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What to do in Sombrero Beach in Marathon, Florida – full guide

What to do in Sombrero Beach in Marathon, Florida – full guide 

Sombrero Beach is a beautiful sandy beach in the city of Marathon Florida, considered one of the best beaches in the United States in the coral islands of the Florida Keys. It is surrounded by a shady park with picnic pavilions, a playground and all the necessary beach infrastructure, including parking, beach volleyball and soccer courts on the sand, locker rooms with showers and clean toilets.

The fortunate location of Sombrero Beach on the southern part of the island allows you to watch the sunrises and sunsets like the beaches of the Maldives. One of the best features of the Keys is in stark contrast to Miami Beach, because the city looks east and sunsets are not so great there. And we, like many other travelers, try not to miss an opportunity to admire them.

Basic information about Sombrero Beach

Sombrero Beach is about an hour by car from Key West and two and a half hours from Miami, just off the Overseas Highway in the central Florida Keys. It’s a public beach with coconut palms and white sand, designed for relaxation and events such as a family picnic or an outdoor birthday party.

The size of Sombrero Beach is not very large (it is less than a kilometer long and rather modest in width), but we did not encounter the pandemonium that we did at Hollywood Beach in Fort Lauderdale or at the beaches of Los Angeles.

After seeing the 7 Mile Bridge, we arrived at Sombrero Beach on a Thursday afternoon and almost immediately managed to put our car in a parking space, and for free. We then went into one of the beach pavilions and there was a table available for our lunch.

Interesting facts

In addition to the clear water, snow-white sand and gazebo for lounging, which makes it a bit like the Maldives, Sombrero Beach is also known for the fact that sea turtles come here to lay their eggs.
Sombrero Beach is the most popular beach in Marathon. Many tourists choose it for a quiet beach vacation so that it is not as crowded as Miami Beach.

Important to know: Since Sombrero Beach is on the edge of a fossilized coral reef, it is only rarely possible to find shells, and other interesting findings you are unlikely to make here. This beach will not give you an idea of the diversity of the underwater world. To see marine life, you have to take a boat from the keys to the edge of the barrier reef in the ocean (such as John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park) or sail a few miles out toward the bay (Bahia Honda Park is best for snorkeling).

Marathon City Municipal Services regularly cleans the beach shoreline of algae and monitors the condition of all beach facilities. There are also lifeguards on Sombrero Beach, but they are not on constant alert like Santa Monica and Malibu beaches, so you should swim carefully.

Marathon Florida – What to do in Marathon – full guide

Recommendation: Since Sombrero Beach (like many other larger U.S. beaches like Myrtle Beach and Delray Beach) is much more crowded on weekends than on weekdays, it’s best to be there midweek, when room rates are lower and you can get a free table at the best restaurants without waiting in line. However, to get the best seats, you need to arrive early before the family-run hostels and hotels have finished breakfast.

If you take a handful of sand at Sombrero Beach and look closely at the individual grains of sand as closely as possible, you can see their diversity and unusual shapes. The sand has a heterogeneous structure because it consists of a mixture of inorganic quartz grains and organic coral remains mixed with clam shell fragments, which leads to microbial mikritization – the gradual replacement of large grains of sand by clusters of smaller grains. As a result, the sand on the beach has become very fine and incredibly velvety.

Useful tip: If you want to vacation in Florida on beaches with the most beautiful and unspoiled nature, go to the Gulf Coast. Naples and Clearwater Beach are considered the best places there.

Where to vacation in Florida with kids – the itinerary around Orlando


  • Sombrero Beach is located 3.5 kilometers south of US 1.
  • Free parking along the entire beach is quite large, on weekdays there is enough space for everyone
  • Entrance to the beach is organized by special decking on the sand
  • The coastal strip is not very wide, but the surf is not strong
  • The sand is soft, very fine, in the afternoon sun is quite hot.
  • Sometimes there is algae on the beach, they are cleaned periodically.
  • Beautiful view of the ocean, the boats do not go close to the shore.
  • The entrance to the water is gentle, the bottom is sandy, you can swim with children.
  • The water is clear, warm at the shore,
  • With increasing depth, the water gets cooler and there is algae.
  • Not far from the shore, you can go snorkeling.
  • The best places for beach holidays are in the shade of palm trees and small buildings
  • No sun loungers or umbrellas for hire on the beach.
  • But there are several pavilions with picnic tables and barbecue area
  • There are two stationary toilets, fairly clean.
  • At the exit of the beach you can wash your feet from the sand or take a shower.
  • There are fountains with drinking water
  • A well maintained park with beautiful trees graces the landscape and provides plenty of shade
  • Equipped with a playground with a slide and safe rides
  • In the trees and small bushes you can see small birds
  • Sometimes there are iguanas that come out to bask on the small dunes.
  • There are no grocery stores nearby, so bring your own food and drinks.
  • Alcohol is allowed on Sombrero Beach

How to get to Sombrero Beach

You can get to Sombrero Beach in Marathon Florida from Miami or Key West on your own by car. There is no public transportation to the beach. We rented a car as soon as we arrived at Miami airport.

