Kiawah Island is a barrier island situated southwest of Charleston in South Carolina. This scenic locale is a slice of sand, marshes and wide-open skies – a dreamy destination for some time out. Among its white sandy shores, numerous golf clubs provide the chance to try out championship courses, while bike trails allow for further exploration of its natural beauty.
Working out where to stay on the 11 square miles of this private island can be difficult – there are numerous options, after all. We’re here to make things simpler for you. Our guide on where to stay in Kiawah Island has all the answers to your questions, and is packed with all the information you’ll need to help you choose the perfect place for you. Let’s dive right in!
Best Apartment in Kiawah Island – Minimalist Condo Close to Beach
This relaxing option has simple yet sleek interior design, so you can enjoy a stay on Kiawah Island in style and comfort. Kick back on the screened porch with the sound of the ocean lapping the beach just steps away from the condo itself, or make use of the on-site swimming pool. This place feels secluded and is packed with everything you’ll need for a quiet, convenient getaway by the beach.
Best Villa in Kiawah Island – Oceanfront Villa
With its deck looking out towards the ocean, this Kiawah Island villa is one that you won’t want to miss out on if you’re visiting with family. Inside, its large communal spaces are filled with natural light (thanks to those big windows), and it’s decked out with a bright and breezy colour palette. With enough room for eight guests, families won’t have any trouble slotting right into a temporary life by the sea.
Best Hotel in Kiawah Island – Andell Inn
Staying at the Andell Inn gives guests access to a whole lot of amenities at this stylish hotel – think swimming pool, gym, restaurant and a sleek bar, too. The rooms here come furnished with large beds, and the rooms also enjoy stunning views. The hotel is surrounded by green fields and a lake, with shops and restaurants right on its doorstep.
West Beach is the first place any visitor sees as they drive through the gates onto Kiawah Island. Back in the mid-1970s, this was the first district of the island to be developed into the resort it is today.
Just across the Kiawah River from Kiawah Island is the small island community of Seabrook. Boasting four miles of sparkling Charleston coastline, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy days at the beach and relaxing evenings under the stars.
East Beach is the ideal location for a family trip to Kiawah Island. Centred around Night Heron Park, East Beach was first developed a decade or so after West Beach, and has a more laid-back atmosphere.
Top 3 Neighborhoods to Stay in Kiawah Island
Long inhabited and dotted with golf resorts and private beaches, Kiawah Island is the perfect place to stay near Charleston. It’s a relatively laid-back spot where visitors can enjoy time chilling on the quiet beaches, soaking up stunning sunsets and indulging in delicious food.
There are various tidal creeks and rivers to explore, as well as salt marshes and trails. The island is split into a few different neighbourhoods, each offering something slightly different.
The main hub of the island is West Beach Village. It’s the oldest resort development and is popular with golfers, thanks to numerous courses and clubs. It’s not just about golf though, with a number of beachfront properties providing a relaxing seaside vacation.
Further along the coast is East Beach Village (aka East Beach). This district is a little more lively, with plenty of outdoor activities and places to eat. Accommodation here either looks over lagoons or sits right on the sand.
Seabrook Island lies just across the river from Kiawah Island. There are multiple private beaches and holiday homes here, making it an ideal spot for couples looking for a romantic getaway. It’s not technically on Kiawah Island, but the footbridge connecting these two barrier islands makes it more than easy to travel between the two.
Now that you get the general idea, let’s dive into the details of what makes each one of these spots an ideal base for you.
West Beach is the first place any visitor sees as they drive through the gates onto Kiawah Island. Back in the mid-1970s, this was the first district of the island to be developed into the resort it is today. It’s still very much the hub of the island.
Despite being only one mile away from East Beach, there are definitely differences between them. West Beach boasts the Cougar Point Golf Club: a prominent landmark in the district that’s been recently redeveloped. This has inspired much more revitalisation in this high-end area.
