Kick off the summer season enjoying the outdoors and kayaking around Kiawah Island! Kiawah Island encompasses 10,000 acres of diverse and untouched landscapes nestled between the Atlantic coastline and the wild Kiawah River, with miles of interwoven interior waterways winding through the unique ecosystems found on the island. The perfect playground for wild and scenic Lowcountry watersports and paddle adventures.
It’s true, Kiawah Island has beautiful beaches, world-class golf courses, miles of nature and bike trails for birdwatching and wildlife viewing, and observation towers with panoramic views over the island. But some of the most scenic spots on Kiawah are accessible only on a coastal expedition of our local waterways. So, the very best way to get a different view and see everything from a new perspective is to get out on the water on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard.
Whether you’re planning a solitary SUP paddle at sunset or searching for a local kayak or SUP tour with a naturalist guide to lead the way, here’s our guide to kayak & SUP tour and rental options on Kiawah Island.
Kiawah Island Kayak & SUP Tours & Rental Options
On Kiawah Island, you’re kayaking with the tides so understanding how the tides will affect your trip is essential. With as much as a three-foot difference in water levels, the ebb and flow of the tides on Kiawah Island can be tricky – one of the reasons we suggest taking a tour with a local guide! Other bonuses – Kiawah’s local naturalist guides are passionate professionals with an intimate knowledge of the history, wildlife, and diverse ecosystems of the South Carolina sea islands to top off your sightseeing with epic stories!
Launch Point: Mingo Point
Phone: (843) 768-6001
Heron Park Nature Center is the heart of Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s nature program with activities and experiences for every age and adventure level. Nature Program paddling tours launch on the scenic Kiawah River from Mingo Point in West Beach. Tour options include single and tandem marsh kayaking, family favorites like the Pluff Mud Paddle and Tidal Trip and Dip, teen kayaking adventures, or a romantic tandem adult twilight paddle into the sunset. For solo adventures, gear rentals are available by reservation for single kayaks, double kayaks, and marsh and ocean stand-up paddleboards. Of course, you’ll want to end your Kiawah River paddle at a famous Mingo Point Oyster Roast on the river banks with a classic Lowcountry feast of note, live music, family fun, and one of the best sunset views on Kiawah Island.
2. Tidal Trails
Launch Point: Kiawah River Bridge
Phone: (843) 768-5680
Let the experienced guides at Tidal Trails take you on a “nature walk on water” around Kiawah Island by kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Guided tours include 2-hour scenic kayak safaris through the saltwater creeks, a fun, low-tide Pluff Mud Paddle and Plunge for the kids, SUP tours including lessons, personalizedpaddle experiences, or boat cruises perfect for sunsets and cocktails. Experience is required for rentals with half-day or weekly rental options for single and double kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and surf kayaks for Atlantic Ocean playtime!
Launch Point: Kiawah River Bridge
Phone: (843) 593-7877
The Kiawah River is fondly known as “Dolphin Highway” so a signature dolphin paddle experience is essential during your stay on Kiawah Island! Water Dog Paddle Co.’s guided kayak and stand-up paddleboard eco-tours launch from the Kiawah Island bridge and are geared to all ages andadventure levels – with a photo album of your experience included! The VIP tour option ensures the tour is exclusive to your group and is led by Water Dog’s lead guide, an island native and “nature nerd” raised on Cap’n Sams Creek! You can even paddle with your pup! Kayak and SUP rentals are also available from their location at Bohicket Marina.
Phone: (843) 330-9777
St Johns kayak tours offer another perspective of the Lowcountry landscapes from the waters of Bohicket Creek. Reserve a single kayak, double kayak, or stand-up paddleboard rental for unlimited use (yes, no time limit!) on the Lowcountry waterways, or get up close and personal on a guided eco-tour of Bohicket Creek, on kayak or SUP. St Johns Bohicket Creek boat tours include dolphin encounters, shelling expeditions, crabbing tours, fishing charters, sunset cruises, and private oyster tours coming in 2023!