Rent a car in Miami – our experience and tips on how to rent a car at Miami airport

In Marathon, turn off the Overseas Highway near K-Mart Plaza (across from Crane Point – point on the map) in a southerly direction at the sign for Sombrero Beach Road, and in 2 miles you will be at Sombrero Beach.

We recommend that Florida Keys travelers stop by Sombrero Beach even if there is no time at all for a beach vacation. Still, it’s worth setting aside at least half an hour to see one of Florida’s best beaches.

Parking there is free and there are tables in the shade where you can grab a quick bite to eat while enjoying the ocean view. Keep in mind, however, that after dusk the entrance to the beach closes and parking near it at night is prohibited, as there is no camping there.

Opening hours

Sombrero Beach is open from 7:30 am until sunset.

For up-to-date information on Sombrero Beach, see the City of Marathon’s website.

Where to stay

There are several very small hotels and apartments in private homes, such as Sombrero Beach Retreat, within walking distance of Sombrero Beach. These are worth settling into if you’re here for a beach vacation and plan to go to the beach every day.

Good to know: If you are staying in Marathon City for a few days, keep in mind that Sombrero Beach is located in the heart of the city. So you can easily reach it from your hotel or apartment by bicycle or even on foot.

Our hotel near Sombrero Beach

However, if you’re planning a road trip in Florida or decide like us to drive from Miami to Key West and see the sights along the way, it’s best to stop halfway and stay overnight at the Hyatt Place hotel we tested in Marathon, which is on the harbor with the Faro Blanco Lighthouse and a good Lighthouse Grill fish restaurant. We were pleased with the modern furnishings and excellent service, as well as the delightful breakfast.

You can also stay in hotels on the other islands and drive to Sombrero Beach.

What to do in Sombrero Beach

  • Lounge in the sun, get warm and sunburned
  • Read a book or listen to music
  • Play beach games in the water or on the sand
  • Snorkeling or kayaking along the beach
  • Watch seabirds
  • Walk along the shoreline, looking at the surf line for something interesting
  • Organize a barbecue picnic
  • Throw a beach party at one of the pavilions.
  • Watch the sunset.
  • Grill seafood, meat, or vegetables

Although the best sunset beaches are on the U.S. West Coast and in resort towns along the Gulf Coast such as Maples, Clearwater, Sarasota, St. Petersberg and others, Sombrero Beach is one of the best places in Marathon to watch the sunset. The most popular evening activity on the beach is fresh seafood or barbecued steak.

Thanks to the gentle approach and the absence of large waves, rocks and sharp fragments of seashells on the bottom, Sombrero Beach is considered suitable for swimming with children close to shore. Experienced swimmers can explore the reef remnants just offshore, where tropical fish and sea turtles are found.

Turtle Nests

From April through October, sea turtles (mostly loggerheads) come to Sombrero Beach at night to lay their eggs in the sand. During turtle nesting season, temporary restrictions are imposed on the beach to keep people from being very close to the turtle clutches and to prevent the turtles from going about their business.

Typically, turtle nests occupy no more than 10 percent of the entire Sombrero Beach area. Rangers survey the beach each morning and fence off new clutches. The rest of the beach remains open for tourists and locals, so everything is fair and no one’s rights are infringed. But here you can meet sea turtles or, if you are lucky, see with your own eyes how hatchling turtles make their first steps on land to reach the sea.

Our review

In our opinion, Sombrero Beach in Marathon City is a good alternative to the bustling beaches of Key West on the Florida Keys, known for its bars with beautiful sunset views and evening hangouts.

It’s great for a relaxed family day out, but there’s not much in the way of youth activities (though they are available, too, away from the beach). But overall, even if you don’t like the overly relaxed beach atmosphere, there is plenty to do and see in the area, and the beach is not as crowded as Key West.

The main pluses of Sombrero Beach are the soft sand, the beautiful shore with palm trees without mangroves and the clear water when the ocean is calm and there is no algae on its surface. In general, the beach looks very natural and the atmosphere is conducive to a relaxing holiday.

Among the disadvantages of Sombrero Beach are difficulties with parking (especially during the day and on weekends), the lack of service to rent sun loungers and the smell of algae, which becomes quite a lot after a storm.

We loved the fact that you can easily put your car in a free spot absolutely free of charge, as well as organize a midday picnic on a table in the shade.

We had a good rest on Sombrero Beach and went after lunch to check into our beloved hotel, which is very close to Faro Blanco Lighthouse, which is considered the main local attraction.

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