Hawks Cay Resort, Florida Keys

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endless activities And biking is just one of many activities available at Hawks Cay. In fact, the resort is known as being one—if not the most—active resort in the Florida Keys, and we can attest to that. During our visit, we were engaged in a whirlwind of fun pastimes—from hanging with dolphins and snorkeling, to lagoon swimming and offshore fishing, and yes, we must admit, some lounging by the pool with drink in hand. But there’s also backcountry fishing, jet ski tours, snuba, parasailing, sunset cruises, water skiing, wakeboarding and tennis.

But it’s truly a sin to be in these parts and not go snorkeling or diving—the area is home to the only living coral reef system in the continental United States and what beauty awaits those who venture down to that coral reef world. The fish are a dazzling array of colors and you can swim right through a whole school and get lost in the serenity of the underwater world. It’s truly a must while vacationing in the Florida Keys and one of the main reasons to travel to the area, in fact.

Another must-do is offshore fishing. Clients can charter a boat for a full or half day and experience some of the best fishing in the world, along migratory routes of pelagic fish like tuna, mahi-mahi, and wahoo, as well as game fish like kingfish, sailfish, and even the occasional marlin. The advanced sportfisherman and even the uninitiated will have a field day. Also, do book clients on a Dolphin Connection program, located on site right by the lagoon area and offering a variety of options for playing with these friendly creatures, including but not limited to the Dockside Dolphins program (ideal for families with small kids), Dolphin Discovery, in which one actually goes into the water with the dolphins, and Dolphin Trainer for a Day.

But we must admit that the most fun we had at the resort was hanging at the saltwater lagoon, where guests can snorkel and search for small tropical fish; paddle around in tiki boats; watch dolphins play at the neighboring Dolphin Connection; and keep a look out for sea turtles swimming by in the clear waters of the harbor. It’s a unique area and a great complement to the resort’s five pools, which include the main resort pool, where myriad games are hosted throughout the day; the adults-only Tranquility pool, with its own cabanas; the Pirate Ship pool, where, you guessed it, kids can splash around to their heart’s content; the Indies pool, tucked away in a garden setting; and the secluded Sunset pool.

Of course, all that activity needs to be subdued a bit and for that the resort offers the Calm Waters Spa, voted in 2009 as being the “Best Hotel Spa in the U.S.” by the readers of Travel + Leisure. It’s an intimate, welcoming spa with a friendly staff—and take note agents, the day we peeked in there were actually more men waiting for a treatment than women. Naturally, the spa’s menu is influenced by its surroundings and includes such delights as the signature Key Lime Mojito Body Treatment and Caviar Facial, tropical manicures and pedicures, including one of our favorites, the Pretty Beach Pedicure, and the Soothing Sunset, a deeply hydrating facial that is ideal after a day under the Florida sun. The spa also offers a whirlpool, eucalyptus steam room and dry sauna, as well as a fitness center. What we found unique—and great for angsty moms—is that the spa is located next to the Indies Club—although within, the spa is pure tranquility—which is home to the Pirate Ship pool and one of the kids’ favorite hangouts, Camp Hawk.

Which brings us to yet another resort offering—one of the best kids’ camps in the Florida Keys. Camp Hawk offers diverse activities for kids ages 5 to 17, including scavenger hunts, fish feedings—with live shrimp no less—sporting event competitions, Teen Night Out social events, Keys-style arts and crafts, and game room activities—need we go on?

In other words, there’s never, ever a dull moment at Hawks Cay. It’s just not in their vocabulary.

dining delights Hawks Cay also doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its culinary offerings, but it’s the restaurant settings that really had us gaga. We loved, loved nighttime dining at the Beach Grill, when it’s set up with a sprinkling of lights and there’s a fire pit going. And we truly enjoyed the outdoor dining at the very Key-styled Tom Harbor House (in our opinion offering the best food at the resort), located at the marina.