Weekend Getaway

Harbor Hopping through Cape Cod

New England
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July 2012
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By
Tom
Richardson

What boater hasn't dreamed of exploring Cape Cod during the summer or early fall? From hidden gunkholes to bustling harbors, surf-pounded beaches to meandering marsh creeks, this New England boating mecca has it all. Plus, the boater has the luxury of avoiding the Cape's infamous summer traffic.

For those contemplating a Cape Cod sojourn, we've put together a counterclockwise itinerary of deep-water ports -- some well- known and others slightly off the beaten path -- that stand ready to welcome the cruising sailor or powerboater. Take your pick, and take your time.

BUZZARDS BAY

Buzzards Bay is justly famous among sailors for its predictable summer southwesterlies (and just as infamous for its square waves, created by opposing tides). It's also a great spot to cruise and fish, although the transient boater won't find any large towns to visit along its eastern shore.

On the other hand, if you're seeking a quieter side of the Cape, or a place to catch your breath before or after transiting the Cape Cod Canal, there are several small, well-protected harbors worth checking out.

One of the best is Red Brook Harbor, set in the northwest corner of Buzzards Bay in the town of Cataumet. Located between Wings Neck and Scraggy Neck, and tucked in behind Bassetts Island, Red Brook is very close to the canal and serves as a convenient stopping point for cruisers passing through Buzzards Bay. Yachts up to 120 feet can access the harbor, although careful attention to the depth sounder and plotter are required when negotiating the channel's sharp turns (MLW in the channel is 7 feet). Take the southern route around Bassetts Island if new to the area, but watch out for the notorious rock pile just west of GC 11.For top-notch service and accommodations, head to the harbor's largest full-service marina, Kingman Yacht Center. KYC has it all, from deep-water slips and moorings to haul-out, service and fuel. Plus, it's home to the Chart Room restaurant -- a Buzzards Bay institution and a great place to enjoy sunset cocktails.For a fun side trip, take a dinghy or kayak to Bassetts Island, which offers a long, sandy beach and great swimming (but no public restrooms). If you don't like crowds, plan your trip here on a weekday, and beware the poison ivy that grows thickly just beyond the dunes.

Just around the corner from Red Brook, south of Scraggy Neck, is Megansett Harbor in the town of North Falmouth. Like Red Brook, Magansett makes a great stopover for cruisers preparing to transit the canal or those heading south and west. It's more exposed to westerly winds, but you can seek shelter inside Fiddler's Cove on the south side of the harbor.

Fiddler's has 7 feet of depth MLW, and is home to Brewers Fiddler's Cove Marina, a full-service facility that's part of the Brewer Yacht Yard group. It offers ValvTect gas and diesel, haul-out, pump-out, ice and transient slips for boats up to 55 feet. A general store is located nearby. If you have a bicycle onboard, consider a ride along the Shining Tides bike path, which skirts the eastern side of Buzzards Bay all the way to Woods Hole, a great destination in itself.

Quissett Harbor, in Falmouth, may just be the best-kept secret on Buzzards Bay, if not the entire Cape. It's a lovely, quiet and protected harbor, serviced by the venerable Quisset Harbor Boatyard (508-548-0506, 36 Quissett Harbor Rd., no website). The yard offers transient moorings but no fuel. MLW in the narrow and winding channel is 8 feet. There is also a small anchorage just south of RN 6, but it's apt to be crowded in July and August. One of the harbor's main attributes is that it lies just outside Woods Hole, making it a great spot from which to launch day trips to the Vineyard, Nantucket, Cuttyhunk and numerous South Cape destinations, including Osterville, Hyannis and Chatham.

NANTUCKET SOUND

Roughly two miles east of Woods Hole is Falmouth Harbor, shown on charts as Falmouth Inner Harbor. This largely manmade port was created in 1907, when an inlet was cut in the barrier beach separating freshwater Deacons Pond from Nantucket Sound.

Long and narrow, with a MLW depth of 12 feet, the harbor is protected in the worst winds and seas, and makes a great stop for transients on their way up and down the coast, or for those preparing for trips to Nantucket (27 nm), Martha's Vineyard (5 nm), and Cuttyhunk (12 nm).

The harbor is serviced by no less than five marinas, the largest being MacDougall's Cape Cod Marine Service. Established in 1938, MacDougalls can accommodate boats up to 150 feet with a 12-foot draft. It offers a 75-ton TraveLift, fuel dock, storage, canvas shop, engine and hull repair and transient dockage for yachts and smaller craft.

