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How To Spot Loggerhead Sea Turtles on Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island is known as a top destination for luxury living in harmony with nature. Our beautiful barrier island encompasses 10,000 acres of lush Lowcountry landscapes and over ten miles of pristine Atlantic coastline. This region boasts a lush diversity of well preserved habitats and intricate ecosystems, perfect for wildlife to flourish and thrive.

Kiawah Island happens to be one of America’s most vital nesting grounds for the endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle. These adorable creatures return to these warm Atlantic waters each year to continue the cycle of nesting and hatching on Kiawah Island. Loggerhead Sea Turtles travel and migrate thousands of miles between their current feeding grounds and original nesting areas.

When making their way from the nest to the ocean, sea turtle hatchlings go through a natural process called imprinting, where they form a magnetic mind map that enables them to navigate their way back to the same geomagnetic location as mature adults to return home and nest. 

Sea Turtle Season on Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island’s sea turtle season begins in mid-May and continues through October.

The male turtles rarely leave the ocean while the female, guided by the moonlight, swims to shore to dig her nests. The nesting process is exhausting, stressful, and time consuming. This process should be respected, and should never be disturbed!

In the light of the moon, the female drags herself up the beach, uses her hind flippers to dig a hole about 2-3 feet deep, lays around 130 eggs, covers the nest for incubation, and tracks her way back to the ocean. Each female lays an average of 4 to 5 nests each season.

The sea turtle hatching season begins around mid-July.

Interestingly, the temperature of the sand affects the gender of the hatchling – cooler nest temperatures produce males, and warmer temps produce female hatchlings. After an incubation period of approximately 2 months, the baby loggerheads team up to dig their way up through the sand to begin their first journey into the ocean. They will remain in the ocean, traveling around, until they return home again to repeat the nesting cycle on Kiawah Island.

How to Spot a Loggerhead Turtle

Loggerheads are the most common of the four turtle species found in South Carolina. Their distinctive features are easy to spot, making any novice wildlife viewer an expert in identifying them.

The name “Loggerhead” comes from the sea turtle’s wide block shaped head and powerful jaws that can crush a crab in one bite! They are the largest of the hard-shell turtles, reaching an average of 3-4 feet in length and a massive 300 pounds in weight. They have a reddish-brown hard shell that slightly resembles the shape of a heart, a pale yellow bottom shell, four flippers, and large spots covering their head and flippers. 

Where to Spot Loggerhead Turtles on Kiawah Island

The nesting habits of Loggerhead sea turtles align with their strong survival instincts. Most of their time is spent in the coastal waters around Kiawah Island. The males remain in the ocean and the females rarely come to shore except to lay their eggs in the early morning before sunrise or by the light of the moon. 

During nesting and hatching season, it’s easy to spot the distinct markings and tracks in the sand and well-marked nest sites in the dune line along Kiawah Island’s 10-mile stretch of beach. For the ultimate sea turtle experience, tag along with the team of volunteers at the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol.

Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol

The Loggerhead sea turtle is one of seven species of marine turtles still in existence today and remains in constant danger of extinction. In 1978, the loggerhead sea turtle was listed as a threatened species under the US Federal Endangered Species Act and the State Nongame Act. 

Established in 1973, Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol is one of the largest turtle patrol volunteer programs in the United States with a goal to protect and preserve the loggerheads that return to Kiawah Island year after year.

Sea turtles and their hatchlings have many natural threats, including the local wildlife on Kiawah Island. It’s a labor of love for the trained volunteers at Turtle Patrol, local Kiawah residents, and many of our guests who return each year to volunteer!

The Turtle Truck patrols the beaches each morning during nesting season to monitor and protect the nests, and hatchling patrols begin in July to watch for activity and protect the emerging hatchlings as they make their way to the ocean. The Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol always welcome volunteers to join their patrols. Don’t be afraid to reach out to see how to you can help, they’re always looking for enthusiastic volunteers.

Sea Turtle Care Center

If you’re eager to gain a deeper understanding of the sea turtles of South Carolina, a visit to the Sea Turtle Care Center at the South Carolina Aquarium in historic Charleston is a must-do!

The Sea Turtle Care Center’s mission is to educate and inspire the conservation of sea turtles and aid in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of these magnificent creatures back into our ocean waters.

Help Keep Our Kiawah Island Turtles Safe

During your stay on Kiawah Island, please help us keep our Kiawah Island sea turtles safe and protected. If you’re lucky enough to encounter a sea turtle, simply stay away, observe from a distance, and report any unmarked nests, emerging hatchlings, or injured sea turtles to the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol at (843) 768-9166.

Stay Off the Dunes: It is against the law to walk or bike on the sand dunes, remove any vegetation, and touch or disturb sea turtles, their nests, or baby hatchlings. The result is a hefty fine! 

Do Not Dig: Avoid digging holes or building sandcastles on the beach as you may uncover a nesting site or trap hatchlings on their way to the ocean. 

Switch Off Lights: Sea turtles are guided by the moonlight and artificial lighting can disturb and disorientate the nesting turtles and their hatchlings. Do not use flashlights, lanterns, or flash photography on the beaches, and during sea turtle season all lights visible from the beach must be turned off between 9 PM and dawn.

Keep Pets Leashed: Kiawah Island’s beaches are pet-friendly, but your beloved pets are also predators of our local wildlife. Please keep your pets leashed if you encounter sea turtles or any wildlife during your adventures on the island. 

Leave Only Footprints: The beaches on Kiawah Island are a protected habitat for an abundance of birdlife, wildlife, and marine life. PLEASE leave only footprints behind! 

Stay With Kiawah Exclusives

The best place for watching sea turtles and hatchlings on Kiawah Island is only a click away with Kiawah Exclusives. We represent an exclusive collection of the finest oceanfront rentals on Kiawah Island with luxury amenities, sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, boardwalks to the beach, and only steps to the ultimate dolphin watching and Loggerhead sea turtle experiences on Kiawah Island. 

From oceanfront villas for two to luxurious Lowcountry plantation homes equipped for large groups, you’ll find a place to stay along with exceptional guest services and warm southern hospitality with Kiawah Exclusives. Book direct online or give our team a call at (843) 768-0273 today!

A Guide to The Neighborhoods on Kiawah Island

Escape to the sandy shores and stunning natural beauty of Kiawah Island, a private barrier island located just southwest of Charleston, South Carolina. Whether you’re a golf enthusiast looking to hit one of the island’s many championship courses, an adventurer seeking to explore the great outdoors, or a lover of quiet natural beaches, there’s something for everyone here on Kiawah Island. 

Kiawah Island is the perfect place to relax and unwind, but with so many options for where to stay on this tropical paradise, it can be tough to decide. That’s where our team at Kiawah Exclusives comes in! Our guide to the neighborhoods on Kiawah Island has all the information and insider tips you need to help you find the perfect place to call home during your vacation. 

Kiawah Island encompasses 10,000 acres divided into private club communities and three main neighborhoods: West Beach Village, East Beach Village, and the exclusive gated community of Vanderhorst Plantation. Wherever you choose to stay on Kiawah Island, each neighborhood offers miles of scenic, connected biking trails to get around the island and numerous boardwalks to 10 miles of sandy shoreline at Beachwalker Park!


Beach Boardwalk 1 – 15

West Beach Village is Kiawah Island’s oldest and original community and the closest neighborhood to the Main Gate entrance to Kiawah Island and the amenities at Beachwalker Park. West Beach runs from the west end of the island along the iconic moss-draped Eugenia Avenue to East Beach Village with options for beachfront rentals or quiet villa communities lining the fairways of the Cougar Point Golf Course. 

Developed in the 1970s, West Beach Village has retained its old-world charm and is more laid-back than neighboring East Beach Village. Aside from convenient access to Freshfields Village and Kiawah Island’s award-winning Beachwalker Park, the Gary Player designed Cougar Point Golf Course and newly designed clubhouse is the standout attraction in the West Beach neighborhood. 

