The plans are underway and the invites will be soon sent out! Derrick and Melissa are getting married! June 21, 2016 is the date and the Florida Keys is the place.
Derrick and Melissa both want all of our attendee’s to have the most fun possible and can hardly wait to see everyone. In the meantime, we wanted to put together some information for you on places to stay, things to see, places to eat and so forth. Derrick will be updating this page often, please check back. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, we have a lot of things to do in this unique wonder world we call home.
Even though we are on an island, we have a number of things you would expect. We have two grocery stores, Winn Dixie and Publix. Walgreen’s has two stores on our island and is the primary pharmacy although Publix also has a pharmacy if needed. We do NOT have a Wal*Mart but we do have a limited K-Mart. Most things you need will be available locally, if you have any specific items you absolutely cannot live without though, you may want to make arrangements to bring it or ship it ahead of time.
WHERE TO STAY
Seeing as the Florida Keys are a tourist destination, there are a great many places to stay. This includes a wide array of pricing as well. Everything from a small mom and pop motel to a standard flag hotel, a half duplex for rent by the week to a full fledged and fully stocked 5+ bedroom estate. Here are a few that we have already made arrangements to refer people to.
Blackfin Resort and Marina – http://www.blackfinresort.com; 305-743-2393 – The reservations block is under the name Johnson wedding. They have standard hotel rooms, efficiency apartments and a couple of 2 bedroom apartments. Very clean and on the water, they are pet friendly and are only a half mile from our home. It is next door to the Hurricane Bar and Grille for easy food and beverages as well as stumbling distance for those who enjoy some adult beverages. All reservations for less than 7 days will receive a 10% discount and anyone staying for 7 or more will get a 15% discount. With the discounts, this should put the prices from around $85 and up per night.
Coco Plum Vacation Rentals – http://www.keysrentalsonline.com/; 305-289-2212 – This is the company that I work for, and my broker Kelly Willey has kindly offered to help find places for our guests. This is all about vacation rentals and most are going to require a 7 night stay. The prices vary depending on the property so make sure to look around. You can find places from around $80 per night and up, just depends on what you are looking for and how many are in your party.
Rentals in Paradise – http://www.rentalsinmarathonkey.com ; 305-879-2543 – This is a very good friend of mine who owns her own company. Her name is Katie Ulrich and she has a number of vacation rentals as well. As before there are restrictions on how long you have to stay, but there can be some great deals and wonderful places. Make sure to give her a call and talk with her about what you need.
There are a number of other hotels and motels in the area. Here’s a small list for you to look up if you wanted other options.
Hyatt House at Faro Blanco – http://www.faroblancoresort.com/hotel
Courtyard by Marriott – http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mthmc-courtyard-marathon-florida-keys/
Tranquility Bay – http://www.tranquilitybay.com
Sea Dell Motel – http://www.seadellmotel.com/
Banana Bay Resort and Marina – http://www.bananabay.com
Ranch House motel – The Ranch House is a mom and pop roadside motel but they are clean and very friendly. The prices are reasonable and it’s located in the center of town. No website, but a quick google search can get you what you need if you can’t find something at the other places.
King Sail Resort – https://www.marathonfla.com/
Holiday Inn Express – http://www.holidayinnexpressmarathon.com/
Coco Plum beach and tennis club – http://www.cocoplum.com
Sombrero Resort – http://www.sombreroresortmarina.com/
PLACES TO EAT
The food of the Florida Keys is varying. We have a bit of the Caribbean flare with a touch of that southern side as well. Seafood is the most common request. Unfortunately we will be outside of the season for Florida Lobster, but you can get a great variety of local fish and other seafood. Here are a couple of our favorite restaurants.
Castaways Restaurant and Sushi Bar – http://www.jonesn4sushi.com/ – This is by far our favorite restaurant in town. It’s not on the main highway, but it has a great atmosphere and is very reasonable with great food. Everything from a burger to steak, fresh seafood and sushi. 35+ beers on tap! Definitely a must go place. Derrick’s favorite menu item is the Oysters Tokyo, fresh, chilled raw oysters with massago and kimchee. Mmm… Melissa’s favorite item is the Surf and Turf roll, cooked lobster rolled with sushi rice and topped with prime rib. Delicious!
Florida Keys Lobster and Steak House – http://www.flkeyssteakandlobster.com/ – Located at MM 49 across from the city park. Easy to get to from anywhere. The steakhouse boasts one of the classier atmosphere’s and the food is delicious. Open for lunch or dinner, ask for Kevin as your bartender.
Marathon Grill and Ale House – http://floridakeysmilemarkers.com/places-to-eat-marathon-florida/item/533-marathon-grill-ale-house – One of the newest restaurants in town and owned by a great couple, the Ale House has good food for reasonable prices. The restaurant is comfortable and relaxed with lots of locals to talk to.
Sunset Grille and Raw Bar – http://www.sunsetgrille7milebridge.com/ – Quite possibly the prettiest place to get that perfect sunset picture from. Located at MM 47 and the foot of the historic 7 mile bridge overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Sunset Grille faces west and has the view to dream about. Come by boat or by car, the giant Tiki Bar is where you will want to stop for at least one cocktail.
