During high season, accommodations in Marathon can get somewhat pricey, but a good option for travelers on a budget is the Crystal Bay Resort (4900 Overseas Hwy., 305/289-8089, from $140 d), a bayside motel with 26 units that include efficiencies, mini-suites, and standard motel rooms. The decor is no-frills and domestic; the guest rooms’ tile floors and large windows give a sense of spaciousness that make them feel far more comfortable than a standard motel room. There’s a nice pool area and a “beach” that’s little more than a bit of sand and lounge chairs overlooking the boat docks.
The Tranquility Bay Resort (2600 Overseas Hwy., 305/289-0888, 1-bedrooms from $354) offers all the advantages of a beach house stay—fully equipped kitchens, separate bedrooms, laundry facilities—with the amenities of a high-end resort. The property has a pretty and secluded beach, two swimming pools (one of which is adults-only), a gym, a spa, and water-sports equipment rentals. There’s an excellent restaurant, the Butterfly Cafe, as well as a beachfront tiki bar. The 87 “houses” are available in one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations. They’re spacious, airy, and quite luxurious, with flat-screen plasma TVs, plush beds, and top-shelf linens; all the guest rooms boast waterfront views, though the pricier ones are located beachside.
Hawks Cay Resort (61 Hawks Cay Blvd., Duck Key, 305/743-3000, from $230 d) manages to balance a sophisticated island resort feel with kid-friendly amenities, making it a prime destination for families. While still amplifying the natural beauty of the Keys for moms and dads eager to hike, fish, or just relax, Hawks Cay also offers an array of kid-centric activities like day and evening camps for kids, tweens, and teens. Of course, a lot of kids don’t need a room dedicated to their Xbox needs to have a good time in the Keys, and there are plenty of opportunities for them—and their parents—to dive, sail, fish, or just relax poolside. There are nearly 175 guest rooms and suites, all of which are decorated in muted, Keys-classy styles with contemporary furnishings and large windows. Families gravitate toward the 100 or so two-, three- and four-bedroom villas, which have full gourmet kitchens, flat-screen TVs, dining rooms, and luxurious touches.
The smaller and more intimate Lime Tree Bay Resort (68500 Overseas Hwy., Long Key, 305/664-4740, from $175 d) has only 33 units, ranging from traditional hotel rooms and mini-suites to full-sized, custom-decorated suites like the Zane Grey Master Suite, a two-story, two-bedroom apartment-style guest room. The coolest guest room is the two-bedroom Treehouse Suite; located on the second story of the same building as the Zane Grey Suite, the Treehouse’s greatest attraction is its wraparound windows and the beautiful porch that has, well, a tree growing through it. There are also three cottages with private entrances. The Lime Tree has two small sandy beach areas on the property, a dock, a pool, and several grilling areas.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition