A Dream Family Vacation: Swimming With Dolphins At Hawks Cay


Hawks Cay view from room

Hawks Cay view from room

Located in Duck Key in the Florida Keys Hawks Cay Resort is my idea of paradise: I could just pack my bags and move there right now. There are many beach resorts out there but I just found Hawks Cay to be magical.  Maybe it was the dolphins or the breathtaking sunsets or maybe it has nothing to do with the beauty of the place and the countless fun activities but more to do with the fantastic memories I made there with my family.

A Place For Making Family Memories

There is no doubt that this beautiful 60 acre resort has everything a family could wish for when looking for a tropical vacation getaway:  large pools, a private beach around a saltwater lagoon, a kid’s area, mini golf and so much more.

Hawks Cay kids area

Hawks Cay kids area

The kid’s area has a colorful pirate ship themed splash area where my kids spend countless hours shooting water at each other with the water cannons. After getting soaked we played a fun game on the mini golf course while a curious iguana watched with interest, which combined with the fun pirate theme on the course turned into what my little guy declared as the best mini golf course ever.

Hawks Cay kids mini golf

One of our favorite areas in the resort was the salt water lagoon, where the kids could swim or scuba, yes the lagoon has fish, or you could even rent a kayak.  While the kids where enjoying their sea adventures in the safety of the lagoon I got the chance to relax and even get some summer reading done under the shade of an umbrella on the sandy shore of the lagoon.

Hawks Cay lagoon

Hawks Cay saltwater lagoon. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Daiz, all right reserved.

If you are a morning person, like me, Hawks Cay’s location provides you with the opportunity to watch some of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen.  One our first morning there I got up just before the break of dawn and headed to the the salt water fed lagoon where the dolphins are and I got to enjoy a breathtaking show: while the sky turned all shades of orange and pink the dolphins started waking up and playing. They would scoop up a mouthful of water, throw the water up in the air and catch it again in their mouths.  There was no one around, and no sound except the sound of the ocean and of the dolphins quietly playing.  It was truly a magical moment that I will never forget.

Hawks Cay dolphin and sunrise

Just me and the dolphins enjoying a breathtaking sunrise at Hawks Cay. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz, all rights reserved.

Swimming with dolphins

Hawks Cay has it’s own dolphin facility right on site.  This means that you get the opportunity to participate in various programs where you can interact with these wonderful creatures.  Swimming with dolphins is one of those experiences that can literally change your life. I swam with dolphins for the first time as a teen while vacationing with my family to Cancun and to this day that is one of my most cherished memories.  Many people come to Hawks Cay attracted by their dream to connect with the dolphins in a personal way.

swimming with dolphins at Hawks Cay

Swimming with dolphins at Hawks Cay. Photo courtesy of Hawks Cay Resort.

My daughter and my husband participated in the Dolphin Discovery program while my son and I did the Dockside Dolphins program where we had fun getting dolphin handshakes and also getting soaked by the dolphins. It was the first time my husband swam with dolphins and both him and my daughter where so excited and could not stop talking about the experience.

Dockside Dolphins program at Hawks Cay Resort.

Dockside Dolphins program at Hawks Cay. Photo courtesy of Hawks Cay Resort.

Family Friendly Accommodations

The 177 rooms, most of them with balconies overlooking the ocean have easy access to the pool and to the saltwater lagoon.  There are also two and three bedroom villas, most have decks with water views and full kitchens which are ideal for families and groups.

Hawks Cay Room

We loved our room which overlooked the pool and the ocean and let us enjoy a breathtaking view of the sunrise right from our private balcony.  The decor is bright with a relaxed seaside elegance and the beds are super comfortable.

Hawks Cay villas

Hawks Cay villas. Photo courtesy of Hawks Cay resort.