Best Apartment in West Beach – Minimalist Condo Close to Beach
Like West Beach, this apartment has also been recently remodelled. Decked out with minimalist furnishings and painted with a fresh, neutral colour palette, the interiors of this Kiawah Island condo are bright and stylish. There’s enough room to sleep up to three people here, and there’s an outdoor deck with views of the natural surroundings. It’s ideally located within walking distance of the sands of West Beach itself.
Best Villa in West Beach – Seascape Villa
This villa has a fantastic location in the heart of West Beach Village. From here it’s just a short stroll to nearby golf courses, the boardwalk and the beach. The villa sleeps up to four guests and has been recently renovated. The interiors are spacious and modern, with high wood-beamed ceilings and a neutral colour palette for a homey yet chic vacation home.
Best Beach House in West Beach – Ocean View Home
Those looking for something even closer to the beach should consider this special option. Set overlooking the sand, this beach house boasts a big open deck perfect for soaking up those sea views. Inside, you can expect stylish interiors, open-plan living space, and enough room for up to eight guests. It’s an ideal option for families or friends looking to spend time away together in West Beach.
Things to See and Do in West Beach
- Head to West Beach Pool and Cantina for swimming shenanigans and great snacks.
- Spend the day chilling out on the sands of West Beach.
- Go up Marsh Island Viewing Tower for bird’s eye views of the surrounding scenery.
- Looking for something to take home? Make a beeline for Aubergine Home Collection for gifts and home decorations.
- Take a trip to Deep Water Vineyard, where you can sample wine in a beautiful location.
- Wander around the windswept Beachwalker Park for atmospheric sea views.
- Visit Straw Market to browse cute boutiques and have a bite to eat.
- Stroll to Mingo Point, an area of rivers and salt marshes that’s great for sunsets (and fishing).
- Play a round or two at Cougar Point Golf Course.
- Watch the dolphins feeding and playing at low tide around the inlet.
- Take a sunset cruise from Bohicket Marina (the marina is also a good spot for dinner and sundowners).
#2 Seabrook Island – Where to Stay in Kiawah Island for Couples
.Just across the river from Kiawah Island is the small community of Seabrook. Boasting four miles of sparkling Charleston coastline, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy days at the beach and relaxing evenings under the stars.
Over on Seabrook Island, its private beaches provide a quiet escape to those who need it. Though not technically part of Kiawah Island, it’s easy to travel between the two (there’s a pedestrian bridge), and it makes for a more secluded vacation spot than Kiawah. Seabrook also happens to be wildlife-rich, with chances to see dolphins and sea turtles offshore.
Best Condo in Seabrook Island – Modern Beachfront Condo
This condo is truly a beachfront retreat, ideal for couples looking for somewhere romantic to stay near Kiawah Island. This beautiful vacation home boasts both private beach access and spectacularly natural sea views; from the balcony, you can even spot dolphins playing and watch gorgeous sunsets. Inside there’s a king-sized bed and a well-equipped kitchen. There’s a breezy coastal theme in the interior design of the condo.
Best Beach House in Seabrook Island – Romantic Beach Getaway
This stylish beach house in Seabrook Island features unobstructed views of the ocean for the perfect place to wake up on the weekend. It’s not bad for sunsets either, being well-positioned to watch the sea as the sun goes down. It’s basically a couple’s sanctuary, with plenty of care and attention going into its white-washed walls and blue interior decor.
Best Hotel in Seabrook Island – Andell Inn
Andell Inn is a beautiful hotel that’s been stylishly decorated throughout to create a warm, inviting atmosphere. Here, you can choose from a range of room options, from queen rooms to full-on suites. The hotel boasts a swanky bar, a restaurant that serves up a great breakfast each morning, and an outdoor pool. Plus, there’s an on-site fitness centre if you want to keep up with your workouts. Definitively upmarket, this hotel is also within walking distance of shops and restaurants.
Things to See and Do in Seabrook Island
- Make your way to the very scenic Pelican Beach for awesome sunsets; it’s particularly popular with photographers.