If you want to have some peace and quiet while still being close to the action, West Beach Village is the perfect balance of peace and convenience and is the perfect spot on Kiawah Island for you!

Villas & Cottages in West Beach Village

Duneside Villas

Oceanfront Kiawah Island Villas – Beach access at Boardwalk #1-2Pool access at Duneside Community Pool 

Inlet Cove Cottages

Kiawah Island Golf Cottages – Beach access at Boardwalk #1Pool access at Inlet Cove Community Pool 

Seascape Villas

Kiawah Island Oceanside & Oceanfront Villas Beach access at Boardwalk #7No community pool access 

Shipwatch Villas

Oceanfront Kiawah Island Villas – Beach access at Boardwalk #5-6No community pool access 

Sparrow Pond Cottages

Kiawah Island Lagoon View Villas – Beach access at Boardwalk #1-2Pool access at Duneside & Sparrow Pond Community Pool


Beach Boardwalk 16 – 30

Anchored by the Forbes 5-star Sanctuary Hotel and Night Heron Park, East Beach Village lies in the heart of Kiawah Island between West Beach Village and Vanderhorst Plantation. If you’re planning an action-packed vacation to Kiawah Island, staying in East Beach puts you in the center of the island’s best nature activities, on-island shops and restaurants, and steps to the beautiful beaches on Kiawah Island.    

East Beach Village is home to the Turtle Point Golf Course by Jack Nicklaus, the award-winning Roy Barth Tennis Center, and Night Heron Park, a tranquil 21-acre maritime park with pools, bike paths and nature trails, eco-tours and activities, summer kids camps, and endless family fun

Between Night Heron Park and the legendary Sanctuary Hotel, you’ll find a variety of shops, laid-back and upscale restaurants, a world-class spa, and a wide selection of villas, coastal cottages, and private homes to stay in the heart of the action on Kiawah Island.

Villas, Cottages & Beach Homes in East Beach Village

Atlantic Beach Homes

Private Beach Homes – Beach access at Boardwalk #28 and 29 – Community pool access 

Mariners Watch Villas

Oceanfront Villas near Night Heron ParkBeach access at Boardwalk #17-18No community pool access 

Night Heron Cottages

3 Bedroom Night Heron CottagesBeach access at Boardwalks #17-18No community pool access 

Parkside Villas

Lakeside Villas in Night Heron ParkBeach access at Boardwalk #22No community pool access 

Tennis Club Villas

Kiawah Island Tennis VillaBeach access at Boardwalk #27No community pool access 

Turtle Cove Villas

Kiawah Island Lagoon Villas – Beach access at Boardwalk #27No community pool access 

Turtle Point Villas

2 & 3 Bedroom Kiawah Island Golf Course VillasBeach access at Boardwalk #28-29No community pool access 

Windswept Oceanfront Villas & Windswept Lakeside Villas

Oceanfront & Oceanside Villas near The SanctuaryBeach access at Boardwalk #18-22No community pool access


Beach Boardwalk 30 – 42

Vanderhorst is an exclusive gated community beyond Kiawah Island’s second set of gates on the island’s east end. Vanderhorst Plantation is known for its secluded natural setting, pristine beaches, abundance of wildlife, and the Tom Fazio Osprey Point Golf Course and world-famous PGA Ocean Course, boasting the most seaside holes in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Situated only a short bike ride from the bustle of East Beach Village, Vanderhorst Plantation is the ultimate destination for a classic Lowcountry island escape. This exclusive neighborhood boasts marshlands, maritime forests, and nature preserves teeming with birdlife and wildlife, fishing ponds and lagoons, beautiful stretches of remote Atlantic Coast shoreline, and elegant private plantation-style homes that set the tone for luxurious Lowcountry living.  

Our selection of private Vanderhorst Plantation vacation homes come loaded with sought-after amenities like designer interiors, gourmet kitchens, swimming pools, private docks, and elevators – topped off with breathtaking views of the ocean, marsh, golf course, lagoon, or lush maritime forests to enjoy. It doesn’t get much better than the Lowcountry lifestyle in Vanderhorst Plantation!

Ready to plan your dream vacation to Kiawah Island? Start by browsing our luxury rental properties online or, if you’re still undecided on where to stay on Kiawah Island, give our local on-island team a call at (843) 768-0273

For an extended stay, check out our selection of monthly Kiawah Island rentals, or if you’ve been dreaming of owning your own Lowcountry retreat on Kiawah Island, our real estate partner Pam Harrington Exclusives can make that dream come true! Just reach out to our team and let us know how we can help plan your experience on Kiawah Island, SC.

A Guide to Dolphin Watching on Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island is a natural haven for majestic Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. Our warm South Carolina coastal waters boast a thriving and diverse ecosystem of wildlife-rich wetlands, waterways, and creeks teeming with beautiful birdlife, wildlife along the banks, and pods of playful, intelligent, and highly sociable Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. Interacting with these magnificent mammals in their natural habitat is the best thing to do on Kiawah Island – and it’s a year-round treat! 

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins are a familiar site on Kiawah Island year-round. The South Carolina coastline is home to a population of several hundred dolphins with a pod of around 25 dolphins playing in the ocean and waterways of Kiawah Island all year long. The dolphin population on Kiawah Island swells seasonally as migrating bottlenose dolphins seek warmer waters to hunt for food.


Dolphin sightings are easy on Kiawah Island. Our resident dolphins can be spotted right from the beach swimming in the warm Atlantic waters, gracefully meandering the rivers and creeks, or strand-feeding along the muddy banks at Captain Sam’s Inlet on the Kiawah River. Rent a beach cruiser or take an early morning sunrise stroll along the shoreline for the most fascinating dolphin-watching experience in the Lowcountry – strand feeding at Captain Sam’s Inlet. 

Kiawah Island is one of only a few destinations in the world you can experience the rare phenomenon of dolphins strand feeding. Strand feeding is a unique feeding behavior where dolphins collectively force fish to the shoreline and launch their bodies out of the water to gather their prey. Many of our guests have even had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of experiencing a mother teaching her baby to strand feed. 

The best time to witness strand feeding on Kiawah Island is early in the morning at low tide. Please note that it is illegal to touch dolphins, you are required to keep a distance of at least 500 yards by boat or 15 yards from the beach, and please keep your pets leashed.


You’ll find the perfect perch to dolphin watch from home with Kiawah Exclusives! Whether you’re lured by the sound of the ocean waves, the quiet of nature in the wetlands, or your own private dock on the Kiawah River, our exclusive collection of Kiawah Island vacation rentals includes a dream home for every dolphin lover. Browse and book online, or give our team a call so we can match you with the perfect home-away-from-home on Kiawah Island.


The best way to encounter Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins in their natural habitat is with a naturalist guide. Our local Kiawah Island guides have an intimate knowledge of the diverse habitats and behaviors of wild Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins – and know the best secret spots on Kiawah Island for dolphin viewing! However your choose to adventure, you’ll find a dolphin-watching tour on Kiawah Island to suit your style.

Night Heron Park

Kiawah Island

The Night Heron Park Nature Center is the Kiawah Island basecamp for guided eco-tours and a variety of boat charters and rentals. Cruise the rivers and creeks with a naturalist guide or pick up a rental for a self-guided tour from Mingo Point on the Kiawah River. Guided dolphin encounters are offered year-round.

Tidal Trails

Kiawah Island

Tidal Trails specialize in custom adventures to encounter the majestic natural inhabitants of Kiawah Island up close and personal. Experiences range from tranquil paddle adventures and cruises to powerboat rentals, wakeboarding, and water skiing instruction. Tidal Trails have on-island locations at Eagle Point, Rhett’s Bluff, Cinder Creek Boathouse, and Sandcastle Beach with daily or weekly rentals available.

Charleston Paddle Company

Kiawah River Bridge

The Charleston Paddle Company launch their signature Kiawah Island paddle board & kayak tours from the Kiawah River Bridge. Choose from nature-guided wildlife, full moon, and sunset tours through the Lowcountry marshlands, SUP Yoga, or learn-to-surf lessons for all ages. If you need a kayak, SUP, or surfboard rental, they’ll deliver to your rental, and pick up for free.

