Curious about Kiawah Island? Here are my Top 10 Things to Do in Kiawah Island including the best beaches and restaurants in Kiawah Island SC! This luxury barrier island near Charleston on the South Carolina coast is full of nature, food, golf, beaches, and more.
Also, explore the nearby Isle of Palms & Charleston.
Kiawah Island Beach Getaway & Top Things to do in Kiawah Island
Curious about the top things to do in Kiawah Island. This guide has all the best spots including the best Kiawah Island beach, marshes, nature, golf, restaurants, and more.
We spent last weekend on Kiawah Island for a little family getaway to Kiawah Island beach. Kiawah is a low-key and beautiful barrier island just 35 minutes from Charleston known for its natural beaches, nature sanctuary, high-end championship golf, and fancy resort village. Kiawah is actually known more for what they DON'T have. Unlike most beach destinations you will not find obnoxious signs, mini-golf, or even chain restaurants. It's all very natural and relaxing. We had a lovely time on the island.
This island is full of low-country charm, nature parks, marshes, world-class golfing, and a high-end resort - The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Guests of all ages will love it.
What are the Things to Do in Kiawah Island?
In addition to sharing some of my favorite vacation photos today, I put together a travel guide if you wanted to take the journey to this gorgeous seaside island yourself. If you've been curious about Kiawah and things to do in Kiawah Island... I hope this post helps you out a bit.
If you want to go you can find a rental through the Kiawah Island Golf Resort on the island which gives you more amenities like pool access than VRBO. There is also a fancy resort hotel on the island but with the boys, we find a place with multiple bedrooms a lot easier to stay at.
It's a smaller island so there aren't as many choices as other popular vacation destinations like Hilton Head. However, it is a beautiful barrier island that is part of the Sea Island chain along the Georiga and South Carolina coast. Charleston is the biggest nearby city. You can get there by flying into Charleston airport.
We stayed in a rental or villas on the beach and loved walking straight out onto the water to let the twins play. To say they are beach babies is an understatement.
We all find a bit of peace on sandy shores regardless of where we go.
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Kiawah island!
Top 10 Things to Do in Kiawah Island
Kiawah Island Beach
Curious about the Kiawah Island beach? It's gorgeous! It's probably no secret that the beaches are one of the top things to do in Kiawah Island along the South Carolina coast. The beaches are very similar to Hilton Head and other South Carolina or Georgia beaches and have huge tidal variations. At low tide, there is endless sand and at high tide, there are shallow waves that seem to crash forever. You can walk straight into the water for quite a while before the water even hits your knees. The sand spills into the Atlantic Ocean.
They were not crowded during our trip.
I think this kind of beach is great for toddlers and the twins, especially Hunter, were in their element. They ran in and out of the waves and splashed around with sheer joy.
It's really one giant natural playground!
The sand is packed but we brought shovels so they could dig and play in the sand.
You can even spot sea turtles or bottlenose dolphins from the shore.
Hunter played so hard he even turned our tent sandbags into pillows for a rest. I hear how some kids don't like getting sandy but mine seem to love it. Bring your umbrella and beach chair and stay for the day.
There are over 10 miles of gorgeous, very natural beach in Kiawah making it a great place for kids and adults. There is no doubt that Kiawah Island is a good beach!
If you aren't staying in a beachfront villa or private home, you can still get beach access at state-run Kiawah Beachwalker County Park. It is technically the only public beach access. There are facilities like a lifeguard, restrooms, showers, beach chairs to rent, and vending machines. This beach is also pet-dog friendly as long as they are on a leash.
Kiawah is lined with endless miles of paved, tree-covered walking and bike paths. They are great for getting places without messing with a car and exercising.
We spent most of our time at the beach but did take a nice walk one afternoon to explore.
These shaded paths are definitely one of the highlights of Kiawah.
Beach Running & Biking
You can run and bike on the shaded paths or go straight to the BEACH! The beach has lovely packed sand making it ideal for running and biking.
They rent bikes on the island and it's a very popular way to get around! The island is also lined with bike trails.
I love a good beach run and it's the perfect unexpected thing to do in Kiawah Island.
The island has gorgeous beaches, private pools, and the coolest collection of resort pools I've ever seen.
Look at this toddler pool!
We walked over to see the pool but decided that since the boys were having so much fun at the beach we'd just let them play there, especially considering the current health crisis. They are limiting the number of people at the pool right now, but for our family, it still felt a bit more comfortable at the beach.
Since Kiawah is not filled with crazy development it's actually full of some gorgeous wildlife. I saw all kinds of birds, deer, and alligators while we were there. I even spotted a white deer!
Plus the beaches are lined with shells and starfish.
Much of the island has been preserved as a nature sanctuary so you really feel like it's a lot more natural setting than a lot of beaches.
Sunrise & Sunset
Sitting on the East coast Kiawah Island is bound to give you some gorgeous sunrises.
I saw several from the balcony of our condo.
But there are several spots on the island you can also catch a sunset including over the marshes at the famous The Ocean Course Clubhouse. I picked up dinner one night from one of the restaurants at the clubhouse and was able to catch the very end of this sunset. This would be an amazing location for dinner when the kids are older. If you are able, I'd definitely include dinner here on your itinerary... it just wasn't in the cards for us.
I love islands that give you the chance to see the sunrise and sunset in such gorgeous locations.
