Dive in to Hawk's Cay in the Florida Keys

The life expectancy of a flowering plant poolside at Hawks Cay Resort is about 22 minutes. That?'s how long it'?ll take one of the resident iguanas to find what it considers colorful hors de oeuvres. Ditto for fresh scallops, grilled vegetables or any of the other gourmet delicacies the resort serves at its Beach Grill. If they touch the ground near a sunning iguana, they?re gone before you can say, ?Another Mojito please.?There?s only a handful of the three foot reptiles roaming the property, yet they represent the wild and natural amenities of the Duck Key resort that originally housed the Indies Inn, one of President Harry Truman?s favorite vacation sites. Fresh off a $35 million renovation with 177 newly-designed guest rooms and suites and 225 two- and three-bedroom waterfront villas, Hawks Cay Resort represents barefoot elegance in an island atmosphere where you can swim with dolphins, kayak with fish, or sip a cup of hot Joe while watching a snook stalk the edge of the natural saltwater lagoon.There are plenty of hotels in the Keys where you can catch a bonefish or tarpon within 100 yards of your room, but once the topics of spa treatments, child and teen recreation, full service marina and a host of on-site dining options enter the discussion, Hawks Cay Resort, situated between Islamorada and Marathon becomes the focus of attention. With eight tennis courts, a fitness center, volleyball, basketball and mini golf course, even if water-oriented recreation isn?t high on your list, you can find a way to occupy your time. Then again, laying poolside with a book or adult beverage at one of the five options (including the Tranquility Pool, where you must be over 18) is the preferred choice for those looking to unwind.One of the best indicators of the resort?s atmosphere comes from the staff, dressed in casual Caribbean attire and quick to provide guidance or personalized service, and to express gratitude for the exceptional work environment. You won'?t find a lot of resorts where the staff actually loves to come to work, but when your occupation so closely reflects a lifestyle you'?ve come to love, the feeling is not that you have to go to work, but that you get to go to work.Hawks Cay ResortImmediately upon crossing the arched Venetian bridge onto Duck Key, the 85-slip deepwater marina comes into view, with a host of offshore charterboats and private powerboats, boat ramp and one of the nicer marina stores in an area where the entire economy is based on water sports. Marina guests have access to the resort?s services, so you?ll often find the fishermen in the group at the nearby Tom?s Harbor House and Truman?s Bar where their catch of the day is expertly prepared.Don'?t be surprised to see flats boats fishing close to the bridge, as the resident tarpon that get hand fed in the marina often work their way to the surrounding channel before dark to feed on shrimp and crabs moving with the tides. At dawn, it?s not uncommon to jump a handful of tarpon within casting distance of the boat ramp, or to lap around the corner to fish the schools laid-up out of the wind.Hawks Cay ResortThere?s a reason light tackle anglers come to the Florida Keys, and it?s just north of the Channel 5 bridge and still within sight of Hawks Cay Resort, where some of the most prolific flats in the northern hemisphere are ground zero for testing your skills with fly or light tackle in pursuit of permit, tarpon and some of the largest bonefish in the world. Where else in the world can you sight cast a 10-pound bonefish, 100-pound tarpon and 30-pound permit in the same day, then pony up to the massage table to work the acid out of your tired muscles?For bluewater anglers, it?'s a short run to Alligator Reef or Tennessee Reef, where yellowtail snapper and grouper are the main targets on days when the seas are too rough to get to the edge. On the nice days, sailfish, dolphin, wahoo and blackfin tuna are all within a short run from the resort, and for anglers looking for some serious pain, the option of chasing swordfish during the daytime or night is a step off the marina dock and into the cockpit of a charterboat.Hawks Cay ResortSmall boat owners who view their annual trip to the Keys an extension of their local rights as Florida residents will find they can trailer down, dump the boat in and leave it at the marina or tied up behind their waterfront villa. So whether you like to pole the flats, or run to the horizon, just set your alarm, load your gear and point the bow. Be sure to bring dive gear and drop the kids overboard to chase down a few spiny lobsters to go with your fish.When and where to eat seems to be the toughest decision of the day, given the variety of on-site restaurants specializing in