Choosing the right hair salon in Kiawah Island, SC, is a little bit like finding the perfect outfit. The materials feel great on your skin, the fabric is flattering to your body type, and when you try it on, you just know - this is the outfit that you have been looking for.
With thousands of hair salons and stylists in South Carolina, choosing the right one can be difficult. You want a salon that is clean, comfortable, and chic. But, more importantly, you need a stylist that "gets" you. Someone who takes the time to understand your preferences, your style, and your personality. You need a stylist who listens, is honest, and has the technical skills to turn your vision into a reality.
An excellent stylist epitomizes all those traits and knows how to adapt to changing beauty trends. They aren't afraid to take on a challenge.
Where the most talented hairstylists in Kiawah Island help bring out the beauty in each of our clients. We strive to provide each of our customers with the highest levels of customer service in the beauty industry. At Chroma, we offer a relaxing environment, skillful professionals, and a variety of products with environmentally safe and good-for-you ingredients.
Our goal is to make your salon experience special, from the moment you walk in to the second you leave. With a variety of professional hair and beauty services to choose from, we're sure you will rediscover the "beauty of you" every time you visit our salon.
The key to a great haircut and salon experience is to understand the services we offer, so you can choose the best selection for your needs. What do our salon services entail? Keep reading below to find out.
Let's be honest: DIY hair kits can be tricky to get right. They can be complicated to apply and usually have hard-to-understand instructions. Half the time, the color you're left with looks nothing like it does on the front of the box. In a perfect world, you should be able to pop into Target, pick a boxed hair color, apply it at home, and emerge out of your bathroom with a new, beautiful hair color. For most people, this never happens.
That's why people who want flawless color, professional application, and ease of convenience get their highlights at Chroma Hair Studio & Spa.
Whether you are changing your hair color completely or just want a few highlights to switch things up, we are here to create the look and style that you've been dreaming about. At Chroma Hair Studio & Spa, we specialize in the latest hair coloring trends using cutting-edge technology. That way, our clients get the freshest looks, coolest colors, and longest-lasting highlights in town. When you get your highlights done at our hair salon in Kiawah Island, we want you to leave excited and ready to share your new hair all over social.
Don't spend hours in the store trying to find the color you think will look great on you. Our team of professional stylists will consult with you about your vision and craft a custom highlight plan that fits you're your unique style. There's a reason why so many customers trust us with their highlights - we genuinely care about your hair and how it looks.
Our professional hair coloring services in Kiawah Island are a combination of art and science. The artistic results only last as long as the hair coloring products used, and we use the best. Our hairstylists and colorists are committed to helping you look and feel fabulous, whether you're planning a special occasion or just want to impress that special someone.
Ever taken a chance on a new look or hair color, only to end up embarrassed and unsatisfied with the results? You're not alone - we get calls every week from people just like you who need hair treatment Kiawah Island. Sadly, sometimes even the professionals get a color procedure wrong.
Other times, your hair has suffered from years of blow-drying and straightening, and it looks dry, brittle, and unattractive. You know you need a deep conditioning treatment, and you need it ASAP.
At Chroma Hair Studio & Spa, our technicians have treated all sorts of hair problems - from unprofessional coloring with multiple bands of different colors and tones to dehydrated hair and more. Sometimes, our client's entire hairstyle needs to be corrected. To do this, we stock multiple types of color and toners to revitalize hair and give it the color you've been dreaming of. Our team always puts a priority on the health and integrity of your hair, whether it's your first visit or your fortieth.Appointment Request
Do you ever wake up in the morning and wish that you had fuller, longer eyelashes? You're not alone - thousands of people crave darker, thicker lashes. They settle for what they have, not knowing that a revolutionary lash treatment is waiting for them at Chroma Hair Studio & Spa.
Eyelash extensions have revolutionized fashion culture, saving women untold amounts time and effort in front of the makeup mirror. The great news is that lash extensions aren't just reserved for Hollywood celebrities anymore. Anybody can have the long, fluttery lashes they've been craving, with a trip to our salon.
Eyelash extensions are a fabulous way to enhance your look on a long-term basis and provide you with a small change that makes a huge impact. From the moment you wake up to the time you go to bed, your lashes remain long, sexy, and sultry.
Our eyelash extension specialist works with your existing lashes to apply individual extensions to enhance the natural beauty of your eyes. Using a meticulous application process, we maintain the integrity of your natural lashes so they remain healthy and undamaged.
Whether you're looking for a wispy, effortless look or want your lashes to have mega volume, our lash extension technicians are here to cater to your needs.
