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.
About Beachwalker Park
Beachwalker’s perks include:
- 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.
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
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.