Guide to Kiawah Island: What To Do, See, and Experience

kiawah island beach

Guide to Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Kiawah really is like a hidden paradise. The scenic drive leads you through hundreds and hundreds of beautiful trees covered with Spanish moss sweeping over streets, where you are then met with palm trees, marshes, unparalleled wildlife, beautiful homes, more oak trees and golf courses. As you enter the island it seems so remote and serene, yet Kiawah Island is home to so many different activities, beautiful destinations, houses and restaurants to make your vacation one to remember.

That has to be the reason groups and families come to the area time and time again. Here are some of our faves on the island.


What to Eat:

Honestly, the food on vacation can make a trip. We love trying new restaurants while traveling and seeing what the local flavors are all about. And here in the south, we LOVE BBQ, but along with some good barbecue, there are lots of other tasty options as well.

Cherrywood BBQ

Winning 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017’s People’s Choice Award for the best Mac-n-cheese, Cherrywood BBQ is a no-brainer for this list. It’s family oriented and casual. Make sure to make a reservation for a party of 8 or more. And with outside seating in the warmer months, you might just see a gator or two. Michael recommends the pulled pork nachos with a side of their famous mac-n-cheese.  You can’t go wrong with the variety of restaurants and quality meals presented by Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

La Tela Pizzeria

Located in Fresh Fields Village, this is the perfect place to go as you are winding down for the night. Grab a bite to eat and do a little bit of shopping while you are at it. The Neapolitan style pizzas and house-made pastas are fresh and amazing. Plus their desserts have us salivating. Michael recommends the prosciutto and arugula wood fire pizza, only after getting the mozzarella marinara.

Ryder Cup Bar

If you feel like going to the Ocean Course, but don’t feel like spending all the $$$$, go to Ryder Cup Bar instead. Settle in, grab a drink and maybe a burger and watch the waves crash on the beach for a dreamy setting and great night or afternoon in. Michael recommends starting with fried green tomatoes followed by the fish tacos or the Bagger burger and a local beer.  Ok, now I’m getting hungry.

Cantina 76

The fried chicken salad is too good. For you vegetarians/vegans out there, skip the fried chicken and the cheese and add black beans instead. You’re welcome. They also whip up some great margaritas. If you’re not feeling like a salad, try from their large assortment of tacos available.

The Station Deli

This may come as a surprise, but the restaurant/kitchen in the Fresh Fields Gas Station is one of our favorites. Open breakfast and lunch, this place is one of the cheaper options on the list, and won’t disappoint. Michael recommends any of the specials that the chef is featuring.



If you are looking for something a little on the high end, for a special night out or just because, try Hege’s. You can tell they have put great thought behind all ingredients used in their dishes. So you really can’t go wrong with anything here.

The Atlantic Room

The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island

I love the drive to the Ocean Course. It’s my favorite part of the island! Then as you enter the clubhouse, the aroma alone is reason enough to give The Atlantic Room a try. There is a dress code, so make sure to look that up before heading in. But if you decide to splurge, we definitely give this two thumbs up. Michael recommends skipping dinner and going straight to dessert to try the bread pudding.

The Ocean Room

Located at The Sanctuary, The Ocean Room is a premier steakhouse on the island. The menu will change seasonally, so you can always be sure you are getting the freshest options available. There is even a sushi lounge for even more options. Michael recommends the filet with a glass of wine.

What to Do:

Tee Time

With five championship golf courses on Kiawah Island, golfers come in flocks to the area. One of the more challenging courses, The Ocean Course, has been home to multiple PGA championships. But beware, when that wind hits, it could really send your ball off-course.

The Ocean Course, golf course on Kiawah Island

Drive to The City

You can’t come to Kiawah without making your way to downtown Charleston. With beautiful historic homes, waterfront parks, cobblestone streets, charming markets, and a rich art scene, it’s no wonder that Charleston has been ranked the number one city in the United States AND world in years past.

Kayak and Paddleboard Tours

waterway on Kiawah Island at sunset

There are so many different connecting waterways in the Charleston area. Get a different view of Kiawah in a kayak or paddleboard. You can do tours or rentals, it’s totally up to you. And if you’re lucky, you could see a dolphin or two.

Take Part in Local Events

There always seems to be things going on in the Charleston area (Kiawah included!), take a look at the local events happening when you will be in town. Ranging from live music to wine tasting to fishing to farmers markets to fitness and art classes, you can find things the whole family will enjoy!

Night Heron Park

With pools, frisbee golf, biking trails (with bike rentals), playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball, fishing and more you could easily spend a day here, or two! Have fun outside while also experiencing some of the amazing wildlife that exists on Kiawah Island. Check out the nature programs here as well. There are many tours, including a turtle walk certain times of the year.

baby sea turtle heading to see on Kiawah Island

Ride Your Bike at Low Tide Along the Beach

You really can make your way from point A to point B so much quicker on a bike. We love biking up and down the beach to see the change in scenery, nature and homes along the island. But make sure to go during low tide, so that you don’t have to ride your bike through soft sand (unless you’re wanting a really good workout).

Watch the Sunset

Sunset on Kiawah island with birds

Whether you are in the photography scene or just want to enjoy the sunset, there are spectacular views here on the island. Go to the beach, pack a picnic or head here after dinner for a peaceful night listening to the waves crash on the beach and watching the sunset. We also love the sunsets at Mingo Point.

Get a Little TLC

Need I say more? Not all of us have the luxury of getting a vacation from our vacation, so end your stay on the island with a little pampering so you can go home well rested and refreshed. Get a massage, facial, salon services, body lift, or just spend the whole day there and get it all done.

Photography Session

A trip to the beach isn’t complete without the classic set of portraits for your to remember the good times on Kiawah and Seabrook Island. Photographics Photography has been capturing memories on Kiawah Island for over 13 years. So you could say we know the area. Come ready to pose for pictures, have a good time and play on the beach with your loved ones for a collection of photos that will last a lifetime. And, don’t be afraid to wear some color if you like. 😉  Check out these useful family portrait planning tips.

Think we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below. 🙂


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