everything from classic American cuisine to ceviches, and even a touch of Latin spice. Alma, the resort?s featured restaurant, offers authentic Nuevo Latino cuisine, a combination of Latin inspired dishes often characterized by the use of chiles, tubers and exotic vegetables and fruits fused with classical European culinary techniques. After dinner at Alma it'?s time to direct your taste buds back towards something familiar, like a classic cocktail that can be enjoyed in the Bar at Alma, out on the terrace, or sitting in a cushioned chair with your feet up on the edge of the large circular fire pit that?s lit every evening. Be careful here, because after a long day on the water and a hearty meal, it takes a protracted effort to get out of these chairs.Hawks Cay ResortFor those looking to start their day off with a bang, the buffet at The Terrace restaurant blends just the right combination of fresh fruits, juices and standard breakfast fare to make you want to crawl back in bed a forget that there is another place you call home.When you awake from your daze, which usually takes place about the second day you return home, you realize that Hawks Cay Resort isn?t for just anyone, it?s for everyone. Whether you?re seeking the fish of a lifetime or the family waterfront recreation the Florida Keys are legendary for providing, there?s a special section on the property that?ll seem just the perfect fit. The atmosphere, amenities and staff will quickly make you forget your worries, and from there it?s up to you to decide what you really came down there for.Hawks Cay Resort About Hawks Cay ResortIn the heart of the Florida Keys, the one square mile Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key is located at Mile Marker 61, south of Islamorada and north of Key west, and roughly 9 miles north of the Marathon Airport. The resort which re-opened in February 2008 after a $35 million facelift sports a stylish and modern Caribbean theme against a plantation-style entrance.The four main hotel buildings house 177 guest rooms (15 suites). For more private accommodations, the resort has 225 two- and three-bedroom waterfront villas that sleep from four to eight guests.Resort amenities include a full-service marina with 85 overnight slips, an all-encompassing menu of watersports (snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, sailing, water skiing and eco tours, just to name a few), the full-service Calm Waters Spa and Fitness Center, five swimming pools, ?The Cove? kids club and dedicated teen recreation center and the renowned Dolphin Connection Program which provides up-close interaction with Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Tennis, basketball, volleyball, golf and outdoor board games and horseshoes are just a few of the other available activities.For more information about Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key or to make reservations, visit www.hawkscay.com, or contact the resort by phone at (305) 743-7000.Hawks Cay ResortFishing Charters at Hawks Cay ResortDuck Key is less than 10 miles from the heart of Marathon, one of the most popular islands in the Keys for fishing based trips. The Marina at Hawks Cay Resort hosts five offshore/reef charterboats and two flats boats for charter. All come with experienced captains and crew with distinct local knowledge on the best locations and tides for targeting the fish of the Middle Keys.Charters can be arranged through the staff at the Hawks Cay Marina by phone (305) 743-9000, option #2 or e-mail (fishing@hawkscay.com).For offshore trolling, reef fishing and chasing swordfish, the local charterboat fleet includes the following boats:
  •     Tailwalker?A 43-foot Viking sportfishing boat that can comfortably accommodate up to six anglers.
  •     Tailwalker II?A 50-foot Viking sportfishing boat that can comfortably accommodate up to six anglers.
  •     The Final Final?A 39-foot Buddy Davis sportfishing boat that can comfortably accommodate up to six anglers.
  •     The Baitrunner?A 32-foot Priority sportfishing boat that can comfortably accommodate up to six anglers.
  •     The Eagle Eye?A 26-foot Regulator center console that can comfortably accommodate up to four anglers.
Those looking for a flats or backcountry charter while at Hawks Cay Resort will find the following boats in the marina:
  •  The Soc-Et-Tu-Em?A 20-foot Hewes Light Tackle Skiff that can comfortably accommodate up to three anglers for flats and backcountry fishing.
  •     The Light ?N Up?A 19.5-foot Action Craft suitable for two anglers, but capable of accommodating up to three anglers on the flats or a half day trip on the bay for a family of four.
For more information on visiting Florida check out our guide here.
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