5 Kiawah Island Nature Center Adventures to Try

Kiawah Island nature center

Adventure awaits at Kiawah Island Nature Center. From gator walks to history tours, reef fishing to bird spotting, adults-only twilight paddles to jam-packed kids’ camps, there’s something to make everyone’s time on Kiawah Island just a little bit more magical.

Check out these 5 can’t-miss Kiawah Island Nature Center experiences. To book yours, call (843) 768-6001.

Kiawah Island bike tours

Walks & Bike Tours

See another side of the beach with a guided nighttime walk. Learn more about Kiawah Island’s history with a cycling tour. The Kiawah Island Nature Center hosts an array of local-led excursions that give you a richer perspective of the island while allowing you to enjoy its natural beauty.

Walking and biking tours are the perfect way to expand your understanding of the island. Schedule one and you’ll see for yourself—Kiawah’s not just a place for sunning and swimming, but home to a diverse ecosystem and history. 

Kiawah Island wildlife tour

Wildlife Spotting

Follow a naturalist to some of the island’s untouched habitats for a chance to spot wildlife up close. Witness native gators on a bike tour, set sight on herons swooping over the marshes on a bird walk, or glimpse dolphins playing in the surf on a boat excursion.

No matter what your interests are, Kiawah Island nature centers have a tour to keep you entertained. Family-friendly tours are perfect for budding birders of all ages, gator walks appeal to the more adventurous, and photography tours are perfect for those who want to hone their skills behind the lens or just capture a memory of Kiawah’s wildlife.

Kamp Kiawah

Kid-Friendly Programs

Have a budding naturalist in the family? Sign them up for an afternoon of exploring and learning about Kiawah’s nature. Programs throughout the year offer hands-on sessions that cover Kiawah Island’s marsh ecology, Native American traditions and cultures, animal care, maritime forests, and backyard birds.

During the summertime, sign your little ones (and teenagers!) up for Kamp Kiawah. The classic summer camp program is open to the youngest campers, while older kids and teens can choose between a nature-centered adventure camp or team-building and sports-focused Xtreme camp. Kids will have a blast exploring the island with their own age group—and grown-ups will love the chance to book a day at the spa or just soak up the sun in total peace and quiet.

boating on Kiawah Island

Paddling Tours

Take to the waters on a Kiawah Island Nature Center paddling tour. Try out stand-up paddle boarding in a low pressure environment or come at sunset for a twilit paddle around the coast and marshes. Special tours are available for teens and adults, and kayak rentals are also available through the nature center if the whole family wants to get in on the fun.

Prefer to let someone else do the work? Eco-boat tours along the Kiawah River let you kick back and relax while taking in the scenery. Choose from photography cruises, birding trips, and adventures to the island’s most secluded beaches.

Kiawah Island Nature Center fishing charter

Fishing Charters

See what you can catch from a Kiawah Island Nature Center fishing charter, captained by local experts and anglers. Try your hand at reeling in red fish and spotted sea trout on an inshore charter, fish off shore wrecks and bottom reefs on a near coastal and reef trip, or catch saltwater fish in the Kiawah River.

From fly fishing to shark fishing, every angler will be able to find a tour that excites them. Plus family charters and river tours are a fun way for the whole crew to see the island from a new perspective while casting a line.

accommodations near Kiawah Island nature center

Where to stay while enjoying Kiawah Island Nature Center

Looking for a place to call your own during your time on Kiawah Island? Our villas offer private bedrooms for a restful night’s sleep, full kitchens for cooking up your catches, and stunning ocean and scenic views for spotting the wildlife you’ll learn about. Learn more about our accommodations.

Kiawah Island Wildlife Encounters

There are countless reasons to love it here, but for many visitors (and residents like us!) up-close encounters with Kiawah Island wildlife tops the list.

Our protected, ecologically diverse island—with its beaches, woodlands and coastal marshes—creates the ideal habitat for a whole range of critters of the sea, earth and sky.

Take a look at our infographic below to learn more about Kiawah Island’s most popular wildlife—from creatures you’re likely to spot during your visit (like deer) to our more elusive residents (like bobcats).

Traveling to Kiawah Island with kiddos? Print this PDF and keep it on-hand to see what you spot!

