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Curry Hammock State Park, the last public beach camping in the Keys

Last updated on August 7th, 2021 at 07:55 pm


kite-boarding at Curry Hammock State Park near Marathon in the Florida Keys
Kite-boarding at Curry Hammock

Curry Hammock State Park is one of those destinations in the Florida Keys that you’ll pass right by unless you know it’s there, and that’s the beauty of it.

Camping on the beach, kayak and hiking trails, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and it’s a hot spot for high-flying wave riders on kite boards.

The day-use area has picnic pavilions, canoe and kayak rentals, a rest room, and access to a sandy beach.

The adjacent campground, which loops around to the beach, has grown up.

Camping on the beach at Curry Hammock State Park

Oceanfront campsite at Curry Hammock State Park near Marathon in the Florida Keys
Oceanfront campsite at Curry Hammock State Park near Marathon in the Florida Keys (Photo by Laura Dometa)

The park’s 28 campsites for tents or RVs have water, electric, picnic tables and grills, and the campground is far enough from the Overseas Highway that road noise is non-existent.

Like the other three state park campgrounds in the Keys (Pennekamp, Long Key and Bahia Honda), Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance by calling (800) 326-3521.

Reservations are not accepted at the ranger station, although same-day walk-ins can sometimes be accommodated.

Kite-boarding, board-sailing and paddle sports at Curry Hammock State Park 

Kayaking the mangrove trail at Curry Hammock State Park
Kayaking the mangrove trail at Curry Hammock State Park.

Typical of Keys beaches, the ocean off Curry Hammock is shallow, the surf modest and the currents are weak, ideal for families with small children to play in the water.

Kayaks and canoes can be launched from the day-use area, or from the campground. The day-use area has a concession that rents kayaks: $17.20 for a single for two hours and $21.50 for a tandem. Stand up paddle boards are $21.50 for two hours.

A ranger-led kayak tour is offered Wednesday mornings (call ahead).

Go on your own and paddle out to sea and still find yourself in shallow water, or paddle the mangrove trail and visit nearby islands.

Curry State Park is on a migration route, a featured stop along the Florida Birding Trail and a magnet for eagles, hawks and osprey. Best viewed, of course, in the backwaters from a kayak.

Boating and fishing at Curry Hammock State Park

There are no facilities for sailboats or power boats in the park, and the nearest boat ramp is three miles west in Marathon, next to the Island Fish Company tiki bar.

Boats must anchor offshore, and campers swim or wade to shore. Ask park rangers where you can anchor. Scout your mooring before you launch, and be aware of tides.

There is a sheltered cove on the east side of the park, away from the campground, outside the park boundary, but I’ve seen boats anchor there. The cove is sheltered and accessible from the kayak launch.

Off-shore fishing is typical for the Keys — head for the reef! — or cast a fly in the shallows near shore. Just a few miles away, board the Marathon Lady for a half-day of party-boat fishing.

Biking and hiking in Curry Hammock State Park 

Ride bikes to the paved Overseas Highway Heritage Trail and pedal a short distance to the Dolphin Research Center to swim with the dolphins, or ride into Marathon and explore the island’s back roads, canals and bays.

The park has a 1.5-mile nature trail that winds through a pristine hardwood hammock that takes hikers to the open waters of Florida Bay. The trailhead is on the bay side.

Guided beach walks and ranger-led nature hikes are offered Tuesday mornings. As is the case with the kayak tours, reserve your place in advance by calling the ranger station at (305) 289-2690.

Where to eat near Curry Hammock State Park 

The Island Fish Company Tiki Bar and Restaurant is the longest tiki bar in the Keys with an exceptional view of Florida Bay. Food is tiki-bar typical, and it’s good.

The Stuffed Pig in Marathon is my breakfast stop, and lunch is a treat at Burdine’s Waterfront Cafe, overlooking Boot Key Harbor — a popular haven for transient boaters.

My wife and I love the Key Colony Inn for a finer, dress casual, dining experience (reservations recommended).

Of course, nothing really beats a grilling a steak or fresh mahi-mahi at your campsite.

If you go to Curry Hammock State Park

Curry Hammock State Park
56200 Overseas Highway — MM 56
Marathon, FL 33050
Ranger Station: (305) 289-2690
Campground Reservations: Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance by calling (800) 326-3521.
Day-use admission: $5 per vehicle (2-8 people); $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Camping: $36/night plus reservation fee of $6.70 per stay.

Facilities for disabled: Picnic pavilion and rest rooms (with showers) are ADA-accessible in both the day-use and camping areas. Campsite No. 1 is ADA-accessible.

Pets: Yes, but not on the beach or in swimming areas.

Related Florida Rambler articles

Florida Keys Mile-Marker Guide

Florida Rambler guide to free beaches in the Florida Keys

Bicycling the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail

Florida Keys Wild Bird Center worth a quick stop

Key West Camping: Try these tropical hideaways

Paradise Found: Things to do in the Lower Keys

Best tiki bars in the Florida Keys

Key Largo: John Pennekamp State Park

Sea Turtle Hospital in Marathon:  Get close to an endangered species

A note from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but can change without notice. Please confirm details when planning your trip by following the links in this article.

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Wednesday 13th of October 2021

It would be great if some of the parks offered pet friendly cabins for responsible pet owners.

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