Water Dog Paddle Co.

Bohicket Marina

The Water Dog Paddle Co. at Bohicket Marina offers interactive eco-adventure kayak and SUP tours on the saltwater marshes of Kiawah and Seabrook Island, rentals to explore at your own pace, and on-water yoga on Trophy Lake on Johns Island. Paddle tours launch from the Kiawah Island Bridge, a half-mile before the entrance to the island.

Sonny Boy Charters

Bohicket Marina

Captain Brad of Sonny Boy Charters is a certified United States Coastguard Captain and Realtor who has been sailing the coastal waters of South Carolina since a young boy. With 30+ years of experience on our local waters, Sonny Boy Charters are top-rated for Kiawah Island nearshore and inshore fishing charters, scenic sunset tours, and guided dolphin eco-tours from Bohicket Marina.

Captain Jack’s Sailing & Dolphin Watching

Bohicket Marina

Climb aboard Palmetto Tide for sailing adventures with Captain Jack. Locally owned and operated since 1991, Captain Jack’s Sailing offer half-day and full-day eco-tours from Bohicket Marina, customized your way! Sail the pristine Edisto River or the Atlantic Ocean, ride a rubber dingy to picnic and beachcomb on Shell Island, fish with the family, or set sail into the sunset. However you choose to experience Palmetto Tide, dolphin encounters are almost guaranteed along the way.

Lil Darlin’ Charters

St. Johns Marina

Captain Lindsay of Lil Darlin’ Charters is a lifelong resident of Charleston with an in-depth knowledge of the Lowcountry waterways and a passion for fishing! Head out from St. Johns Marina on the Stono River for an inshore fishing charter or shark fishing trip, or cruise the creeks or harbor searching for Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. Family memories you’ll never forget!  

Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network

There are many ways to support the protection of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins along the South Carolina coastline. Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network is a local nonprofit focused on protecting the marine mammals in the Greater Charleston Area and has volunteer programs to get involved, local events, and outreaches to educate visitors on our local dolphins. You can even adopt a local dolphin

Dog-Friendly Restaurants near Kiawah Island & Seabrook Island

The South Carolina barrier islands of Kiawah and Seabrook set the tone for a dog-friendly vacation with tail-wagging adventures and tempting tasty treats for every day of your stay! 

Bring your pooch to the islands and discover miles of dog-friendly beaches for beach walks and ocean play, nature preserves and wetlands for hiking and water activities, miles of trails to stroll and sniff, and pet-friendly outdoor patios at some of the area’s best restaurants, cafes, and eateries. 

We love helping our guests plan their vacation and have compiled a list of the best dog-friendly places to eat in and around Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, and Charleston.


The Market at Town Center

The Market at Town Center in East Beach Village is the only grocery store within the gates of Kiawah Island and a favorite gathering place for locals and tourists alike. They serve the best breakfasts, casual lunches, and affordable dinners with pet-friendly patio seating for your pooch.

Night Heron Poolside Grill & Bar

When you’re done playing frisbee or soccer with your pooch in Night Heron Park, head over to the Night Heron Grill and Bar for a pool side salad, burger or seafood lunch, fresh fruit smoothies or tropical drinks on the dog-friendly poolside patio.

Mingo Point Oyster Roast & BBQ

The Mingo Point Oyster Roast & BBQ is a unique Lowcountry dining experience and a long-standing tradition on Kiawah Island. Located on the river banks of the Kiawah River at Mingo Point, your well-behaved and leashed pup is welcome to join you on a feast of oysters and southern BBQ, live music and dancing, and the best sunsets on Kiawah Island. 


Freshfields Village is an upscale shopping and dining destination nestled between Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island which welcomes well-behaved, leashed pets throughout the village. Window decals at Freshfields Village stores and restaurants clearly denote where your dog is welcome to shop and dine. 

While your pooch may not dine inside, there are plenty of pet-friendly patios to share a beverage or delicious Lowcountry meal. Alternatively, grab food to go (and a tasty dog treat from Dolittle’s or Doggie Dessert from Ben & Jerry’s) to enjoy at a family picnic or local event on the Freshfields Village Green.

The Village Market

The Village Market by Harris Teeter is another local grocery store near Kiawah with a deli for freshly made takeaway foods, a Starbucks Coffee kiosk, and a large outdoor pet-friendly patio area in the heart of Freshfields Village.

Java Java

Java Java is another favorite for locally sourced coffee, frozen drinks, smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, and light lunches. The patio is perfect for people watching with your pooch or checking out the cool classics at Cars & Coffee (3rd Saturday of every month).

King Street Grille

King Street Grille has been voted best sports bar and restaurant seven years in a row and is the best place in Kiawah to kick back, watch the pros on the big screens, and share an ice cold beer and great meal with your pup!

Fuji Sushi Bar & Grill

For authentic Japanese cuisine, signature sushi rolls, and traditional hibachi grills on a sizzling marble stone, head to the outdoor patio at Fuji Sushi Bar & Grill in Freshfields Village. Fuji offers enticing specials, a daily happy hour with delicious cocktails, wine, beer and sake, and a laid-back atmosphere for pet-friendly dining.

Hege’s Restaurant

Hege’s Restaurant is an authentic and inviting French bistro that will happily accommodate your well-behaved pup in the outdoor courtyard. The menu offers an extensive selection of spirits, cocktails and wines, a cold and raw bar, signature steakhouse and seafood specialties, and decadent desserts. Reservations recommended.

La Tela Pizzeria

Now for a taste of Italy! La Tela is a Neapolitan-style pizzeria with seasonal dishes, fresh pasta, and pizza dough all made in house with ingredients sourced from the local farmers and island communities. The outdoor patio at La Tela Pizzeria is shaded, pet-friendly and the perfect pit stop while shopping at Freshfields Village with your pooch.

Cantina 76

Freshfields Village has dining options for every taste bud, including Mexican inspired cuisine at the lively and award-winning Cantina 76 taqueria and bar. The vibe is casual and upbeat, the hand-crafted margaritas and cocktails addictive, and the large outdoor dining area happily welcomes pets.   

Forty-Eight Wine Bar & Kitchen

You don’t have to be a wine lover to reserve a table on the dog-friendly patio at Forty-Eight Wine Bar in Freshfields Village. This favorite local hot spot offers 48 wines by the glass (840 by the bottle!), 48 local and regional craft beers, a full cocktail bar, and a fabulous menu of light bites – their famous lump crab cakes are a must!


Kiawah Island is only a short scenic drive from the #1 City in the US, Charleston! Whether you’re looking for a pet-friendly stop on route to Kiawah and Seabrook Island or planning a day trip to Charleston with your dog during your stay, there are plenty of pet-friendly patios and porches to stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat along the way. Here are a few of our favorites:

Sunrise Bistro

1797 Main Road, Johns Island, SC

Open: Tuesday to Sunday for breakfast and lunch as “mom might make”.

Tattooed Moose

3328 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, SC

Open: Daily 11:30AM-2AM

Live Music: Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday

Happy Hour: Monday to Friday 4PM-7PM

Minero Mexican Grill & Cantina

3140 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, SC

Open: Wednesday to Sunday from 4PM

Happy Hour: Wednesday to Friday 4PM-6PM

Angel Oak Restaurant

3669 Savannah Highway, Johns Island, SC

Open: Tuesday to Sunday


Wadmalaw Island borders John Island and is approximately a 30-minute drive from Kiawah and Seabrook Islands. Whether you’d prefer to sip quality Bigelow tea at the only tea garden in North America or “wine-down” with live music, food and wine tastings in the vineyards, unique dog-friendly experiences await on nearby Wadmalaw Island.

