New KDHamptons Travel Diary: Nothing Could Be Finer...Explore South Carolina's Kiawah Island
It’s easy to be seduced by the charm of the Lowcountry. Spanish moss drips from live oak trees. Breezes waft through double-stacked piazzas (porches), and gas lamps flicker as the warm day comes to an end. Located on the coast of South Carolina, the geographical and cultural region is one of America’s historic and architectural treasures. KDHamptons contributing editor Kim Hopkins shares her Kiawah Island travel diary below.
“I first came to Kiawah Island 10 years ago,” says Kim, who returned to the United States last year after a decade living in Abu Dhabi. “Being from up north, I was enamored by the Palmetto trees, the architecture, and the pristine golf courses. It was love at first sight.”
Once known for its sprawling plantations and prosperous agriculture in rice, cotton and indigo, the Lowcountry today is famous for its well-preserved historic cities (Charleston and Savannah being the more famous), cultural heritage, beautiful beaches, world-class golf courses, and of course, southern charm.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort is located just 21 miles south of Charleston on the Atlantic Ocean, with easy non-stop flights from New York, Boston, Atlanta, D.C., and many other major cities. Living in Charleston, our drive was a quick 45 minutes. After a warm welcome at The Sanctuary Hotel, (and a gift bucket filled with beach toys for my eight-year-old son Brady), we hit the waves.
There are many dining options on Kiawah, from fancy to casual, romantic to family-friendly. The Ocean Room is The Sanctuary’s signature steakhouse specializing in beef and chops with a breathtaking ocean view. (There’s also an adjacent sushi lounge.) There are more than a dozen other restaurants around the island serving everything from Italian fare to seafood.
After a restful night lulled to sleep by the ocean’s waves, we had a delicious breakfast at Jasmine Porch, one of the hotel’s restaurants. We sampled the sweet and the savory, healthy and decadent, but the French toast and bacon were our favorite. Then we were off to hit the links.
Kiawah Island is a golfer’s paradise, with five championship courses designed by the world’s leading golf course architects: The Ocean Course is the crown jewel, designed by Pete Dye and home of the 1991 Ryder Cup, two World Cups, and the 2012 PGA Championship, among others. The PGA Championship of 2021 will be played on the Ocean Course as well. The other courses include: Osprey Point by Tom Fazio, renovated two years ago; Turtle Point by Jack Nicklaus; Cougar Point by Gary Player, and Oak Point by Clyde Johnston.
If golf isn’t your sport, there are plenty of other activities on Kiawah, from touring the island by bike, kayaking, paddleboarding, fitness classes, archery lessons and art classes. The resort was named #1 Tennis Resort in the World by Tennis Resorts Online. Under the direction of Roy Barth since 1976, the tennis program is one of the finest in the country.
The last day of the weekend we toured the island on bicycles, swam in the warm ocean and ate some delicious gelato from “Beaches & Cream,” the hotel’s sweet shop. On our way back to Charleston, we browsed the shops at Freshfields Village, located just before the entrance to the island at the traffic circle.
We can’t wait to return!