(Click to expand in a new window.)

kiawah island wildlife

Be Kind to Kiawah Island Wildlife

While you’re here, please be mindful of our wild neighbors. Some tips to help you live harmoniously: 

  • While you are driving on the island—especially at night—be on the lookout for animals crossing the road. Deer especially can seemingly come out of nowhere very quickly!
  • Although it is very tempting, do not feed the wildlife. This alters their natural instincts and weakens their ability to find food on their own.  It can also make them more aggressive towards humans.
  • Help our loggerhead turtles make a safe journey to the sea. If you stay on the beach from May through August, ensure that you turn off any outdoor lights. These can disorient the loggerheads, who use the moonlight to guide them home.
  • Keep a safe distance from all wildlife, and make sure your kiddos and dogs do the same. 

Kiawah Island Beach Life: 5 Ways the Livin’ is Easier Here

Kiawah Island Beach

From Maine to Florida, there are a lot of lovable beaches on the East Coast. We might be biased, but we’ll say it anyway: Kiawah Island’s beach truly stands apart from the rest.

With bikeable sand, friendly folks, mouthwatering eateries, and natural beauty, the Kiawah experience is one-of-a-kind. Want to find out more? Keep reading for the five ways livin’ is easier here on Kiawah Island’s beach.

Kiawah Island beach biking

There are 10 miles of beach on Kiawah Island—and you can bike the whole stretch.

With a whopping 10 miles of scenic beach, there’s plenty of space on Kiawah to spread out and catch some rays. Some never tire of lazy afternoons spent soaking in the sunshine and splashing in the surf—and we don’t blame you!

But Kiawah Island’s beach is uniquely suited for those who crave a little more action on their seaside getaway. It’s made up of hard-packed sand, so you can ride your bike along the whole 10 miles. Pedal beside the ocean from one tip of the island to the other, and stop for lunch, an ice cream cone, or a refreshing drink at the Sanctuary Hotel along the way.

Kiawah Island beach bird

You’re bound to spot something wild.

Kiawah Island’s beach is not like those at other resort destinations. We pride our island on its wildness. There are no mega-hotels or flashy amusements to distract you from the natural beauty.

Because of its back-to-nature charm, Kiawah Island is home to a thriving population of wildilfe. It’s not uncommon to see Kiawah’s resident deer prancing around the dunes at sunrise, or to spot an alligator sunbathing on the bank of a lagoon. Keep an eye on the ocean and you may glimpse dolphins playing in the surf.

And, of course, there’s Kiawah’s darlings: the loggerhead turtles. Visit during the summer and you might have the chance to watch as baby loggerheads emerge from their nests and make their first trip down to the sea.

Drinks by Kiawah Island Beach

Here, breezy beach living meets southern hospitality.

Visit once and you’ll see it for yourself: the people of Kiawah Island know how to take care of their guests. (This is the South, after all!)

You barely have to leave the beach to enjoy delicious food and drinks at the Loggerhead Grill at The Sanctuary. You’re bound to be welcomed with a smile—and treated to a beachside lunch that beats soggy cooler sandwiches by a long-shot.

Just a short ride away from the Kiawah Island beach, Bohicket Marina offers a selection of restaurants that are just as suited for happy hour as they are for sit-down dinners. Enjoy water views and end your meal with something sweet at The Ice Cream Boat.

Kiawah Island beach golf

You can tee-off steps from the tideline.

Where can you tee-off on a PGA championship course while admiring the rolling waves? Right here on Kiawah Island, of course!

Scheduled to host the 2021 PGA Championship, and the only course to have hosted each of the PGA of America’s major championships, the Ocean Course isn’t just a pretty place to practice your swing. It’s a seriously respected course, and it’s nestled right along Kiawah Island’s beach.

With several oceanside holes and an intense wind factor, this famed course is bound to both challenge and reward dedicated golfers.

Villa view of Kiawah Island beach

Private villas offer unbeatable views of Kiawah Island beach.

True bliss is waking up to ocean views. Book an oceanfront rental and start every day with a sunrise over the Atlantic. Sneak out to your balcony before the world wakes up—it’ll be just you and the Kiawah deer watching the waves as you sip your morning coffee under a pink and orange sky. 

Having an entire oceanfront villa or penthouse to yourself unlocks completely new ways to enjoy Kiawah Island’s beach. Wander down for a last-minute sunbathing session in the late afternoon. Book a private chef to whip up a locally-sourced dinner and enjoy it in an ocean-view dining area. Or sneak out to watch the stars come out before snuggling up for a family movie night.

Ready to book your getaway on Kiawah Island’s beach? Browse our rentals on the beach and start planning.