Charleston Tea Gardens

6617 Maybank Highway, Wadmalaw Island, SC

Open: Daily 10AM-4PM (Opens 12PM on Sunday)

Deep Water Vineyard

6775 Bears Bluff Road, Wadmalaw Island, SC

Open: Tuesday to Saturday 10AM-5PM

Find the ultimate Lowcountry vacation retreat and start planning your dog-friendly getaway to the islands and beaches of the South Carolina Lowcountry with Kiawah Exclusives and Seabrook Exclusives. Book online or call our team of vacation specialists to assist in your vacation planning – no one knows the islands quite like us!

Fun Facts About Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island is a destination known for its pristine natural beauty, luxurious resort amenities, award-winning golf and tennis facilities, and intimate encounters with dolphins, sea turtles, and local wildlife in their natural habitat. 

Situated on 10 miles of Atlantic coastline and surrounded by South Carolina’s lush Lowcountry landscapes, Kiawah Island is one of the most beautiful barrier islands on the East Coast. Kiawah Island has a rich and storied past, boasts endless awards and accolades, and offers guests one of a kind experiences and unique eco-adventures for a beach vacation with a difference!

Kiawah Island Boasts Endless Awards & Accolades

Kiawah Island boasts endless awards and accolades. In 2021, Kiawah Island was ranked among the Top 10 Islands in the Continental US by Travel+Leisure, Top Islands in the Continental US by Conde Nast Traveler, and Top 10 Beaches in America by Dr. Stephen Leatherman (aka Dr. Beach). Additionally, Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s tennis facilities and golf courses ranked best in the world, and among the best in the world respectively. 

For the fourteenth consecutive year, The Sanctuary Hotel and The Spa at The Sanctuary received the Five Star rating from Forbes Travel Guide and, for the second consecutive year, Travel+Leisure World’s Best Awards ranks The Sanctuary the number one resort in South Carolina. 

Our exclusive collection of luxury Kiawah Island vacation homes, vacation villas, and monthly snowbird rentals place you steps from Kiawah Island’s award-winning beaches, natural attraction and eco-activities for an unforgettable island vacation.

Pirates Once Inhabited Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island is more than a luxury vacation destination, there’s a rich and colorful history beneath the natural beauty! Kiawah Island was named after the Kiawah Indians that inhabited the South Carolina sea islands in the 17th century. The English colonists arrived in 1670, the land passed through the hands of high-ranking men, infamous pirates, plantation farmers, and on to the Vanderhorst family shortly before the Revolutionary War (1775 to 1783). The Vanderhorst family privately owned Kiawah Island until 1950. 

Today, the Bass Pond site and Arnoldus Vanderhorst Mansion are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and, if you’re visiting Kiawah Island with kids, be sure to take a cruise with the Pirates of Charleston.

From Lumbermen to Luxury Resort Living

In 1950, lumberman and real estate developer, Charles Clance Royal, purchases Kiawah Island for logging and timber, at a price of $125,000.  In 1954, CC Royal builds the first beach home on Kiawah Island, names the first street after his wife, Eugenia, and Kiawah Island slowly starts to grow. In 1974, only twenty-four years after his investment, CC Royal sells Kiawah Island on to developers for $17 million, real estate development begins, and approximately $200 million is invested into the growth of Kiawah Island Golf Resort.  

The Waterways are Wild

Nearly 20% of Kiawah Island is made up of water, and those waterways are wild! Whether you’re tracking sea turtles, experiencing dolphins in their natural habitat, or fishing for a trophy catch, there’s a wild encounter for every nature lover and outdoor enthusiast on Kiawah Island. The tidal creeks, salt marshes, rivers and ocean waters abound in tranquility, wildlife, and endless opportunities for eco-friendly outdoor adventures

For travel inspiration and to find an eco-tour or activity to suit your level of adventure, bookmark our guide to The Best Places to Stay & Play on Kiawah Island. Our Lowcountry waterways may be wild, but they’re gentle enough for every age and ability to experience.

You Can Book a Tee-Time on a Rare Public PGA Golf Course

There are not many public courses that can claim to have hosted the PGA Championships more than once! Kiawah Island Golf Resort is one of the premier golf destinations in the US with seven award winning golf courses on the narrow island, five of which are public, including the PGA Ocean Course designed by Pete and Alice Dye in 1991. The Ocean Course was designed specifically for the 1991 Ryder Cup and boasts ten seaside holes along the Atlantic coastline – the most seaside holes in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Other championship courses at Kiawah Island Golf Resort include Cougar Point Golf Club, the first golf course on Kiawah Island by Gary Player (1976), Turtle Point by Jack Nicklaus (1981), Osprey Point by Tom Fazio (1988), Ocean Course by Pete Dye (1991), River Course by Tom Fazio (1995), and Oak Point by Clyde Johnson (1997). Fun fact – The Legend of Bagger Vance was filmed on the Kiawah Island Ocean Course.

You Can Bike Everywhere on Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island is one big, gated community and you can literally bike everywhere! The island boasts quiet streets for bike riding, 30+ miles of paved, shaded and scenic trails, and 10 miles of uninterrupted shoreline for beach bike rides. Wherever you stay on the island, you’re simply a short bike ride away from Kiawah Island’s top tours and activities, golf and tennis, and open-air shopping, dining and events at Freshfields Village. 

Our Kiawah Island vacation rentals are scattered throughout the island making it easy to hop on your bike to get around. Guests of Kiawah Exclusives receive a 5% discount from Surfscooter Bike Rentals, a locally-owned and operated business serving visitors to Kiawah Island since 1981.

Experiences Unique to Kiawah Island

There are only a handful of spots you can horse ride on the beach on the East Coast, neighboring Seabrook Island is one of them! The Seabrook Island Equestrian Center offers horseback rides along the shoreline and scenic trail rides through the forests for Seabrook Island residents and non-residents. The horseback rides trail along Seabrook North Beach, one of the few destinations in the world where visitors can witness the rare phenomenon of dolphin’s strand-feeding. 

If you’re taking a scenic drive from Kiawah Island, other experiences unique to the area include trolley tours of the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island , America’s only commercial tea plantation, and picnics under the ancient 65-foot Angel Oak on the road to Charleston, known to be the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River.

Lowcountry Living is Easy!

It’s the laid-back Lowcountry lifestyle that attracts many of our guests to Kiawah Island, our slice of paradise on the South Carolina coastline. The Lowcountry lifestyle is about embracing a slower pace and the simple things in life – the beauty of Mother Nature, small town farmers markets, local community-led events, and sustainable living that feeds back to the local community. 

Kiawah Island is internationally recognized as a destination for luxury, eco-friendly resort living. Kiawah Exclusives represent a collection of 100+ of the finest resort rentals on Kiawah Island with luxury amenities, unparalleled guest services, and a local team on hand to personalize your vacation experience. Lowcountry living is easy with Kiawah Exclusives.

Biking Around Kiawah Island

Nestled on South Carolina’s Atlantic coastline between the historic City of Charleston and the private oceanfront resort community of Seabrook Island, Kiawah Island is a vacation destination with vast and scenic Lowcountry landscapes best explored on two wheels to venture freely. 

With over 30-miles of paved flat paths connecting the island from West Beach Village and East Beach Village to Vanderhorst Plantation, and beyond, you can take a “park and forget it approach” on Kiawah Island. Kiawah Island’s tranquil Lowcountry bike trails are all you need for getting around, sightseeing, shopping, and socializing on your vacation.


Save money, pack light and plan your bike adventures on Kiawah Island with Surfscooter Rentals (Bonus: 5% discounted rates for all Kiawah Exclusives guests)! Surfscooter Rentals have been serving our guests to Kiawah and Seabrook Island with unbeatable customer service and southern hospitality for over 20 years! 

The rental process is simple and hassle free – pick the bike rentals and gear best suited for your pedal adventures, order direct online, and have everything delivered right to your vacation rental, ready to hit the trails on arrival – there’s no need to even be there! They conveniently pick up on departure too.