Be aware that Falmouth Harbor can be a busy place, particularly on summer weekends. Watch out for other vessels (several ferries run out of the harbor) when approaching and leaving the harbor, especially at night or in the fog. A band shell located just behind the marine park hosts free summer concerts and other events. Restaurants on the harbor include the Falmouth Raw Bar and the Flying Bridge restaurant, as well as the Falmouth Clam Shack at the southern end of the harbor.

The downtown area is an easy 10-minute walk or bike ride from the inner harbor (many marinas also provide shuttle service). It's not Nantucket Harbor or Newport, but Falmouth features many stores, boutiques and restaurants, including Anejo, which serves excellent Mexican cuisine.

HYANNIS HARBOR

Aside from Provincetown, there is no bigger or busier harbor on the Cape than Hyannis. The town is famous as the summer enclave of the Kennedys, whose compound overlooks Nantucket Sound. Just don't think you can get anywhere near the place for some snapshots.

Hyannis has a wide, deep-water channel (12 feet MLW) and the full-service Hyannis Marina, which can accommodate yachts up to 200 feet. It also has courtesy and rental cars, Wi-Fi, fuel, a pool and more.

Virtually everything a transient boater wants or needs can be found in Hyannis, although many of the finer stores, boutiques and restaurants are a mile or more from the water- front. Eateries closest to the harbor include Tugboats, Trader Ed's and the Roadhouse Cafe.

If you wish to anchor, there's a good anchorage just behind Egg Island in 7 to 8 feet of water, although it's likely to be crowded in summer. Another benefit of Hyannis is its proximity to Nantucket (23 miles) and Martha's Vineyard (18 miles). Plus, the Hyannis Airport is nearby for guests who want to fly in or out. If you're keen on visiting Hyannis, be prepared for heavy traffic on most summer days. Ferries, large yachts and numerous small recreational boats ply these waters, so keep a close watch. Also, be prepared for fog, especially in early summer.

CHATHAM HARBOR

Chatham offers a mellow blend of the Cape's historic and natural charms and serves as an idyllic stopover for boaters having made, or about to make, the long haul along the Outer Cape.There are two harbors from which to choose -- Stage Harbor and Chatham Harbor. Use the former if you're unfamiliar with the local waters and Chatham's Atlantic shore, which is often pounded by large swells and prone to shifting shoals and powerful currents. The entrance to Stage Harbor, on Nantucket Sound, is more protected and convenient for boaters approaching from the west. The narrow channel offers 6 feet at MLW.The town maintains moorings for transient boaters in the inner and outer section of Stage Harbor. Inside the harbor you'll find several marinas, including Stage Harbor Marine, Outermost Harbor, and Oyster River Boatyard.

The village of Chatham is not directly on the harbor, but if you have a dinghy or kayak you can head along the Mitchell River to Little Mill Pond, where you'll find a public landing at the far northern end of the pond. Another option is to travel the 21.2 miles or so up the scenic but narrow Oyster River into Oyster Pond, where you'll find a free public dock, two blocks from Main Street. Taxis are also available from the lower parts of Stage Harbor.

The charming village features quiet, shaded streets lined by lovely Victorian and colonial homes and buildings, and boasts many art, jewelry and clothing shops, as well as several good restaurants and pubs, among them the famous Squire.

Many boaters love Chatham for its natural beauty and close proximity to Monomoy Island National Wildlife Refuge, an amazing place to fish, bird watch, see the seals or simply have a picnic and explore the shallows. Monomoy was, until recently, an island, separated from the mainland by a cut known as the Southway until a storm closed the break in 2006. A great daytrip for transients is a kayak paddle or dinghy ride from Stage Harbor to Monomoy. You can also catch a ride to Monomoy on the Rip Ryder ferry.

PROVINCETOWN HARBOR

It's fun to imagine what the Puritans, who first visited the idyllic natural harbor of Provincetown in 1620, would think of the place nowadays. What was once a desolate stretch of dunes, scrub oak, poison ivy and pitch pine surrounded by salt water is now a bustling tourist mecca and thriving artists community.

Summer is a never-ending Mardi Gras, with drag queens roaming Commercial Street amid noisy throngs of foreign tourists and family vacationers. Numerous restaurants, galleries, and boutiques now line the streets, alleys and wharves that were once the sole domain of commercial fishermen and whalers.

P-town's natural harbor and two massive breakwaters offer excellent protection from the wind and seas from virtually any direction. The approaches are deep and free of obstructions, and the inner harbor can easily accommodate large yachts and commercial vessels.

