Is Kiawah Island Open to the Public?

You may have heard that Kiawah Island has a guardhouse at its main entrance. So you may be wondering: what happens if you aren’t staying on the island? Is Kiawah open to the public? Can I still enjoy its pristine, uncrowded beaches without a pass?

Yes! Kiawah Island is indeed open to the public; you can access many areas without having accommodations on the island or a guest pass, especially if you don’t mind biking or walking. By car, simply take a right onto Beachwalker Drive from Kiawah Island Parkway, just before the first guard gate. Drive a half-mile to the dead-end. There you have arrived at the gorgeous, state-run Beachwalker Park.

During the high season (approximately May through Labor Day), you must pay to park your car at Beachwalker Park. Some visitors opt to walk or bike in to save that fee.

Getting from Beachwalker to Other Spots on the Island 

Once you’re at Beachwalker—if you don’t mind biking or walking—you can enjoy other of Kiawah’s perks, from oceanfront cocktails at the Ryder Cup Bar, to lunch at the Loggerhead Grill (seasonally). 

We highly recommend bicycling. The hard-packed sand of Kiawah’s beach means you can pedal the full 10-miles from Beachwalker Park at one end of the island to the Ocean Course Clubhouse at the other, without ever going on a sidewalk or road! 

Even better, the island is interwoven with many recreational bike paths that take you many places, like Freshfields Village for seasonal shows and other community activities.

What if I Want to Drive Around Kiawah?

To access the rest of the island by car, you must either have a renter’s pass, a guest-of-owner pass, an owner’s pass, an employee pass or have reservations for golf or dinner. 

When passing the guardhouse, folks that need to get a pass must get in the left lane, while others with a pass must be in the right lane.

These moderate restrictions on motor vehicles help to keep the island pristine, uncrowded, and replete with wildlife ranging from dolphins to deer and bobcats. deer with antlers behind colorful beach grass

About Beachwalker Park

Beachwalker’s perks include:

  • Lifeguard
  • Restrooms
  • Changing stalls
  • Outdoor showers*
  • Vending machines
  • Beach chairs for rent*
  • Calm, gentle waves—great for kids!
  • Beach-accessible wheelchairs for rent*
  • Dog-Friendly (must be leashed)
* These amenities are available during high season only, approximately May through Labor Day.

Beachwalker Hours

January – April 10 a.m. – Sunset

May – Labor Day 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

September – December 10 a.m. – Sunset

Closed for Holidays Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day

The Ocean Blue at Seascape
The Ocean Blue at Seascape

What If I Want to Stay on Kiawah Island?

If you’d rather not worry at all about where you can go on Kiawah and how to get there, you’re in luck! There are many lovely accommodations available on Kiawah Island that come with a renter’s pass—including our villa and condo rentals at Kiawah Island Getaways. We are long-time locals who love this island, and we’d love to help you enjoy your time here on our gorgeous 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.

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