Whether you’re on a romantic rendezvous or an unplugged family vacation for you and the kids, there’s a set of wheels with your name on it! Surfscooter Rentals have all the bike gear to get your whole family on the trails and beach. Surfscooter’s high quality and well maintained bike rentals include 24-26” adult bikes, 16-20” kids bikes, baby seat rentals, chariot rentals, tag-a-longs, and bike trailers to load up and venture beyond Kiawah Island. Any problems, they’ll come find you and make a swap! 


The bike trails follow the main roads on Kiawah Island including Kiawah Island Parkway, Governor’s Drive, Ocean Course Drive and Flyway Drive. Ride your bikes to the shore, store, and golf tee times, or venture off the beaten path to explore secret spots on the island not accessible by car. Here’s a guide to our favorite bike routes on Kiawah Island!

Beachwalker Park

The 10-mile stretch of shoreline at Beachwalker Park is consistently ranked one of Dr Beach’s Top 10 Beaches in America. When you’re not enjoying a classic beach day, Beachwalker Park is one of the best places to ride bikes on Kiawah Island as well as experience our local wildlife. Head out after a high tide for hard packed sands, watch dolphin’s strand feeding at Captain Sams Inlet, and take a slow ride along the shoreline to the award-winning PGA Ocean Course in Vanderhorst. Surfscooter’s bike rentals are built for the sand and there are dozens of boardwalks making beach bike riding easily accessible – and fun!

Night Heron Park

Night Heron Park is nestled in the heart of East Beach Village with 21 acres of gorgeous scenery, ponds, and tranquil walking and biking paths in the ancient oaks, perfect for a family bike ride and nature adventure. Begin your bike ride at the Heron Park Nature Center, spot wildlife in the wetlands, stop for lunch at Night Heron Bar and Grill, and end your day with a classic Lowcountry eco-adventure or water activities offered by Kiawah Resort.    

Mingo Point

Pack a picnic and bike to Mingo Point, located just outside the main Kiawah Island gate near West Beach Village. Mingo Point is famous for its Lowcountry Oyster Roasts and tranquil setting on the banks of the Kiawah River. Park your bikes, refuel with a picnic and rent a kayak or SUP to play on the water. From Mingo Point pedal along the Kiawah Island Parkway trail to Marsh View Tower for expansive views of Cougar Point Golf Course and the Kiawah Island wetlands. Bring the binoculars and the camera!

Vanderhorst Plantation

Vanderhorst Plantation is situated through the second set of gates on Kiawah Island, accessible only to residents and guests. But, you can venture through on the bike trails! The Kiawah Island Parkway leads to the Bass Pond and fishing dock and beautiful scenery in Rhett’s Bluff. Ride the trail along Governor’s Drive to the Marsh Island Park View Tower, Blue Heron Pond Observation Tower, and on to Eagle Point Landing. Wind your way towards the Atlantic to the Ocean Course, home of the 2021 PGA Championship, for sundowners at the Ryder Cup Bar. This Kiawah Island bike route is soaked in serenity with sweeping wetland views, maritime forests, marshlands, lagoons, and an abundance of wildlife.  

Freshfields Village

The bike routes are not limited to the island and extend past the guardhouse on to Freshfields Village, 1.8-miles from the Main Gate. Freshfields Village has it all – amazing restaurants and cafés, open air shopping, spas and salons, wine and whisky tastings, jazz nights, and fabulous farmers markets, festivals, and events on the Village Green. It’s family-friendly, pet-friendly, and a short bike ride from Kiawah Island. The bike trail continues on to Bohicket Marina, home of the famous Salty Dog Café, boat rentals and charters, and insta worthy South Carolina sunsets, then on to the private resort community of Seabrook Island.


  • Keep to the right on all trails.
  • Announce your presence when approaching or overtaking.
  • Observe all STOP signs.
  • Lights must be used after dark.
  • Helmets are encouraged but not required.
  • Bicycles must be parked only in designated areas.
  • Bikes are not allowed on the golf cart paths.
  • Please walk bicycles across the beach boardwalks and stay away from the dunes.
  • Biking and jogging on the road is prohibited when there is a designated bike path nearby.
  • When a bike path is not available, please ride single file, near the curb, and with the flow of traffic
  • E-bikes are prohibited on Kiawah Island, only bicycles and non-electric scooters are allowed on the trails.
  • The Town of Kiawah requests that bikes are not visible from the street. Please store bikes responsibly after your adventures.


After all that pedaling, Kiawah Exclusives have the perfect place to put your feet up, relax and unwind in style. Our selection of 100+ Kiawah Island vacation rentals include villas and homes in West Beach Village, East Beach Village, and through the second set of gates in Vanderhorst Plantation, all a quick bike ride away from wherever you choose to adventure on Kiawah Island. 

Browse our luxury Kiawah Island rentals online, call our on-island team on (843) 768-0273 to assist with vacation planning, or if you’re dreaming of owning your own Lowcountry retreat on Kiawah Island, our real estate partner Pam Harrington Exclusives can make that dream a reality! 

We hope to see you on the Kiawah Island bike trails soon! 

Plan a PGA Golf Vacation on Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island is ranked one of the “Top 25 Golf Islands in the World” and is home to some of the best golf courses in the US, designed by top golf architects and played by many of the greatest legends in golf history. 

Nestled on the South Carolina coastline directly south of Charleston, Kiawah Island is a natural barrier island with miles of stunning Atlantic beaches and tranquil waterways teeming with wildlife, elegant plantation style homes and villas, and a laid-back, luxurious lifestyle of outdoor activities and sporting. 

Known as the “Landscape of Legends”, Kiawah Island boasts two private courses (Cassique Course and River Course) and five award-winning Audubon certified championship courses – Osprey Point by Tom Fazio, Turtle Point by Jack Nicklaus, Cougar Point by Gary Player, Oak Point by Clyde Johnson, and the iconic Ocean Course designed by Alice and Pete Dye.

Kiawah Island’s Iconic Ocean Course

Famous golf course architect Pete Dye has designed over 100 golf courses, yet his true masterpiece is the iconic and internationally renowned Ocean Course on Kiawah Island. Alice and Pete Dye designed and constructed the Ocean Course specifically for the 1991 Ryder Cup, a controversial event widely known as “The War by the Shore”. Kiawah Island began to claim recognition as a top golfing destination on the East Coast. 

The Ocean Course has since hosted many world-class golf events and multiple majors including the 2012 PGA Championship won by Rory McIlroy, and the 2021 PGA Championship with Phil Michelson claiming victory as the oldest golfer to ever win the coveted Wanamaker Trophy. The Ocean Course is one of only a few legendary PGA championship courses open to the public, consistently ranking among the top courses in the USA (and the world!) with endless awards and accolades.

In his autobiography, Pete Dye referred to the 2.5-mile stretch of Kiawah Island shoreline as “one of the greatest pieces of seaside property in the United States”. The spectacular Ocean Course winds through windswept dunes between the salt marshes and the Atlantic Ocean with a layout that ranks it among the most challenging and difficult golf courses in the US. The course boasts the most seaside holes in North America with unpredictable wind shifts, coastal elements, and a combination of sand, grass and marshes to challenge even the best players.

Kiawah Island is the ultimate destination for a beach and golf getaway! Follow in the footsteps of legends as you test your skills with a round of PGA golf on the iconic Ocean Course and return home to experience luxury Lowcountry golf course living with Kiawah Exclusives.

Kiawah Exclusives have been planning beach and golf vacations for our guests since 1978, just shortly after Gary Player’s Cougar Point golf course began welcoming Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s first golfers. Our exclusive collection of 110+ Kiawah Island vacation rentals includes golf vacation villas on the fairways of Cougar Point and Turtle Point, and luxury golf homes in Vanderhorst Plantation, a private gated community behind Kiawah Island’s second set of privacy gates near the Osprey Point Golf Course and Ocean Course. 

Ocean Course Drive

5 Bed, 4.5 Bath, Sleeps 10

Distance to Ocean Course Clubhouse: 2.4 miles

This exceptional Kiawah Island golf course home overlooks Ibis Pond and is situated only minutes from the Kiawah Beach Club and Ocean Course. End your day of challenging golf unwinding by the pool, soaking up the views from your screened porch, and indulging in life’s little luxuries when you spend your golf vacation at this exclusive golf rental on Ocean Course Drive.