Moorings and slips are available at either Provincetown Marina and Long Point Marina -- along with launch service and dinghy docks. A good anchorage can be found inside the protected arm of Long Point, although it can be crowded.

Day-trip options from P-town include runs to Stellwagen Bank, three miles north, where you can view humpback, minke and finback whales at close range (be sure to stay 300 feet from the whales, as per federal law). Ocean sunfish, bluefin tuna and basking sharks also gather over the bank to feed during the summer, when the surrounding waters teem with plankton and baitfish.

Of course, shoreside activities and events abound in P-town. You can climb to the top of the 252-foot Pilgrim Monument (built in 1910 and also home to the Provincetown Museum) for a spectacular view of the Cape and surrounding waters. If you like eclectic stores, be sure to stop in at Marine Specialties, a P-town institution selling everything from mooring balls to fishnet stockings and located in an old fishing-net shop in the heart of Commercial Street. The athletically inclined can rent a bike and ride through the towering dunes and pitch pine forest just outside town or visit one of the former lifesaving stations along the Outer Cape. If you like to walk, you can hike along the West End breakwater, built in 1911 by the Army Corps of Engineers. Cruises of the harbor are available through several companies, but kids will love the pirate ship cruises aboard Pirate Adventures. Nightlife abounds in town, with numerous cabaret performances each night during the summer and fall.

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Chesapeake Bay Calendar of Events
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Summer is here, and it’s time to soak up the sun, visit bustling beaches, learn about boating history and relish the small-town charm around the Chesapeake Bay. Read on for hidden gems and tried-and-true events along the Bay, all the way from Havre de Grace to Cape Charles. Whether you’re a fan of watersports, arts and crafts, street festivals, or coastal cuisine, you’ll find something worth docking for a while.

July

Yorktown Market Days, Fun in the Sun Market

Yorktown, VA

July 16 - Fun in the Sun Market;

August 6 - National Farmers Market Week

Experience a coastal Hampton Roads market on the York River. Check out local produce, meats, seafood, gourmet dog treats, art and more every Saturday this summer, and stop by one of the dates above for a themed, family-friendly extended market.

Where to Dock: Riverwalk Landing

Spirit of America

Havre de Grace, MD

July 2

Enjoy this beautiful town through a mid-century Americana lens at the Independence Day festival. You won’t want to miss the Patriotic Pooch contest, 50s throwback entertainers and best of all, derby races on Pennington Avenue.

Where to Dock: Tidewater Marina

Sea Glass & Beach Crafts Market at Annmarie

Solomons, MD

July 2

Kick off the holiday weekend at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center’s annual beach-themed market. Browse all things crafty and sea glass at over 50 booths!

Where to Dock: Solomons Harbor Marina

Kent County Waterman’s Day

Rock Hall, MD

July 3

For the first time since 2019, stop by and celebrate watermen who dedicate their lives to working on the Chesapeake! Enjoy a day of family fun, including anchor tosses and a raffle, culminating in the infamous boat docking.

Where to Dock: Haven Harbor Marina Resorts

Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association’s 49th Annual Show

Easton, MD

July 7-10

Calling all car, truck and train enthusiasts! This multi-day show will be packed with steam and gas engines; antique tractors, trucks and cars; live steam train models; and even a horse pull.

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

Chesapeake Stand Up Challenge

Annapolis, MD

July 9 

Sponsored by the Eastport Yacht Club, this open water race has something for all levels. Experienced paddlers can fight it out in the seven-mile Challenge, and recreational paddlers will enjoy the 3.5-mile Challenge or one-mile Just for Fun race.

Where to Dock: Eastport Yacht Center

Plein Air Easton Art Festival

Easton, MD

July 17-24

Plein air painters express their craft from life instead of the studio, so you’ll see artists from across the country painting all around town. Also attend lectures and workshops, and buy art and other goods downtown all week. 

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

14th Annual Hampton Heat

Hampton, VA

July 23

Dock at the transient slips in downtown Hampton, then join the landlubbers at Langley Speedway, one of NASCAR’s best weekly tracks, for the annual Hampton Heat races.

Where to Dock: Bluewater Yachting Center

Southern Maryland Boat Club Bash on the Bay

Leonardtown, MD

July 29-31

Since the Calvert Marine Museum opened an exhibit on the golden era of powerboat racing in 2013, this vintage boat club has put on several races a year. Make your way to the historic Leonardtown Wharf to see vintage powerboats in action.

