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Camping & Travel VLOG #10
Duck Key in the Florida Keys: A Lively Family and Fishing Vacation
Surprise, surprise, there is a hot vacation destination midway between Miami and Key West. One and a half hours from the heart of Miami, there’s a sign for Duck Key on Route 1, the Overseas Highway, before it hits the world-famous Seven Mile Bridge. Take the left turn. The road leads to a quiet but developed archipelago anchored by the family-friendly Hawks Cay Resort.
A Stellar Resort’s Humble Beginnings
In the 1820s and 1830s, Duck Key was the site of a salt manufacturing operation. In 1951, Bryan W. Newkirk, who had developed Coral Gables, purchased the island for about $47,000 and turned it into a 400-acre island community. With an airport 12 miles away in the city of Marathon, and Miami International Airport just 90 miles away, the possibilities became even more endless in 1952 when a wooden bridge connected Duck Key to highway U.S. 1. Newkirk made all the canals waterways that could flush with the tidal changes. He carved out five islands, Indies, Centre, Harbour, Plantation and Yacht Club islands, with 10 miles of paved roads and four decorative stone bridges. Newkirk’s Indies Inn opened in 1960. In 1983, it was bought and became the Hawks Cay Resort.
A Fun Resort
From Miami, after the scenic drive on picturesque Route 1 that takes you through the Everglades, across historic fishing bridges and along the tranquil blue and green waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay, you turn left at the 61-mile marker on to Duck Key and into the AAA Four-Diamond Award-winning Hawks Cay. You’re greeted with an instant serenity by a resort that looks like a well-groomed country club. No traffic. A few people walk around the grounds, sauntering in and out of the 225 two- and three-bedroom tropical-styled, cream-colored villas and hotel rooms. When you check in at the main desk, you get a better sense of the property as families with kids seem to be the dominant presence. Across the lobby, out back, is a big pool. A clearer picture of what this self-contained haven offers vacationers, particularly families, comes into view: high-quality accommodations, loads of activities on an isle where you really can’t get lost.
The heart of the property is the main pool where everyone gathers for swimming, scuba lessons, sun worshipping and the scene. Next to it is a well-conceived Saltwater Lagoon, with a man-made, circular beach. When the tide comes in, the lagoon is higher, when it leaves it is lower. This beach scene is an anomaly in the Keys; if you haven’t been here, you might think the Keys’ islands are laden with dazzling shorelines, but in fact there are precious few. Lots of vacationers arrive at Key West, anticipating a world-class beach, only to find there is none. Hawks Cay has that covered. Calmness on its beach. Shrieks and laughter at its main pool. Dead silence at his adults-only Tranquility Pool, where it’s so quiet you could hear a mojito straw drop.
Stay Active. Or Not!
Dolphin Connection: Guests train, feed and swim with four Atlantic bottlenose dolphins that reside at Hawks Cay. It’s a unique facility, the only one of its kind in the continental United States to offer free daily dolphin viewing. The viewings start at 10 a.m. and run every 90 minutes throughout the day. With a small teacher/vacationer ratio, kids can ask all the questions they want and not wait three minutes for an answer. There are only a few participants. No crowds in a gigantic theme park. This is an intimate experience.
Sundance Water Sports: Stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, jetskiing and Segway tours…
By Dwight Brown
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