Enchantment by the sea: Kiawah Island Golf Resort

A magical seaside getaway and the finest in Southern hospitality are waiting to be experienced at Kiawah (pronounced KEE-a-wah) Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. The refuge, located about 15 miles south from Charleston, sits along 10 miles of shoreline inhabited by an array of wildlife, including alligators, sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, bobcats and more than 200 species of birds. All ages will enjoy exploring the 10,000-acre island.

The enchantment begins along the picturesque road leading to the island, draped by Spanish moss, majestic oaks and tropical palmettos. Kiawah Island looks like a scene from a fairy tale, with lush green vegetation, lakes, creeks and marshes.

A scenic, meandering drive through forests, parks, private luxury homes and villas leads to the lavish Sanctuary Hotel. Imbued with luxury and sophistication, the hotel lobby features a grand living room with ornate furnishings, a fireplace and collections from the early 20th century. A wall of windows showcases the courtyard facing the ocean. The oceanfront resort has 255 guest rooms, each providing a plush interior, including marble walk-in showers and deep soaking tubs.

A place of rejuvenation

A grand staircase leads to the The Spa at The Sanctuary, which incorporates outdoor elements such as mineral-rich mud and natural enzymes and has earned the Five Star award from Forbes Travel Guide. Recommended is a deep-tissue massage, which will soothe every muscle after a long journey. An expert masseuse will relieve all tension, offering rejuvenation for the remainder of the stay.

Following the massage, head to the solarium, where the pampering continues in the mineral whirlpool, sauna and steam room.

Wildlife and natural beauty

The most strenuous part of vacationing in Kiawah is deciding which activities to choose from. The island was recently named the No. 1 island in North America by Conde Nast Traveler. There is an abundance of options conducive for all ages. A great choice for the whole family is the Dolphin Cruise along Kiawah River. The saltwater is favorable to dolphins, sharks, oysters and other sea life. Many of the on-site excursions, such as the two-hour kayaking or paddleboarding tour, include an expert guide who also offers training before the journey.

A great land activity for the family is the alligator tour. The guided tour includes fascinating facts about these ancient behemoths, which are found throughout the property. A great way to explore the land is by bike. Be on the lookout for nests of ospreys and eagles. Teens will enjoy Get Lost!, a bicycle scavenger hunt where they use a compass and map to find a series of checkpoints. A trail leader accompanies and shares insight along the miles of trails.

Yoga on the beach is highly recommended to get centered and feel the calm of the ocean. For golfers, the Ocean Course is sure to please, offering a 7,356-yard, par-72 landscape. Golf Digest magazine named the Ocean Course America’s toughest golf course, as well as the fourth best public course in America.

A full list of additional activates, including art classes and fishing, can be viewed at www.kiawahresort.com/recreation.

Culinary delights

Kiawah Island is a culinary haven where guests can choose from an upscale steakhouse to casual barbecue.

The Ocean Room, which has received awards from Forbes and AAA, offers fine steak and seafood. For more informal dining, consider the Ryder Cup Bar at sunset, adjacent to The Ocean Room. Recommended are the crispy shrimp or lobster mac ‘n’ cheese appetizers. The shrimp is lightly fried and topped with a creamy sweet and chili sauce. For an entrée, the Thai lobster crab or traditional fish and chips are excellent choices. Save room for the Nutella dessert, which combines salted caramel and cherry coulis. It is served with a tart cherry sorbet.

For fine Italian, Tomasso at Turtle Point is the perfect choice. Start off with the Brussels sprouts salad; the chef blanches the sprouts overnight, giving the salad a unique texture and flavor. The crunchy delight is infused with paprika oil and pine nuts before serving. The recommended entrée is the swordfish scalloppini, cooked to perfection and topped with a lemon caper sauce.

For Southern casual fare, enjoy Southern-style barbecue at Cherrywood BBQ. Must-haves are the oak and hickory-smoked free range chicken and the succulent ribs, topped with maple chipotle rib sauce. Signature sauces are provided at the table. The restaurant overlooks the golf course, silhouetted by tall palm trees and small lakes that are home to local gators.

Fresh soups, deli sandwiches, pizza and more can be found at The Market at Town Center.

Kiawah Island provides an enchanting balance of diverse ecosystems and wildlife and seaside sophistication. The island’s coastal ecology will captivate all visitors seeking an adventure. For more information on the one-stop destination, visit www.kiawahresort.com.

If you go
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
One Sanctuary Beach Drive
Kiawah Island, SC 29455
(800) 654-2924 or www.kiawahresort.com