Color Me Kiawah

5 Bed, 4.5 Bath, Sleeps 10

Distance to Ocean Course Clubhouse: 1.7 miles

Color Me Kiawah is an award-winning Vanderhorst golf home nestled in old live oaks near the Ocean Course. This elegant home exceeds all expectations with an executive home office to combine work and play, a stunning media room, and a luxury infinity pool and spa overlooking the tidal creeks and marshes. A short bike ride will have you on the Kiawah Island beaches in no time!

Flyway Drive

6 Bed, 8 Bath, Sleeps 12

Distance to Ocean Course Clubhouse: 2.9 miles

If golf and beach access are both top priorities, your search ends here at one of the best homes on Kiawah for a beach and golf vacation combo. 171 Flyway Drive offers 6,500 sq feet of elegant interiors with close proximity to the Ocean Course, a private boardwalk to the beach, and a salt water pool for cool dips after a round of golf or beach day.

Falcon Point

5 Bed, 4.5 Bath, 10 Guests

Distance to Ocean Course Clubhouse: 3.5 miles

Falcon Point is situated slightly inland surrounded by lush Lowcountry landscapes and forever marsh views. This luxury golf home features expansive outdoor decks and porches, a private pool, and timeless interiors making it an idyllic retreat for a PGA golf vacation on Kiawah Island.

Ocean Oaks Court

Distance to Ocean Course Clubhouse: 2.6 miles

Ocean Oaks Court is a quiet cul-de-sac tucked away in a tropical setting near the Kiawah Island beaches and Ocean Course. Kiawah Exclusives represent three luxury plantation style homes close together and perfect for a group golf getaway to Kiawah Island.

305 Ocean Oaks: 4 Bed, 4.5 Bath, Sleeps 8

308 Ocean Oaks: 3 Bed, 3.5 Bath, Sleeps 6

411 Ocean Oaks: 4 bed, 4.5 Bath, Sleeps 10

Browse our full collection of exclusive Kiawah golf homes and villas or contact one of our vacation specialists with the local knowledge and expertise to help you plan the ultimate PGA vacation on Kiawah Island.

Top 10 Attractions for Kids on Kiawah Island

Our kids are inundated with tech gadgets, gaming devices, and a constant stream of stimulation, day in and day out! Why not skip the bustling boardwalks lined with amusement, arcades and kid-centric attractions and spend your family vacation immersed in nature on Kiawah Island?!

Kiawah Island is a secluded barrier island and luxury resort community only 25 miles from Charleston, SC. Arriving on Kiawah Island is like stepping back in time to the days we knew as kids! Miles of beaches and bike trails without the crowds, nature activities and grubby hands, family picnics under the stars, and a slower pace of life to unwind, relax and spend quality time with family. 

Great news for parents! The island is small (only 10 miles long x 1.5 miles wide) and the top things to do with your kids on Kiawah Island are merely a bike ride or short walk away from wherever you choose to stay!

1. Kick Off With a Classic Beach Day

Kiawah Island boasts 10 miles of beautiful beaches ranked among the best in the world! There are no noisy carnival games or oceanfront arcades – just miles of uncrowded and wide natural beaches with gorgeous white sands, rolling dunes, and gentle waves for a classic beach day with the kids. Kiawah Island’s Beachwalker Park is lifeguarded for safe swimming during season with beach gear rentals, rest rooms, a snack bar, outdoor showers, and all you need for a family beach day

Spend the day playing in the sun, sand and surf, beachcombing for treasures, building sandcastles, and switching to island time on Kiawah’s family-friendly beaches. You can watch the sunrise and sunset from the beach on Kiawah Island too, perfect for early beach walks, family bike rides, or sunset picnics with the kids.

2. Bike the Kiawah Island Trails

Kiawah Island has tons of trails (30+ miles) connecting the island and you can ride your bike everywhere! Touring the island on two wheels is a fun way to get outdoors, burn off energy, bond as a family, take in the scenery, and hunt for wildlife on the trails and in the scenic marshes and lagoons along the way. 

Surfscooter have been in the Kiawah bike rental business since 1981 and offer a wide range of bike sizes for every age, chariots and baby seats for little ones, and tag-a-long rentals to ride tandem – with a 5% discount for Kiawah Exclusive guests. We hope to see you and the kids on the trails soon!

3. Plan Nature Activities at Night Heron Park

Whether you’re traveling with a tenacious toddler or a fearless teen, Night Heron Park will satisfy their need for adventure. Night Heron Park lies in the heart of Kiawah Island and offers activities for all ages, unique Lowcountry tours, a calendar full of family-friendly events, and lessons for literally everything!

The kids get to learn about local wildlife at the Heron Park Nature Center, take an art class at the Turtles Nest Art Studio, bike the shaded nature trails, play basketball, disc-golf, and archery, and take their pick of unique ways to experience Kiawah island! Night Heron Park has an activity to match every family’s level of adventure.

4. Take the Kids Fishing & Crabbing

Most kids love to chase little critters, catch crabs, and feel the thrill of a fish on the end of their line. Fishing and crabbing are aged old traditions in the Lowcountry, and Kiawah Island is full of coastal lagoons, ponds, rivers, tidal creeks and estuaries teeming with fish and tasty Atlantic blue crab. 

Plan a family adventure of your own at the Bass Pond Fishing Dock or crabbing dock at Blue Heron Pond or experience the best of the coastal Lowcountry on a family-friendly fishing charter or crabbing excursion on the Kiawah River. The chances are you’ll be returning home with a fresh catch for a fish BBQ or classic Lowcountry Boil.  

5. Sign Up For The BEST Kids Camp Ever!

You’ll feel no guilt dropping the kids off at kids camp on Kiawah Island, in fact they’ll be asking to return! Kiawah Island’s unique kids programs are simply outstanding with Kamp Kiawah (ages 3-7), Camp Xtreme (ages 8-15), and a seasonal Adventure Camp (ages 8-15) with morning, afternoon, or full day programs and super fun counselors. 

Situated in Night Heron Park, the kids get to explore local wildlife, go scavenger hunting, play sports and team building games, paddleboard the waterways or learn to surf! If a night of romance is on the vacation itinerary, sign the kids up for Kid’s Night Out (ages 5-12) and make a reservation for an evening of wine tasting and fine dining on Kiawah Island.

6. Get the Kids Gaming

No, we’re not talking about online gaming! Kiawah Island Golf Resort is one of the top golfing destinations and tennis resorts in the world with first-class facilities and professional instruction programs for the whole family to get in the game! Kiawah Island’s famous Ocean Course is ranked one of the toughest golf courses in the US, perhaps too tough for little golfers, but perfect for dad to play while the kids are at camp. Osprey Point, Cougar Point, Turtle Point and Oak Point Golf Course all offer family tee times or sign up for golf instruction with a PGA-certified pro at the Tommy Cuthbert Golf Learning Center. 

If you’d rather reconnect on the courts, the Roy Barth Tennis Center has award-winning tennis clinics, fun parent-child doubles round robins, and fantastic fast-paced pickleball programs for the whole family to play together.

7. Hang out at Freshfields Village

Freshfields Village is the hub of the Kiawah Island community and a fun place for the whole family to shop, dine, and hangout! Create your own scented candles at the Palmetto Scent Studio, sip old-fashioned soda floats at Vincent’s Soda Fountain, browse the farmers market for unique souvenirs, and check out cool classic cars at the monthly Cars & Coffee. 

Freshfields Village hosts endless family-friendly events throughout the year with Shag Night on the Docks in spring, live music on the Village Green in summer, Sidewalk Saturdays, and classic Lowcountry festivals. It’s the perfect destination for a family outing and you can ride the Kiawah Island bike path all the way to Freshfields!

