Hawks Cay history

then and now

Hawks Cay Resort and the island of Duck Key have led many lives throughout the years. From the Key’s first mention in recorded history to weathering hurricanes and renovations, and even hosting a couple of presidents, our slice of paradise has stood the test of time. The development of the Hawks Cay Resort as we know it today began in the 1950s, but its story starts in the 1800s when the first family settled on Duck Key. While we look forward to welcoming guests for decades to come, take a look back at how we got here.

History of Duck Key & Hawks Cay


The Island Gets a Name

British General George Gauld names the island Duck Key in his chart of the Florida Keys. The name comes from the shape of the island, which resembles a duck’s head when viewed from above.

Vintage black and white image of Duck Key from above1775

A Generous Gift

Duck Key is gifted to Spain by the English as a token of appreciation for their assistance in the war.

Vintage image of Duck Key shores and beach1814

Salt and Sand

The Honorable Charles Howe buys Duck Key for approximately $1,700. He later begins salt production on the island, producing around 40,000 bushels of salt a year for transport to Key West.

Vintage image of the ocean and clouds seen from Duck Key1827

The End of an Era

The famous Labor Day hurricane hits Duck Key, putting an end to salt production.

Vintage image of the sandy shores and beach at Duck Key1937

Building Begins

Real estate developer Bryan Newkirk purchases Duck Key for $4 million dollars, roughly $173 million to today’s standards, and builds the first Indies Inn and 9-hole golf course. He also builds the present-day canals and fills in much of the marshes and mangroves, nearly tripling the land size of Duck Key.

Vintage image of an old building on Duck Key1951

Duck Key Gets Connected

A wooden bridge is built to connect Duck Key to the Florida Keys causeway in 1951, with the completion of US1 following in 1953.

Vintage image of Florida Keys causeway connected to Duck Key1951-1953

West Indies Redesign

Acclaimed architect Morris Lapidus is brought in to design the hotel in the West Indies fashion. He adds individual touches throughout the hotel, including the circular dining pavilion, and the Indies Inn is born.

Vintage image of Florida Keys hotel1955

A Presidential Visit

While the hotel went through various iterations to this point, by 1963 the Indies Inn had become a gala resort worthy of a visit from a former president. Harry Truman stays at the resort with his family, vowing to remain “as long as my money holds out.” The island’s main bridge is named in his honor. Two more presidents would later stay at the Indies Inn.

Vintage image of gate leading toward Duck Key1963

Goodbye Indies Inn, Hello Hawks Cay

The Pompano Beach Barrington Group buys Duck Key and renovates the existing Indies Inn, reopening the hotel as Hawks Cay Resort.

Vintage image of hotel in Florida Keys1984

Villa Renovation

Hawks Cay undergoes a $50 million renovation. In addition to the new Overseas Ballroom, 295 villas are added to the resort, allowing for more visitors.

Vintage image of hotel and pool in Florida Keys1999

New World-Class Amenities

The Calm Water Spa and Indies Club Recreation Center—now known as Coral Cay Adventure Club—are added to the property. The marina and conference facilities are also renovated.

Calm Waters Spa in the Florida Keys2003

A New West Indies Style

Hawks Cay Resort executes approximately $56 million of renovations, transitioning the tropical theme to a West Indies-inspired design concept seen throughout the rest lobby, guest rooms and villas.

West Indies style resort lobby at Hawks Cay in 2007
Marina SWE
Ocean QQ VRX
Hotel Entry
Lanai Deck

Heroes Salute

Hawks Cay introduces the Heroes Salute Program in 2008, honoring the nation's heroes with discounted rates, special offers and a tribute weekend filled with family-friendly events.

Veterans holding flags at Hawks Cay Resort during the Heroes Salute tribute weekend2008

Home of the Saltwater Experience

In 2008, Hawks Cay Resort becomes the title sponsor for the renowned sport fishing show, Saltwater Experience. Known for world-class fishing and its full-service marina, Hawks Cay becomes the homebase for Captains Rowland and Tudor after days of Florida Keys fishing.

Captains from the Saltwater Experience show show off their catch after a day of Florida Keys fishing2008

Another Multi-Phase Renovation

New ownership initiated a multi-phase renovation that concluded with the opening of Angler & Ale, the waterfront marina restaurant, in May of 2016. The restaurant added a new casual dining outlet focused on fresh Florida Keys seafood.

Exterior of Angler & Ale from the dock

Hurricane Irma Strikes

Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys on September 10, 2017 and devastated the resort, resulting in a year-long closure. During this time, Hawks Cay underwent a $50 million renovation and redevelopment.

Boats on the road after Hurricane Irma hit in 2017


The reimagined Hawks Cay Resort reopened with the #HawksCayRises campaign on August 30, 2018, featuring a new coastal casual design, two new restaurants, expanded adults-only area, and upgraded programming and amenities.

Aerial view of Hawks Cay Resort with aquamarine waters surrounding Duck Key

Keys to Country

After a whirlwind 2020, Hawks Cay welcomes back guests with a new music series, Keys to Country. Highly acclaimed artists including Lee Brice and Easton Corbin perform sold out shows at our island venue.

Keys to Country music series at Hawks Cay2021