We just returned from a visit to Hawk’s Cay in the Florida Keys last week. There are so many family-friendly things to do there we just had to share it with you. If you’d like to see it in action, watch our video review below. If you prefer to read and look at beautiful photos, our full written review follows the video.
Where is Hawk’s Cay Island Located?
Hawk’s Cay Island Resort is one of the best, most kid-friendly resorts in the Florida Keys. Located half way down the Florida Keys on the 60-acre island of Duck Key, this luxury resort has plenty to offer families from dolphin experiences to water slides to a fabulous kids program.
This resort isn’t just a fisherman’s paradise but a place for the whole family. It features water sports, dolphin interaction programs, a saltwater lagoon, four swimming pools, six tennis courts, and a large kid’s area.
During our visit we encountered quite a bit of rain due to Tropical Storm Debby pounding the area that week. Not ones to be taken out by the rain, we made the best of it and still participated in as many resort amenities as we could.
Hawk’s Cay Room
Hawk’s Cay offers a variety of accommodations including guest hotel rooms, suites and villas. We stayed in a 2 bedroom villa which was perfect for my family of five. This two-floor villa featured two bedrooms with a balcony off the master and two full baths upstairs, and a full kitchen, stacked washer/dryer and sitting area downstairs.
We loved that the divided floors allowed us to hang out and watch TV while the kids were in bed.
Hawk’s Cay Pools
Hawk’s Cay offers four pools for their guests to enjoy. The main pool is large, inviting and located right in the center of the action.
We were happy to see that the resort offered free swim diapers to help keep the pool “clean”. While a swim diaper isn’t going to solve all problems, it’s definitely better than nothing and we are glad they are family-focused enough to offer these to parent who may have run out or forgotten to bring some.
If you are traveling kid-free or looking for a quieter pool sans kids, you will want to check out the Serenity Pool exclusively for guests 21 and older.
Looking for a quieter pool with the kids, make sure to go to the wonderful hidden gem that is the Indie Pool. Tucked behind the pirate ship in the Indie area, this is an under-appreciated area that is often overlooked by many guests.
The pirate ship water area was the highlight of the kids’ visit. It was a fun area where they could all play together with water sprays and water slides.
Another swimming option is the saltwater lagoon. While the resort is oceanfront, it does not have a “beach” on property. The saltwater lagoon is the resort’s version of a beach without the waves. This area is for swimming, paddle boards and kayaking. While it was different, we can’t say that it was a good replacement for an actual beach.
One of the afternoons of our visit, we headed down to public beach in Marathon. Too bad Tropical Storm Debby had reeked havoc on that beach because it was filled with seaweed and wasn’t your typical Florida Keys beach that day. If “Debby” wasn’t present, I’m sure it would have been so much better.
Our only complaint about the resort is the lack of food and restaurant choices. There are a total of 4 restaurants on property as well as a Starbucks in the hotel gift shop. You’ll find one choice for breakfast, two choices for lunch and three choices for dinner.
Terrace: This poolside restaurant is open for breakfast with a full buffet. It also opens periodically for special lunches and dinners such as the Mediterranean Nights on weekends during the summer. As part of a multi-million dollar renovation, the Terrace is getting a makeover and will change to an ocean-themed three meal kitchen by December 2012.
The Terrace is the only restaurant that currently serves breakfast on property besides the Starbucks pastries in the hotel lobby gift shop.
Beach Grill: This casual restaurant serves sandwiches, salads and frozen drinks for lunch (11am-6pm) with an ocean view. This is also the restaurant that serves guests poolside at the resort and tranquility pools and lagoon.
Indies Grill: This walk-up window restaurant poolside in the kid’s Indie area is open for lunch during peak season. It was open one day of our 3-day visit.
Alma: The Alma is a fine dining restaurant that is located in the hotel lobby and requires reservations. Traveling with three young kids, we opted not to visit this dinner spot.
Tom’s Harbor House:
This casual restaurant is located at the Hawk’s Cay Marina and serves up tasty local dishes. We ate here for dinner on the second night. A decent sized menu full of seafood, burgers, quesadillas and more ranging from $8-$25+ per entree. There is an extensive children menu but be prepared to spent $10 per meal for each kid. The kid’s meals are large and include a drink and small ice cream for dessert. The service was excellent and all the food was prepared well and arrived at the table at the right temperature.
