We chose Hawks Cay based on a recommendation from family who have been going there for years. It was our first time in the Keys, and I always feel better with a personal recommendation when choosing accommodations. We also liked the look of the family friendly atmosphere, and we really liked the location at mile 61, close enough to day trip to Key West, but away from the crazy crowds and close to areas like Marathon and Islamorada. In the end we were happy with our choice and it was a great family vacation! The resort was clean, and modern in appearance with a tropical and relaxing vibe. It was low-key enough that you felt like you were truly on vacation but offered plenty to do that kept the kids excited and entertained. The location proved to be in fact a great place for us. Duck Key is quiet (which we love) yet a reasonable drive to parks, beaches, and other fun attractions; we took a couple of drives to both Marathon & Islamorada. My husband is a hard sell, but he confirmed that he'd go back, which is a big win in my book!
The hotel was crowded during our time there with a weekend wedding and many families on spring break, it was at capacity. (When we venture back, we will choose a different date)....The main resort pool was packed with families during the height of the day and definitely more bustling than I would have liked, but luckily there are a number of pool options and activities to explore and enjoy within the resort grounds and we had a blast at the main resort pool during off hours. Even with two toddlers, everything in the resort was easily within walking distance for us which was really fun and convenient. We spent many hours at the Indies Kids club (esp. the playground and pirate ship pool), we took at great family bike ride, we walked a few times to the marina for an ice cream and to take in the scene, and my boys loved watching the sunrise in the gazebo right along the shore. My husband (a lobsterman) loved checking out the boats and talking with the local captains and fisherman. My kids also loved riding the little tram which was really convent running frequently between all resort areas. All in all, despite being a really busy and crowded week, we genuinely loved our time at Hawks Cay, and would not hesitate to go back.
When planning our trip to Hawks Cay, I had a few things in mind...I wanted to keep the costs down when possible (and where it made sense), and not knowing the layout in person I wanted to be close to restaurants and pools etc. I also wanted a true vacation and break from the cooking. With all that in mind, we chose to stay in the main hotel section of the resort. We ended up with a Premium Lanai Guest Room with 2 Queen Beds and a pack n play for our little guy. The room was equipped with a small fridge, Keurig coffee maker and coffee, a very spacious bathroom (with shower only), flat screen TV and other great features. The room was attractive, modern, clean, and well maintained. The room was not huge and actually had it been bad weather it might have felt a bit cramped, but we were lucky and it was nice every day. We were able to take full advantage of the outdoor space with a table a chairs on the patio, and then two lounge chairs on the extended deck. It was nice to have some place to go when our little guy was napping. We loved having the pool so close; so convenient with kids...I just wish our deck had a gate at the end to latch and keep our little guys from escaping :-). The downside of our close proximity to the resort pool was that it was quite noisy and very crowded during the day. But not something that bothered us at night and the mornings are so peaceful.
When we go back to Hawks Cay, if we go for an extended stay, we will definitely consider a villa. Hawks Cay has many villa options available that have a condo feel and are spread out around the resort grounds. Not only would this option give us more space and a kitchen, I think it would also give us a less resort feel and more quiet that my husband prefers while stile having easy access to all resort amenities (best of both worlds). Also having a kitchen and doing easy breakfasts and lunches in would likely defray the added costs. All the villages at Hawks Cay have something unique to offer... i.e. if you want to be overlooking the Marina, or have great views of the sunsets, there is a place for everyone. I think we would look at the Harborside Villas as they are close to the main resort, have a view of the harbor, and are very close to the Indie Club kids area. Important to note that villas can be privately owned and put through the Hawks Cay rental program, meaning that they all won't look the same in side or like the one on the website. I'm sure most are lovely as all things at Hawks Cay are well maintained, but I will personally ask for a picture of the unit before reserving.
Check out the interactive map on the Hawks Cay website, as its helpful to get a lay of the land. Also note that everything is closer together than I originally gathered from the map (all within walking distance).
