge in a day of relaxation, starting with a morning yoga session. Book your Marathon, FL vacation at Isla Bella Beach Resort, and a 9 am yoga class at Pelican Point is included with your stay. Guests at Hawks Cay Resort can join a sunrise vinyasa-style class that welcomes yogis at any level.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your resort before pampering yourself at the spa. The full-service spa at Isla Bella Beach Resort will restore you to feeling refreshed after several days in Southern Florida’s sun. Calm Waters Spa of Hawks Cay Resort is a beautiful facility with attentive therapists. Try a Deep Ocean body massage or a detoxifying, superfood facial. Tranquility Bay offers an extensive menu of private spa services delivered in the comfort of your room.
It’s always good to hydrate and refuel after the spa, especially with fresh and healthy food! Irie Island Eats is a food truck submersed in a cozy garden serving Caribean-inspired bowls, tacos, wraps, and salads all packed with your protein of choice and bright veggies, paired with delicious sides like coconut rice and Key Lime cilantro slaw. This is the type of good food you need in the Florida Keys.
Enjoy the rest of your day lounging in a cabana poolside, take a dip ocean or pool, and pick up a good book and a fruity beverage. It’ll be a true afternoon of island leisure.
When you’re in the Keys, you have to have as many meals by the water as possible, but you don’t have to sacrifice nutritious eats for a dockside dinner. Angler & Ale is a dockside restaurant within Hawks Cay Resort with vegetarian and vegan options while keeping the classic Florida Keys staples everyone loves. Try the ceviche of the day, avocado flatbread, Korean short ribs and the Angler’s local catch.
Day 5: Drift into the Florida Keys sunset
For a locally loved Marathon, Florida breakfast, try Isla Latte. Order a breakfast sandwich on Cuban bread or a traditional Cuban pastry and a cafe con leche.
Use the late morning to find the perfect souvenir from one of the island’s boutique shops like Shady Palm Art Gallery, DK’s Beach Boutique and The Sandal Factory. Then treat yourself to a slice of award-winning key lime pie at Sweet Savanah’s of the Florida Keys.
For your final dinner on the island, go to Herbies Bar & Chowder House, the oldest restaurant in Marathon, FL. They have a very elevated dive bar menu and the iciest beer.
Round off your Marathon vacation with a sunset tour from Isla Bella Resort. They’ve partnered with Two Conchs Island Tours to offer guests an unbelievable view of a Florida Key’s sunset out on the water.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspo? Check out Fora Travel Advisor Michelle Zelena's guide, See & Be Seen in Miami, Florida.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Florida.