A Comprehensive Guide for Airbnb Hosts and Investors in Marathon, Florida Keys

From Sunsets to Success: A Comprehensive Guide for Airbnb Hosts and Investors in Marathon, Florida Keys


Aspiring Airbnb hosts and investors are welcome to the vibrant world of short-term rentals in Marathon, Florida Keys. This guide for Airbnb Hosts and Investors in Marathon is crafted to navigate you through the essentials of establishing and thriving in the Airbnb market in this tropical paradise.

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Marathon Airbnb Market Overview

As Airbnb hosts and investors looking towards Marathon, Florida Keys, it is crucial to base your strategy on current market data. This analysis utilizes up-to-date AirDNA data to provide a comprehensive overview of the Airbnb market in Marathon.

Key Marathon Airbnb Metrics

  • Average Daily Rate (ADR): $534.2, with a peak in March at $596.
  • Occupancy Rate: Averages 74%, reaching its peak in March at 90%.
  • Total Listings: There are 1,615 active listings in Marathon.
  • Average Revenue: Hosts can expect an average annual revenue of $143.9K.
  • Maximum Monthly Revenue: Peaks in March at approximately $12.6K.
  • Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR): Stands at $405.5, with weekends seeing a higher RevPAR of $526.
  • Best Month for Business: March emerges as the most profitable month.
  • Market Score: The market holds a robust score of 80.
  • Average Home Value: $894,086.

Marathon Population Context

Marathon has a population of approximately 9,840 as of 2023, indicating a strong tourist-to-resident ratio, especially in peak seasons.

Analyzing the Data for Airbnb Success of Airbnb Hosts and Investors in Marathon

  • Seasonal Trends: Embracing Year-Round Opportunities. While the data highlights March as a peak season in Marathon, owing to spring break and winter escapes, it’s crucial to recognize Marathon as a year-round destination. The consistently warm weather and diverse attractions ensure a steady influx of visitors throughout the year. As a host, adapting your availability and pricing strategy to not only capitalize on the March peak but also to attract guests during other months is vital.
  • Revenue Potential. With an average annual revenue of nearly $144K and a high RevPAR, investing in Marathon’s Airbnb market appears lucrative. However, it’s important to balance this with the initial investment costs, particularly given the high average home value.
  • Market Saturation and Competition. The presence of 1,615 listings suggests a competitive market. Differentiating your property through unique offerings, exceptional service, and targeted marketing is vital to standing out.
  • Pricing Strategy. The fluctuation in ADR and occupancy rates across seasons necessitates a dynamic pricing strategy. Leveraging data to optimize pricing, especially during high-demand periods like March, can maximize revenue.
  • Community Impact. With a small local population, Airbnb hosts and investors have a responsibility to operate sustainably and respectfully, ensuring their business contributes positively to the community.

The Airbnb market in Marathon, Florida Keys, presents a promising opportunity for Airbnb hosts and investors in Marathon, characterized by high revenue potential and a robust tourist influx. Success in this market requires a data-driven approach, focusing on seasonal trends, competitive differentiation, and sustainable community practices. With the right strategy, hosts can turn the stunning sunsets of Marathon into a successful and rewarding Airbnb venture.

Understanding Marathon’s Airbnb Appeal

The Unique Geography of Marathon

Marathon, nestled in the heart of the Florida Keys, is a captivating blend of islands, each offering its unique charm. The area comprises several islands, including Vaca Key, Fat Deer Key, and Grassy Key, with the famous Seven Mile Bridge connecting Marathon to the Lower Keys.

Key Highlights:

  • Waterfront Properties: The coastline of Marathon is dotted with properties that offer stunning ocean views, making them highly sought-after by tourists. Beachfront properties, in particular, are a lucrative investment due to their high rental appeal.
  • Secluded Retreats: For guests seeking a quiet escape, properties nestled in the more secluded parts of these islands, such as on Grassy Key, provide a serene atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle.
  • Accessibility: The layout of the islands means that most properties are within easy reach of local attractions, restaurants, and water-based activities, which is a significant draw for tourists.

Understanding the distinct character and appeal of each island within Marathon is vital for investors and hosts when choosing a property to ensure it aligns with their target market.

The Marathon’s Climate Advantage

Marathon’s subtropical climate is a significant draw for visitors year-round, marked by long, warm summers and mild, pleasant winters.

Climate Benefits:

  • Year-Round Attraction: The consistently warm weather means no real off-season in Marathon. Tourists flock to the area throughout the year, looking for a warm escape, especially during the winter months when much of the U.S. experiences colder temperatures.
  • Outdoor Activities: The climate supports a host of outdoor activities, from snorkeling and fishing to kayaking and sailing, which are major attractions for visitors. Properties that provide for or are close to these activities have an added appeal.
  • Event Hosting: Marathon’s favorable weather conditions make it an ideal spot for hosting events and festivals, which can draw additional tourists during specific times of the year.

