Kiawah Island is one of several vacation spots along the coast of South Carolina where people play golf – including the best professional players in the world who competed in the PGA championship in May 2021. Kiawah is so appealing to golf course developers, resort owners, and golfers because of the amenities nature offers for free: ten miles of white sandy beaches, live oaks, and swamps teeming with ospreys, herons, and alligators. It’s a 45-minute drive down the coast to Charleston’s boutiques and restaurants, and less than four hours from Charlotte. Golf is at the heart of Kiawah’s life and economy, but you don’t have to be a scratch player to enjoy yourself.
STAY: The Sanctuary Hotel and Spa at Kiawah, a luxury oceanfront hotel with 255 rooms, is the centerpiece of the Kiawah Island Resort, which also has 500 villas and rentals for up to 20 people. Book a spa appointment and enjoy a round of drinks or a casual lunch in The Ryder Cup Bar and take in the breathtaking views of the Ocean Course and the Atlantic Ocean.
EAT: The KISS Cafe on Johns Island, 20 minutes north, serves the best breakfast the locals say. Bohicket Marina & Market, just outside Seabrook Island, is a great place to grab a cold drink or ice cream cone after a long day at the beach. Head to Fischer’s Sports Pub & Grill, a relaxed restaurant with live music, happy hour specials and a crab leg night every Tuesday. For a date or a special occasion, dine at FortyEight – Wine Bar & Kitchen in Freshfields Village, where you can nibble from a sausage board, enjoy shrimp scampi or filet mignon and choose from 48 wines by the glass. With a prepaid card you can try as many varieties as you like and choose between three tasting sizes at the self-service wine stations. (They also have 48 beers to choose from daily.) Save space for some local handcrafted chocolates for dessert.
PLAY: Bring your bike (or rent one from Surfscooter Bikes) and cycle along the sea with the sand under the tires or explore more than 30 miles of paved trails. In Freshfields Village, stop for a cream lemonade at Vincent’s Drug Store & Soda Fountain, then browse the shelves for board games, sunglasses, greeting cards, and souvenirs. The outdoor shopping village has mainstays like Lilly Pulitzer and lululemon, as well as a mix of local upscale boutiques. Check out the Music on the Green events calendar in the center of the village and pack a towel or beach chair for an evening of live music. For a quick afternoon adventure, the famous 400-year-old Angel Oak Tree is a 20-minute drive from the resort.
The Ocean Course, where Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship in May 2021, has 10 holes by the sea, more than any other course in the country. The Sanctuary recently benefited even more from the area when it opened The Cottages at The Ocean Course, four two-story, four-bedroom cottages adjacent to the clubhouse with views of the driving range and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.