Tag Archives: dolphin

Hawks Cay: Sensual Scrub, Delectable Dining and Playful Dolphins

Hawks Cay Beach

Oh my gosh! I almost feel guilty talking about this experience. However, I recently encountered the ultimate indulgence, and the best part: zero fat grams and no calories. Just mix some tangy Key Lime juice with a mojito’s cool refreshing mint to create a killer concoction. No alcohol necessary; simply add essentials oils and slather over the body.

My skin drank in vast quantities of the soothing emollients during the signature spa body treatment – a Key Lime mojito scrub from Calm Waters Spa at Hawks Cay. You see, I purposely stopped by Duck Key on my way to Islamorada, when returning from Key West. The small 60-acre island is home to the famed Hawks Cay Resort. But, little did I know I was in for such a sensual and scentual treat.

After leaving Key West and driving sixty miles, hubby Jay and I arrived at Hawks Cay.  We stopped to enjoy a tasty, casual lunch served on the pool terrace. (Loved my grilled veggie sandwich.) We watched cars cross a bridge over the Key’s shimmery turquoise water, caught guests snoozing on the chaise lounges and visualized ourselves enjoying the resort’s beachy natural lagoon.

Rest and Relaxation on the Pool Deck

I meandered down to the Dolphin Connection, an ocean-fed saltwater arena, to watch the afternoon feeding. Hawks Cay Resort is the only hotel or resort in the continental United States that features an on-site dolphin research facility. And better yet, guests have the unique opportunity to encounter bottlenoses’ in their natural environment. The Dolphin Connection program is home to a pod of smiling (yes, that’s how I see them) and highly-intelligent creatures. You can choose to jump in the water for a hands-on encounter, spend three hours as if an assistant trainer or simply stand on the dock and admire their aerial tricks.

A Dolphin Flips

I got to thinking about my family and imaging an absolutely top notch vacation.  This seemed an ideal spot to bring the grandkids and their parents—and that was before I discovered the resort offered child and teen programs and a kid’s waterpark.

Camp Hawk,  for boys and girls ages 5 through 12, offers a full (or half) day of activities, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., including nature trail hikes, pool games, snorkeling in the lagoon, scavenger hunts, crafts, stories and a kid-friendly snack and lunch. On Friday and Saturday nights, young guests can join the Kids Night Out for more fun and parental relaxation.

Hawks Cay Waterpark

AquaJam is a three-day wet-and-wild adventure camp for teens ages 12 through 17.  Enrollees explore the Keys with like-minded peers, by kayaking, snorkeling, sailing and fishing.

Lodging choices include the resort hotel or the villas which offer the comforts of home in a two-story townhouse. The furnished deck and balcony of each villa make ideal locations for a late breakfast or cocktail hour to view a sunset.

But, I’d heard about the award-winning spa, the heavenly Calm Waters Spa, and I entered to escape. My treatment began in a candlelit room where I lay face down on a warm towel. Now, imagine a slow, tepid water drip on your back, not a Chinese water torture test, but a soft warm drizzle like a rainforest shower. That alone was pleasurable enough, but my therapist, Janet, began to scrub me with minty mojito sugar, a nourishing mixture to exfoliate and rejuvenate my dry skin. The amazing part–she did this while I continued to enjoy the warm waterfall on my body.

Janet methodically rubbed my legs, arms and back, while the Vichy shower (a bar with multiple shower heads) rinsed me and damp towels kept me comfortably warm.  Once I was scrubbed, lime scented oil was applied to hydrate my skin and allowed to soak in.  I was cocooned in hot blankets and my hair was washed and shampooed with Key Lime infused conditioners.  I chose to leave the conditioner on during my wrap for lasting results.  My eyes were then covered with a mask and I lay like a mummy, wrapped and confined in a face up position. Aaaah- how deliciously decadent.

I rested like this for 15-20 minutes with soothing birdsong music before the final unwrap.  My skin felt silky, almost like my baby grand-daughter’s. Well…maybe not that soft, but a lot smoother and fuller than usual.  My husband even noticed, saying I looked refreshed and kissably tender.

Hawks Cay Lobby

I would gladly return to Hawks Cay anytime and insist on staying longer than a few hours.  I’d truly love to treat my family.  I know each and every member would find something exhilarating to occupy their days: scuba, kiteboarding, chartering a boat, fishing, kayaking, beach combing, snorkeling, playing in the kid’s pirate pool, the spa, dining in various restaurants or just relaxing in the ocean breeze.  Hawks Cay is a first class resort, a place of barefoot elegance and one that promotes full-fledged memorable fun. Cheers- it certainly gave me something to talk about. Now, anyone for a real mojito?

The Dolphin Connection

Hawks Cay Resort

61 Hawks Cay Boulevard
Duck Key, FL  33050

Dolphin Spotlight Tour at Sea World Orlando

Sea World Trip 2009-27

Dolphins seem to have as much interest in people as we do in them. From ancient times, these sleek mammals have been revered. Poseidon rode a dolphin propelled chariot; Aphrodite and Apollo considered them sacred; Hindu’s call Ganga, the Ganges River Dolphin, a deity.

My husband and I refer to a favorite snapshot of my youngest daughter as the one with the dolphin smile. Laura’s eyes sparkle, her mouth is open, almost laughing, yet she is too young to have developed that behavior. Every inch of her tiny being radiates bliss. And to me, a bottlenose dolphin’s face brings the same delight and happiness.

I snapped this picture of a trainer and her slippery student during unrehearsed practice. The two-some paused for an intimate minute, a bond of love, a near embrace. I, too, know that feeling, an emotional connection between animal and human; I share it with my dog. We snuggle together on my bed; it’s sheer contentment, lost in the moment.

Dolphin Kiss
A Dolphin Kiss

So, it was with great excitement that I celebrated New Year’s Day by taking two of my grandchildren and their parents to Sea World Orlando. I wanted to share my love of aquatic life with them and subconsciously inject an appreciation of nature.

We enrolled in the Dolphin Spotlight Tour for an up-close encounter with the playful sea creatures.The session began with our guide teaching us about positive reinforcement training.Then, we watched the method in action as trainers worked with the animals between shows. (That was when I snapped my photo.)

Next we visited the hospital area.Sea World vets are called out to rescue animals, especially Florida manatees.They nurse back to health and hopefully release them into the wild.However, the dolphins and whales performing in the park were born on site.

Finally the time came for small group hands-on participation. Kelly, a dolphin-care expert, assisted my son, daughter-in-law, two grandchildren and me. She used a special whistle to call Hekili, a male, and his girlfriend, Griffin, poolside.She talked to them and, they talked back, a clicking throaty sound.

Dolphin Training original r

The dolphins radiated joy just like Laura’s snapshot.They seemed to wiggle with glee, like a dog wagging his tail, panting and begging you to throw the ball. They acted like they couldn’t wait to perform.We were able to touch them (they felt like rubber) and examine their bodies. The grandkids were totally involved, except, they didn’t like feeding them fish, claiming it felt and smelled yucky.

We learned hand signals and gave them a try. Kyra, who is only four, got a bit frightened when Griffin jumped straight up to touch her Dad’s outstretched palm. Kelly gently instructed him to lower his arm.

We hated to leave, our time gone so quickly.I felt envious of the staff’s long-term relationship with their special friends.Our connection was fleeting, but priceless.We left realizing we just lived a Kodak moment.

Check out www.SeaWorld.com.

Look under the heading Exclusive Experiences- Educational Guided Tours.