Saturday, April 13, 2024

Hop on Down to Hawks Cay in The Keys for Your Next Staycation

Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, the Florida Keys are a destination where families can go to make priceless vacation memories time and time again. The pandemic really opened up my eyes to Florida road trips and staycations. There are so many beautiful places to visit right here in our state! 

This fall, we hopped on down to Hawks Cay on Duck Key, a small, secluded island near Marathon. When I told friends we were headed there for the weekend, so many responded with stories from their own childhood visits to the resort. Hawks Cay has been around since 1984 and is considered a classic Florida Keys escape!

Located about 3 hours from Boca, I wasn’t sure what to expect as we drove over the wooden bridge from US 1 to Duck Key where not only the resort, but a full service marina is located (Hawks Cay is known for its world-class sportfishing). We took both our 9 year-old daughter and her friend with us on our travels hoping that a playmate would keep our only child occupied for the weekend. (Spoiler alert: it worked!)

The Rooms

A view of the famous Hawks Cay fire pit; image courtesy of Hawks Cay

Our accommodations on this trip included a Lanai Family Guest Room with two queen beds and a huge bathroom. It was the perfect ground-floor location with an oversized patio that had easy access to everything at the resort including the main pool, one of four on property. 

There are also suites available and tropical villas, an ideal setup for a larger family or group trip. Some even have private pools! Because of our room location, I felt perfectly comfortable letting our girls wander the pool and lagoon area on their own, especially first thing in the morning when they were bouncing off the walls and wanted to swim! We also had a great view of the resort’s signature fire pit every evening. 

Things to Do

Photo courtesy of Michelle Olson-Rogers, Modern Boca Mom

Hawks Cay is probably most famous for two things: dolphins and their saltwater lagoon. The lagoon is fed straight from the ocean—the water rises and lowers with the tides and is extremely calm. The beauty of it is your toddler can play safely in the shallows while your tween or teen kayaks or paddleboards—complimentary at the resort (well, it’s included in your resort fee, among other things). The lagoon is also a Florida Keys attraction found only at Hawks Cay! My daughter and her friend loved paddleboarding for the first time. 

As for the dolphins, it’s a pretty cool and unique attraction to have at a resort, I’ll admit. Participants must be 48 inches tall to participate in the Dolphin Connection program. Our kids made the cut, but it turns out that children 48-54 inches (aka ours) have to be accompanied by a paying adult (1 adult per child). I’ve been swimming with the dolphins before and couldn’t justify the price tag for the four of us to do it this trip (around $1k). 

Dolphin Connection; photo courtesy of Hawks Cay

There is a slightly more affordable Dockside Dolphins program that’s about half the price (and time) of Dolphin Discovery. For this one, you don’t actually get in the water with the dolphins and our kids could have gone on their own at age 9. Children 4 and under need to be accompanied by a paid adult but children 2 and under are no charge.

Kids Club

Hawks Cay offers some great programming and activities at their beautiful Coral Cay kids club, although an adult must accompany children under 13 at all times. Camp Hawk, their former drop-off childcare program, wasn’t happening when we visited. However, there was still plenty of action on the schedule. We couldn’t miss an opportunity for Mermaid Makeovers! 

Pirate Ship Pool; photo courtesy of Hawks Cay

Coral Cay also has a soccer field, basketball courts and putting greens, but the centerpiece of the area is the resort’s interactive Pirate Ship Pool that features slides, tunnels and water cannons. Even the 9 year-olds loved it! With a shallow, beach-style entry and only reaching a depth of eight inches, the Pirate Ship Pool is a great place for babies and toddlers to splash around and explore while older children are at the helm of the ship. 

Dining Options

Vacation = food (and wine) to me. Luckily, there is no shortage of places to eat at Hawks Cay! The property boasts six restaurants within walking or tram distance. Yes, the resort offers a free tram for guests!

Whole Fried Snapper from Angler & Ale; photo courtesy of Michelle Olson-Rogers, Modern Boca Mom

You can choose to enjoy dinner at the restaurant or coordinate a private dining experience in-room or seaside around the Saltwater Lagoon. We were invited to dine at Angler & Ale with a beautiful view overlooking Hawks Cay Marina. It’s the epitome of “casual, Keys-style dining.” The menu concept pays tribute to its Florida Keys home by focusing on the quality and freshness of locally sourced ingredients. And it’s open to the public—FYI.

Other dining options on property include Sixty-One Prime, a Florida Keys-style chop house; Oasis Key, an adults-only dining spot with a waterfront view that features island-inspired dishes and specialty drinks; Coral Grill, for quick snacks and drinks for the whole family; and more!

If you’re looking for an easy, drivable family weekend away in the Keys, I definitely recommend Hawks Cay. It’s rare to find a resort in Florida where there is something fun for every family member, no matter their age! Right now, they’re having a “Fall Into the Keys” promotion where you can get 20% off, plus enjoy a $25 Resort Credit on stays now through Dec. 25, 2022. More details available on

Michelle Olson-Rogers is a mom of one and the founder of Modern Boca Mom, an award-winning lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. She can also be found on Instagram at @modernbocamom.

Michelle Olson-Rogers
Michelle Olson-Rogers
Michelle Olson-Rogers, a native to Boca, is the founder of, a lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. Modern Boca Mom features family events, activities, classes, fitness, dining, travel, home improvement and shopping options—as well as a weekly MOMpreneur spotlight! She and her husband Andrew have one daughter, Avery.

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