Marathon is a 10-mile-long family-oriented island community conveniently situated in the middle of the Keys island chain, comprised mainly of Vaca Key, Fat Deer Key and Grassy Key.
Residents, snowbirds and visitors enjoy Marathon's fishing heritage, an old-Keys lifestyle and seafaring traditions, a theme celebrated in the area's accommodations, such as private waterfront vacation homes, small hotels, beachside inns and tropical, family-style resorts; and annual seafood festivals and waterside restaurants that harvest fresh fish, lobster and stone crab claws from local waters.
Marathon is one of the Keys' most marine-friendly cities with nearly 1,200 wet slips, 1,200 dry slips and major facilities to accommodate transient cruisers.
There are also special mooring and managed anchorage fields in Boot Key Harbor as part of a statewide environmental protection pilot program. Boats on a mooring ball do pay a fee.
Marathon City Marina, considered the Keys' jewel for cruisers, administers 226 mooring balls and has limited dockage. Both mooring balls and dockage are available by the day, week or month.
Other features include two dinghy docks, storage, private showers and bathroom facilities, social center, coin-operated laundry and parking.
Florida Keys Marathon Airport busily accommodates a full range of services for general aviation enthusiasts and corporate jet operators. Two full-service FBO's offer fuel, maintenance, tie-down, pilot and passenger facilities. Ground transportation options are available including an airport shuttle, car rental agencies and taxi service.
Marathon offers spectacular sailing, fishing, world-class wreck and reef diving and snorkeling, in addition to the island's impeccably maintained beaches, eco-attractions and marine-based educational programs.
Iconic learning centers with educational focus where visitors can enjoy unique interactive experiences include The Turtle Hospital, the world's only licensed veterinary hospital dedicated to the treatment of sea turtles, and Dolphin Research Center, a not-for-profit education and research facility since 1984.
At Crane Point Museum, Nature Center & Historic Site, visitors can hike through a wondrously preserved tropical hardwood grove and visit the home of an early 20th-century settler family.
Visitors to the five-acre Pigeon Key venture back in time to experience a tiny island that once served as a home base for workers building the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad.
A federally protected section of the United States' only living coral barrier reef lies just a few miles offshore, at teeming formations such as Delta Shoals, Coffin Patch and Sombrero Reef, shallow sites popular for students learning to scuba dive.
In the deeper blue waters of the Florida Straits lie artificial reefs and the purposely-sunk wreck of the Thunderbolt.
For anglers, waters teem with offshore billfish and tuna in the winter, bridge-hugging tarpon in the spring and dolphin fish in the summer. On the north side of the island lie the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Bay and the Keys backcountry.