Solo travel can be so…
My recent trip to the Hawks Cay Resort was all of those things and more. For just a few days, I left my family at home, well taken care of, and went to cover the new renovations at Hawks Cay Resort. The resort is on Duck Key, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Key Largo is 46 miles north, and Key West is 61 miles south. It was a 2-2-1/2 hour journey from Miami, where I flew into.
For a few days, I’d explore the hotel with a group of writers and have experiences that are more complicated with kids in tow. Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling with my children, but when we want to take a few hours to ourselves to go out on the water or have a quiet meal, we have to worry about childcare and finding entertainment for them. The agenda was full of experiences like jet skiing, fishing, spa treatments, a dolphin encounter, a sunset cruise and a visit to the adult-only pool.
Hawks Cay, while ideal for families and couple getaways, which I’ll be writing about extensively, is also idea for solo travel. It’s the ultimate destination for self care, indulgence and self fulfillment, and it all starts as soon as you get to the airport. The drive is relaxing and full of scenic views. The staff is friendly, and upon arrival, checked me right in. I’d say my visit was akin to being on a private island. It was a few days or tranquility and serenity, not having to be anywhere on a certain time and soaking up the sun (which I desperately needed coming from snowy NYC).
Hawks Cay sits on 60 acres on the islet of Duck Key and consists of a main hotel and separate condo units. I stayed in the hotel with a gorgeous view of the adult-only pool and ocean, one of several. The hotel also has tennis courts, a kids club, a full service marina, a saltwater lagoon for swimming, the Dolphin Connection and much more. My hotel room was spacious and comfortable, with a King-sized bed, flat screen TV, desk with chair, bathroom, Wifi access, a Keurig coffee maker and a lovely porch. I took great pleasure in drinking coffee while sitting outside, really enjoying the silence I don’t typically get while traveling with my kids.
There were many highlights of my visit, ranging from relaxation to water sports. On my first morning, we were taken to the Dolphin Connection. The experience takes place in a protected ecosystem that was built to support and nurture Hawks Cay’s resident pod of dolphins. The experts have been studying bottlenose dolphins since 1990. The resort also offers a more complete experience that involved swimming with them in the water. While our experience wasn’t as comprehensive, together with a certified trainer, we were able to interact with two dolphins which was an absolute delight.
Later we headed to the resort’s marina, which features 85 boats and an ice-cream shop, as well as a Starbuck’s and opportunities to go scuba-diving, snorkeling, paddle-boarding and kite-boarding, as well as fishing charters and kayak rentals. We opted for an afternoon of jet-skiing, letting me glide quickly through the majestic islands. The water was clear and the space open enough to provide a terrific ride. I felt free as a bird pushing the pedals to gain speed, feeling confident that my time on the jet skis will propel me into a better space when I got home.
The next day, we started with a very early day again on the warm water at the marina, this time boarding a boat with fishing experts who took us into the ocean to catch fish, and that we did. Trout, snapper – they came fast & furious. I did actually get a bit sea sick, which I guess comes with being a woman over 40. Our entire group fished, creating a sense of competition disguised in genuine camaraderie, catching enough for a fabulous dinner. The resort calls the experience “Hook and Cook,” and we enjoyed munching on the fish we caught as a team.
Later, for a bit of relaxing, we headed to the Calm Waters Spa. The spa was voted Best Hotel Spa in the U.S. by the readers of Travel + Leisure in 2009, and I can understand why. I opted for a one-hour facial, which left me glowing. I also took extra time in the sauna and steam room to make the most of my spa afternoon. It was truly the first time in many months that I felt completely relaxed and I hope to take some of that feeling into the operating room next month. To top off my visit, I rented a bike to see the island, which took me through local neighborhoods bathed in rich and vibrant colors. Riding a bike is something I love to do. As I peddle, my brain unhinges.
There’s a variety of restaurants at Hawks Cay, and I experienced all of them. All offer delectable seafood with healthy options. At Alma, which offers a menu of Latin-influenced dishes. The fish dishes were tender and the wine perfect. For a more casual meal and for breakfast, we dined at Ocean, featuring a menu of sustainable seafood, fresh pastas, and signature pizzetas.Their buffet option is a great one for families. For lunch daily, we dined at The Beach Grill, my personal favorite, and munched on fish tacos, burgers and salads. I highly recommend the watermelon salad with mahi mahi. We were able to order from their menu while sitting at the adult pool, too, where I ordered a yummy virgin pina colada.
All in all, my solo adventure to Hawks Cay was invigorating. A brief trip on my own was what I needed to clear my head and come back with a new energy to take on motherhood. I highly recommend a visit.
To book a trip, head to Hawks Cay’s web site: www.hawkscay.com.
Disclosure: I was on a press trip at Hawk’s Cay, but all opinions expressed are my own.