8. Reserve a Spot at the Mingo Point Oyster Roast

The Mingo Point Oyster Roast is the island’s longest running event and a unique Lowcountry experience to share with the kids. The famous Lowcountry cookout takes place on the banks of the Kiawah River with a feast of fresh seafood and oysters, BBQ specialties, a Lowcountry Boil and loads of laid-back island-style family fun!  There’s arts, crafts, reptile shows, plenty of space for the kids to roam free, live music and dancing, and the best sunsets on Kiawah Island!

9. Take a Scenic Day Trip to Charleston

On Kiawah Island you’ll immediately feel worlds away, yet you’re only 25 miles from historic Charleston, the #1 City in the USA! A trip to Charleston with kids will entertain, educate and spark their imagination at every turn. Take a tour of charming Charleston in a classic horse-drawn carriage or aboard a pirate ship, catch the ferry for a history lesson at Fort Sumter, play with the critters in the touch tanks at the South Carolina Aquarium, and spark their imaginations on a self-guided tour of the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. Charleston is packed with kid-friendly activities and attractions, and bucket-list experiences for your whole tribe.  

10. Make Memories with Kiawah Exclusives

At Kiawah Exclusives we know that many of your vacation memories are made in the comfort and privacy of home and our exclusive collection of Kiawah Island rentals are perfectly appointed for memory making moments. Whether you’re looking to stay in a luxury oceanfront home with a pool, a family golf villa on the award-winning fairways, or steps from the kid-friendly action in Night Heron Park, you’ll find the best family vacation rentals, service with a smile, and family memories of a lifetime with Kiawah Exclusives.

The Best Places to Stay & Play on Kiawah Island, SC

At Kiawah Exclusives, we not only offer the best places to stay on Kiawah Island, our team of local vacation specialists know the best places to play too!

Whether you’re still exploring the top island destinations in the US or planning your upcoming vacation to our beautiful South Carolina barrier island, Kiawah Island, we’ve got the scoop on the best places to stay and play on Kiawah Island – winter, spring, summer or fall!


You won’t find touristy high-rise buildings, fast food chains or bustling kitschy boardwalk arcades on Kiawah Island. South Carolina’s Kiawah Island is a natural vacation destination with intimate small town charm, luxury world-class facilities & amenities, and an abundance of recreational activities in South Carolina’s scenic Lowcountry for adventurous nature lovers. 

Take note of Kiawah Exclusives top tips for the best places to play on Kiawah Island:

10-Miles of Award-Winning Beaches

Kiawah Island boasts 10-miles of pristine Atlantic beaches, voted among the most beautiful beaches on the South Carolina coastline. Well-maintained beach boardwalks lead from the villa communities and private homes along the oceanfront and there’s public beach access at Kiawah Island Beachwalker Park in West Beach Village, with a small fee to park (Local tip: ride your bikes!). 

Spend lazy days soaking up the sun, beachcombing for sand dollars, building sandcastles, playing in the tidal pools, or learning to surf the waves! Kiawah Island’s mild temperatures make for year-round beach days – but you’ll need to visit Kiawah Island between April & September for ocean play! You’ll find all you need for a Kiawah Island beach day at Beachwalker Park with beach gear rentals, concession stands, restrooms and showers, and large lifeguarded swimming areas. 

Watch the tides and be sure to add a beach stroll or beach bike ride to your play time on Kiawah Island. Sunrise or sunset is idyllic and the best time of day for wildlife viewing from the beach. Kiawah’s resident dolphins are often seen playing in the ocean, or strand feeding at Captain Sams Inlet, where the Kiawah River meets the Atlantic. From May to September, visitors to Kiawah have the unique experience of encountering nesting sea turtles on the beach and baby hatchlings making their way into the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. (Please – do not disturb!). 

Whatever your idea of beach play, you’ll find it here on Kiawah Island!

Night Heron Park & Nature Center

Night Heron Park is the heart of Kiawah Island and the epicenter of fun! Centrally located in East Beach Village, Night Heron Park offers 21 acres of beautiful outdoor space with shaded walking paths & bike trails, native wildlife & maritime birds as well as the best kids camps, activities and events on Kiawah Island. 

In addition to outdoor adventures in nature, Night Heron Park offers a soccer field, basketball and volleyball court for sports play, a kids playground for the little ones, an archery course, 9-hole disc golf course, and a picnic area and grills on the lagoon for social gatherings in a scenic setting. 

Night Heron Park Nature Center features interactive exhibits to learn about the birdlife and wildlife on the island and is the basecamp for guided tours and nature adventures on Kiawah Island. Experience up close encounters with local wildlife on a dolphin tour or alligator adventure, take a birdwatching walk with a naturalist, or get on the water on a kayak expedition, fishing charter, or surfing lesson! If you’re seeking creative playtime, the Turtles’ Nest Art Studio inside the Nature Center is an open studio that offers craft classes and lessons of all kinds, for all ages! Night Heron Park Nature Center is the base camp for your Kiawah Island activities.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Kiawah Island is home to two private courses exclusive to Kiawah Island Club members (Cassique & River Course) and five world-class 18-hole, Par-72 public golf courses – Cougar Point Course in West Beach, Turtle Point Golf Course in East Beach, Osprey Course & Ocean Course in Vanderhorst, and the Oak Point Golf Course on the banks of the Kiawah River. 

From coastal winds, oceanfront holes and scenic Atlantic Ocean views at Turtle Point & Ocean Course to dramatic marsh views in the lush Lowcountry landscapes at Cougar Point, Osprey and Oak Point – Kiawah Island delivers a unique golfing experience for both novices and pros. 

If you’re new to the sport (or looking to improve your golf game), the Tommy Cuthbert Golf Learning Center at Turtle Point offers instruction for every age and skill level with private or semi-private lessons, summer golf clinics with professional PGA Certified Instructors, and state-of the art technology to take your game to the next level.   It’s no secret that Kiawah Island is one of the best golf destinations in the US!

Roy Barth Tennis Center

Kiawah Island is a Gold Medal Tennis Resort consistently ranked among the “Top Tennis Resorts in the World,” – for best tennis staff, professional instruction, children’s tennis programs, and overall! 

The highly acclaimed Roy Barth Tennis Center is open year round with a Pro Shop for retail and rentals, 22 tennis courts, including 10 new Har-Tru courts, and award-winning tennis camps and clinics for all ages and abilities. Take your tennis skills to the next level or learn to play the fastest growing sport in America on Kiawah Island – Pickleball! If tennis (or pickleball!) is your game, Kiawah Island is your idyllic vacation destination!

The Kiawah Island Trails

Two wheels is not only the best way to get around Kiawah Island – it’s the best way to play! Aside from 10-miles of hard packed beaches for bike riding, Kiawah Island has over 30 miles of trails connecting the island – you can literally ride bikes everywhere on Kiawah! 

Bike riding on the Kiawah trails is the best way to explore the diversity of the island and visit the top attractions. The paths are paved, flat and well maintained for the whole family to enjoy – winding through Kiawah’s lush Lowcountry landscapes and diverse ecosystems with tropical wetlands, maritime forests, beach dunes, scenic overlooks and observation towers for wildlife viewing. Bike rentals are readily available on the island with options for the whole family – and discounts for Kiawah Exclusives guests! It’s not only the destination that counts – it’s the journey there!

Kiawah Island Observation Towers

Escape to the island’s observation towers for quiet time and wildlife viewing on Kiawah Island – perhaps even a rare sighting of the elusive Kiawah Island bobcat or resident alligator!

Marsh View Tower is at the end of Marsh Hawk Lane in West Beach overlooking the Cougar Point Golf Course, Lowcountry marshlands and the Kiawah Island bridge in the distance. In Vanderhorst Plantation, there’s a view tower set in the natural habitat at Marsh Island Park or climb the spiral staircase of the Blue Heron Pond Tower near the Cinder Creek kayak launch and pavilion for 360-degree views of Kiawah’s Lowcountry marshlands.