Phone: (843) 452-4833
The Charleston Paddle Company offers a wide variety of paddle board and kayak tours locally from the Kiawah Island Bridge, but what about a bucket-list paddle tour of Charleston Harbor? Take in Charleston’s famous and historic attractions from the water as you paddle past national monuments and landmarks, colorful waterside parks, and breathtaking undisturbed views of this stunning city, continually ranked the #1 City in the US! For kayak or paddleboard rental to adventure alone, Charleston Paddle Company will deliver watersports gear to your Kiawah Island vacation rental and pick it up for free.
Kiawah Island Public Launch Sites
If you’re a pro with tidal influences and have the skill and confidence to paddle our Lowcountry waterways on a solo adventure, there are a few boat ramps and launch sites on Kiawah Island open to the public.
There are three Kiawah Island kayak launch points through the second sets of security gates in Vanderhorst Plantation: Rhett’s Bluff private boat landing by Bass Pond, Eagle Point Landing, and the exceptionally scenic Cinder Creek kayak launch on Bass Creek. From Cinder Creek, you can paddle the secluded creeks west through the interior of the island or head out on Bass Creek to meet the Stono and Kiawah Rivers.
2. Mingo Point
Situated on the west end of the island, Mingo Point is the departing point for Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Nature Program tours and is also Kiawah’s most popular launching point for self-guided paddle adventures by kayak or SUP. Paddle the Kiawah River to witness dolphins strand feeding at Captain Sams Inlet, venture the creeks through Seabrook Island, or cast a line for some of the best kayak fishing in the Lowcountry. There is ample public parking, and a pass is required to launch at Mingo Point. The current 2023 fee is $5 per day or $25 per week, per kayak, and passes may be purchased on-site or at the Heron Park Nature Center. Please note, Mingo Point is only open seasonally so plan your adventures accordingly.
Situated on the banks of the Kiawah River just south of Mingo Point, Inlet Cove is a private enclave of quaint cottages with classic coastal charm, luxurious interiors, a secluded walkway down to the beach, a sparkling Olympic size swimming pool (open April to October), a riverfront deck, and a private deepwater dock to launch your fishing, SUP, or kayak adventures from home. A perfect destination for paddle adventures from home!
Whether you’re learning to fish, on a family fishing vacation, or an expert angler looking for a challenge, nothing beats fishing with a local expert on Kiawah Island. Kiawah Island’s guided fishing charters and boat tours are run by tournament winning captains with years of experience fishing the Lowcountry waters and knowledge of the best secret fishing spots on Kiawah.
From inshore fishing charters and epic shark fishing in the channels and creeks to full day deep sea adventures on the offshore sandbars, wrecks and artificial reefs, the ultimate fishing experience awaits on Kiawah Island. Search our Exclusives Guide to find a fishing charter to match your level of adventure!
VACATION HOMES & VILLAS WITH WATER ACCESS
Wherever you choose to stay on Kiawah Island, you’re likely to find a kayaking spot a short walk or drive away. Our exclusive collection of 110+ vacation rentals include luxury homes near the ponds in Vanderhorst, private cottages on the Kiawah River, and lagoon front villas where you can have water access without leaving your home.
2-3 Bedroom Cottages
Inlet Cove Cottages are nestled in the trees on the banks of the Kiawah River and offer an idyllic retreat for water lovers with great amenities for a fishing vacation. Inlet Cove features a private deep water dock for fishing, an Olympic size swimming pool with an elevated sun deck for sunbathing and dolphin spotting, and a secluded walkway to Beachwalker Park. A perfect location for both SUP & kayaking on Kiawah.
3 Bedroom Night Heron Park Villa
This waterfront Parkside Villa is situated in the heart of Night Heron Park with luxury interiors, a sunny lagoon front screened porch and deck, and a private dock on the water! The water lovers in your family will love the comfort and convenience of this Night Heron villa rental – and you can walk to the beach in under 5 minutes!
However you choose to spend your days on Kiawah Island, our local experts are happy to assist throughout your vacation planning process – from finding a Kiawah Island rental to suit your needs to local tips and recommendations to elevate your experience! Your Kiawah Island experience is only a click, or call away!