Incorporating information about the local climate and its benefits into your Airbnb listing can significantly enhance its appeal to potential guests, ensuring a steady flow of bookings throughout the year.

Steps to Airbnb Success in Marathon

Research and Compliance – Local Regulations

Applying for a Vacation Rental License in Marathon, Florida

1. State Sales Tax Certificate Application

Initially, apply for the State Sales Tax Certificate. This is a prerequisite for obtaining the DBPR license. Application Link: Florida Department of Revenue.

2. DBPR License Application

With your State Sales Tax number, apply for the DBPR license.

For houses: DBPR House License Application

For condos and apartments: DBPR Condo/Apartment License Application

3. Monroe County Business Tax Receipt

After obtaining the above documents, apply for a Monroe County Business Tax Receipt.

4. Tourist Development Tax Account

You’ll also need to supply your Tourist Development Tax account number.

Apply here: Tourist Development Tax Applicationю

5. Online Vacation Rental License Application

Once you have all the necessary documents, apply for your vacation rental license via the online portal: Marathon Online Portal.

Create an account, follow the steps, and upload all required documents, including the DBPR license, State Sales Tax Certificate, Business Tax Receipt, and other prompted forms.

Payment options include check, e-check, or credit card, with varying processing fees.

6. Application Review and Fire Inspection

After submitting your application and fees, it will be reviewed by the VR Administrator and Fire Inspector.

A fire inspection will be scheduled once all documents are correctly submitted and fees are paid. The inspection scheduling and any communication will be through the portal’s messaging system. Expect a wait time of 1-2 weeks for the inspection.

7. Fire Inspection Report and Follow-Up

The inspection report will be sent to your email, and any additional instructions or necessary corrections will be communicated via the portal.

If your Fire Inspection fails, you cannot rent or advertise your property until the issues are rectified.

A re-inspection fee may apply if necessary. Pay the fee online and inform Inspector Hendricks through the portal once corrections are made.

Following these steps diligently is crucial for a successful and compliant entry into the Marathon vacation rental market. Remember, adhering to local regulations not only ensures legal compliance but also contributes to maintaining the quality and reputation of the local tourism industry.

Check out more on Vacation Rentals | Marathon, Florida.

Market Analysis

  • Competitor Analysis: Study the listings of successful Airbnbs in Marathon to identify trends in design, pricing, and guest experience.
  • Demand Fluctuations: Understand how demand changes not just seasonally but also during local events like fishing tournaments or festivals.
  • Guest Feedback: Regularly review guest feedback on existing Airbnbs in Marathon to identify areas for improvement and potential market gaps.

Property Acquisition and Setup

Location, Location, Location

  • Proximity to Key Attractions: Consider properties near popular spots like Sombrero Beach, the Dolphin Research Center, or the Turtle Hospital to increase appeal.
  • Access to Essentials: Ensure easy access to essential services like supermarkets, pharmacies, and hospitals, which can be a deciding factor for many guests.
  • Quiet vs. Lively Areas: Decide whether to invest in a quieter, more secluded area or a livelier part of Marathon, based on your target demographic.
  • Furnishing and Amenities
  • Theme and Style: Consider adopting a local or nautical theme in your decor to enhance the tropical vibe of Marathon.
  • Tech-Friendly Spaces: Equip your property with smart home features like Wi-Fi thermostats, smart locks, and streaming services to appeal to tech-savvy travelers.
  • Outdoor Spaces: Maximize the appeal of your property by adding attractive outdoor features like a patio, barbecue area, or even a small dock if it’s waterfront.
  • Adaptability for Various Guests: Ensure your property can comfortably accommodate different types of guests, from families to couples or solo travelers, by providing flexible sleeping arrangements and privacy options.

Incorporating these detailed strategies into your approach can significantly enhance your success as an Airbnb host in Marathon, striking the perfect balance between local compliance, market understanding, and guest satisfaction.

Marketing Your Airbnb

Creating a Compelling Listing

High-Quality Photos

  • Highlighting Marathon’s Natural Beauty: Capture and feature the stunning views of the ocean, beaches, and tropical landscapes that surround your property. Photos taken during sunrise or sunset can particularly emphasize the natural allure of Marathon.
  • Showcasing Local Attractions: Include images of nearby attractions like Sombrero Beach, the Dolphin Research Center, or the Seven Mile Bridge to give potential guests a glimpse of what they can explore.
  • Professional Touch: Consider hiring a local photographer familiar with Marathon’s unique lighting and scenery to ensure your property is showcased at its best.

Engaging Descriptions

  • Local Flavor: In your property descriptions, weave in aspects of Marathon’s local culture and environment. Mention proximity to key attractions, local dining favorites, and unique experiences like snorkeling in the coral reefs or visiting the Turtle Hospital.
  • Tailoring to Your Audience: Identify your target audience—be it families, couples, adventure seekers, or relaxation enthusiasts – and tailor your description to highlight aspects of your property and Marathon that will appeal to them.
  • Highlight Unique Features: Does your property have a private dock for fishing, a rooftop deck for stargazing, or perhaps kayaks for guest use? Make sure to highlight these features.
  • Storytelling: Create a narrative around your Airbnb listing. For instance, if your property has a rich history or a unique architectural style, share this story to engage potential guests.

