If you looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city in an upscale gated community, then Kiawah Island is the place to go, but it is at its best if you are a guest of the resort.
Located about 25 miles south of Charleston, golfers, beachcombers and shoppers will find a wide array of offerings at this master-planned seaside retreat, though public access is limited.
Things you can do:
Go to the beach: There is Beachwalker Park at the island's west end, which is a Charleston County Park and offers one of the most pristine beach experiences of any of the parks. But its not a secret, so go early if you want one of the parking spots. In addition to being able to walk miles on the beach, the park offers ocean and river views. It includes a dressing area, outdoor showers and a picnic site with grills.
Play golf: The world-class resort with its oceanside golf course is famous for hosting top-notch sporting events, including the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. But there are four other courses on the island, as well.
Bike and kayak: The island offers more than 30 miles of paved paths for biking and the tree-shaded Kiawah River for kayaking.
See nature: The resort is known for its respectful impact on nature, and so nature lovers can encounter, egrets, herons, bald eagles, bobcats, deer and alligators. Birdwatchers can enjoy spotting colorful visitors such as the painted bunting.
Stay overnight: Among its accommodations is The Sanctuary, one of the top-ranked hotels in the country, having received a Forbes Five Star Award. But bring your wallet. It's the choice of dignitaries and movie stars.
Shop and dine: Freshfields Village, a growing enclave of shops and restaurants anchored by Harris Teeter’s Village Market is outside the resort and shoppers will find some of the trendiest shops in the Charleston region. It also has a farmer's market and concerts on the green. Just outside of the island is Bohicket Marina, a cluster of slips and shops with varied dining options and waterfront views.
About the past: The island was named after the Kiawah Indians who occupied the area before 1670s and has changed hands only a few times since. The colorful history includes pirates, plantation owners, enterprising lumbermen and Kuwaiti investors.
No glass containers, open fires, fireworks or overnight storage of beach equipment.
No launching or beaching of motorized vessels, including jet skis.
Fishing is allowed on the beach with a saltwater fishing license.
Leashed dogs are allowed with the following regulations: Dogs are prohibited year-round in critical habitat areas located on each end of the island. Dogs are allowed off leash under control year-round from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. between the eastern boundary of the Beach Club and the Ocean Course Clubhouse. Pets must be leashed in this area from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Remainder of beach: March 16-Oct. 31: Pets must be on leash at all times; Nov. 1-March 15: Pets are allowed off leash 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. except in critical habitat areas. Electronic leashes are prohibited.
No trespassing on dunes. Use designated boardwalks.
Removal or disturbance of natural resources or wildlife is prohibited.
Lights out for sea turtles May-October. Flashlights and exterior lights are prohibited to illuminate the front beach between 9 p.m. and dawn.
Do not dig holes that change the contour of the beach. Metal shovels are prohibited, and plastic shovels can be no longer than 14 inches.
Town ordinances are enforced by Beach Patrol, who are authorized to ticket and fine offenders.