Bass Pond Fishing Dock

Avid anglers can embark on exhilarating fishing charter with tournament winning captains or slip away to the Bass Pond Fishing Dock near Rhett’s Bluff to cast a line in Kiawah Island’s quiet waters. You’ll need a fishing license to fish locally without a guide on Kiawah Island but there’s always a chance to escape into nature in search of a trophy catch.

Crabbing Dock on Blue Heron Pond

Crabbing is one of the top family activities on Kiawah Island and a fun way for the whole family to play (and possibly catch your own dinner!). Low tide is the best time for crabbing in the pristine tidal creeks along the banks of the Kiawah River or head to the community crabbing pier off Blue Heron Pond. No license is required and there is no quantity limit for crabbing on Kiawah, just be sure to throw your catch back if it’s over 5-inches. For the ultimate crabbing experience, book a Kiawah Island crabbing charter – available in the spring & summer crabbing season.

Kiawah Island Wetlands & Waterways

A vacation on Kiawah Island is not complete without cruising, kayaking or paddleboarding the serene waterways. The Night Heron Nature Center offers a variety of charters, guided eco-tours and adventures or pick up a rental and plan your own nature adventure on Kiawah’s waterways. Launch your kayak directly from your Kiawah Island waterfront vacation rental, or you’ll find kayak launches at Mingo Point in West Beach, Rhett’s Bluff, Cinder Creek and Eagle Point Landing. 

Kiawah Island’s thriving and diverse ecosystem of wetlands, waterways and intimate creeks are wildlife rich – teeming with friendly pods of dolphins, a variety of freshwater and saltwater fish, herons, eagles & roseate spoonbills, and wildlife feeding along the banks. No matter what your age or adventure level, there’s a kayak adventure awaiting on Kiawah Island!

Bohicket Marina

For more playtime on the water visit Bohicket Marina, one of the best marinas in the Lowcountry and a top destination for boating in South Carolina. The marina offers wet slips to bring your own boat to Kiawah, fishing charters of the South Carolina Lowcountry with a local captain, and a waterfront market. After a day of water activities, settle in for delicious seafood (or Lowcountry shrimp & grits), island-style sundowners, and a perfect island sunset over the marina from the famous Salty Dog Café.

Freshfields Village

Freshfields Village is located at the crossroads of Kiawah & Seabrook Island and is one of the best places to shop, dine, and play on Kiawah Island. The open-air pedestrian village oozes old world charm and an upbeat vibe with over 30 high-end stores and restaurants, a lakeside dock, and a village green alive with free family-friendly events throughout the year. Whether you’re shopping, checking out the foodie scene, learning to shag dance on the dock, or taking selfies with classic cool cars – the whole family will have loads of fun at Freshfields Village. 

On the subject of selfies – be sure to stop by their insta worthy attractions including the lakeside dock, courtyard fountains, green grass furniture and the Freshfields Village Selfie Wall!

Historic Charleston

Historic Charleston is only 25 miles from Kiawah Island and definitely demands a top spot on your list of things to do on Kiawah Island. Whether you’re a history buff, romantic or family with kids, you’ll find plenty of ways to play in Charleston. Walk the cobblestone streets, take a fun segway tour of Charleston’s historic attractions, or rent an electric bike on Charleston’s bike sharing program and adventure at your own pace.

The Angel Oak Tree

The ancient Angel Oak Tree in Angel Oak Park is worth the stop on your way to Charleston. The ancient live oak is rumored to be over 400-500 years old and is the largest live oak east of the Mississippi. Over 400,000 people visit the Angel Oak each year to picnic in the shade of this magnificent Lowcountry treasure measuring 65-ft tall, 25.5-ft wide and providing over 17,000 sq ft of shade.

South Carolina Aquarium

The South Carolina Aquarium is located in Charleston’s Liberty Square on the Cooper River waterfront and features 9 galleries with over 100 exhibits and over 6,000 aquatic animals! Exhibits include the Piedmont Region of South Carolina, a Mountain Forest, Coastal Plains, a Saltmarsh Aviary, an interactive Touch Tank, and North America’s deepest tank, the Great Ocean Tank.

The South Carolina Aquarium is also home to the Sea Turtle Care Center with a hospital and learning center for visitors to discover the journey of the loggerhead sea turtle from rescue, rehab and recovery to release back into the Atlantic Ocean.

Fort Sumter

Located next to the aquarium is the Fort Sumter Visitor Center with interpretive and visual exhibits, and a regular ferry service for history buffs to visit one of the guardians of Charleston Harbor and the site where the American Civil War began, the Fort Sumter National Monument. The Fort Sumter National Monument is set on an island in Charleston Harbor and is only accessible by boat.

Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry

If you’re planning a family vacation to Kiawah Island, add the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry to your fun activities in Charleston. The museum is designed to encourage family time and stimulate the curiosity and imagination of young minds with interactive zones, organic gardens, pirate ships, a 3D mural, and a safe space for infants and toddlers.

The Sanctuary Spa

While priority bookings are given to guests of The Sanctuary Hotel and Kiawah Island Golf Resorts, Kiawah Island’s Sanctuary Spa is open for reservations to visitors to Kiawah Island. Luxurious spa treatments, full-day spa experiences and 5-star southern hospitality await at The Sanctuary. 

After exploring the best places to play on Kiawah Island, we encourage you to check the kids into Kiawah Island’s fun-filled kids camp and indulge in the luxury of an exclusive Lowcountry spa treatment at The Sanctuary Spa, a Forbes 5-Star Spa in the heart of Kiawah Island.


Kiawah Exclusives have been welcoming guests with unique island experiences for over 40 years! Our exclusive selection of Kiawah Island vacation villas, cottages, beach and golf homes are located in the unique communities and neighborhoods throughout the island and offer guests easy access to the best activities on Kiawah Island, with luxury amenities to play at home! We’ve surely convinced you that Kiawah Island is a destination worthy of every vacation bucket-list, all that’s left is to decide where to stay on Kiawah Island.

West Beach Village

West Beach Village is nestled around the Cougar Point Golf Course and is Kiawah Island’s original neighborhood with old-world charm, a laid-back, casual atmosphere and tranquil serenity in Kiawah Island’s lush Lowcountry landscapes. If you’re looking to stay away from the island’s hub of activity, yet only a short bike ride away, West Beach Village is the Kiawah Island neighborhood for you. Kiawah Island West Beach vacation rentals include: Inlet Cove Cottages, Duneside Villages, Sparrow Pond Cottages, Shipwatch Villas, Seascape Villas, Fairway Oaks, and private golf course and oceanfront homes on West Beach.

East Beach Village

East Beach Village is the heartbeat and central hub of Kiawah Island, anchored by the Forbes 5-star Sanctuary Hotel and Night Heron Park, Kiawah Islands hub of nature activities and family friendly activities and events. You’re centrally located minutes from Kiawah Island’s world-class golf courses, tennis facilities and beautiful beaches. If you’re planning a family vacation to Kiawah Island, East Beach Village puts you in the heart of the top island activities and events.

Kiawah Island East Beach vacation rentals include: Oceanwoods Cottages, Mariners Watch Villas, Windswept Villas, Night Heron Cottages, Parkside Villas, Tennis Club Villas, Turtle Cove Villas, Turtle Point Villas and private vacation homes on Atlantic Beach and the Turtle Point Golf Course.

Vanderhorst Plantation

The Vanderhorst Plantation lies through a second set of security gates on the eastern end of Kiawah Island. This exclusive neighborhood is known for its natural setting, pristine beaches, world-class golf courses, and luxury plantation-style Lowcountry vacation homes nestled oceanfront and along the award-winning fairways of the iconic Ocean Course and Osprey Point Golf Course on Kiawah Island.

Kiawah Exclusives Vacation Rentals

Wherever you choose to stay & play on Kiawah Island, trust Kiawah Exclusives for an enhanced guest experience with local vacation specialists to guide you in planning your vacation, the best places to stay on Kiawah Island and top tips on the best places to play and top activities on Kiawah Island.