Where is Kiawah Island: Your Quick and Easy Beach Getaway

Aerial view of Kiawah Island

So you’ve just had coffee with a friend who’s raving about her latest Kiawah Island escape. Or maybe you spent the morning drooling over social media photos of Kiawah’s amazing beach, lowcountry charm, and coastal cuisine.

Either way—now you can’t stop thinking about your own laid-back week on Kiawah’s shore. But why is this place so special? What exactly is “lowcountry”? And, just where is Kiawah Island? Read on to find out.

The “Just Right” Factor

When it comes to your vacation, climate is a big concern. Head too far north and you could spend your trip shivering on the windy shore. Go too far south and you might spend the whole day blasting the AC while you watch the waves from your living room. Not at Kiawah Island! Conveniently located halfway up the eastern seaboard—Kiawah Island offers the “just right” climate for the perfect beach getaway.

Lowcountry

Low on sea level but high on fun—that about sums it up. Okay, geographically speaking, lowcountry is an area of Carolina coastline stretching from Pawleys Island in South Carolina to the Savannah River at the Georgia state line. Known for its marshlands, preserved ecosystems, and a coastal cuisine rich in Caribbean and African influences, the lowcountry offers visitors an unparalleled array of cultural and natural encounters. A beach vacation with a little Kiawah character to boot? Yes, please!

where is kiawah island near charleston

Day-Tripping

Lazing away with your toes in the sand might be just what the doctor ordered, but an easy day trip can add the perfect dash of spice to your relaxing vacation. Thankfully, you’re just 45 minutes from all the charm and southern comforts of Charleston. Spend the day wandering the historic streets, take a walking tour of the city’s striking cemeteries and churches, and sample the local cuisine. Top off the experience by making a wish at the Pineapple Fountain.

Other nearby sights include Magnolia Plantation, Middleton Place, and Draytonn Hal (all are about a 45-minute drive from Kiawah island). For something truly unique, visit the Charleston Tea Plantation—the only tea plantation in North America—where you can see thousands of tea bushes on acres of gorgeous land, not to mention sample the delicacies (about a 40-minute drive).

Love nature and trivia? At an estimated 400 to 500 years “young,” Angel Oak is believed to be America’s oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River, and you can see it with your own eyes on nearby John’s Island—just 25 minutes away.

Southbound

Now you’re intrigued. But how easy is it to get to Kiawah Island? If you’re thinking of driving from the East or even the Midwest, it’s as simple as packing up the car, popping the kids in their car seats, and off you go! No need to bother with making extra hotel reservations or wasting two days in the car. Whether you’re heading from Boston, Cleveland, or somewhere in between, you’ll be watching the waves crash by sunset.

kiawah island boardwalk

Where is Kiawah Island? Show Me the Way!

You’ve heard all about it, but you still have one burning question: Where is Kiawah Island? No worries—your wait is over, without further ado, directions to Kiawah Island:

If you’re heading South from Northern New England, try to avoid 95 as much as possible. We recommend taking the Saw Mill Parkway to 684/84S. As you’re leaving New York, cross over the Tappen Zee Bridge, then go south onto 287 to 78W. Hold tight through Pennsylvania and then jump on 81S to 77S. In Columbia, you’ll take 26S to Charleston. From there, simply follow US 17 and State Road S-10-20 will lead you to the Kiawah Island Parkway.

From Ohio and the Midwest: Take 75S to 640E and then 40E toward Asheville. Then simply head south on 26 until you hit Charleston. Hop on US-17S for a few miles, then take State Rd S-10-20 all the way to the Kiawah Island Parkway.

Flying High

If you’re coming from the west, or just want to get here as quickly as possible (we can’t blame you for that!) Charleston’s renovated and expanded International Airport offers nonstop flights from 18 US cities and Canada, as well as quick connections in Atlanta and Charlotte. Kiawah Island is just a 30-mile drive from the airport. We recommend that you rent a car as a round trip taxi, Uber or Lyft ride will cost you about the same. Plus, it’s nice to have a car while you are on Kiawah Island so you can take one or more of the above mentioned day trips.

Where Should I Stay on Kiawah Island?

Now that you know where Kiawah Island is and you’ve seen just how easy it is to get here, you want to know the answer to the most important question: Where do I stay once I get to Kiawah island? The answer is easy: Look no further than Kiawah Island Getaways. Take a peek at our lovingly appointed villas, each complete with a beach or scenic view. We can’t wait to see you here!

