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Duck Key

Community Duck Key

Duck Key is located Oceanside from the Overseas Highway at approximately mile marker 61, between Grassy Key and Conch Key. The key was the site of a salt manufacturing operation in the 1820s & 1830s. The island ceased to be occupied after the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and did not resume until the key was connected to the highway by a causeway.Duck Key took a large leap forward in 1951 when Bryan W. Newkirk, an internationally known financier and mining executive, purchased the island for approximately $47,000 to make it a 400 acre island community.


The oldest remaining structure on Duck Key is the resort’s Administration Building which is built in a West Indian style. This charming architectural construction rests peacefully just off Duck Key Drive and the entrance to Hawk’s Cay. Surrounded by a green jungle of tropical trees, palms, and banana plants, the building gives a feeling of solidity and permanence as though it must have been on the island since the days of wreckers in the Florida Keys.

Today Duck Key is most known for being the location of Hawks Cay Resort. The resort provides rooms, suites and villas with amenities such as dolphin encounters, diving excursions, tennis, swimming, and on-site restaurants.

Area Attractions:
  • Hawk’s Cay Resort
  • Fishing Charters
Area Information:

Homes for sale in Duck Key, FL

Duck Key

A place where dolphins come to play, the sunsets are breathtaking, the waters are generally calm and mild, and the real estate is among the most sought-after for their income potential – these encapsulate the idyllic island of Duck Key in the renowned Florida Keys.

Once you come and have a taste of what it’s like to stay here on vacation, Duck Key will leave you mesmerized and eager to learn more about the homes for sale in the area. To help you as you gather information about this beautiful tropical paradise, here’s a handy guide on everything Duck Key.


The Big

The first thing you need to know about Duck Key is that the name refers to both the island and the community on it. The “Big” Duck Key or the island itself is found right in the middle of the Florida Keys, just before reaching Marathon and Vaca Key if coming from the mainland via the Overseas Highway. Together with the next island to its east – Conch Key – they make up the census-designated place of Duck Key which, like the rest of the Florida Keys, is part of Monroe County.

Given its relative isolation in the open waters of the Atlantic, Duck Key has become a popular tourist haunt, especially for those who want to experience a tranquil retreat that’s far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities. It’s small enough that the place feels secluded and private but large enough to hold an upscale resort, as well as fishing charters and some high-end residential communities. It is also gaining popularity as a retiree’s dream destination.

Brief history

According to local history, British General George Gauld named the island as such because he thought that it looked like a duck’s head from above. In the 1800s, it was a major salt manufacturing site.

Because salt was considered to be a very important resource due to its food-preserving qualities, Duck Key became an essential stop for shipments. Unfortunately, the devastating Labor Day hurricane of 1935, which practically swept away the whole Florida Keys, damaged Duck Key so severely that it remained uninhabited for two decades.

It was only when the causeway was built – which essentially connected the keys to the mainland – that local activity picked up once again in 1953. Locals, however, would give much credit to a Canadian businessman named Bryan Newkirk, who was said to have picked the island for his prize upon winning a high-stakes golf game.

Thanks to Newkirk’s investment, the 0.63-square-mile island of Duck Key was then developed. Not long thereafter, it became a popular vacation spot, with important figures like former President Harry S. Truman and other celebrities coming to visit.

A place for fun amid nature

Duck Key, Florida continues to be a popular destination for fishing, boating, and other water activities. Having some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the whole Florida Keys certainly makes it much more attractive for visitors and locals alike.

Basic facts about Duck Key

  • Duck Key is such a small community that as of 2021, less than 800 people inhabit the island. This number significantly increases and fluctuates with the coming and going of seasons. Spring and summer usually see rentals and vacation homes here being constantly occupied.
  • The nearest city to Duck Key is Marathon, which is about 10 miles away. Meanwhile, it would take more than an hour of travel from Duck Key to the farthest key from the mainland – Key West – given the approximately 60-mile stretch of road between the two islands.
  • As with the rest of Florida Keys, Duck Key experiences warm temperatures and high humidity all year round. The summer months can average in the mid to high 80s, which makes the turquoise blue waters all the more inviting. Rainfall can be expected regularly but the wettest months are in September and October.
  • Duck Key and the other keys to its eastside going to the mainland rest in the Atlantic Ocean which is known to have stronger currents and choppier waters compared to the Gulf of Mexico. However, reefs and shoals in the waters off Duck Key manage to break these strong currents, making the island’s surrounding area calm and ideal for snorkeling, diving, and deep-sea fishing.


homes for sale

With the promise of clear skies, spectacular sunsets, gorgeous beaches, and that tranquil, secluded vibe, it’s not surprising that Duck Key, Florida is gaining traction as a tourist hub and a snowbird’s tropical paradise. Investors and homebuyers are eager to get their hands on homes for sale in the area, given their vast potential for passive income in the near term and great returns on your investment in the long term.

Here’s a glimpse into the nuances of the real estate here.

Common and special home amenities

Among the more prominent features of a typical Duck Key home are the waterfront access and resort-style amenities. It is rather common to see homes in this area equipped with private docks or private beach access, which make perfect sense considering how the waters surrounding the area are considered an open extension of properties here.

But just in case the ocean gets too big and intimidating, they also have swimming pools to cool off in and balconies or decks that offer panoramic views of the surroundings.

