Fifteen Cubans landed on Higgs Beach early Tuesday morning on a homemade dinghy with a small Suzuki outboard motor.
The 12 men and three women arrived about 6 a.m., having left Havana, Cuba, about 10 p.m. Sunday, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Elee Erice.
They were taken to a border protection station in Marathon, where on Tuesday afternoon they were still being "processed," Erice said.
Each Cuban will receive a notice to appear before a federal immigration judge.
Attempts by Cuban nationals to make it across the 90 miles of the Florida Straits' rough seas are commonplace around the Florida Keys, and the Miami District 7 Cost Guard headquarters sends out press releases about the number of people they stop at sea and return to the island nation. Under the United States' 2005 wet foot, dry foot policy, the Cubans who make it to U.S. land are allowed to stay.
Many times the successful arrivals of Cubans, by ramshackle boats or rafts, are not reported.
But Tuesday's landing on one of the city's most popular public beaches drew passers-by to take out their iPhone cameras and made for conversation across the 2-by-4 mile island.
The 15 were in good health and were met by law enforcement officers by 6:40 a.m., said Erice.
Church World Services, a nonprofit that runs programs that help Cuban and Haitian migrants resettle in America, sends a bus down to the Keys to offer free rides to Miami, Erice said.
The Cubans may begin a fast-track to permanent residency since they made it to land.
As Cuba fell into violent crisis in 1994, the Coast Guard rescued about 21,000 balseros, and thousands more crossed the sea in various makeshift rafts.
The Coast Guard in the past three weeks has stopped and returned 85 Cubans in the area, according to press releases.
About 1,700 Cubans made it across the sea to land in 2011, compared with 831 who made it the prior year.