- Tuck into tacos at Cantina 76, a laid-back Mexican eatery.
- Book yourself a horseback riding adventure on North Beach through Seabrook Island Equestrian Center.
- Swing by Vincent’s Drug Store and Soda Fountain for old-time feels and ice creams.
- Spend the day at Seabrook Island Beach Club with its lounge chairs, cafes and beach access.
- Grab a coffee and some breakfast at Java Java.
- Join the Seabrook Island Turtle Patrol as they detect the endangered loggerhead turtles that nest on the island’s beaches.
- Take a drive to Charleston Tea Garden, where you can tour the tea factory and its picturesque grounds.
- Head to McCann’s Irish Pub for good grub and a friendly atmosphere (and a drink or two).
- Hit the tidal creeks and rivers by kayak; St. Johns Kayak Tours is a good place to start.
#3 East Beach – Where to Stay in Kiawah Island for Families
East Beach is the ideal location for a family trip to Kiawah Island. Centred around Night Heron Park, East Beach was first developed a decade or so after West Beach and has a more laid-back atmosphere. It’s a bustling area with a sociable vibe in the air and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
The Sanctuary is a hotel complex popular with locals and visitors alike; it comes complete with restaurants and shops, as well as a spa. With resorts, swimming pools, open parklands and basketball courts, there’s an endless roster of things to do here. And if you fancy exploring slightly further afield, Charleston is less than an hour’s drive away.
Best Condo in East Beach – Bright and Spacious Condo
Rustic beach design meets plush modern furnishings in this stunning family vacation home. There’s space for up to five guests, with two bathrooms and a well-equipped kitchen. You’ll also find large open-plan living areas, high ceilings and an outdoor terrace for scenic views. It’s conveniently located for exploring East Beach Village at large, just half a mile or so from local restaurants and shops.
Best House in East Beach – Waterfront Townhouse
More of a traditional South Carolina style vacation home, staying here means being situated right at the edge of one of Kiawah Island’s many lagoons. The deck views out over the water are particularly beautiful, but the interiors are great, too. Think comfortable and stylish, with a rustic, homey touch. There’s enough room for a family of six to sleep across its three bedrooms (there are also three bathrooms, so no morning arguments). And all that just a minute’s stroll from the beach.
Best Villa in East Beach – Oceanfront Villa
If you’re looking for a touch of luxury for your family vacation, this villa provides everything you need. The villa has direct beach access, and has been completely renovated. The spacious deck is ideal for evening get-togethers and morning breakfasts alike. Up to eight people can sleep in this three-bedroom villa.
Things to See and Do in East Beach
- Pay a visit to Heron Park Nature Center for nature trails and the chance to splash around in its swimming pool.
- Go to Beaches and Cream for ice creams on the sand.
- Rent bikes and pedal along the beach; it’s uninterrupted for ten miles if you head east.
- Allow your little ones time to let off some steam at Night Heron Park Playground, complete with climbing walls and swings.
- Take a trip to the historic village of Rockville over on Wadmalaw Island.
- Head over to Wells Gallery – a small gallery showcasing a selection of local art.
- Spot birds and other wildlife from the Blue Heron Pond Observation Tower.
- Pick up the essentials for a picnic at Town Center Market, a family-friendly spot serving up food to go.
- Play a game of tennis at the well-loved Roy Barth Tennis Center.
- Stroll around the beautiful trails at Ocean Park.
Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Kiawah Island
You don’t have to be a lover of golf to enjoy a trip to Kiawah Island. There’s plenty on offer here with its nature trails, observation towers, and windswept coastline. It’s the perfect secluded beach destination for a laid back USA travel experience.
For the ultimate quiet get-away from it all, we would recommend hopping over to Seabrook Island for your trip to Kiawah. It’s chilled out and filled with great accommodation like this minimalist condo close to the beach, that you can’t help but want to stay in forever and ever.
And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip, which is super handy.
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