What We Loved About Hawks Cay

  • There is so much to do for everyone in the family. With five swimming pools, a saltwater lagoon,   onsite watersports, fishing charters, a dolphin facility, multiple restaurants, and a spa everyone has lots of choices!
  • Being able to watch the dolphins at any time while we where at the resort was wonderful and our dolphin experience was truly memorable.
  • The kids club not only keeps children entertained and gives them the opportunity to make new friends but also gives parents some free time to relax while enjoying a key lime pie  or two.
  • The rooms have beautiful ocean views and direct access to the pool while the villas are ideal for families, equipped with full kitchens and
  • The resort recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and everything looks new and I just love the bright and inviting decor.
  • Part of a recent renovation the kid’s activity center has a new high-tech hangout for teens so they can hang out in their own space and make friends in an area that is removed from where all the little kids are playing, as well as a saltwater touch tank for the little ones.
Coral Cay high tech area for teens at Hawks Cay.

Coral Cay high tech area for teens at Hawks Cay. Photo courtesy of Hawks Cay Resort.

Things to Consider

  • There are some kid free areas to ensure that people vacationing without kids can find tranquility and relaxation so make sure to let your kids know that those areas are off limits.
  • The rooms are the right size for couple of people traveling without small children but I found them a bit small for a family of four and because it’s only one space there’s always the issue of  what to do if the kids fall asleep and you want to watch TV or read a book but can’t for fear of waking them up. If you are bringing the family definitely consider staying at one of the villas or family suites.
  • The dolphin programs have an additional cost but all the guests at Hawks Cay have the opportunity to watched the trained bottle nose dolphins for free.
  • You must be 4’6″ to swim with the dolphins but younger kids can also get up close and personal to these beautiful sea mammals participating in the Dockside Dolphin program.
Firepit at sunset in the kid's free area.

Firepit at sunset in the kid’s free area. Photo courtesy of Hawks Cay Resort.

For more information about Hawks Cay Resort, visit www.hawkscay.com . Be the first to learn about news and special offers: like Hawks Cay on Facebook follow Hawks Cay on Twitter @HawksCayResort.  You can also check special offers and discounts, including Florida resident discounts on Hawks Cay’s website HERE.

Follow 365 Things to Do In Southwest Florida on Facebook for more great ideas, events and activities for the whole family.


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    • Robin Rue (@massholemommy) on 13 July, 2015 at 8:10 am
    • Reply

    That sounds like a dream come true! My boys would LOVE to experience that someday.

  1. This sounds and looks like a dream vacation for me–solo, alone-to just relax commune with nature and maybe play some miniature golf.

    • Jennifer Williams on 13 July, 2015 at 9:31 am
    • Reply

    Now that would be a great summer vacation. I have always wanted to visit the Keys – even when I lived in Florida. This would be such a fun trip for my boys, they could play while I go swim with the dolphins.

  2. This resort sounds heavenly. Thank you for the descriptive details on this fantastic place to visit. The pictures illustrate the joy your family experienced, thank you!

  3. My sister went swimming with the dolphins and said it was GREAT! I haven’t yet done it. Maybe one day I will.

  4. What state is this in? It sounds amazing! And I love that iguana!

    1. It’s in the Florida Keys. 🙂

  5. Es un precioso lugar! Amo los delfines!

  6. Oh my goodness! We stayed here when I was a child (I think it was called something else). My mom swam with the dolphins and loved it!

  7. I bet your kids had a blast! The place looks absolutely gorgeous!

  8. Wowww! Looks amazing! I am already looking at it for my next vacation!

  9. I want a vacation like that one! Looks like you are in paradise 🙂

  10. Paula qué increíble ese lugar!! No se puede creer tanta belleza. Gracias por compartir. Tus hijos divinos!

  11. This is all around the place you make me want to take my family right now!
    An unforgettable experience for everyone!

  12. Wow pero que hermosura no sabia aca habian tantas maravilla tengo que ir para alla muy pronto =)

  13. Wow! sounds like a great resort, so many things to do for the kids, may have to check this out for next years vacation.

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