Marital Bliss: Your Guide to Kiawah Island Weddings

Kiawah Island weddings

Intimate gathering or blowout bash? Live music or DJ? Chocolate cake or vanilla?

Anyone who’s planned a wedding knows the choices can seem endless. And one of the first—and maybe toughest—choices you’ll make is where to host the event. If your heart is set on a Kiawah Island wedding, we can make finding the perfect venue a little easier.

Whether you dream of saying your “I do’s” barefoot on the sand or in a classic ballroom with a string quartet playing in the background, Kiawah Island offers something extraordinary for every couple’s big day.

Surfside Wedding

Waves crash in the background and the scent of saltwater lingers on the air. A small crowd gathers as the sun casts a golden hue and specks of light glisten on the Atlantic. Sound amazing? There’s something truly magical about a beach ceremony. With miles of breathtaking shoreline, far from the crowds, it’s easy to make your Kiawah Island wedding fantasy a reality. Call (800) 654-2924 to speak to a professional wedding planner.

Kiawah Island lawn wedding

Going Green

The Sanctuary’s Grand Lawn is an ideal spot for ceremonies, cocktails, and receptions. A lush green expanse overlooks the Atlantic and a private beach creating a spectacular backdrop for your special day. No matter if your group is large or small, you can adjust the space to meet your needs.

Ballroom Splendor

Prefer an indoor venue for the reception, the ceremony, or both? The Sanctuary offers three stylish ballrooms to suit your event:

  • Terrace Ballroom: French doors open to a courtyard with stunning views of the Grand Lawn and the Atlantic beyond. Let your guests dance the night away as ocean breezes waft through this 2,880 sq. ft. space. Keep the party going in one big room or split in two for a more intimate experience.
  • Heron Room: Perfect for mid-sized receptions, this 1,853 sq. ft. room can be divided into two smaller spaces. Have the ceremony in one, then move next door for cocktails before the formal reception. With flexible spaces, the possibilities are endless.
  • Grand Oaks Ballroom: At 6,050 sq. ft., The Sanctuary’s largest indoor venue can be split into four quarters. Opening to a garden patio, your guests can mingle indoors and out. Enjoy live music and drinks al fresco, then move inside for an elegant sit-down dinner. Your day; your way.

Mingo Point

Mingo Point

Want to infuse your reception with a solid dose of southern charm? An oyster roast and BBQ is just one way to say “I do” with one of the Low Country’s best traditions. For a laid-back, kick-off-your-shoes venue or a rehearsal dinner to remember, Mingo Point offers three gorgeous spaces:

  • The Clubhouse at Osprey Point: Tucked among live oaks, this lagoon-side venue features a spacious veranda and intimate dining rooms.
  • The Clubhouse at Turtle Point: A wraparound veranda and sophisticated ballroom are just two reasons to check out this idyllic space. Perfect for pre-reception cocktails.
  • The Ocean Course Clubhouse: With 3,000 feet of adaptable space, the newest venue on the list overlooks the 18th green and boasts jaw-dropping ocean views.

Additional Venues

If you’re lucky enough to have friends on the island, you can also make arrangements to host your Kiawah Island wedding at one of the privately owned venues, including The Sandcastle and The Beach Club.

Kiawah Island weddings

Be Our Guest at Accommodations Near Kiawah Island Wedding Venus

So you’ve booked your dream venue, and now you just have to. . . do a million other things—we get it! But finding accommodations for your guests is one less thing you’ll need to worry about. Kiawah Island Getaways offers a range of properties, all oceanfront or within a short walk of the shore, ranging from one to four bedrooms. You’ve invited your closest friends and family to share the most important day of your life, now let us pamper them with our lovingly curated selections:

At The Breeze at Seascape, your guests will find a beautifully renovated space with a huge oceanfront deck and four bedrooms. Perfect for a family with young children.

With custom-designed interiors and stunning panoramic ocean views, The Penthouse at Windswept is one of most sought-after villas. Mother of the bride and up to five other guests will be thrilled to call this spot home.

Kiawah Island weddings

The Surf Shack at Sparrow Pond is a four-bedroom cottage right on the lagoon. The gourmet kitchen, vaulted ceilings, and shiplap walls raise the word “shack” to a whole new level. Big enough for the whole wedding party.

