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Review of Hawks Cay Resort in the Exact Middle of the Florida Keys

Review of Hawks Cay Resort in the Exact Middle of the Florida Keys

Hawks Cay Resort, located on Duck Key in the nearly exact middle of the Florida Keys, is the sort of place you never have to leave if you don’t want. After several trips through the Florida Keys, we’ve gotten to stay at lots of different hotels and resorts, so we’ve got a pretty broad experience. Hawks Cay is delightful.

You’ll find as you look at hotels in the Florida Keys that there are many options that are a combination of hotel rooms and villas or vacation rentals, and Hawks Cay is one of them. We’re going to answer all of your questions about the resort and staying here with kids.

Check Hawks Cay rates here!

Review of Hawks Cay Resort halfway down the Florida Keys, a place you can check in and never have to leave. From vacation rentals to hotel rooms, there are a variety of accommodations and amenities.

Review of Hawks Cay Resort in the Middle Florida Keys

Since Hawks Cay Resort is much more than just hotel accommodations, know that booking a stay here could account for the entirety of your vacation plan. Duck Key, which is the small island the resort is located on, has everything from the resort to dining or watersport rentals. You can cook in your kitchen if you have one of the villas or eat on property.

Part of the fun of being in the Florida Keys though is exploring, so while it’s easy to check into Hawks Cay Resort and never leave, be sure you plan some time visiting at least the neighboring keys. Sure, you can go for a walk each day all around the resort and never take the same walking path twice, but Marathon and Islamorada are so close you’ll want to pop off island once or twice at least.

Read on for all the info about rooms and amenities at Hawks Cay Resort.

Accommodation Options at Hawks Cay Resort

Our family tends to spend minimal time at the hotel when we travel, but there are times when we do need a fair amount of space and nice amenities for chilling out, especially when other parts of our trip have been busy. And that’s where room types and accommodations come into play. The hotel rooms at Hawks Cay Resort are all located in the central building (around the main pools and lobby), while the villas/townhouses are in small neighborhoods on property.

Get ready, because here are the many types of accommodations available at Hawks Cay Resort:

  • Two Queen room – 4 people
  • One King room – 2 people
  • Family Guestroom – 1 king, bunk bed with a Full on the bottom – 5 people
  • Junior Suite – 3 people
  • Lanai Guestroom – family room with 2 queens and direct access to main pool; or adults only with direct access to adults only pool – 4 people or 2 people
  • Presidential Suites – sleeps 2
  • Two, Three or Four Bedroom Villas (townhouses) – 2 bd sleeps up to 6 people, 3 and 4 bd sleeps up to 8 people
Queen Room at Hawks Cay Resort Duck Key Florida Keys 2020 1

Budget and Rates for Hawks Cay Resort

The cost of these room type ALL VARY on the view and access type. For example, you may see a rate for a 2 Queen room for $365/nt and then the water view version is $100/nt more, and then the Lanai room with direct pool access is still another $100/nt more. [rates are reflective of search for mid-week August stay]

So much of the conversation around planning a vacation to the Florida Keys centers on budget, and rightly so, as the Keys are one of the more expensive Florida destinations you could pick. Visiting Saint Augustine or Daytona is much less expensive and we have beautiful beaches, but we don’t have the food and the vibes of the Keys. Orlando is busy, but it’s not quiet and tropical like the keys.

The Florida Keys offer a completely different vacation feel, which is why a place like Hawks Cay Resort will cost you much more than a weekend at the Holiday Inn Express across from Universal Orlando Resort (just as a cost example).

Marina Canal at sunset at Hawks Cay Resort Duck Key Florida Keys 2020 1

Top Pick: Vacation Rental Townhouse

If the budget and availability matches up, the Marina Villas are our top pick for staying at Hawks Cay Resort. Being in the neighborhood area is a nice change to staying in a centralized hotel building and immediately makes it feel like you’re not just on vacation, but also like you can relax like at home.

There are villas within the village areas that are owned by individuals as well as managed by Hawks Cay Resort, so different villas may have different decor or amenities within. We stayed in a two story villa/townhouse that had a queen room and 2 twin room upstairs, and then downstairs was a kitchen and dinning area with a living room that had a sofabed.

Two Twin Room at Hawks Cay Resort Duck Key Florida Keys 2020 1

The big bonus of our two bedroom villa at Hawks Cay Resort was having ample outdoor space and our own private plunge pool. We enjoyed the marina view, especially at sunset, and it was nice to have our own patio and pool to chill out at. We fill our days with activities when we’re in the Florida Keys, so being able to get home and unwind in our own space was perfect.

Private Plunge Pool at Hawks Cay Resort Duck Key Florida Keys 2020 1

Check in / Check Out at Hawks Cay

Because Hawks Cay Resort is so big and there are so many services around the property, they actually use an RFID key and charging system. Upon check in, all guests are given lightweight bracelets that are then used for accessing their accommodations, getting into the pool spaces and charging purchases or meals back to their hotel bill. It’s pretty convenient and functions very similarly to Magic Bands at Walt Disney World.

