Family road trips are back in fashion thanks to the never-ending pandemic and high expense of plane tickets (and gas) these days… One area of Florida we hadn’t traveled to with our daughter yet? The Keys! Modern Boca Dad and I took a little couples trip to live out our “tiny home dream” back in 2021, but the Florida Keys are a destination where families can visit to make priceless vacation memories over and over again. For this trip, we decided to plan a Hawks Cay family visit from South Florida.
Hawks Cay is located on Duck Key, a small, relatively private island near Marathon and Isla Morada. Hawks Cay is unique in that you can see both sunrises AND sunsets on the island. When I told our 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 considered a classic Florida Keys escape!
Read on to start planning your own family road trip…
How to Plan A Hawks Cay Family Visit from South Florida
How to Get There
The Keys are pretty close to Boca Raton. It’s only 4 hours by car to the furthest one: Key West. Hawks Cay is located about 3 hours from Boca. You enter by driving over a 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.
Where to Stay
This Hawks Cay family visit, we stayed in a Lanai Family Guest Room with two queen beds and a large bathroom. It was a great ground-floor location with an oversized lanai that had quick and easy access to everything at the resort like the main pool, one of four on property.
There are also suites you can book and a host of 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 safe letting our 9 year-old girls head out to the pool and lagoon area on their own, especially first thing in morning when they wanted to swim! We also had a great view of the resort’s signature fire pit every evening from the lanai…where #modernbocadad and I enjoyed a glass of wine…or two.
What to Do
The Lagoon at Hawks Cay is amazing–like nothing I’ve ever seen at a resort before. It’s fed straight from the ocean—the water rises and lowers with the tides and is extremely calm. Your toddler can be playing safely in the shallows while your tween or teen is kayaking or using the complimentary paddleboards—included in your resort fee. #dailybocaavery and her friend loved paddle boarding for the first time during this Hawks Cay family visit. I loved the low pressure, yet physical activity for kids.
Hawks Cay Dolphin Discovery Program
Swimming with the dolphins 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 Discovery program. Our kids made the cut height-wise, but children 48-54 inches have to be accompanied by a paying adult (1 adult per child). I’ve been swimming with the dolphins before in Mexico and couldn’t justify paying almost $1K for the four of us to do it.
There is a 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. Kids 5+ can go on their own. However, children 4 and under need to be accompanied by a paid adult. Kids 2 and under are no charge.
Hawks Cay offers great programming for kids at their beautiful Coral Cay club. Right now, an adult must accompany children under 13 at all times. Camp Hawk, Hawks Cay’s former drop-off childcare program, wasn’t happening when we visited. (I’m guessing it was a pandemic casualty.) But, there was still plenty of fun to be had like art projects and mermaid makeovers! We just had to be there with the kids for the duration of this Hawks Cay family visit.
Coral Cay also has a soccer field, basketball courts and putting greens, but the main attraction is the resort’s interactive Pirate Ship Pool that features slides, tunnels and water cannons. 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 at Hawks Cay
Vacation = food (and wine) to me! Luckily, there is no shortage of places to eat at Hawks Cay! The property has no less than 6 restaurants within walking or tram distance. Yes, the resort offers a free tram for guests during their Hawks Cay family visit!
We were invited to dine at Angler & Ale with a beautiful sunset 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.
Some of our menu favorites included the Whole Fried Snapper, Tuna Nachos and fried pickles (and shrimp!). And what’s really unique about Angler & Ale is that guests also have the option to ‘Hook N Cook’ where fishermen or women can bring in their fresh catch of the day and have the chef prepare it that same evening. There’s also an impressive craft cocktail menu with an extensive beer selection that includes the restaurant’s signature Angler’s Ale brew.
Other dining options at Hawks Cay include:
- Sixty-One Prime, the resort’s newest dining outlet, is a Florida Keys-style chop house. It’s located just off the main resort lobby.
- Coral Grill, located in Coral Cay, provides quick snacks and drinks for the whole family.
- Oasis Cay is an adults-only dining spot with island-inspired dishes and specialty drinks for easy lounge chair-style dining and a stunning oceanfront view.
- Hawks Cay Marketplace offers guests a place where they can purchase premade grab-and-go items, grocery items, as well as snacks throughout the day. We ordered the girls pizzas from here for lunch.
- Tiki Grill services the saltwater lagoon and main pool and offers cocktails, sandwiches and salads available poolside, at the bar or in a lounge chair.
If you’re looking for a quick family getaway to 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!
Sponsored: Modern Boca Mom was hosted by Hawks Cay Resort for blog review purposes. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own. They are not influenced in any way by the sponsor. Any statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with provider. Please refer to this site’s Disclosure for more information. I have been given meals and a complimentary resort stay, but that does not impact my views or opinions.