Duck Key neighborhoods

Duck Key is actually composed of five smaller islands, all connected to each other by Venetian-style bridges. This setup is why some refer to this key as the Florida Keys’ “Little Venice.” Here are these islands in focus:


The largest and most popular of the five, Center Island provides a mix of vacation rentals and private residences. This is also where you’ll find the luxurious Hawks Cay Resort – Duck Key’s crowning glory that offers a host of dining and recreation options. Club Duck Key – home to the local homeowners’ association – is also found here. Not only does it have sports facilities but it also has a grilling area and a venue for social events and gatherings.


Located on the south side of Duck Key, Indies Island is a private gated community where homeowners can enjoy the seclusion in this exclusive enclave. Many properties here have private boat docks and offer easy access to the Atlantic Ocean.


From the name itself, you’ll know that this is where the local Yacht Club is located. Since the island has a series of canals going through it, almost every home here is prime waterfront property with instant access to the Atlantic Ocean.


Located on the west side of Duck Key, Harbour Island gives that laid-back, exclusive feel but is not too far from exciting water activities, dining, and shopping options. You can also find a good number of beautiful houses for sale in this section of Duck Key if you have plans to relocate here.


While there’s no agricultural nor cultural connection between the island’s cool name and the actual area itself (locals say that it was more of a preference by the original developers), Plantation Island still boasts that Caribbean tropic vibe with its remarkable waterfront homes, breathtaking ocean vistas, and easy water access.

To learn more about the real estate opportunities in these islands that make up Duck Key, it’s best to consult with a local real estate agent who specializes in the area.


Go fishing

This beautiful island community offers not just a fantastic selection of luxury real estate but also a warm, welcoming vibe whenever people come to visit. That’s why it’s no wonder that visitors end up wanting to stay longer – sometimes, for the long term.

Here’s what you can expect when you buy or invest in homes for sale in Duck Key.

Cost of living

Given the relative exclusivity and seclusion of houses for sale in Duck Key, as well as the area’s rising status as a tourist magnet, one can almost expect the cost of living here to be high. True enough, puts this middle Florida key’s cost of living index at a lofty 148.2 – 48.2% higher than the national average. For this soaring statistic, Duck Key more than makes up for it by providing a terrific quality of life that promises paradise for new homeowners moving to the island and profits all around for investors.

Shopping and dining

Sharing is Caring

Hawks Cay Resort doesn’t only provide luxurious accommodations to Duck Key’s guests but it also stands as a one-stop shop for anything from snacks to grab-and-go drinks, as well as a hub for various culinary delights.

Hawks Cay Marketplace is the place to be for a quick bite. Buy your snacks here then savor them by the pool or the patio, both of which are just nearby. But if you’re looking for a more diverse selection of merchandise, then there’s Gulfside Village Plaza located along the Overseas Highway in nearby Marathon or the historic Clinton Square Market in Key West.

As for dining options, Hawks Cay Resort lets you enjoy the many flavors of the sea with as many as five food spots:

  • Angler and Ale. Seafood specialties by the local marina.
  • Sixty-One Prime. Fine dining amid relaxing and elegant interiors; located near the resort’s main lobby.
  • Pilar Bar. Find your favorite drink, pair it off with some winning appetizers, finger food, or salads, and then you have the option to take them with you to the pool.
  • Tiki Grill. This in-house restaurant offers food and drinks with a tropical flair.
  • Coral Grill. Bring the whole family to this restaurant for some casual fare while the kids splash around in the nearby Pirate Ship Pool.

Outdoor recreation

Needless to say, Duck Key is perfect for outdoor activities. Its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life make it the perfect spot for snorkeling, scuba diving, dolphin-watching, and more.

One water-based activity stands out in Duck Key, and that is fishing. Those who engage in fishing either as a sport or as a way to relax can choose from the island’s fishing charters to help them score the biggest catch or simply enjoy the adrenaline rush of actually catching a prized swordfish or mahi-mahi, among many others.

Another notable outdoor recreation spot is Duck Key Flat – a shallow area over the waters just off Hawks Cay Resort that has the perfect conditions for kiteboarding.

Other attractions

For those interested in learning about the fascinating world of dolphins, Duck Key offers two highly renowned destinations: the Dolphin Connection and the Dolphin Research Center. Both organizations offer educational programs and opportunities for visitors to interact with these highly intelligent and social marine animals.

The Dolphin Connection allows visitors to interact with bottlenose dolphins in their natural lagoon habitat. It has seven interactive programs, all of which ensure unforgettable experiences and a better understanding of these extremely smart marine animals.

The Dolphin Research Center, meanwhile, focuses on educating visitors about dolphins, as well as doing rescues of distressed marine wildlife.


Finding the perfect home for sale in Duck Key in recent times has become more of a challenge, especially with the growing interest in the community and the exclusive lifestyle it offers. To ensure a successful search and subsequent purchase, you will need the expertise of someone who specializes in the area and the rest of the Florida Keys; someone with extensive local knowledge. A reliable real estate agent with an illustrious track record of buying and selling properties in Duck Key can be your best guide in this journey – someone like Alina Davis of Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate.

Alina and her husband, Don, have lived in the Florida Keys for over 40 years. During this length of time, they have developed a hyperlocal knowledge of how the community and its market behave. They have seen the Keys throughout their many stages of development and have used this knowledge to assist their clients in the best possible way, giving them the tools to make informed decisions in their home-buying or selling transactions here.

Call Alina Davis today at 305-393-0541 or send an emailhere to find the perfect Duck Key home.

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