If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure while in the Florida Keys, kayaking is a great option. We went kayaking in Marathon, FL for one day of our Florida Keys road trip and it was one of our favorite activities!
The natural beauty in the Keys is unmatched – especially if you love beach and ocean views. If you’re exploring the upper keys for a few days then pop over and check out these fun things to do in Everglades National Park.
While there are multiple places to kayak in the Keys, I found Curry Hammock Beach State Park in Marathon to be my favorite.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about kayaking in Marathon!
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Where to Go Kayaking in Marathon
Curry Hammock State Park
This was one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever been kayaking before and the mangrove tunnel was magical!
The state park has single and tandem kayaks available for rent but you’ll want to arrive early during the busy season.
We got there around 10:30 am and all they had left were single kayaks instead of tandems. Thank goodness we didn’t mind renting the singles.
If you want to rent kayaks then let the ranger know when you stop to pay – entrance to the park was only $6 total for both of us. You’ll pull over to the right once you pass the gatehouse and go in to pay for your kayaks.
The singles were $16 each to rent (December 2021) and after you pay, there is a small hut just across the street where you pick up paddles, PFDs, and the kayak seat.
Then you’ll drive down to the beach area where the kayaks are located. Pick out your kayaks, strap your seat in, and put on your PFD and you’re ready to go.
I’m always a little wary of kayaking in the ocean just because when you’re going against the current you tire out super quickly. I was happily surprised here though!
We did the Mangrove Tunnel Loop which is 1.2 miles long. You stay close enough to land that the current isn’t a huge deal, at least that was the case when we went.
Tyler did paddle out to Deer Key but he didn’t go all the way around which would have added 1.3 miles to the trip.
What you see will change day to day but we saw fish, lots of birds, and TONS of jellyfish. You’ll go through what they call upsidedown jelly alley.
After the jellyfish, the mangrove tunnel was my favorite part. The water isn’t as clear through here but this is where I saw a good bit of the fish.
Sombrero Beach Park
Sombrero Beach is another popular spot to go kayaking in Marathon, FL. This beach is well known as a nesting site for Loggerhead Sea Turtles between April and October.
If you don’t have your own kayak then you can rent one from one of the kayak rental agencies (see below) and either have it delivered or pick it up yourself.
The waves are pretty calm here too and it’s a popular swimming spot. Just watch out because there are large boats that come through just offshore.
The wake from those boats always makes me nervous about flipping over. Sombrero Beach is a popular spot for kayaking tours in the area as well.
It’s also a great place to watch the sunset if you don’t want to go all the way down to Bahia Honda.
Here’s another Marathon city park with a kayak launch. While kayaking at the city parks isn’t as straightforward as going on a tour or at the state park, it’s still an option.
The kayak launch did close for some time due to Hurricane damage so you may want to call the city park office or ask one of the outfitters to confirm it’s open.
This park provides access to the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Paddling Trail.
Marathon Kayak Rentals
There are multiple places in Marathon where you can rent kayaks. Most places rent them out for a daily rate but if you’re staying in the area for longer then you can do a three-day rental or even a week-long rental.
At Florida Keys Kayak & Paddleboarding you can rent 9′ & 12′ kayaks, tandems, and paddleboards. They even offer free delivery from Key Largo to Sugarloaf Key.
Keys Kayak LLC rents single, tandem, and even triple kayaks as well as paddleboards. They also offer specialty fishing kayaks for rent.
While Dolphin Bay Watersports is known for its jet ski rentals, you can also rent kayaks and paddleboards here. If you rent from here you have to stay in their immediate area.
Dolphin Bay offers one hour, half-day, full-day, 24 hours, and 5 day rentals.
Marathon Kayak Tours
Florida Keys Kayak & Paddleboarding
This company is highly rated and offers a number of different tours nearby. Tours in Marathon include a Manatee Search, Mangrove Tour, or Sunset & Night Tour.
Each of these tours lasts a couple of hours and they are good for beginner kayakers. The guides are friendly and knowledgeable so you’ll learn a lot about the area too!
Marathon Kayak offers Mangrove Tours and Sunset Tours that are both 2 – 3 hours long.
Hotel pickup is available for their Mangrove Tours! Both of these are also beginner-friendly and you’ll have a guide to tell you more about what you’ll see on the tour.
Keys Kayak LLC
A retail store, kayak rental agency, and tour company all in one, Keys Kayak is a great choice for kayaking in Marathon.
They offer a few different tours – Sombrero Beach Mangrove Tunnels, Island Mangrove Tour, and Sobrero Island Sunset Paddle.
If you want a leisurely tour then go with the Island Mangrove Tour.
Caribbean Kayaking Tours
Caribbean Kayaking leads Mangrove Tours, Open Flats Tours, and Sunset Tours.
The Open Flats Tour leaves from Coco Plum Beach and you’ll get to see aquatic life in the seagrass and mangroves through the clear water.
Tour pictures and a bottled water are included in the price for these tours.
What to Wear Kayaking in Marathon
The weather in Marathon is usually warm year-round so you’ll want to keep that in mind. I would wear a bathing suit under shorts and a t-shirt or tank top.
If you don’t want a lot of sun on your arms then the lightweight fishing shirts are very helpful. Otherwise put on sunscreen before your tour and bring it along to reapply during the tour.
You may want to bring a hat too for the sun and polarized sunglasses are always a good idea.
Just make sure that you wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet. Any kind of water sandal is great or a closed-toed water shoe.
While this isn’t something to wear, I wish we had brought some snacks. These hiking snacks work perfectly on any adventure.
FAQ for Marathon Kayaking
Where can I kayak in Marathon?
There are tons of great places for kayaking in Marathon! Curry Hammock State Park is an easy place to rent and kayak through varied scenery.
Sombrero Beach Park, Oceanfront Park, and Coco Plum Beach Park are all Marathon City Parks with kayak launches. You’ll need to rent a kayak before you come here though.
Can you kayak around Key West?
Yes! You can kayak in Key West and there are multiple outfitters here as well. Blue Planet Kayak, Lazy Dog Adventures, and Night Kayak Key West are just a few.
Where is the best place to kayak in the Keys?
There are tons of great places to kayak in the Florida Keys so it’s all about what you want to see.
Other than the places I’ve mentioned for Marathon Kayaking, you can also kayak at John Pennekamp State Park, Long Key State Park, and No Name Key.
Is it safe to kayak in the Florida Keys?
It’s as safe as anywhere else. I found the current to be super calm for ocean kayaking but we didn’t go far from land.
Just be careful if you’re around lots of larger boats and in a big waterway. If it’s choppy and windy I wouldn’t go out either.
Also – check the weather! Kayaking is one of the popular things to do near Port Arthur, TX but while I was there I got caught in an afternoon rainstorm. Would not recommend.
Wrap Up: Kayaking in Marathon, FL
If you’re looking for a great place to kayak in the Florida Keys, Marathon is definitely worth checking out.
The weather is generally great year-round though it gets pretty hot in the summer. Just make sure you have plenty of water!
There are plenty of places to launch your kayak from – including state parks and city parks.
Have fun kayaking in Marathon!
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