Incorporating these Marathon-specific strategies into your Airbnb listing will not only make it stand out but also help potential guests envision their ideal vacation experience in this tropical paradise.

Leveraging Local Experiences

Guides and Recommendations

Personalized Local Guides 

  • Curated Itineraries: Create itineraries that cater to different interests, such as a ‘Family Fun Day’, ‘Romantic Getaway’, or ‘Adventure Seeker’s Tour’. Include must-visit spots like the Crane Point Museum, Curry Hammock State Park, and local beaches.
  • Dining Guide: Compile a list of recommended eateries, from popular seafood spots to hidden gems offering authentic Key West cuisine. Highlight places like Sparky’s Landing for casual dining or Butterfly Café for a more upscale experience.
  • Activity Suggestions: Offer a guide for the best snorkeling spots, boat rental services, and fishing charters. Include information on unique experiences like eco-tours through the lush mangroves of Marathon, offering an intimate view of local flora and fauna.

Tailored Recommendations

  • Based on Guest Preferences: Gather information about your guests’ interests before their arrival and provide personalized recommendations. For a family with kids, suggest family-friendly beaches and the Turtle Hospital tour; for a couple, recommend a sunset cruise.

Partnerships with Local Businesses

Exclusive Deals and Experiences

  • Collaborations for Discounts: Partner with local tour operators, restaurants, and attraction sites to offer special discounts or packages exclusively for your guests. For example, negotiate a deal with a snorkeling tour provider or a popular seafood restaurant.
  • Unique Local Experiences: Work with local artisans, chefs, or fishermen to create unique experiences like a private cooking class using local seafood or a guided fishing excursion.

Creating a Network

  • Building Relationships: Establish strong relationships with local businesses to stay informed about upcoming events and new offerings that you can recommend to your guests.
  • Promotion Exchange: Offer to promote local businesses in your Airbnb listing or through your social media channels in exchange for them promoting your Airbnb or offering exclusive services to your guests.

By integrating these strategies, you not only enhance your guests’ experience but also contribute to the local economy in Marathon. This approach fosters a sense of community and ensures that your Airbnb stands out by offering a truly authentic and memorable visit to the Florida Keys.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Regular Maintenance

  • Scheduled Inspections: Establish a routine schedule for inspecting and maintaining key elements of the property, such as air conditioning systems, plumbing, and electrical systems, especially given Marathon’s humid climate.
  • Landscaping and Exterior Care: Regularly maintain the property’s exterior, including the garden, pool, and any outdoor equipment, to enhance curb appeal and guest satisfaction.

Cleaning Services

  • Professional Cleaning Teams: Engage professional cleaning services that specialize in vacation rentals to ensure a thorough and consistent cleaning standard.

Financial Planning and Growth

Understanding Finances


  • Comprehensive Cost Analysis: Include all operating costs, such as utilities, property management fees (if applicable), and unexpected repair costs, in your budgeting.
  • Reserve Fund: Establish a reserve fund for emergency repairs or unforeseen expenses.

Pricing Strategy

  • Market-Based Pricing: Utilize tools like AirDNA to monitor market trends in Marathon and adjust your pricing accordingly.
  • Event-Based Pricing: Be aware of local events and peak tourist seasons in Marathon to optimize pricing during these high-demand periods.

Investment Growth


  • Upgrades and Renovations: Allocate a portion of profits to upgrade amenities or renovate the property, thereby increasing its appeal and potential rental income.
  • Technology Investments: Invest in smart home technologies to enhance guest convenience and property security.


  • Expanding Within Marathon: Explore different neighborhoods or types of properties within Marathon that cater to varying guest preferences.
  • Beyond Marathon: Consider investing in properties in other parts of the Florida Keys to tap into different markets and reduce location-specific risks.

By meticulously managing maintenance and financial aspects, Airbnb hosts and investors in Marathon can not only sustain but also grow their business, ensuring long-term success in this vibrant and dynamic market.


In conclusion, “From Sunsets to Success: A Comprehensive Guide for Airbnb Hosts and Investors in Marathon, Florida Keys” is an essential roadmap for anyone looking to enter or excel in the Airbnb market in Marathon. With detailed insights into market trends, local regulations, property setup, and guest experience enhancement, this guide provides a thorough understanding of what it takes to succeed in this dynamic market. By staying informed, embracing local charm, and prioritizing guest satisfaction, hosts and investors can transform their properties into sought-after vacation spots, ensuring a rewarding journey in the world of Airbnb hosting. Whether you are a new entrant or looking to elevate your existing property, the strategies and insights offered here will help you capitalize on Marathon’s unique appeal, ensuring your success in this tropical paradise.