Where to Dock: Combs Creek Marina

2022 Snakehead Summer Slam

July 30

Annapolis, MD

Things are sure to heat up at the fourth of five tournaments in the 2022 Snakehead Championship Series at Anglers Sport Center. Anglers in kayak/shoreline and boating divisions will be up for all kinds of prizes, including one from the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland’s Great Chesapeake Invasive Count.

Where to Dock: Podickory Point Marina

Annapolis Yacht Club Two Bridge Fiasco Race

Annapolis, MD

July 31

Cruise to the southern Chesapeake to witness this pursuit style race starting between the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Severn River Bridge. Look out for all types of boats in the competition, and even a foiler or two if you’re lucky.

Where to Dock: Annapolis Yacht Club

August

Annual Chesapeake Bay Balloon Festival

Cordova, MD

August 5-7

Embrace the Eastern Shore summer lifestyle at this family-friendly festival. Feel the adrenaline rush of hot air balloon rides and keep the thrill going on the mechanical bull and bouncy house on land.

Where to Dock: Easton Point Marina

A Day of Celebration & Remembrance of Harriet Tubman

Cambridge, MD

August 6 

Celebrate Harriet Tubman’s life, bicentennial and antislavery activism on the Underground Railroad just miles from where she lived as a child. Join the commemorative parade through the streets of Cambridge and enjoy local vendors and entertainment at the festival.

Where to Dock: Cambridge Yacht Basin

Pirates & Wenches Weekend

Rock Hall, MD

August 12-14

Presented by Main Street Rock Hall, you can dock at a local bayfront marina ready for an immersive, family-friendly weekend. The whole family will love the marketplace on Main Street, pirate and mermaid performers, and costume contests, and there will be no shortage of grub and grog.

Where to Dock: Haven Harbor Marina Resorts

Solomons Dragon Boat Festival 2022

Solomons Island

August 13

Cruise to scenic Solomons Island to watch 30 dragon boat teams compete for glory on the Patuxent River and explore the local vendor village. Arrive the week before and you might catch a Dotting of the Eye Ceremony or even a flash mob.

Where to dock: Solomons Harbor Marina

Leo Wardrup Memorial Cape Charles Cup Regatta

Cape Charles, VA

August 20-21

Make your way to Virginia’s Eastern Shore for two days of racing on the Chesapeake. While you’re there, lounge on the Cape Charles town beach, stroll around the retail district and check out Victorian homes in the historic district.

Where to Dock: Cape Charles Yacht Center & Marine Services

7th Annual Coastal Craft Beer Festival

Virginia Beach, VA

August 27

Spend your Saturday at the waterfront Neptune’s Park, tasting your way through 60+ beers, ciders and seltzers from 30 breweries. Learn about all Virginia breweries have to offer or branch out with some regional or national craft brews.

Where to Dock: Rudee's Inlet Station Marina

September

The Waterfront Festival

Havre de Grace, MD

September 9-10

Cruise to the northern Bay to round out your summer with this annual festival, kicking off with a lighted boat parade. Enjoy fun for the whole family with fresh crab and seafood, beer gardens, live music, hot air balloons and a youth fishing derby!

Where to Dock: Tidewater Marina

2nd Annual Portsmouth Paddle Battle

Portsmouth, VA

September 10 

Whether you kayak or paddleboard as a novice or a pro, or enjoy waterfront live music, food and drink, there’s a place for you in the Paddle Battle on the Elizabeth River. Proceeds will support the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum and Lightship Portsmouth Museum.

Where to Dock: Tidewater Yacht Marina

TrawlerFest Baltimore

Baltimore, MD

September 27-October 1

Close out your summer season with Passagemaker’s annual boat show held at Harbor East Marina in the heart of downtown Baltimore. The show hosts impression in-water selections of new and pre-owned long-rang cruisers, coastal cruisers and of course, tons of trawlers. Free seminars and educational demonstrations are held throughout the weekend.

Where to Dock: Harbor East Marina

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Wickford Cove to Block Island, RI
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Our nation's smallest state has big boating opportunities. Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay is prime for cruising picturesque and protected with many beautiful harbors. While not on everyone's chart plan, Wickford is an historic hamlet with delightfully walkable shady streets lined with beautiful colonial homes. From quiet Wickford, you're set for a straightforward passage out to The Bay, then poised to cross the broad blue expanse of Rhode Island Sound to the fun, boat- and bike-friendly Block Island. This Narragansett tour will have you feeling like a bold explorer while landing at easy modern marinas.

