Kiawah Island, South Carolina is known as a golfer's dream; the world-class greens of the Atlantic-side Ocean Course have been home to several championships. However, you don't have to love the links to have a spectacular vacation on the stunning private island. Kiawah's accolades are numerous, including "#1 Island in North America" and "Top 10 Beach in America." Our family recently vacationed at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort and discovered how much the barrier island has to offer for a family beach vacation.
Just a 35-minute drive from historic Charleston, you'll find 10 miles of unspoiled and secluded beachfront. There are no ferris wheels or gaudy t-shirt shops here; just wide, beautiful beaches, ponds, marshes and endless greenery.
Most of the island is managed by the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which offers villas, private home rentals, as well as hotel accommodations. No matter where you stay, the resort offers free transportation around the property to take advantage of the beaches, nature and amenities.
FAMILY FUN AND KIDS' ACTIVITIES AT KIAWAH
There are two family pool complexes at the resort with water park amenities, including slides and splash zones, for families with varying ages of children. Night Heron Park also has a soccer field, basketball court, playground and an indoor nature center which is great for escaping the heat on a sweltering day.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort is not all-inclusive, but the resort provides some free events including dive-in movies, festivals with live music, magic shows and more. Bike rentals, boating, fishing, nature excursions, surfing and archery and other activities are also available.
Our son attended a half-day session of Kamp Kiawah, for ages 3-11. He liked it so much he went back for the Kid's Night Out. This gives adults a chance to enjoy a dinner out, golfing, tennis or a long walk on the beach. Teen guests are invited to ditch their parents for planned activities such as laser tag, dance club, bonfires and paddle boarding.
RESORT DINING AND TRANSPORTATION
You'll find 12 restaurants, cafes and bars throughout the resort; everything from ice cream shops to fine dining. The outdoor Mingo Point Oyster Roast was our favorite. We shucked our own oysters and enjoyed a southern BBQ buffet while listening to live music. The kids did crafts, attended a wildlife demonstration and gazed at the sunset over the marsh.
Another highlight was drinks at the Ryder Cup Bar overlooking the Ocean Course and the Atlantic. The view was breathtaking and made my $15 cocktail feel like a bargain.
The Kiawah Island Golf Resort manages a luxury hotel, villas and private homes, with something to match various budgets and family sizes. We opted to stay at The Sanctuary, the five-star, five-diamond property impeccably constructed and decorated to feel like a 100-year-old seaside mansion reminiscent of scenes from "Gone With the Wind."
Staying at The Sanctuary is a wonderful retreat after a hot day at the pool or beach. You will pay a premium to stay here during high season, but you'll enjoy five-star accommodations and service. If you want to add additional decadence to your stay, add a treatment at the Sanctuary Spa.
No matter where you decide to stay on Kiawah Island, you are practically guaranteed a rejuvenating vacation, immersed in beautiful nature, top-notch accommodations and fun for the whole family. Find out more about Kiawah Island vacations.