Table of Contents

A Comprehensive Guide for Visiting Kiawah Island

Travel Guide

This Kiawah Island Visitor’s guide has everything you need for planning your next getaway, covering activities, top sights, the best times to visit, accommodation advice, how to get to and around, and so much more. Use the table of contents to jump to sections of interest.

Play Video about Observation hut over a reflective pond on the Preserve Nature Trail at Kiawah Island, a spot of serene beauty.

About Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island's Overview, Wildlife and History

Twilight hues cast over the calm waters at Bass Pond, with the serene Kiawah Island fishing dock extending into the water, from the Visit Kiawah Island Guide.

Situated on South Carolina’s coastline, Kiawah Island is famous for its extensive 10-mile stretch of pristine beaches, diverse wildlife, its natural beauty and resort like amenities. 

Map of Kiawah Island showcasing various points of interest for visitor's to visit.
Nature and Geography

The island consists of marshes, lagoons and fresh water estuaries and the Kiawah River, which connects with the Stono River and the Intracoastal Waterway, all together there are 65 ponds or lagoons on the Island. The island has a maritime forest.

Discover wildlife on Kiawah Island.

There are 18 species of mammals including whitetail deer, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, and more than 30 species of reptiles and amphibians including alligators and sea turtles that inhabit the island. There are more than 140 species of birds including the Brown Pelican, Wood Ibis, osprey, duck, sea gulls, terns, herons, hawks and egrets. Many of these species such as the whitetail deer, alligators, herons and egrets can easily be spotted all over Kiawah.

Baby turtles making their way to the sea on a sandy beach. Things to do on Kiawah Island.
Wildlife Conservation

Kiawah’s effort to protect the Atlantic Loggerhead Sea Turtle received national acclaim in 1981 when the Izaak Walton League honored Kiawah’s program with a National Conservation award. Kiawah’s environmental protection efforts also include the Kiawah Island Wildlife Committee whose purpose is to enhance and protect Kiawah’s wildlife and fish species and to promote education, understanding and enjoyment of the natural environment on Kiawah.

Historical illustration of the Kiawah Indians in traditional attire.

The island was originally named after the Kiawah Indians who inhabited the Island up to the 1600s. The island was deeded to George Raynor in 1699 by the Lords Proprietors. The prominent Vanderhorst family of Charleston kept the Island for 180 years before selling it to C.C. Royal of Aiken in 1950 for hunting and fishing. The Kiawah Island Company Ltd. bought the Island from the Royal family in 1974 and started to develop it into the world-class resort that it is today. Read more here.

What to do on Kiawah

Top Activities and Experiences for Visitors on Kiawah Island

A sunny day at Kiawah Island with multiple blue beach umbrellas and chairs along the shoreline, dunes with green vegetation in the foreground. Title: Serenity at Kiawah Island Beach

10-miles of pristine beach perfect for relaxing walks, bike rides, sun bathing, fishing and more.

Sunset view over Osprey Point Golf Course on Kiawah Island with a sand bunker and pond.

Kiawah is home to 5 world-class golf courses open to the public, each with their own unique features.

Two people cycling over a wooden bridge surrounded by marshland at Eagle Point.

Over 30 miles of scenic, flat, paved bike paths allowing you to meander all over the island!

Gourmet avocado toast with arugula and drizzled sauce on a white plate.

Kiawah Island offers a diverse dining scene, from fresh seafood to upscale cuisine, catering to all tastes.

A bottlenose dolphin leaping out of the water near Kiawah Island.

Kiawah is home to over 300 species of animals including alligators, deer, dolphins, eagles and more.

Cinder Creek Pavilion accessible by a wooden walkway, a scenic landmark on a Kiawah Island biking adventure.

Visit Kiawah Island nature look out towers, parks, nature center and more!

Children engage in a playful activity with a vibrant parachute at a park, as part of the Visit Kiawah Island Guide for family-friendly programs.
Children and Teen Programs

Kiawah Island offers programs with activities for children of all ages to engage in.

Twilight falls on an elegant shopping area lined with palm trees, featured in the Visit Kiawah Island Guide for shopping experiences.

From small farmer’s markets to high end boutiques, Kiawah has something for every shopper!

A serene tennis court surrounded by lush greenery, highlighted in the Visit Kiawah Island Guide for sports facilities.

