Your kids will beg to stay longer and return more often!

By Becky Samford, Duluth, Norcross, Johns Creek & Peachtree Corners Macaroni Kid Publisher September 13, 2015

Like a string of pearls flung from the southernmost end of Miami, the Florida Keys stretch out 160 miles into the gorgeous, turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico. Being connected by a scenic four lane highway provides all the perks of the Caribbean, without the hassle of expensive flights and passports. 

Roughly half way between Miami and Key West, Hawk's Cay Resort is centrally located on Duck Key. Unlike many resorts that cater to adults and just tack on a few activities to keep kids occupied, true family vacations are a top priority at Hawk's Cay. 

Providing accommodations for families of all sizes, options include rooms with a king size bed, a king plus a bunk bed (full on bottom and twin on top) or two queens and these rooms can all be opened to an adjoining room. Four different cottage communities are also available on the property featuring a full kitchen, washer and dryer and 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms. Depending on where they are located, the back deck overlooks the marina, a boat dock or a private swimming pool.
Speaking of pools, there are six pools at Hawk's Cay! Most of the action takes place at the main resort pool outside the resort lobby. Live music, palm trees and plenty of lounge chairs make this one of the most popular spots at the resort all day and the adjacent fire pit is equally popular each night.  
Another very busy spot is the enclosed Saltwater Lagoon. This unique lagoon, found exclusively at Hawk's Cay, is fed straight from the ocean. It’s a great place for small children to play in the sand and the shallow water, while parents relax under the Tiki huts. The depth of the lagoon gradually slopes to 14 feet in the center making it a wonderful place for older kids to kayak or snorkel. 
Tasty temptations are served at both the pool and the lagoon from the Beach Grill. Burgers, pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches served with Dirty Banana or Tootsie Roll "Mocktails" are favorites from the kid's menu. For adults, the Mojitos and the Watermelon, Feta & Grilled Shrimp Salad are outstanding! Be sure to start your day at Ocean Restaurant. Their breakfast buffet has a huge selection, including an omelet station and Belgium waffles!

The Coral Cay Club, voted one of the best hotel kids' programs by Travel + Leisure magazine, exemplifies Hawk's Cay's commitment to providing an unforgettable experience for everyone in the family, especially the kids. From miniature golf to hula-hoop contests, not only does the staff provide tons of creative activities, but they also host interactive programs from the Turtle Rescue Hospital, the Aquarium Encounter and my favorite, the Mermaid Academy in Orlando, teaching aspiring Ariels to don their mermaid tails and swim! I’ve never seen a happier group of little girls!

A private cabana at the Coral Cay pool is an ideal place to anchor the whole family for the day. This shady retreat from the sun is the perfect place for the kids to nap or to eat lunch from the nearby Coral Grill, which has an extensive kid's menu along with adult favorites. A few steps away is the fun-filled Pirate's Ship Pool, featuring a huge pirate ship in the center to explore, plus slides, water cannon and shallow areas for younger kids to play!

Older kids love just hanging out in the Entertainment Room filled with some of the best video games anywhere, a foosball table and tons of potential new friends! Outside, there are basketball, volleyball & tennis courts and of course... cooling off in the pool! Two separate camps, divided by age, ensures that kids age 5-12 as well as teens 13-17, have a fantastic experience with other kids their age. 
Parents wanting to explore some adult activities without the kids, like the Calm Waters Spa, the relaxing adults only Tranquility Pool or dining at the upscale Alma restaurant, will discover that Camp Hawk is a win-win for everyone. 

If you are looking for something a little different, try the Segway Tour of the 60 acre property or a clue scavenger hunt to try to 
solve Hawks Cay’s very own mystery, The Riddle, developed by children’s book author Kim Cameron. The Dolphin Discovery Program, where you can give a belly rub and learn hand signals to instruct the five resident dolphins, is hands down the most memorable activity at the resort! For families with children at least 6 years old, Hawk's Cay offers some thrilling water adventures! Kayaks (single or double) and paddleboards are terrific choices for family outings. A reef trip on the Snorkeling Boat is another really fun family activity and kids of all ages can participate. (Yes, they have tiny fins & masks!) If your child is already an adrenaline junkie, they can even strap into a double harness with an adult to go parasailing! Older kids can parasail alone, visit the wake board park or learn to wind surf. What a thrill for tweens and teens! 

Dive Duck Cay is an on-site full service marina and dive shop that has many options for family adventure. Reef, wreck and night dives are available for certified divers. Want-to-be divers, age 10 to adult, can take the resort course or the full certification program.  I was lucky enough to stay here during lobster season and had a great day netting some beauties! 

I also snagged a Lion Fish and enjoyed him that night for dinner!

If kids 8 and older (or their parents!) are not certified divers but would love to try it, they offer SNUBA®. Not really snorkeling, because you can dive to a depth of 20 feet, but not really scuba, because the air tank is on the surface, SNUBA® allows even non-divers to experience the beauty of the reefs. What an exciting adventure for the family scrapbook! 

Caribbean vibe, sunset cruises, amazing adventures, immaculate rooms, delicious food, and an extremely friendly staff combine to make this the family vacation of everyone's dreams. From tots to teens, your kids will beg to stay longer and return more often to Hawk’s Cay Resort!

For more information, visit

Disclosure: This author received complimentary accommodations and some meals  for the purpose of facilitating the writing of this article. As always, the opinions expressed are my own.