4 Extraordinary Wildlife To See On Kiawah Island

As noon strikes, you’re at the wheel, pulling onto Kiawah Island while your son inquires for the 27th time, “Are we there yet?”. Your journey across the country has finally brought you to the sanctuary of Kiawah Island. The bustling highway gives way to tranquil forests and scenic bike paths. Your daughter points in awe at a spotted white-tailed deer sauntering carefree by the road, nibbling on some grass. However, this deer is just a friendly usher into the vast universe of wildlife that Kiawah Island harbors. With over 300 bird species, including the bald eagle, and hosting the largest nesting population of Loggerhead turtles on the east coast, dolphins, alligators, bobcats, and countless others, it is certainly a haven for nature enthusiasts. Today, let us embark on a fascinating exploration of four captivating animals that have claimed Kiawah as their home, and discover where to find these intriguing inhabitants.

1. The American Alligator

American alligators can be found in freshwater ponds, marshes, and rivers all through out Kiawah. These animals are actually millions of years in existence and are considered living descendants from the time of dinosaurs. These impressive creatures can weigh over 1,000 pounds and measure up to 13 to 15 feet in length. They have incredibly strong jaws and up to 80 sharp teeth, but the crazy thing is, their teeth are designed for grabbing, not chewing and they typically eat their prey whole. While these animals are vicious, they are not aggressive towards humans. If you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. So be sure to always observe these magnificent creatures from a distance.

Close-up view of an alligator at Kiawah Island, exemplifying the island's diverse and accessible wildlife.

Where to find them: Discover them throughout the island, sunning themselves along lagoon banks

2. White-Tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are abundant throughout Kiawah Island and you are sure to see countless numbers of them through out your stay. They are exceptional runners. They can reach speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour and leap up to 10 feet in height. When alarmed, you may notice that they raise their white tails. This is to alert other deer in the area. Male deer, called bucks, grow and shed their antlers annually, starting in the spring and fully developing by late summer or early fall. While most active at dawn and dusk, white-tailed deer can be found all throughout the day. Females form family groups, while males tend to live solitary lives or in small bachelor groups. If you see one, remain still and they may even come towards you. As there is no hunting season on Kiawah, this species is thriving on Kiawah Island. Please do NOT feed the deer, as this alters their natural tendencies to munch on the green forest leaves.

Where to find them: Spot them everywhere on Kiawah Island

3. Loggerhead Turtles

Loggerhead Turtles, named for their broad heads and powerful jaws, have been around for over 50 million years. Female Loggerheads display remarkable nesting behaviors, returning to the very beach where they hatched to lay their own eggs. Digging deep nests in the sand, they carefully deposit clutches of up to 100 eggs. Guided by the moonlight’s glow, these incredible turtles find their way back to the ocean after nesting. To protect these precious hatchlings, Kiawah Island ensures that no artificial lights disrupt their journey by prohibiting beachfront lighting after dark. By preserving the natural glow of the moon, Kiawah safeguards the Loggerhead Turtles’ ancient navigational instincts, allowing them to continue their legacy undisturbed.

A baby loggerhead turtle making its way across the sandy beach of Kiawah Island, symbolizing new life and conservation efforts.

Where to find them: While difficult to spot and you should not get too close, these can be spotted nesting on the shores of the beach late at night, May through August.

4. Bottlenose Dolphins

Bottlenose Dolphins maintain high levels of intelligence, display problem-solving abilities and can learn complex tasks. These social and playful animals form tight-knit pods and communicate using a repertoire of clicks, whistles, and body movements. Each dolphin has a unique signature whistle, acting as their individual vocal “name” within the pod. One of their unique feeding behaviors, “strand feeding,” involves herding schools of fish towards the shore and then stranding them on the beach, where the dolphins can enjoy their catch.

Where to find them: Observe them strand feeding at the far west end of the beach (closest to Seabrook Island) at low tide.

In conclusion, Kiawah Island’s wildlife, from ancient mariners like the Loggerhead Turtles to the intelligent residents such as Bottlenose Dolphins, captivate with their beauty and behaviors. Respecting these remarkable creatures and supporting conservation efforts ensures their well-being. Enhance your Kiawah Island experience by staying with Kiawah Island Getaways, offering a range of beachfront and forest view properties. Visit our website and read our reviews to discover why guests love their Kiawah Island Getaways experience. Let us be your home away from home as you immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Kiawah Island.

Picture of Jeanette and Shawn

Jeanette and Shawn

Founders of Kiawah Island Getaways, a luxury vacation rental company with over 20 years of experience serving guests on Kiawah. See our 5 star reviews here and our availability here. Book your rental today!

The Ocean Blue at Seascape

Upscale Kiawah Island Vacation Rentals

Kiawah Island Getaways offers you a boutique collection of the most comfortable, fully-vetted rentals on Kiawah Island.

Guarantee a relaxing and comfortable vacation by staying with Kiawah Island Getaways!

Each of our properties have been vetted and are top-of-the line in decor, comfort and cleanliness to meet our high standards and yours.

You’ll be delighted with the unexpected items we provide. You can expect fully stocked kitchens, entertainment options and much more!

The special touches will make your entire family smile – fresh flowers, a personalized welcome note and eggs from our own back-yard family coop when you arrive.

Recent Posts

Kiawah Cape Property Management

Kiawah Island Cape Owners: Your Property Management Solution Own a stunning property at The Cape on Kiawah Island, but don’t have time to manage it

this boardwalk provides access to the VV one of our best vacation rentals in Kiawah Island

Handicap Access on Kiawah Island

Handicap access guide for most accessible vacation rentals on Kiawah Island. Upto 10 ramped boardwalks to the beach and our best properties