Day 1: Wickford Cove

Wickford Cove is the smallest town in the smallest county of littlest Rhode Island. That's not to minimize its quaint downtown full of waterfront gardens, charming architecture and tremendous yachting heritage. Stroll Wickford's self-guided marker tour of historic seaside homes, then pop into some darling boutiques around the harbor like Serendipity and Pink Parasol.Conclude your walk at Wickford on the Waterfront with a salty cocktail, local oysters or stuffed clams (stuffies in Rhode Island lingo). Tate's Italian Kitchen serves hearty classics across the village's main Brown Street. Moorings can be reserved at Wickford Yacht Club or go to Safe Harbor Wickford Cove for a full-service marina with dock space.

Day 2: Block Island

Wickford to Block Island 29 NMCruising down the western shores of Narragansett Bay under the Jamestown Bridge, passing magnificent mansions then Point Judith Light, you are soon on your way across the open expanse of Rhode Island Sound to Block Island. The farthest island from land on the entire Eastern seaboard, Block Island is even more remote than Monhegan in Maine (10 miles out by comparison).

Block Island - weekend warrior - marinalife
Block Island, RI | Greg Burke

Block Island has a vacation vibe, and everything is relaxed, truly on island-time with their moniker of Bermuda of the North. The 1,500 happy humble Block Island residents claim they've been social distancing since 1661, so they've got humor to carry them through the long off-season. Block's pear-shaped 7 x 3-mile island is cool, casual and fun to explore for a few days, yet not so stuffy-chic or celebrity-crushed as Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard.Getting around by bike or moped is the best way to explore Block's entire 16 miles of perimeter roads. Along the undulating country lanes, you may feel transported to Ireland with the lush rolling fields, stone walls, dramatic Mohegan Bluffs and the contrasting blue sea. Passing dozens of unique beaches, you may plan to return later. Highlight sights are Block Island's two impressive lighthouses – North and South East – with the busier main village of Old Harbor in between.Block Island has two boating harbors: the more protected New Harbor in Great Salt Pond, which is preferred by pleasure boaters, and Old Harbor with its primary ferry landing and bustling downtown of shops and grand seaside hotels. Staying at Great Salt Pond overlooking your mooring or dock slip, you should enjoy sunsets, pub fare and a boaters' block party atmosphere at The Oar or Dead Eye Dick's (opens in May). While in the Old Harbor after browsing boutiques, find a perfect chair and cocktail at either grand seaside hotel: Spring House or Atlantic House.For a delicious local dinner, Kimberly's serves littlenecks or calamari followed by lobster mac n' cheese as a beautiful ending to a day of exploring. Live music may be piping out from next door Poor People's Pub to lure you over for a nightcap.Block Island's public moorings in New Harbor are assigned daily by the Harbormaster. Private slips can be reserved at Champlin's Marina, the Boat Basin and Oar House. They book up quickly in prime summer season, which results in boats rafting-up with strangers (friends you haven't yet met!).

Day 3: Newport

Block Island to Newport 25 NMDeparting Block Island, perhaps after fresh coffee and pastries delivered to your boat by enterprising locals, you will be in the company of power boaters and sailing vessels, plus the occasional charging ferry heading to Newport. It's a direct course northeast to the Sailing Capital of Newport.

Bannisters Wharf - weekened warrior - marinalife
Bannisters Wharf, Newport | Greg Burke

No boater worth his Sperry's can miss out on the yachty harbor of Newport, established in 1639. As a visiting boater, contact the Harbormaster or Newport Yachting Center for an affordable mooring or a much pricier dock space in this prime harbor. Water taxis ply the harbor frequently to take you to the town docks.Newport is full of magnificent vessels, lively waterfront pubs lining Bowens and Bannisters Wharfs, and scads of inviting seaside shops on cobblestone streets. Getting off your boat, stretch your sea legs with a scenic 3.5-mile cliff walk by the Gilded Age mansions of our fine affluent families (Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Dupont, Astor and Morgan). Before sunset, head for Newport rooftop drinks overlooking the harbor at The Vanderbilt or the Hotel Viking to toast your good fortunate in this big little state.

