Dubbed “the happiest seaside town in America” by Coastal Living magazine, Kiawah Island is an oceanfront paradise on the outskirts of Charleston. The island was developed in the 1970s and mostly consists of high-end homes along with a golf resort, county park facility and shopping area.
Bird watchers and wildlife lovers will love visiting this island packed with critters ranging from alligators, bobcats and sea turtles to dolphins and deer. Plus, the island is home to more than 200 species of birds, ranging from the tiny ruby-throated hummingbird to the bald eagle. Check out the Kiawah wildlife website for details on island wildlife and great spots for bird watching or to see some dolphins.
Portions of the island beaches are private but the public is welcome at Kiawah Beachwalker Park, a Charleston County park facility located on the west end of the island. Lifeguards are on duty seasonally along a beachfront designated swimming area. Dogs must be leashed at all times. Now through April, the park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from May to Labor Day, it’s open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Golf enthusiasts can take on the challenge of playing one of the five championship golf courses at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, including the famed Ocean Course. The Ocean Course hosted the 2007 Senior PGA and the 2012 PGA Championships, making it only the fourth course to have hosted each of the PGA of America’s major championships.
Kiawah Island Resort also has tennis courts, a spa, swimming pools and youth programs perfect for spring break or summer vacation.
At the crossroads of Kiawah, Seabrook and Johns islands is Freshfields Village, a commercial area with boutiques, a grocery store and restaurants. Recently opened in Freshfields is Andell Inn, a new boutique hotel. Freshfields Village also hosts a number of events, including musical concerts and happy hour events. Check the calendar for a full list.
(photo by Lee Keadle)