For luxury accommodations with a splash of southern comfort, check out The Shell Seeker at Sparrow Pond. This beach cottage features two master suites, a third queen bedroom, cozy-chic décor, and a screened-in porch that’s sure to help anyone on your guest list unwind.

For more southern charm, The Sea Shell at Oceanwoods offers an upscale cottage feel with three bedrooms, a stunning kitchen, and a screened-in porch.

A gorgeous deck overlooking the golf course and lagoon, exposed wooden beams, and dusky blue accents make The vV at Turtle Point a special spot for the special people in your life. With three bedrooms and a den, this space is ideal for a pair of families with children.

To book directly or check out other accommodations, visit our rental listings.

Why Kiawah Island Should be on Your South Carolina Vacations Shortlist

Kiawah Island a South Carolina Vacation

Did you know Conde Nast Traveler readers voted Kiawah Island as the 2017 No. 2 Island in the world, and Charleston, South Carolina as the 2016 No.1 City in the World?

With its majestic beach, award-winning golf courses, meandering bike trails, and proximity to Charleston, we’re not surprised the secret’s out about Kiawah Island. As long-time island residents, we have the inside scoop on the area’s best day trips, restaurants, and outings.

Here are 7 reasons why Kiawah Island should be your destination on your next South Carolina vacation!

South Carolina beach vacation

1. One of America’s Top 10 Beaches

Picture hard-packed sand (perfect for biking on!) and gentle waves. A serene nap under the umbrella while the sun kisses your toes. When it comes to sunbathing, bodysurfing, or exploring the natural beauty of tidal inlets, every option is a here in Kiawah Island.

“Dr. Beach” listed Kiawah Island’s Beachwalker Park as one of America’s Top 10 Beaches of 2018 in Forbes. Our beach has also been applauded in Travel + Leisure and Coastal Living.

2. Reef Fishing, Beach Bootcamp & Much More

From naturalist tours to glass fusing classes to surf lessons, there’s always something fun to try on Kiawah Island. Some of the things we’re looking forward to this summer include Dolphin Encounters at Mingo Point, “Dive-In” Movie Night at Heron Pool, and Moonlight Yoga on the beach near the Sanctuary.

There’s lots for the kids to do as well — Teen Night at Night Heron Park includes Capture the Flag, bonfires, and marshmallow toasting, and Bohicket Marina hosts a thrilling Pirate Adventure cruise the whole family will love.

Family South Carolina vacation

3. Family-Friendly South Carolina Vacations

There’s so much for the whole family to do on the Island, and plenty for just the kids while you enjoy a romantic lunch or trip to the spa.

Kamp Kiawah offers everything from arts and crafts and swimming to motorboat trips and Ninja Warrior courses. Hit the beach for an epic sandcastle competition. Mingo Point’s Oyster Roast and BBQ is a family favorite—follow up your delicious dinner with a sweet old-fashioned sundae at Vincent’s Drug Store.

4. Downtown Charleston is an Easy Drive Away

Downtown Charleston is only a 45-minute drive from Kiawah Island. There you’ll find historic streets and some of the best food on the East Coast. Taste Gullah-inspired cuisine, fresh seafood, and traditional Southern fare at countless restaurants and cafes.

Kiawah Island deer

5. Wildlife Galore

Kiawah’s diverse ecosystems make the Island a prime place to spot river otters, deer, osprey, Bob cat and more. Contact Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol for a sea turtle experience from May through October. Bird lovers, grab your binoculars and book a trip with Back Island Birding.

6. Pedal On

There are over 30 miles of paved bike trails to explore on Kiawah Island, and 10 miles of pristine, bike-friendly beach. Check out our map detailing all the local bike paths to plan a trek along the Atlantic or around wildlife-rich Night Heron Park.

South Carolina golf vacation

7. 7 World-Class Golf Courses

Kiawah Island is a golf-lover’s dream. Five public courses offer an array of challenges — Turtle Point requires accuracy while success at Oak Point relies on strategy.

Family golf outings are available at Osprey, Cougar, Turtle, and Oak Points in the summer and around the Christmas and Easter holidays. The holes are 250 yards long or less, and tee times are spaced out for added practice time. Book a family session by calling (843) 266-4050.

South Carolina vacation rental

Your Next South Carolina Vacation

However you decide to spend your South Carolina vacation, we offer over a dozen oceanfront and scenic-view rentals along picturesque Kiawah Island. We promise high-end accommodations, indoor and outdoor living space, and excellent service for the whole family. Learn more and book here.