By Jen Alexander
Conveniences previously only found with a “long” trip into downtown Marathon are a little closer to home for Grassy Key residents with the new and improved Grassy Key Marina.
Located at the eastern entrance to incorporated Marathon, the full-service marina offers a complete suite of products and amenities including indoor and outdoor boat storage, fishing equipment rentals, live bait and the Grassy Key Market convenience store, open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and stocked with necessities for a day on the water – yes, that includes beer and ice.
“It has always been a dream of mine to own a marina,” said new owner Jeff Vastola, who currently serves the as magistrate for Marathon’s code hearings and purchased the marina in the fall of 2022. “My partner and I were looking to start with a watersports business when the opportunity presented itself. We added a third partner and bought the marina last September. We are upgrading the marina daily and are looking forward to what it will become in the future.”
The partners’ efforts have not gone unnoticed; in 2022, Grassy Key Marina was named as a Boaters’ Choice Award winner by Marinas.com.
Vastola pointed to the property’s 110 protected dry racks and wet slip boat storage areas – previously under-used, in his eyes – as one of the marina’s main draws for locals, and said this is where the partners have devoted most of their efforts. Since last September, they’ve invested $300,000 in a forklift and have been updating and upgrading all the storage areas. Multiple openings are still available in the marina’s sheltered dry rack building, along with outdoor storage areas on trailers and wet slips.
Grassy Key Marina is also home to Paradise Watersports, offering boat and kayak rentals along with paddleboard and jet ski rentals and guided tours. The marina currently has four boats in its fleet, from an 18-foot Stingray bow rider and 20-foot pontoon to 22- and 25-foot center console vessels capable of navigating all Keys waters for serious anglers and pleasure cruisers alike. Multi-day rentals and boat delivery are available.
Future plans for the marina include the sale of Rec-90 fuel, pickup and delivery services for goods and the addition of more high-end tackle and gear, Vastola said. The marina has engaged in negotiations to open a coffee stand and sandwich shop on premises so guests can enjoy the view off the tiki pier or even catch a sunset. The partners have also considered a waterfront restaurant featuring local cuisine and live music.
“We are looking to partner with someone local that has knowledge of the restaurant business,” Vastola said. “We have such incredible waterfront locations that would be perfect for a restaurant with a sunset view, (and) we even have room for at least 10 tables at the end of the pier that (would) have an unobstructed view.”
Guests who visit the marina can enjoy daily amenities such as wireless internet, restrooms, showers and an ATM. An on-site boat ramp with Vaca Cut five miles away allows for easy access to the open water and a way to avoid the congestion of Marathon’s public ramps.
The marina is offering 50% off docking and storage for the month of November, and locals who sign a year-long storage contract will receive one month of free storage.
“We are always looking for new business and partnership opportunities, ways to improve and input on services that can be offered to the community,” Vastola said. “Please don’t hesitate to call, text or email me.”
Grassy Key Marina is located at 59073 Overseas Highway. More information is at grassykeymarinaflorida.com or paradisewatersportsrentals.com, from the office at 305-440-3055 or from Vastola directly at 561-827-5333.