Hawks Cay Resort Amenities

Anyone can call their property a resort I think, but Hawks Cay is actually a full on resort. They have all the services you can imagine, from restaurants to pools, concierge to equipment rentals. The property is huge, taking up most of Duck Key, so they effectively use the space for all manner of Florida fun.

Swimming Pools on Property

There is no shortage of swimming pools at Hawks Cay Resort. If swimming is on the schedule, as it should be since it’s hot in the Florida Keys most of the year, you’ve got several options here:

  • main pool aka the Resort Pool
  • adults only Oasis Cay Pool
  • quiet Coral Cay Pool
  • kids’ area / Pirate Ship Pool (next to the Coral Cay Pool)
  • and the Saltwater Lagoon

Our favorite of all the pools was the Saltwater Lagoon. It’s just below the main resort pool and is actually a wonderfully unique swimming area. It’s attached to the saltwater channels of the Florida Keys, so there are actually fish in it, and the rising tide refreshes the pool several time a day.

The Coral Cay and Pirate Ship pools are NOT located at the main hotel area of Hawks Cay Resort, but are right by the main entrance to the property. This is always where you’ll find the fitness center. You can walk to these pools or drive (there’s plenty of parking).

Taylor Family in Salt Water Lagoon at Hawks Cay Resort Duck Key Florida Keys 2020 1

More Things to Do at Hawks Cay

To reiterate that you never need to leave the property, Hawks Cay Resort also has a fitness center, spa, putt putt golf course, tennis courts and a soccer field. The fitness center, pools, putt putt and sport areas are included in the resort fee when you stay at Hawks Cay, but the spa services are extra.

You can also rent bike, kayaks and SUPs here at the resort. There are some wonderful places to kayak in the Florida Keys, and the mangrove trails around Duck Key are awesome for it!

Taylor Family Kayaking in mangroves at Curry Hammock State Park Fat Duck Key Marathon Florida Keys 2020 5

The Dolphin Connection

Another extra cost if you want is the Dolphin Connection experience. That’s right, there are dolphins at the Hawks Cay Resort. I was unable to get information from any staff about the origin of the dolphins or the overall purpose of the program besides human entertainment, so if this is something that interests you, I recommend talking to the staff on-site.

Per the Dolphin Connection website, the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin isn’t endangered and there’s no mention of current beneficial research happening in conjunction with the Dolphin Connection. The last research update was in 2017, so currently (2022) it’s unclear what the Dolphin Connection is doing besides using dolphins for human entertainment.

Dining at Hawks Cay Resort

There are several restaurants on property at Hawks Cay Resort. There is also grocery delivery to the villas / vacation rentals at the resort (through Publix) and a small marketplace to pick up snacks and easy lunch items, including boxed lunches if you’re heading out on the water for the day.

There are six dining options at Hawks Cay Resort:

  • Angler and Ale (our favorite)
  • Hawks Cay Marketplace – quick grab-n-go food
  • Sixty-One Prime – upscale steak and seafood named for the Mile Marker on the Overseas Highway
  • Tiki Grill – poolside service for food and drinks
  • Coral Grill – in the Coral Cay and Pirate Ship Pool area
  • Oasis Cay Leisure & Libations – at the adults only pool

Because the Florida Keys can get busy and the restaurants at Hawks Cay are open to non-guests as well, if you’re planning to dine at Angler and Ale or Sixty-One Prime, we recommend making reservations.

Mahi Tacos at Angler and Ale Hawks Cay Resort Duck Key Florida Keys 2020 1

Angler & Ale Restaurant

We really enjoyed dining at Angler and Ale at Hawks Cay. With both indoor and deck seating, it’s the quintessential Florida Keys restaurant experience. Lots of fresh fish options, some of the best key lime pie in the Florida Keys, key lime cocktails, and everything else.

Angler and Ale is a great family dining option because of the diverse menu and upper mid-grade pricing. The atmosphere is relaxed and the service exceptional. We’d happily dine here on another road trip through the Florida Keys.

Toasted Key Lime Pie at Angler and Ale Hawks Cay Resort Duck Key Florida Keys 2020 1

Where is Hawks Cay Resort?

We really enjoy splitting out time in the Florida Keys between Key West and the Upper Keys, and then we hit up activities in the Middle Key on the drive down or back… except when we stay in the Middle Keys. Hawks Cay Resort is smack in the middle of the Keys, with Islamorada directly to the north and Marathon just to the south. You’ll find most of the fishing charters go out from the Middle Keys, as do a lot of boat rentals and sailing.

Review of Hawks Cay Resort halfway down the Florida Keys, a place you can check in and never have to leave. From vacation rentals to hotel rooms, there are a variety of accommodations and amenities.

Transportation To and From Airports

You can fly into several airports to get to the Middle Keys and Hawks Cay. Marathon is the closest airport, but it’s a small one with just private and charter flights. Ideally, flying into Miami (MIA) or Key West (EYW) is best, and then from either airport you can either rent a car or book an airport transfer. We recommend having a car so you can easily get to other islands during your time in the Keys, but if you’re booking tours, many of them can arrange transportation/pickup for you.