Oceans- This is where we ate most often. They offer three meals a day and its quality mid-level dining. We found the food to be tasty and prices to be fair. We loved their breakfast and dinner buffets as the had great variety and some really healthy options. Our kids (1 &3 at the time) also ate free a the buffet which was a nice savings and allowed them to eat some healthy options including some really great fruit.
Beach Grill- Serves lunch and dinner both harbor at the outdoor restaurant and by the pool which is such a great option to have. We loved the carribean vibe and they too had some great options including yummy salads and sandwiches; you could also get a whole pizza pool side which was cool. Not cheap but what you would expect poolside in the Keys. They also have two great bars, a Tiki Bar by the pool and a covered bar harbor side.
Alma- offers upscale dining for dinner. We never even attempted with our crowd but it looked to offer amazing options.
Island Time- offers Starbucks coffee drinks and quick things like pastries to go
Indies Grill- This was a great feature that we definitely enjoyed. When you're hanging out in kiddie land, its so perfect to be able to grab a quick lunch. They have some great salads, kids options, and we even had a great hummus plate.. Again, not cheap but not too over the top and oh so convenient.
In Room Dining- We did this once (on my birthday) and would definitely have done again if we were there longer. The room service menu offered a great mix (in fact the only spaghetti and meatballs we found at the hotel) and the delivery charge was minimal. Sometimes its just nice to dine in your pajamas.
Marina Store- the store had the basics in terms of food, snacks, and drinks, and at 2pm they have a great ice cream window.
- 5 Pools & 1 saltwater lagoon (with towels & swim diapers available)
- Playground & pirate ship slash pool/splash pad (located at the Indie Club)
- Fields with soccer nets and a basketball court and access to balls, there are often also organized games for kids that you can drop into like kickball (located at the Indies Club)
- Bike Rentals (they currently have 2 bikes with trailer seats)
- Indies Kids club programs for 5 & up (has a great schedule of offerings including activities & projects with a camp feel, and kids night out as well as teen programs note this is an extra cost)
- Tranquility pool (for 21ys & up..we never got to use it, but it looked amazing :-))
- Marina on Premise with boat rentals and water sports available, as well as opportunities for fishing trips scuba trips, and more.
- Calm Waters Spa
- Fitness Center
- Tennis Courts
- Tram with easy access to all resort locations
- Cribs or Pack N Plays available (very clean)
- Free Breakfast & Dinner for our kids- Kids 3 & under eat free at the buffet at the Ocean restaurant with the purchase of an adult meal. This was perfect for us (traveling with a 1 & 3 year old) as the buffet allowed the kids to eat much healthier options and take a break from the standard kids menu options.
- Dolphins onsite!- Hawks Cay has a the Dolphin Connection which offers guests the opportunity to sign up to interact with the dolphins up close (for an additional charge). The dolphins are right at the main resort area though and what a huge hit this was! My little guys were obsessed with watching the dolphins. We had to visit them every morning and night.
- Kids in Mind- Hawks Cay really keeps kids and families in mind with their layout, amenities, and their service. We LOVED having a playground onsite. This may sound trivial, but with toddlers, a playground is a big asset. The playground at Hawks Cay is in at the Indies Club, which offers so much for kids including a pirate ship pool/splash pad, basketball court, soccer field, counter service food & drinks at the Indie Grill, and of course drop care & activities for kids over 5.
- Location- We really enjoyed the location at mil 61. Duck key is very low-key and quiet with Hawks Cay being the only hotel. Yet areas like Marathon and Islamorada are an easy drive and Key West is very doable as a day trip.
- Starbucks in the lobby- Probably sounds silly, but it was nice to have easy access to a really good coffee or latte to start the day :-)
- Easy access to things we needed- I forgot my entire toiletry kit, and between the Island Time hotel store, the Marina store, and the Calm Waters Spa, I was able to find everything I needed (and much more).
