I have been visiting Kiawah Island for over 20 years. It's a favorite family retreat, because it is a quiet and beautiful place to enjoy being outside riding bikes, playing cards on your screened porch, and riding the waves on your boogie board. Here are 10 reasons why you will always want to return to Kiawah Island:
Nature is the main attraction here. Kiawah has a beautiful mix of maritime forests, lagoons where alligators soak up the sun, salt marshes framing a setting sun, and wild dunes leading to the Atlantic Ocean.
Exploring this rare coastal habitat is an activity in itself. The island even has a nature center where families can report their latest sightings or learn about wildlife found on the island. Over the years, we've seen deer, white egrets, alligators, and even a bobcat on the dunes. A variety of nature programs is offered as well.
But I don’t want to give the impression that this is a wild, rugged island. Nature is indeed a main attraction here, but the resort’s golf courses and tennis clubs are also a main draw.
2. No Hi-Rises
In keeping with the preservation of nature, you won’t find high rise condos, hotels, or amusement park attractions here. Your lodging will be in a cottage or villa surrounding a lagoon or shaded by a grove of trees. Enjoy the breeze from your screened porch.
The beach fronts are mostly sand dunes with housing set behind them. The unencumbered sight line makes the 10 miles of beach seem even longer. Multiple boardwalks lead through the dunes from the resort villas to the ocean.
3. Bike Trails
You can bike on the beach or on 30 miles of paved bike trails crisscrossing the island. We bike everywhere--to the beach, the pool, the river. Bring your Kiawah map along (provided at check-in) and explore the entire island. You can bike to watch towers, lagoons, lakes, and ice cream stores. Once the car is parked, it stays parked.
4. 10 Miles of Beach
10 miles of beach to explore! Say no more. Bring the beach chairs, a shade umbrella, boogie boards, and a bucket and shovel and have fun in the sun. You can also rent chairs and an umbrella from the resort.
If you’re lucky, you can experience one of nature’s most unique exhibitions: dolphins "strand feeding" at Captains Inlet. Strand feeding is a most remarkable sight where a group of dolphins herds a school of fish onto the shoreline of the Kiawah River. The dolphins then beach themselves onto the shore to feed. Your best chance to witness this event is at low tide. It’s worth the bike ride and walk to get the chance to see this amazing event. You can view a video filmed at Kiawah to get an idea.
6. The Angel Oak Tree
When you drive to Kiawah Island from the main land, you will drive right past The Angel Oak Tree. This magnificent, old tree is thought to be 400-500 years old and measures 66.5 feet high and 28 feet in circumference. I’m a sucker for an old tree and it’s free to visit this one.
7. Kiawah's Proximity to Charleston
You’ll find plenty to do on Kiawah Island, but it’s important to note that you are only a 50-60 minute drive from Charleston, depending on traffic. Take a horse drawn carriage ride, visit the Historic City Market, go to the Aquarium, tour Civil War sites such as Fort Sumter, or eat at wonderful restaurants. Charleston has it all.
8. The “Super Slide”
Night Heron Park Family Pool features two open flume slides, a splash zone, interactive spray features, dumping buckets, etc. A regular Olympic size pool is next door if you want to swim laps, shoot basketball, or float around. Your children will go down the super slide no less than 500 times during your visit, and adults can go down the slides too!
9. The Kiawah River
One of the best ways to experience the island is kayaking on the Kiawah River and its surrounding saltwater creeks. You can take a 1-2 hour tour from a variety of outfitters or bring your own kayak to launch from Mingo Point. Sunset tours are amazing. If being on the water isn't your cup of tea, it is equally beautiful to watch the sun set with the backdrop of the salt marshes.
10. Perfect For Any Season
Although many flock to Kiawah for that perfect summer vacation, fall is perhaps the best time to visit. It’s less crowded, the rates are lower, and it’s warm enough to enjoy all the activities without the oppressive heat of summer. Spring and winter seasons provide a quiet calmness, and you can still enjoy biking and outdoor recreation although it's generally too cold to swim.
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