With few choices at the resort, you may want to venture off the property for some of your meals. We don’t recommend the local Pizza Hut in Marathon (yes, we tried it!) but we DO highly recommend going to the Sunset Grill right before the 7-Mile Bridge.
It was recommended to us by a handful of locals and we are so glad we gave it a try. It was the best food we had the entire visit. The dinner entrees are $19-$30+ but there are budget-friendly burgers and appetizers for dinner and sandwiches and burgers for lunch.
The kid’s menu offered 4 choices all for $6.99 but the portions were large and we thought 2 kid meals were perfect for our 3 young kids. With weather permitting (our weather didn’t cooperate!), there is an outside pool for the kids to swim and a huge theater size screen for sports on the outside patio of the restaurant. Yes, the kids can swim at the restaurant and after the sun goes down dads (and moms!) can watch sports.
A full, award-winning spa to relax and melt your worries away awaits you at Hawk’s Cay. The spa smelled divine and the Grande Room was very inviting.
The spa also includes a full workout room complete with up-to-date treadmills, ellipticals and free weights.
The Indie area has many kid-friendly activities. If you have kids, you will spend a lot of time in this area designed just for them. My kids’ favorite place was the pirate ship water playground in the center. This water slide structure features two water slides and water sprayers all in a very shallow amount of water perfect for both toddlers and young kids.
The area also included a large, wooden playground, sand volleyball court, basketball court, huge chess/checker boards and a basic mini golf course.
Camp Hawk is the kid camp on property for ages 5-12 offered in two 1/2 day sessions. Morning session includes lunch and afternoon session includes snack. Scheduled activities are planned hourly for the kids from arts and crafts to swimming to games.
If you have younger children or are looking for babysitting after Camp Hawk hours, they have that too. For $20/hour + $2/hour additional kid you can have a current Hawk’s Cay (usually a Camp Hawk employee) babysit while you enjoy an adult-only activity.
Our room was right on one of the marinas. It was beautiful during the day for my kids to watch the boats but we did find that it could be a bit noisy in the late evenings with the “party boats” cranking the music up. How old am I that I’m mentioning the music volume?!? Things sure change when you have kids!
Dolphin Interaction: A unique feature of the resort is the dolphin interaction program. Hawk’s Cay is the only resort in the continental US to have an on-property dolphin experience. While we didn’t participate, it was really fun to watch others interact and “swim” with the resort’s four born-in-captivity dolphins. Guests have three options to interact with the dolphins. 1) Stay on the dock and interact which is great for the young ones. 2) Get in the water for a dolphin experience. 3) Become “a trainer for a day”.
Bike Rental: There are a variety of bike options for rent. We chose a tandem bike, bike with a bike trailer and a small, pink kid’s bike for our family. They are typical resort bikes without all the frills but they worked great for our bike exploration of Duck Cay Island.
Tennis: In the center of the property is the “Tennis Garden” that includes 6 tennis courts. Guests can rent rackets and balls for $5 or can opt to participate in tennis clinics, lessons or private lessons that are offered daily for a fee.
My two older kids have been taking tennis lessons for a few years so we jumped on the chance to have them take a lesson with the resort’s tennis pro, Sam Keegan. Sam was fantastic with the kids and a great coach. He was encouraging and able to keep on task even with the 5-year-old.
A variety of water sports are offered for additional fees. Snorkeling, parasailing, scuba diving, paddle boarding, and snuba diving are just a few.
The weather didn’t cooperate very well during our trip so the thunderstorms cancelled our snorkeling trip on the final day.
Overall, we had a wonderful time at Hawk’s Cay. There was plenty for our family to do even with the tropical storm visiting at the same time. If you are planning a visit to the Florida Keys, we recommend checking out the resort for all kinds of family-friendly fun.
*Disclosure: Hawk’s Cay gave us a complimentary room for our 3-day stay. That doesn’t really matter though because all our thoughts, opinions and statements are out own.