Arched Bridge Old Channel 5 Turquoise Waters from the Overseas Highway Florida Keys 2020 4

Can I Walk or Bike to Islamorada or Marathon from Hawks Cay?

Biking from Duck Key, where Hawks Cay Resort is located, is possible. You can rent bikes at the resort or bring your own. The part of the Overseas Highway where you can start riding actually connects to a separate path called the Overseas Heritage Trail, which takes you directly onto Marathon to the south. You can ride north on the Overseas Heritage Trail too, but if you want to go to Islamorada, you’ll find it to be a much longer ride with less time on designated bike paths.

Note: the Overseas Heritage Trail does NOT have separate bike lanes for the duration of the Keys. There are some places where it’s on its own bridge or pathway, and then others where it joins the main vehicle highway, so be sure to be safe when biking in the Florida Keys.

Turquoise Waters from the Overseas Highway Florida Keys 2020 4

Best Things to do in the Middle Keys Near Hawks Cay

You’ll find that the Hawks Cay Resort is very close to two of the main adventure hubs of the Florida Keys: Marathon and Islamorada. Without driving all the way to Key West or heading back north to Key Largo. Here are ten fun things to do in the Middle Keys very near Hawks Cay Resort:

  1. Marathon Turtle Hospital
  2. Kayaking at Curry Hammock State Park
  3. Beach day at Anne’s Beach
  4. Sombrero Beach afternoon swimming and playground
  5. Find Florida murals on Marathon and Islamorada
  6. Visit Long Key State Park for nature trails
  7. plan a fishing or sailing trip out of Marathon
  8. visit the artist market at Robbie’s Islamorada
  9. Head to Bahia Honda State Park for the old Overseas Highway and kayaking (one of the best kayaking spots in South Florida)
  10. Go biking or key lime pie eating or walking the trails along the highway. Everything!
Taylor Family at Old Bahia Honda Bridge Viewpoint Big Pine Key Florida Keys 3

I hope this has been helpful in planning your Florida Keys vacation. There is a lot to consider before booking your hotel or settling on a final plan. Check out our other Florida Keys hotel picks: the Laureate Hotel Key West, the Marker Key West Resort, and more. Please let us know how we can help you. Leave a comment or send us a note, and we’ll be happy to provide our advice and recommendations!

Review of Hawks Cay Resort halfway down the Florida Keys, a place you can check in and never have to leave. From vacation rentals to hotel rooms, there are a variety of accommodations and amenities.
Review of Hawks Cay Resort halfway down the Florida Keys, a place you can check in and never have to leave. From vacation rentals to hotel rooms, there are a variety of accommodations and amenities.


Saturday 8th of October 2022

Thank you for your very lovely review - you really covered everything!

I just booked a Sunset Village unit there for my husband, myself & our little dog (the resort doesn't allow dogs in their units, but some owners do permit them) for the spring. We got it through AIRBNB and won't have use of the pool and a few things, but that's okay for us. The unit we got has a beautiful view of the bay and a little sandy beach area - and the unit has great reviews. I was torn between Colony Key Beach and Hawks Cay- but ended up going with Hawks because it looks prettier and I've read it's a bit quieter - plus I like that it's smack in the middle of the Keys.


Wednesday 12th of October 2022

So glad to hear! And if you do book another Keys trip and stay at Key Colony, please let me know how it is there. I'm always looking at different Keys resort areas.

Cameron DeShazo

Monday 11th of April 2022

Just got back from Hawks Cay this weekend. We stayed in one of the Serenity town homes. The main building at the resort looks nice and upscale, but the rest of the property seems a bit worn and poorly maintained.

Our unit had a terribly done paint job inside, several appliances didn't work (icemaker, disposal) the toaster was so beat up I could hardly use it, and on the last day my wife tried to use the stove to make breakfast and sparks shot out of it and it shut off for good. Also the kitchen is not furnished enough to really cook there. Ours didn't have a chef's knife or even a skillet.

Our complaints were heard and the staff was very good about handling them, and I will say that the staff everywhere was really fantastic - especially the dolphin adventure people. That was a highlight.

Definitely not worth the cost overall.


Monday 11th of April 2022

Thank you for sharing. I'm hearing mixed reviews from people as of late, so I think the resort may be having an off-time. If you haven't, I'd recommend providing your feedback to the Hawks Cay team via email too. Sometimes the communications with the staff on property don't make it up to the decision makers.


Saturday 12th of March 2022

Just completed a 4 night stay at the Hawks Cay resort in a two bedroom villa. Our check-in was delayed by 4 hours, the room was not clean and the mold in the bathroom suggested it had not been cleaned thoroughly in a good long time. The adult pool was overrun by convention goers that the resort booked in at the same time. And the straw that broke the camel's back was being visited by a rat on the balcony porch. This resort was not worth anywhere near the price we paid. In spite of bringing all of this to the attention to management, nothing material was done to remedy it. Beware.


Tuesday 15th of March 2022

Oh no! That was very much not our experience. I would be sure to also follow up with the Preferred Hotels customer service team. When following up directly with on-site management doesn't work for one way or another, I would step up a level to get direct follow up.