Only 21 miles from historic Charleston, Kiawah Island is a 10,000-acre barrier island that is home to wildlife including alligators, white-tailed deer and loggerhead sea turtles. The Kiawah Island Golf Resort sits along 10 miles of beach on the Atlantic Ocean and is best known for its five esteemed championship golf courses. The Ocean Course, future home to the 2021 PGA Championship, may be challenging because of brisk sea breezes, but players have unobstructed views of the beautiful Atlantic coastline from every hole. The tennis program, ranked No. 1 in the world by the prestigious Tennis Resorts Online, has two separate tennis facilities that include 19 clay and four hard courts, perfect for clinics, camps or matches with friends. Sports aside, more than a dozen restaurants offer regionally driven menus featuring the best from low country farmers and fishermen. And you can forget about a rental car; complimentary shuttles transport guests around the property for a worry-free stay.
The Sanctuary Hotel
Southern hospitality is at its finest in this casual but elegant seaside mansion. The ultra-luxury oceanfront resort has 255 ample guestrooms and suites. Rooms are situated along the sides of both wings of the hotel, providing most with ocean views from private balconies. Each room is uniquely designed and contains handcrafted furniture and custom-made beds. Luxurious bathrooms boast double vanities, large marble walk-in showers, private water closets and deep soaking tubs. 1 Sanctuary Beach Drive, Kiawah Island, kiawahresort.com.
For longer stays or family gatherings, any of the 500 charming villas or luxe private homes are an excellent option. From the cozy one-bedroom efficiency units to spacious four-bedroom cottages with wrap-around porches, all rentals include the benefits and services of being a resort guest. The property offers homes, town houses and condos with ocean, partial ocean and scenic views. And yes, they have pet-friendly rentals, too. kiawahresort.com.
The Ocean Room, “Kiawah’s Signature Steakhouse,” has a culinary team committed to supporting area farmers by sourcing local beef, seafood, poultry and produce. The impressive restaurant within The Sanctuary has a seasonally changing menu complemented by a wine program that showcases more than 1,000 selections. The Sushi Lounge within serves traditional sushi dishes, contemporary small plates and an impressive selection of sake. kiawahresort.com/dining.
Located in the Ocean Course Clubhouse, the restaurant has sweeping views of the Atlantic and the course’s 18th hole. The dinner-only spot serves modern American cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, regional seafood. Delicious, uncomplicated dishes are comprised of seasonal ingredients and seafood harvested by local fisherman and handpicked at the nearby Wadmalaw Island docks. kiawahresort.com/dining.
Every resort needs a poolside restaurant, and Loggerhead Grill, which overlooks The Sanctuary pools — one family, one adults only — is an all-around favorite. Open seasonally, the oceanfront spot serves a delicious variety of salads and wraps, grilled burgers and gourmet sandwiches, all of which go well with a tropical cocktail or refreshing glass of wine. The Friday Family Seaside Buffet is a hit with all ages. kiawahresort.com/dining.
The Ryder Cup Bar
Even if you don’t play the game, it’s fun to watch golfers finish their final hole at The Ocean Course. The views are sensational inside, but it’s even more fun to sit on the open porch and enjoy a Gator Bite Margarita or Palmetto Pale Ale while golfers putt into the sea breezes. The bar offers a variety of favorites including its famous Bagger Burger, signature Crispy Shrimp and the freshest oysters. kiawahresort.com/dining.
This calm, sophisticated bar in The Sanctuary is a perfect gathering place to unwind after an afternoon on the beach, meet for cocktails before dinner or relax with an after-dinner digestif. Enjoy gorgeous vistas of the Atlantic year round and warm up in front of the massive stone fireplace in colder months. The subtle, outstanding service and elegant setting exemplify The Sanctuary’s gracious Southern hospitality. kiawahresort.com/dining.
The Spa at The Sanctuary
A trip to the spa — one of only 25 Forbes Five-Star Spas in the U.S. — is a must. Twelve generously sized treatment rooms, a sauna, steam room and whirlpool convey the sense of a gracious Southern garden. Treatments are inspired by Kiawah’s vast coastline and landscape and incorporate elements from the sea, forest and botanical gardens.kiawahresort.com/the-sanctuary-spa.
Heron Park Nature Center
The center for Kiawah’s Nature Program is the place to get information on recent wildlife sightings and to visit some of the creatures that live on the island. Learn about the many recreational activities and choose from walking tours to search for butterflies, birds or gators, biking or water adventures and programs geared for children. The Island Outpost located inside stocks gear for outdoor adventures as well as South Carolina-made environmentally friendly products.kiawahresort.com/recreation.
Photos courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort
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