With complimentary use of a motorized skiff, a hot sit-down breakfast, and use of paddle boards and kayaks, you can surely overlook the fact that this "resort" hasn’t been updated since, um, never. It might be older than old school, but the location is fantastic for exploring the middle and lower Keys and you’ll get daily visits from iguanas and crabs, instead of housekeeping.
YOU SHOULD KNOW For your convenience, they will add a 15% service charge “in lieu of gratuities.” We’re scratching our heads on that one, too.
Pleasantly larger than expected. Choose from a one- or two-bedroom with ocean views and a kitchen, or a one-bedroom patio view and a kitchenette. All rooms have dated tropical décor, a microwave, fridge, and coffee maker, plastic blinds, and tile floors. Beds are actually comfortable. Wall A/C units come standard, as does poor Wi-Fi.
Go for an oceanfront room or the road noise may bother you.
Simple, old tile, shower/tubs with a hanging curtain. Some have a big jetted tub and double vanity sinks. But overall, bathrooms could use sprucing up and some Keys character.
It’s a lobby and a large gift shop all in one. Check in and shop for T-shirts, drinks, tchotchkes, sundry items, toys, and jewelry at the same time.
Rectangular freshwater pool with ocean views, and a paved pool deck with an in-ground heated spa. White plastic loungers are plentiful.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Since one side of the onsite restaurant overlooks the pool, you might be the focus of dining guests in the mornings or evenings.
No onsite spa.
No onsite gym.
The Hideaway Café is on the second floor of the main building and it’s open for breakfast and dinner. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the food is quite good. This is where guests come for their free breakfast, and locals love this place for dinner.
Early bird meals are offered between 4:30 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. They’re smaller portions but are about half the price of the regular menu.
Hideaway Cafe has a nice wine list, but does not serve liquor.
While there is a big sandy area on the ocean, it is not your typical beach. Sand is compacted and hard, like most Keys’ beaches. Rocks line the shore and prevent you from wading in--not that you’d want to anyway. Take the free boat and head to the sandbar to swim, you’ll be so much happier. Or visit Bahia Honda State Park a few miles south.
You’ll find lots to do, if you look--like a big chess set, a long dock on each side of the property that you can fish from, a covered bbq area with a party-size charcoal grill and picnic tables, and an onsite bait and tackle that store that rents all the gear you need to fish or snorkel. There are kayaks and paddle boards for guests to use (free!) too, and Boston Whaler skiffs (small boats) are tied up at the dock for you to take out during the day.
You’ll need a car to explore past the property. There is no sidewalk on this stretch of Overseas Highway so biking is not recommended and civilization is a few miles away in either direction.
Havana Jack’s (8-minute drive) is a great place to have a few drinks, dance, listen to live music--all on the ocean. Brutus Seafood Market & Eatery (9-minute drive) is the result of what happens when a charter boat captain opens a restaurant--fresh seafood, served by family. It’s casual and good. Angler & Ale (4-minute drive) is a newer restaurant on the marina at Hawk’s Cay. Sit in or out and try the tuna nachos.
Marathon Grill and Ale House (10-minute drive) is a strip mall sports bar known for its craft beer and reasonable cocktails. Island Fish Company (5-minute drive) is a fun spot on the bay right on Overseas Highway. Sit beneath the huge Tiki hut and sip a cold one. Porky’s Bayside (13-minute drive) is a local open-air hangout known for its live music, smoked bbq, and fun Keys Vibe. It’s super casual, overlooking the marina at Captain Pip’s.
WHY WE LIKE IT
There is gold under this rainbow, if you’re not a hotel snob. Yes, it is worn, and weathered, even tattered in places. If you can handle that, Rainbow Bend will be your new favorite vacation spot. After all, where else can you get use of a boat, a free hot breakfast, spacious rooms, and postcard perfect views for this kind of money in the Keys? Nowhere.