Herbies restaurant – http://www.herbiesrestaurant.com/ – Herbies is a local conch (pronounced like “Konk”) chowder house. They serve fresh seafood and american fare. Very reasonable prices and the food is excellent. There’s a reason they have been around forever. It’s just that good.
ATTRACTIONS AND THINGS TO DO
The area is known for the water. And almost everything down here has to do with the water in one form or another. Either you’re on it, in it, under it, watching it or drinking it. We don’t have a lot of beaches like one would think. The islands are made of coral and have small beaches. The city of Marathon is not very long and we are fortunate to have 2 very nice beaches. Here are some places to visit while you’re down here. Our house is at Mile Marker 49 (MM 49) for reference.
Sombrero Beach (MM 50) – Cost: Free
Coco Plum Beach (MM 54) – Cost: Free
Bahia Honda State Park (MM 35) – http://bahiahondapark.com/ – Cost: $4 per person or $8 per vehicle
Dolphin Research Center (MM 59) – http://www.dolphins.org Cost: Varies Adults $28.00, Military and Veterans $25.00, Children 4-12 $23.00, Children 3 and under: Free.; additional for other events like swimming with the dolphins, meet the dolphins. See website for more details.
Aquarium Encounters (MM 54) – http://www.floridakeysaquariumencounters.com/ Cost: $20 adults $15 kids – Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters is your home for the most interactive Florida Keys Aquarium experience. Join us for daily shark feedings and swim among the fish on our coral reef. You can even pet a stingray in our stingray encounter!
Boat Rentals, Jet ski rentals, Parasailing
Jerry’s Watersports – http://www.jerryswatersports.com/ 1-800-775-2646
Captain Pip’s – http://captainpips.com/
Kayak / paddleboard rentals
Wheels 2 Go – http://www.wheels-2-go.com/ 305-289-4279
Scuba Diving – Scuba diving and Snorkeling are two of the favorite past times down here. The ocean has lots to see. If you want to see what everyone is talking about, check out these places.
Tilden’s Dive Center – http://www.tildensscubacenter.com/ – 305-743-7255
Capt. Hooks – http://www.captainhooks.com/ – 800-CPT-HOOK
Hall’s Dive Center – http://www.hallsdiving.com/ – 305-743-5929
Spirit Snokeling – http://www.spiritsnorkeling.net/ – 305-289-0614 – For those who don’t want to go Scuba diving, or haven’t yet been certified and want to see what all the hub bub is about, this is a great way to go. $30 per person gets you out to the reef and back. Feel free to grab an underwater camera from Walgreens for pictures of all the fish and turtles!
CHARTER FISHING – This is one of the largest industries down here. If you have ever been fishing, try doing it down here. The fish you love to catch in the lakes are the size of what we use for bait! There are a lot of charter captains down here and you can catch a lot of types of fish, from Mangrove and Yellowtail snapper to Grouper and more. Dolphin, which is also known as Mahi Mahi or Dorado is pretty common and delicious. You can fish from a private charter or go out on your own boat rental. There are also head boats down here that go to the reef and are happy to help you catch a bunch of fish for those on a budget.
Capt. Chris Johnson and Seasquared Charters – http://www.seasquaredcharters.com/ – 305-743-5305 – Capt. Chris and his crew are amazing and will make sure you have a terrific time out on the water. He books up quick so if you want him or any of his boats, you’ll need to call them early. Make sure to tell him or his wife Christy that Melissa and I sent you!
Sea Dog Charters – http://seadogcharters.net/ – 305-743-8255 – Sea Dog is a small charter boat, they can take up to 6 people and are usually pretty inexpensive if you opt for the shared charter.
Marathon Lady – http://fishfloridakeys.com/marathonlady/ – 305-743-5580 – The Marathon Lady is a “head boat” which means they take a lot of passengers at one time. They do a couple of trips per day and take you out to the reef to catch primarily yellowtail snapper, along with some mangrove and mutton, it is possible that you can come back with the occasional grouper too. Pretty inexpensive all told but it also has very few frills. It’s great for a single person or two on a budget!
Key West day tripping!
You’ll want to take a day to visit Key West while you’re here. Key West is the southernmost city in the continental United States. It is located 90 miles north of Havana, Cuba and is 45 miles from our house in Marathon. The drive takes between 45 mins to an hour depending on traffic but it is a beautiful drive for sure. Lots of bridges and islands, all with their own flavor to see along the way. Big Pine Key is a traditional stop, they have the tiny Key Deer, a subspecies of the whitetail deer that we are all familiar with.
Key West has many attractions to see. The Southern Most Point is very popular and is a great stop for a photo op. Duval Street is where the New Orleans influence can be seen the most with street vendors and lots of shops and bars and restaurants. Mallory Square is where everyone gathers every day to celebrate the sunset. Street performers, vendors with homemade items galore gather with the thousands of people to watch the glowing ball of light go away again. It’s pretty awesome.
Of course there is more than bars and shopping, there is a ton of history here as well. From the East and West Martello towers to Fort Zachary Taylor and the Little White House that Harry S. Truman lived in for a while while he was the President of the United States. Earnest Hemingway’s house is on Whitehead Street and you can visit with all his six toed cats. For the really adventurous, you can take a day trip out to the Dry Totugas and Fort Jefferson and take the tour.