Kiawah Island’s Tennis Center is a haven for tennis players of all skill levels. 

A happy family sitting closely together on a sandy beach at Kiawah Island, capturing a timeless family portrait.
Family Portraits

Having your photos taken on the beach is an absolute blast and something you’ll always cherish!

Visitors exploring a sophisticated wine bar as part of their Kiawah Island nightlife experience, as suggested by the Visit Kiawah Island Guide.

We may be a slow-paced island, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops when the sun goes down. 

The Best Time to Visit Kiawah

Kiawah Island's Weather, Climate, High Season and Low Season

A serene boardwalk leading to the beach under a clear blue sky, the epitome of the best time to visit Kiawah Island as per the guide.
Kiawah Island has a subtropical climate that offers warm summers, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to low 90s, and mild winters, where temperatures hover between the mid-40s and low 60s.
The peak season on Kiawah Island spans from early April to late October, during which the weather is at its most pleasant. However, the remaining months present a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Kiawah’s cool, crisp weather without the crowds.

Transportation To, From and Around Kiawah

Pedestrians and vehicles share the bridge, illustrating the accessible transportation options in the Visit Kiawah Island Guide.

Getting from the Airport to Kiawah and Back

Most guests fly into Charleston’s airport (CHS), a 45 minute drive from Kiawah. From there you have 2 options:

  1. Rent a car at the airport (recommended): This is the most convenient way of getting to, from and around Kiawah Island. Arrange your car in advance online, here.
  2. Rideshare to Kiawah and arrange a transportation service to return. This option is great for those who intend to bicycle and walk while on Kiawah. For your return, arrange a transportation service such as this one


Ask your drive to stop at Freshfields supermarket on the way to stock up on groceries!

A family enjoys a bike ride on a lush trail, a testament to Kiawah Island's commitment to green transportation highlighted in the guide.

Transportation Around Kiawah

Kiawah is bike and pedestrian friendly with just as many flat, paved bike paths and sidewalks as it has roads! If you’re staying in East or West beach, most places can be comfortable accessed by foot or bicycle. 

Bikes can be rented online and delivered before you arrive.

Where to Stay on Kiawah

Kiawah Island Accommodation Options

The Ocean Blue at Seascape - Kiawah Island Getaways Vacation Rental
Ocean Blue Villa at Kiawah Island Getaways
Individually Owned Villas

The island has a vast collection of individually owned villas. Most were built in the 1970s and many still have dated interiors. When booking, always check interior photos and guest feedback before making a reservation.

The elegant facade of The Sanctuary Resort at Kiawah Island, showcasing luxury accommodation amidst lush landscapes.
The Sanctuary Resort
The Sanctuary Resort

The island’s only resort, the Sanctuary, is modern, comfortable and luxurious with with a range of amenities, including fine dining options, a pool, and spa facilities.

Upscale Vacation Rentals

Kiawah Island Getaways offers you a boutique collection of the most comfortable, fully-vetted rentals on Kiawah Island. See their 5-star reviews and property collection.

Kiawah Island Groceries and Seafood

Freshfields Market at Kiawah Island, a popular attraction for shopping and dining under a clear blue sky.
Freshly prepared shrimp dish, a highlight of Kiawah Island’s culinary delights, as recommended in the Visit Kiawah Island Guide.
Fresh Seafood

If you’d like to get some fresh seafood to cook yourself – here are THE places to shop!

Kiawah Island Fitness Options

Unfortunately there aren’t any public gyms available on Kiawah Island. There are a few gyms located nearby on John’s Island which is approximately a 20 minute drive away.

A well-equipped gym featuring weights and machines, part of the amenities at Kiawah Island as noted in the Visit Kiawah Island Guide.

Anytime Fitness

Bikes, Beach Chairs and Umbrella Rentals

A lineup of rental bikes awaits adventurers in Kiawah Island, a preferred transportation method featured in the Visit Kiawah Island Guide.

Bike Rental

Two blue beach chairs and a large blue umbrella available for rent on the sandy shores of Kiawah Island.

Beach Chair and Umbrella Rentals

Kiawah Island Recycling Drop Off

Contribute to environmental preservation by bringing your recyclables to any of the designated facilities.

Aerial view of the KICA Homeowners Association Building and its luxurious pool, nestled among Kiawah Island's verdant landscape, as featured in the guide.

Behind the KICA Homeowners Association Building

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