Stiletto-Clad Traveler Let’s Unwind in Duck Key!
Escaping to the southern most tip of the United States is probably not your idea of an exotic getaway. But who needs exotic when you can puff a cigar by the fire pit with a glass of champagne engaged in meaningful dialogue with people you actually enjoy talking to, and just chill? Tranquillo as they say in Costa Rica is the universal vibe at Hawks Cay Resort & Villa, a massive property located on the secluded island of Duck Key—arguably, the only Florida Key you need. With over 400 rooms and villas sprinkled across 60 acres of lush land, and a long list of activities to indulge in, why leave the grounds? Unless you’re venturing deep in to the Atlantic for a day of offshore fishing, diving or kiteboarding, here’s how we suggest you spend 72 hours chillaxing in the Florida Keys.
Sandwiched between Key Largo and Key West, Duck Key is easily accessible by car, boat or plane. It’s a two-hour drive from Miami, not bad for a domestic destination that has the allure of a tropical island. There are two penthouses on the property with spectacular views from a 360 degree wrap-a-round balcony; book both if you’re globetrotting with others. Rolling solo? Standard accommodations should suffice. The room I occupied was spacious with a sliding door that led out to a back patio steps away from the resort’s sole adult-only swimming pool. Wherever you stay, you’ll be satisfied.
WHAT TO EAT
The property has 3 eateries on-site. A fourth, Angler and Ale, is coming to the marina this fall with live music and jugglers, coastal casual-style entertainment where flip-flops and a hoodie toting your guys alma mater are permitted. You’ll need wedges and a decent frock when sitting down for dinner at Alma, where a familiar menu of Latin dishes are prepared using classic European techniques. Start with the Cheviche Mixto a delectable medley of fresh florida fish, scallops, shrimp and squid topped with diced tomato, avocado, roasted corn, red onion, cilantro and aji Amarillo sweet corn crema. For your main course, go with the Crispy Florida Snapper or Seafood Paella. And you already know, Key Lime Pie is what you’ll be having for desert.
Ceviche Mixito at Alma
Key Lime Pie and Raspberry Sorbet at Alma
WHAT TO DO
When you’re done with dinner, cozy up by the fire pit with a bottle of bubbly. At Duck Key chillaxing is celebrated. There’s no obligation to hang.
WHAT TO DO/SEE
After riding bottlenose dolphins at Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios Jamaica, I realized I had a special connection to the highly intelligent fish. They’re the sweetest animals with the smoothest skin. Yes, grownups like to play with Dolphins too! During your stay at Hawks Cay, sign up for the signature Dolphin Discovery program and interact with the marine mammals in their natural environment. Whether you’re having a hands-on encounter in the saltwater lagoon or hanging out on the dock learning how to train them, socializing with dolphins is a one-of-a-kind experience. Don’t skip it.
I Was Excited To Meet Lucky & He Was Equally Excited To Meet Me
Travel Writer, Holly Fink and I Studying Lucky’s Fin
Tour Hawks Cay
$20 million dollars worth of renovations recently went into upgrading this island resort and those changes are worth seeing. Arrange a guided tour with guest services and become familiar with Hawks Cay’s points of interest, accommodations and activities. You may be the only person in your crew who wants to partake in this educational adventure, all to the good, still go. Their loss, not yours.
Patio View From a Hawks Cay Villa
The Bedrooms In The Presidential & Junior Penthouse Suites Belong In Coastal Living Magazine
Jump On A Jet Ski
I vowed to never operate a jet ski again after my BFF crashed into me almost a decade ago riding full speed on the first day of our week-long vacation to the Dominican Republic. That collision spooked the adventure out of me. But after braving ATV’s in Cabo and riding on a charming papi’s moto on Playa Blanca in Colombia, the fear subsided and I got my motorized water sports mojo back.
Sundance Watersports at Hawks Cay offers more than just jet skis, boat rentals, standup paddleboarding and parasailing can happen too. But you only have 72-hours so go with the skis.
One of the things that distinguishes Duck Key from other Florida Key destinations are the astonishing sunrises and sunsets. Reserve a spot on the daily operated Sunset Cruise and have a champagne toast with your fellow globetrotters while you watch day transition into night. On the morning of your departure, get up before dawn and catch the sunrise. Seeing it at least once before check-out is necessary.
All Smiles Aboard a Catamaran with Telemundo Reporter/Videographer, Oscar
WHAT TO EAT
The entire menu at Beach Grill gets my stamp of approval but I’m crowning the cucumber watermelon salad and Ahi Tuna Poke the eatery’s best bites. Whether you’re kicking it poolside, lounging at the saltwater lagoon or congregated around a table with your travel crew, tropical cocktails, starters and tacos will make your experience that much better. Be prepared to share.
Cucumber Watermelon Salad Topped With Grilled Chicken
Dinner at Ocean
Chef’s Special: Seared Tilapia over a Bed of Sweet Potatoes Topped w/ Guacamole & Black Beans
Coastal Comfort Food is what’s cooking at Ocean. The laid-back, family friendly restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a healthy menu featuring a slew of sustainable ingredients sourced locally. From the fish to the fruit, everything is fresh. For breakfast, go with the buffet, try the Wild Mushroom Pizza for lunch, and a fish-dish would be my pick for dinner. Yes, I take my food choices just as serious as my fashion.
WHAT TO DO
Reserve a Half-Day trip aboard Final Final as soon as you arrive to Hawk Cay. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, off-shore fishing with captain Dave and Mike was the highlight of my travels to the Florida Keys. Hunting yellowtail snapper may not be the typical excursion of choice for globetrotting stilettos, but it’s so much fun. Read about it here.
Hooked 4 Snappers, Not Too Shabby For My First Time
Voted the best Spa in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure readers, treat yourself to an afternoon of pampering at Calm Waters Spa and see what all the hoopla’s about. The menu is extensive. Whether it’s a massage, facial or body scrub, mani/pedi, blowout, brazilian or professional makeup sesh, this sanctuary is a one-stop-shop for internal and external refresh .
After your treatment(s), take a dip in the jacuzzi, then spend a few moments in the dry sauna. What? You are on vacation.
WHAT TO EAT
We’ve already established that the grub at Hawks Cay is damn good. So good that you’re likely to repeat your favorite dish at least once during your stay. Remember the watermelon cucumber salad I introduced earlier in the post? The one topped with grilled chicken and feta, seasoned so well dousing it with dressing would be offensive. Confession, I had it poolside the following day. This time I went with grilled shrimp instead of chicken. Nice choice.Order a frozen or shaken cocktail to go along with it.
Hook & Cook at Alma
We hooked 17 Snapper out at sea and the chef prepared them all for dinner: beer battered, blackened, garlic and herbs, alongside a variety of yummy sides. You too can Hook and Cook while visiting Hawks Cay. It’s a feature available at each of the property’s three eateries and will be coming to Anger and Ale this fall. There were 6 of us aboard Final Final, 3 novices, 3 intermediates, we each caught at least 2 fish. Stick with Dave and Mike and you’ll catch a few too.
Seared Tuna Topped with Fresh Chutney
Photos by Metanoya Z. Webb exclusively for Globetrotting Stiletto Inc.