The Middle Keys are all about the water
It may not be the best grouper sandwich in the Keys but if it’s not, I haven’t found it. Keys Fisheries in Marathon is down an unpaved road. No sign marks the turn onto 35th St. toward the Gulf but people find it just fine. My directions would be turn at the pink building with the pig and drive until you run out of road. There is almost always a line yet somehow everybody gets a seat at the tables that ring the restaurant’s three-sided porch out over the water.
There’s sushi and a raw bar but the cooked seafood sandwiches and dinners are the stars. The fish is cooked to perfection in oil so clean you could use it as moisturizer. The slaw is tasty and the fries exceptional.
The attached fish market has a nice selection of seafood and a decent selection of accoutrements.
The middle Keys are never as crazy as Key West though they have their moments. It’s all about the water, the fishing, the snorkeling, the diving, the seafood. Not much in the way of beaches, a couple here or there. This is waterworld.
Marathon — made up of several islands — has lots of stores, restaurants and places to eat and rent boats. It is the most convenient place to stay in the middle of the Keys and I’m planning on trying Rainbow Bend Resort the next time I’m down.
On the most recent visit I stayed at Lime Tree Bay Resort on Long Key. Not the least expensive place in the mid-Keys but very nice. Plenty of cushy lounges and tiki huts call out and visitors get free use of kayaks for an hour. The nearby Edgewater Inn is a bit plainer but serviceable. The Conch Key Cottages on Conch Key come highly recommended.
There are plenty of fishing bridges, former roads that were kept for fishing when new roads were built and some diehards stay there all night waiting for the big one to swim by and take a bite.
I have rented a number of great houses with the family over the years and though it’s a wonderful destination for a personal timeout, it’s pretty solidly in the here and now with not too many old Florida places that I’ve found or at least, not yet. Unless of course you count the time on the water. Slip out beyond the drone of traffic on US 1 until the sound of birds wheeling above and water slapping the hull are the loudest things around. Then, you are definitely back in Old Florida.
Pass me another shrimp and a beer, please.
© Copyright 2012: text Sue Harrison; photos Sue Harrison & Lee Brock for MyOldFlorida.com.