Kiawah Island: East Beach vs West Beach
Whether you choose beachfront or scenic view lodging, the resort’s numerous boardwalks provide easy beach access (made all the easier with our iconic green beach bikes and beach chair and umbrella service). But the vibe between East Beach and West Beach does differ enough that it’s worth considering the contrasts when making an important vacation decision.
Kiawah Island runs west to east from the front gate to The Ocean Course. So West Beach is the first neighborhood you encounter when you drive through the gates. The neighborhood formed the early nucleus of the island when it was first developed in the mid-1970s.
Cougar Point Golf Club enjoys pride of place as the predominant feature of West Beach. The Gary Player design reopened in fall of 2017 after a 10-month full renovation. Adding further luster, in summer of 2019 Cougar Point gained a stunning new clubhouse designed by world-renowned Robert A.M. Stern Architects. In addition to serving as a luxurious full-service golf clubhouse, the building also houses a family friendly sports tavern, The Players’ Pub.
The clubhouse is the first in a series of expansions that will revitalize West Beach as a pedestrian friendly village (all designed by Stern) comprised of a new conference center and a new (and relocated from East Beach) villa check-in. Other phases of this revitalizing expansion are expected in the coming months.
West Beach also retains a family-friendly pool complex complete with water slides and other water features and the poolside West Beach Cantina.
Villa lodging options in West Beach include a number of beachfront options in Shipwatch, Duneside, Seascape and Beach Townhouses. Scenic lodging options include Fairway Oaks, Courtside, Inlet Cove and Sparrow Pond.
The gateway to East Beach roughly coincides with Kiawah Island’s Night Heron Park. The park itself is the epicenter of the resort’s recreation and nature activities. It hosts the Heron Nature Center, the pavilion complex that serves as HQ for Kamp Kiawah, the fitness center, and an art studio, as well as two large resort pools and the poolside Night Heron Grill & Bar. And of course there is all the open parkland shaded by majestic live oaks, a basketball court, a sprawling field and a disc golf course.
Head a bit farther east (a slight digression: and East Beach also encompasses, The Sanctuary, Town Center Market — soon to relocate to Night Heron Park, which will still put it in East Beach), Roy Barth Tennis Center, Turtle Point Golf Club and Tommy Cuthbert Golf Learning Center. As far as dining options, East Beast gives you the aforementioned Night Heron Grill & Bar and the Market, but also Tomasso and Turtle Point Bar & Grill, plus all the hotel dining, including The Ocean Room and Jasmine Porch.
For lodging, East Beach offers two beachfront options: Windswept and Mariners Watch. Interior villas — Tennis, Parkside, Turtle Point and Turtle Cove — offer a choice of scenic views of either tennis courts, golf course, lagoon or lush maritime forest.
East Beach versus West Beach? This brief primer should help narrow down your choice between the quiet, laid-back vibe of West Beach or the (relatively) more bustling East Beach. Either way you can’t lose, because booking your villa accommodations through the resort in either neighborhood provides you access to all resort amenities, plus other perks (such as discounted golf rounds and tennis court time, and use of the resort’s fantastic shuttle service). So only one question remains. Are you ready to start planning your visit?