Kiawah Island, South Carolina Travel Guide

Looking for great beaches and an opportunity to get back to nature? Look no further than Kiawah Island, where you can stretch out on ten miles of amazing beaches or visit wildlife in its natural habitat. A Kiawah Island vacation combines the best of all worlds, since the city of Charleston is just down the road if you feel inspired to hit the town. Whether you're in town for one of the many Kiawah Island weddings (couples love to tie the knot on Kiawah Island's perfect beaches) or you're just looking to take advantage of Kiawah Island golf, you'll be sure to enjoy yourself in this South Carolinian heaven. So pack your bags, reserve the perfect Kiawah Island lodging, and prepare yourself for a sunny good time. Do you have tips for our Kiawah Island travel guide? Share them!

What to Do in Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island family vacationKiawah Island's number one draw is its miles and miles of beach, so if you're taking a Kiawah Island vacation, plan for time in the sun. Your best choice is Beachwalker County Park, a public beach for swimming and sunbathing, with beach essentials like outdoor showers, picnic tables and grills, and even a snack bar during prime season. Most importantly for families, this beach is watched over by seasonal lifeguards. Most Kiawah Island lodging is conveniently located to the beach, too, so you won't have to worry about long travel times.

Need a break from the sand? Check out Kiawah Island golf, tennis or hiking. Active visitors will have a great time here, especially with the five top-notch Kiawah Island golf courses designed by big names like Jack Nicklaus. Challenge yourself on the award-winning Ocean Course, considered one of the most difficult courses on the East Coast. And if you're really dedicated to athletics, and golf's not active enough for you, come to the annual Kiawah Island Marathon to participate or cheer on participants.

Kiawah Island serves an important purpose as a refuge for wildlife, and it's also a great place for families and children to learn to respect and appreciate nature. Stop by the nature center at Night Heron Park and have so much fun you'll forget it's educational.

Step outside Kiawah Island and head to Charleston and you'll open up tons more activities, especially if you want to throw a little variety in your Kiawah Island vacation and you're longing for a little bit of city life. When you've had your fill, return home to your Kiawah Island vacation rental home and relax.

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What to See in Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island is a protected nesting ground for rare sea turtles. If you come during the right season, you may be able to catch a glimpse of these remarkable creatures. Just be responsible and don't ever disturb them.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island diningShopaholics taking a Kiawah Island vacation absolutely can't miss Freshfields Village, a huge shopping center between Kiawah Island and neighboring Seabrook and Johns Islands. You'll find upscale and everyday shopping here, along with beach rentals for the essentials you might have overlooked. Likewise, you can find a range of shops inside the Kiawah Island Golf Resort (like Boutique Jolie and Treasures of the Sanctuary) in case you need your shopping fix or have forgotten anything important, especially if you want to enjoy Kiawah Island golf.

Kiawah Island offers a limited number of restaurants, but those restaurants are varied enough to offer soemthing for everyone. You'll find a lot of seafood here, and since it's a resort town, there's no shortage of romantic (but expensive!) nights out. Your best bet is probably to cook at home if you're staying in Kiawah Island rentals, since most Kiawah Island lodging features full kitchens with all the appliances you'll need. Then enjoy a meal or two out. If you want more options, you may have to drive into Charleston, but it's worth the trip!

  • The Jasmine Porch – A favorite among tourists and residents alike, considered by some to be the best cuisine in all of Kiawah Island, the Jasmine Porch serves Southern and lowcountry classics with an upscale twist. This restaurant is set in the plush Sanctuary hotel, but you don't have to choose expensive Kiawah Lodging to enjoy the restaurant's excellent brunches. For dinner, expect delicious filet mignon and crab soup
  • Rosebank Farms Café – Technically on Seabrook Island, this low-country restaurant is still just a short drive from Kiawah Island, and the food is worth it. A little pricey, like many restaurants in the area, Rosebank does offer a kid's menu. Don't miss the famous buttermilk fried chicken and the blueberry buckle for dessert.
  • The Market at Town Center – A very casual eatery, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Market is an ideal family restaurant day or night. Enjoy kid-friendly sandwiches, pizzas and pasta, or dine on seafood and steaks as well. You can even pick up groceries here to prepare in your own Kiawah Island vacation rental's kitchen. The Market is in the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, but it's open to the general public, too.

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When to Visit Kiawah Island

Peak season for a Kiawah Island vacation is from April til October, when the ocean is warm enough to swim. This is when you'll find lifeguards on duty, local shops and cafés open, and perfect weather for Kiawah Island weddings. Because many people choose to take a Kiawah Island vacation in the summer, you should reserve your Kiawah Island lodging early, though you should be able to find Kiawah Island vacation rentals available any time of the year, even on short notice.

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What to Know about Kiawah Island

Take a Kiawah Island vacation and you'll find that the area has its own food and culture. This is because it's part of the South Carolina lowcountry, with strong influences from Gullah culture.

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What to Bring to a Kiawah Island Vacation Rental

Obviously, if you're going to Kiawah Island you'll want to prepare for the beach! That means sunscreen, swimsuits and hats for the whole family. If you're staying in Kiawah Island vacation rentals, contact the owner of your rental ahead of time and you might find that you don't need to bring toys or umbrellas because they're already included and waiting for you in your Kiawah Island lodging! Also, given how great Kiawah Island golf is, don't forget your favorite clubs so you're ready to face the challenge of the Ocean Course.

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Local Services in Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island vacation services include everything you would expect from a popular tourist destination. You'll find services to prepare your Kiawah Island vacation rental for your arrival, including stocking the kitchen of your Kiawah Island lodging so you'll have all the groceries you need even before you get there. And you can rent beach gear, golf gear or baby gear around the island.

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Getting to Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Fly into the Charleston International Airport, then drive about an hour to the gates of Kiawah Island. Since the airport is a major one, you should have no trouble finding a car rental to get you around throughout your Kiawah Island vacation.

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Why Kiawah Island Vacation Rentals?

Kiawah Island lodging may only fill one part of the time you spend on your Kiawah Island vacation, but it's still important that that lodging be as comfortable – and as affordable – as possible. A lot of Kiawah Island lodging is in the form of overpriced resorts, but if you stay in Kiawah Island vacation rentals instead, you'll find much lower prices and a whole range of amenities to keep you happy. Kiawah Island vacation rentals can fit your entire group in a single rental home, rather than needing a bunch of hotel rooms, and they come with more space and extras like full kitchens, separate bedrooms and sometimes even beach linens. So why settle for expensive resorts when you can have so much more for less in a Kiawah Island vacation rental?

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