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The Florida Keys
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MAGICAL ASPECTS OF FLORIDA lie beyond the gates of Disney's Magic Kingdom. In fact, a wealth of nature's enchantment unfolds in the 110 miles stretching from Key Largo to Key West, and an abundance of fascinating creatures thrive on the 1,700 islands of the coral cay archipelago.The beginning of the island chain, Key Largo, made famous by the movie starring Bogart and Bacall, is known as the Dive Capital of the World. Wreck divers head for the sunken 510-foot USS Spiegel Grove, while reef lovers choose John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Molasses Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has shallow sections perfect for snorkeling. For a unique day excursion or an overnight stay, dive 20 feet below to the only entrance of the Jules Verne Undersea Lodge at Emerald Lagoon.The world-class and private Ocean Reef Club marina on the northernmost tip of the island has slips to accommodate vessels up to 175 feet.

Day 1: IslamoradaKey Largo to Islamorada 15 NM

It's a short leg from the diving hub to the Sport Fishing Capital of the World, which boasts the largest charter fishing fleet per square mile on Earth. At dawn, captains head out on deep-sea excursions or idle through mangrove islands and shallow seagrass flats of the backcountry. The silver flashes in the sunlight at Robbie's Marina dock are enormous tarpon, 50 to 100 feet long, doing daily water acrobatics for snacks thrown by visitors into the clear, shallow water.

Islamorada - weekend warrior - marinalife
Islamorada | romrodinka on Canvas

The Keys have a motley past: shipwrecks, pirates, buried treasure, movie stars and especially luscious Key Lime pie. History reaching back to Native American life is outlined at the Keys History & Discovery Center at the Islander Resort.Downtown Islamorada's patchwork of boutiques and galleries is overflowing with original creations of artists, sculptors and jewelers inspired by life on the islands. The Morada Way Arts & Cultural District is a bustling six-block corridor of shops, restaurants and studio spaces. Thirsty shoppers can duck into the welcoming back garden of Florida Keys Brewing Company. Beside the seasonal beer on tap, they serve a Key Lime cocktail so delectable that it could be counted as dessert.Transient dockage to 100 feet is available at Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina, a premier facility with 15 sprawling acres of white sand beach. Plantation Yacht Harbor Marina, located in the fabulous Founders Park, is ranked among the top marinas in the world and is a designated Clean Marina.

Day 2: Duck KeyIslamorada to Duck Key 21 NM

Tucked into the secluded and intimate isle of Duck Key, Hawks Cay Resort is a 60-acre destination often named the top family resort in the country. After Hurricane Irma in 2017, a $50 million renovation revitalized the entire property. It's the perfect backdrop for Discovery Channel's popular Saltwater Experience, which is filmed on site.Hawk's Cay guests can do everything or do nothing. Interact and swim with dolphins in their natural environment at the Dolphin Connection or rise early for oceanside yoga before wandering to the spa for a Key Lime Mojito scrub followed by a warm body butter wrap with Key Lime essential oils. Come evening, multiple resort dining choices include the new Sixty-One Prime, a Key-style chop house, and the island casual Angler & Ale.Hawks Cay Marina can accommodate boats up to 110 feet with beams to 20 feet in the resort's back basin.

Day 3: Key WestDuck Key to Key West 52 NM

Before adventuring out in the heat to pet the famous six-toed cats at Hemingway House or view the spartan simplicity of the Truman Little White House, grab a Cuban Café con Leche and wander around town absorbing the laid-back, culturally diverse life of island time.Nightly pub crawls guide visitors along Duval Street's legion of barrooms. Much like the revelers doing the Duval Crawl, the Key West chickens strut the streets and crow at all hours. Colorful roosters and mother hens with tiny chicks weave in and out of traffic and through open cafés around town.

ocean reef club - weekend warrior - marinalife
Buccaneer Island, Ocean Reef Club | Ocean Reef Club

Much quieter winged creatures reside in the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, a tropical paradise home to hundreds of species of magical butterflies and birds. More of nature's birding and fishing wonders lie just off the western shore. Accessible only by boat, Key West National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 208,308 acres with only 2,019 acres above sea level. Wading birds, pelicans, shorebirds, sea turtles, manatees and dolphins all live within or visit the refuge.There's an eatery on nearly every corner from the quirky Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe to the beautiful Seaside Café at the Southernmost Mansion and Louie's Backyard for fine dining. It's best to experience Key West on a bike or a golf cart so you can catch the quirkiness of the island including the popular drag show at 801 Bourbon Bar and the famous cemetery. And at the end of the day, join the locals for live music at the Green Parrot Bar.Several marinas welcome boaters with a range of pleasant amenities and convenient locations: Conch Harbor Marina in historic Old Town, Stock Island Yacht Club and The Perry Hotel & Marina.

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