Considered the heart of the Florida Keys, Marathon has made a name for itself by celebrating and working to protect the unique flora and fauna that make the Keys a little piece of paradise. From sea turtle rehab to dolphin encounters to untouched mangrove forests, celebrate the beauty of the Keys at one of these remarkable Marathon destinations that are perfect for families
The Turtle Hospital
Rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing sea turtles while also educating the public on the dangers sea turtle habitats face is the mission of The Turtle Hospital in Marathon. Meet resident turtles, learn about the causes of common conditions that threaten sea turtles’ lives, and discover how the hospital helps these magnificent animals. You’ll leave with a renewed desire to do everything you can to keep beaches and oceans safe and clean for generations to come.
Dolphin Research Center
Get up close with dolphins and sea lions, whether that’s observing behavior sessions or swimming with dolphins! Unlike other parks that have dolphin performances, the Dolphin Research Center is dedicated to the education, research, and rescue of these highly-intelligent marine mammals. It’s a sanctuary for dolphins and aims to educate the public on how to help protect these beautiful animals.
Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters
While in Marathon, be sure to make time for a stop at Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, which allows you to get to know Keys wildlife on a personal level. Meet fish, sharks, eels, gators, seahorses, turtles, and more, some of which are in touch tanks. There is also a coral reef tank encounter if you’re leery of heading out into the big ocean but want a scuba-like experience.
Crane Point Hammock Museum and Nature Center
With a balance of natural beauty and history, Crane Point has it all. Four different butterfly gardens, miles of trails through a bird-haven hammock, a historic 1904 home, and…fish pedicures! Free with admission to this unique park, you can stick your feet in a tidal pool, and gambusia fish will nibble on your feet.
Curry Hammock State Park
Located between Key Largo and Big Pine Key at over 1,100 acres, Curry Hammock State Park is the largest undeveloped parcel of land in the area. A sanctuary for local birds, including peregrine falcons and migrating species, it protects some of the Florida Keys’ vital ecosystems, including mangrove swamps, hammocks, and seagrass beds. Kayak or paddleboard the mangrove trails and spot sea turtles, manatees, and other local wildlife.
There are also biking and hiking trails to wander or take a guided tour to learn about the native Florida ecosystems. And, of course, there’s plenty of pristine, turquoise shoreline for soaking up the sun and swimming. The park is also a popular spot for kiteboarding on windy days.
Ask a local where they like to spend their day at the beach, and they’ll point you to Sombrero Beach, a gorgeous stretch of sand with picnic pavilions, volleyball courts, showers and restrooms. The park was redeveloped in 2001 to be fully handicap accessible, making it an inclusive spot for visitors and locals alike to enjoy the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.
From April to October, Sombrero Beach is a nesting beach for sea turtles, where Loggerhead turtles lay eggs. Be aware that the city will protect this section of the beach, so pay attention to the signs marking turtle nesting areas.
Discover everything Marathon has to offer your eco-loving, adventurous family at fla-keys.com/marathon.
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