- Marina on the resort grounds- We are boat people, and we loved having a marina in the resort that was easy to walk to. Even if you don't rent a boat or do a trip, its fun to check out the scene and grab an ice cream.
- Good Vibe- the resort had a great laid back, Caribbean vibe, that really felt like vacation.
- We were disappointed that the Indies Club area closed at 6. We would have a loved a few evening playground visits.
- We loved our lanai room and its easy access to the pool, but would have loved to see some sort of swing and latch gate at the end of the deck. Even a lounge chair blocking the entrance couldn't keep my eager toddlers from wanting out and close to the pool.
- Every time you need pool/beach towels you have to sign them out and back in again with your card. When you're with kids and heading to the pool it can be tedious, though I completely understand why they do it.
- The food at the resort was expensive. Everything from breakfast to ice cream. but in our experience it often similar to places outside the resort and eating at the resort was super convenient.
- There is no true beach with ocean access. We knew this when we booked, so it wasn't disappointing, just make sure you know this going in. There is a salt water lagoon and nice sandy area around it where the kids can play which is fun. There is also a couple beaches nearby.
- Its not cheap! But nothing in the Florida Keys is. This a vacation we saved for and likely would again. Be on the lookout for promotions and deals.
We truly had a great vacation and would most certainly go back to the keys and stay at Hawks Cay. With that said we may try a villa next time for the additional space; the price likely evens out if we make a few meals in. I originally thought that I wouldn't want to cook or worry about food, but having a kitchen to even do simple breakfasts and lunches would be nice and would def. cut the food bill. While we REALLY appreciated being able to walk right up to the resort pool (with our room literally a few feet away) and we loved the closeness to the restaurants, dolphins, and lagoon etc.. this area was always the most crowded during the day. It was really the only area of the resort that made you feel like this was a bustling place. Other areas including the Indies club and pool were much more quiet with not nearly the foot traffic.
While we fit just fine and were lucky the great weather allowed us to utilize all the outdoor space our room offered, I would recommend if staying longer than 5 days (ish) a family of 4+ should consider a resort villa and one in Harbor Village if you want to be close to the Indies Club and still have a view.
If you are miraculously on a couple's getaway and beyond traveling with kids, the standard rooms with workout great. If you're willing to pay a little bit extra, I highly recommend the lanai rooms, the outdoor space is great and having your own deck with lounge chairs and easy access to the pool is great. If you're traveling as a couple I'd ask to lookout to the Tranquility pool; it will be a much more peaceful experience.
The keys in general aren't cheap everywhere we went the food, the activities, its pricey and it all adds up. With that being said, we really felt like we got what we paid for at Hawks Cay. The food was great, the service was wonderful, and the amenities for perfect. We really had such a great experience and are eager to go back; thought we will have to save up for that. We will however likely avoid mid March through Mid April to avoid spring breaks and school vacations etc. That's just our personal preference (esp. my husband's) to avoid high traffic... My parents typically go in February and say there's not nearly the same crowds. This would also be a fantastic place for a group vacation or family reunion and most definitely a wedding. My wheels are already turning about going back with family!
If you're thinking of vacationing at Hawks Cay, I definitely recommend watching their website, and following them on social media, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to keep up with the latest promotions & deals, and to get a lay of the land etc.
We had never been to the Keys before, so we had a great time exploring the area! Here's a short list of spots we liked (within a reasonable drive from Hawks Cay).
Theatre of the Sea
Bahia Honda State Park
Morada Bay Beach Cafe
Curry Hammock State Park
Dolphin Research Center
If you head towards Key West check out:
National Key Deer Refuge
The Key West Aquarium
If you have any questions about Hawks Cay or our trip, please feel free to email me. Thanks as always for stopping by and reading!
Note that I was not paid to write this post and this trip was our own idea and my review and all my opinions are 100% honest and my own. Hawks Cay graciously provided us with a few perks, and while we're very appreciative, that in no way altered my opinions.