I adore taking pretty photos. It's been a long love of mine to snap photos and Kiawah is a photographer lover's dream. The natural setting makes the perfect backdrop for photos for anyone who loves to have pretty pictures.
Explore the Marsh
I love beaches but the marshes in the Low Country are also pretty magical. They have their own beauty and are great for kayaking and paddleboarding.
You can do both of these on Kiawah Island and also catch a gorgeous sunset over the marsh too.
One of the best things to do on Kiawah Island is to spend time with family.
Since there aren't as many traditional beach attractions or distractions you can really focus on spending family time together which is what we did. The boys soaked up the family time and we all had a lovely long weekend.
Kiawah Island has lots of yummy restaurants! For a small island, there are lots of tasty spots to eat. Here are some of the local favorites.
- FourtyEight Wine Bar
- Ryder Cup Bar
- Jasmine Porch
- The Atlantic Room
- Fat Hen
- Fuji's Sushi Bar & Grill
- Cherrywood BBQ & Ale House at Osprey Point
Many of the restaurants are located just outside Kiawah at the charming shopping center called Freshfields Village, which is another great thing to do in Kiawah. They have lots of dining and shopping.
More Things to Do in Kiawah Island
- Golf Courses: Kiawah is known for world-class golfing and has even been home to PGA Championship. A few of the golf courses are Osprey Point Golf Cours, Oat Point Golf Course, Turtle Point Golf Course designed by Jack Nicklaus, and Cougar Point Golf Course. This is a popular spot for golfing, so book your times ahead of time!
- Spa: The Sanctuary at Kiawah is home to an award-winning spa.
- Boat Rides: Go on a tour or charter a boat for dolphin watching, sunset rides, or fishing. Most boats go out of Bohicket Marina.
- Mingo Point Oyster Roast & BBQ: On the banks of the Kiawah River is one of the finest Kiawah Island traditions - the Mingo Point Oyster Roast. This gorgeous spot holds an oyster roast on Monday nights in the summer and holidays. They cook fresh oysters over an open fire for an amazing feast. There's also a craft market.
- Tennis: There are lots of tennis courts on the island including the Roy Barth Tennis Center which includes hard courts and clay courts. They also have camps and offer lessons.
- Kamp Kiawah: Have kids? Kamp Kiawah has planned activities for them! It's for kids 3-15 and they do everything from treasure hunts to beach time.
- Night Herson Park Center: A fun park with all sorts of outdoor activities like disc golf, basketball, soccer, and volleyball. They also host an outdoor movie night in the summer. A fun nature center with nature programs daily for kids of all ages.
Kiawah or Hilton Head?
Many of you guys know that as a family we love Hilton Head. It's my personal happy place and we visit there many times a year. Since we were just in Hilton Head we decided to try something new this around. Kiawah has lots of great things about it but honestly, the food in Hilton Head wins me over any day. I love GOOD seafood on a beach trip and there really weren't many options at all on Kiawah. I'll probably pick Hilton Head over Kiawah because of that reason.
That being said, the boys had a blast and didn't know the difference. When they are a bit older and can go out to eat, ride bikes and explore we might try it again.
Regardless though I am so happy and lucky we got to take this trip. Kiawah is a gorgeous island and I love getting to explore someplace new to us. You can't go wrong with a place that has beaches that look like this!
I hope you enjoyed our photos and this little Kiawah Travel Guide. If you are looking for things to do on Kiawah Island or are curious about the Kiawah Island beach this quiet island offers a surprisingly long list to keep you busy or you can toss it all out and do nothing at all!
More Nearby Beach Travel Guides:
- Hilton Head Travel Guide
- Isle of Palms Travel Guide
- Jekyll Island Travel Guide
- St. Simons Island Travel Guide
- Amelia Island Travel Guide
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Cheryl Strzemienski says
Our family has been going to Kiawah our since I met my husband as a teen. After reading this article I realize we should put information in our beach house for renters of all the things to do and eat there. I grew up going to Duck, NC and fell in love with Kiawah the first time my husband brought me there. We love the local market and I do a lot of cooking. The local shrimp are amazing, along with She-crab soup. Night Heron park provides a lot of activities for kids and activities like bands/magic shows/dive in movies after a day at the beach.
Thank you for highlighting this little piece of heaven.
Ron Beilke says
Surprisingly no one ever hears about strand feeding by the dolphins on the Kiawah river on the west end of the island (near Beachwalker Park). If you do nothing else do this. Every day at high tide a school of dolphins herd fish on the beach and then beach themselves to devour the fish. It is the only area in the world they exhibit this behaviour. You are able to watch from about 60 feet away. It is about a 30 minute walk down the beach from the park.
If you're going to eat out you're best served to go into Charleston. I call it the San Francisco of the east coast because of the many great restaurants. Otherwise pick up some fresh seafood and cook in.
Re: food - try The Salty Dog & Fishers at Bohicket Marina - less than a mile from Freshfields. And the marina has an ice cream & breakfast spot (also owned by Salty Dog). And the marina has kids fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking & boat rentals. McCann’s & Kinfolk also near Freshfields!
Ann Gardner says
Julie I bet the boys sleep really well on these trips. You take some beautiful pictures. Birthday coming up. I look forward to seeing what you have planned for those soon to be 2 year olds
Gin Jenkins says
Gorgeous pictures. Thanks for this. We are going next week with our four kids and this helped me get my head around the flavor of the island. Thank you!
I've heard only good things about Kiawah Island and this is a great list for when I make my way there!