Here are just a few reasons why women love our eyelash extension services in Kiawah Island:
If you're looking for a cost-conscious way to stand out from the crowd, contact our office today. We'd be happy to tell you more about our eyelash extension process and which lashes work best for your needs.
The Brazilian blowout: you've heard about the new craze, you've seen the stunning results, but haven't had a chance to sit down and receive the treatment yourself. Luckily, Chroma Hair Studio & Spa now offers this sought-after style right here in Kiawah Island, from certified Brazilian blowout stylists.
If you suffer from dull, frizzy hair that lacks life and shine, the Brazilian blowout is one of the best ways to get smooth, frizz-free hair. By using cutting-edge bonding technology, this customizable treatment doesn't damage your hair at all. Actually, it improves your hair's health by adding a protective layer of protein that smooths your hair for weeks on end.
This ultra-popular choice offers you a laundry list of benefits, like:
To get the best of both worlds, be sure to schedule your Brazilian blowout and custom hair color treatment in the same appointment. Call us today to learn more about our Brazilian blowouts and to schedule your appointment today.
There are many ways that you can reinvent yourself this season, but if you're ready to make a lasting impression, nothing beats a new hairstyle. While there is nothing wrong with sporting top knots, ponytails, or straight hair, a styled cut from Chroma Hair Studio & Spa will drastically improve your hair game.
Getting a new haircut isn't just fun - it makes you feel good, too, especially when you get a lot of positive compliments.
Our experienced stylists are tapped into today's hottest trends, so if you want to try something new, we're here to help. If you want to play it more traditional, our stylists have a solid foundation of time-tested techniques, to give your existing cut the edge it needs to impress. And sometimes, you need something simple and low-maintenance that cuts down on styling time and primping.
Not sure what kind of a cut you need? We're happy to give you our educated opinion and are happy to provide examples of what we think works. Whatever style you've got your eye on, we can make it a reality!
This cut will look great during the summer and will give you an innocent look that will get plenty of attention. Great for a short-term haircut or even something special for a big party or Gen-X event.
Go against the status quo and let your hair down this season. Pixie cuts and shags are all the rage, but rocking a Rapunzel-like haircut will set you apart from the crowd. If you're looking for a more natural, classic look, this could be your haircut.
If you're looking to switch up your hair color but can't decide between Balayage or Ombre because, well, you don't know the difference - don't worry. You're not alone!
Balayage is a French technique for highlighting the hair in which the dye is painted to create a natural-looking effect. The goal is to create soft, subtle highlights that make your hair look like it's been kissed by the sun.
While Balayage is the technique of painting the hair, Ombre focuses on the style of the hair. It is the transition from a lighter shade to a darker shade. Typically, Ombres work best for brunettes, but the style can is suitable for blondes too. To achieve the effect of an Ombre, there must be a smooth transition between colors. While the Ombre is a beautiful look, you'll need to work with a professional to get the best results.
Luckily, we offer both Ombre and Balayage in Kiawah Island, SC! Short on time? Busy schedule? Only available on weekends? Chroma Hair Studio & Spa offers flexible appointment scheduling to accommodate even the busiest clients. You deserve a fresh new style, and we're here to help when the time is right for you.
If you're looking for a hair salon that offers high-end styling without expensive pricing, you're in the right place. Our goal is to exceed your expectations and leave you feeling beautiful, whether you need a touch-up or a total makeover. We offer a relaxing salon atmosphere, skillful stylists, and only the best in professional brands. When it's time for your next haircut, highlight session, or eyelash extension, look no further than Chroma Hair Studio & Spa.Appointment Request
From renowned tennis and golf facilities to miles of breathtaking beaches, there's so much to see and do on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Here's your guide to experiencing it all.Kiawah Island is an upscale destination in South Carolina’s Lowcountry known for its beautiful scenery and residences, and its wide variety of family-friendly activities. Here, we’re sharing our experience with a destination within the destination — the Kiawah Isla...
From renowned tennis and golf facilities to miles of breathtaking beaches, there's so much to see and do on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Here's your guide to experiencing it all.
Kiawah Island is an upscale destination in South Carolina’s Lowcountry known for its beautiful scenery and residences, and its wide variety of family-friendly activities. Here, we’re sharing our experience with a destination within the destination — the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Don’t let the name fool you. Yes, it’s famous for its golf courses, but there’s so much more to it than that! For some, the draw might be miles of expansive beachfront to explore or quiet marshlands to discover by kayak. Some might prefer to dedicate the weekend to indulging in local food and drink, while others may stick to the area’s renowned tennis or golf facilities, where it’s exciting to play on the same turf as the pros. Here’s a weekend itinerary that allows you to take advantage of it all.
The resort is 33 miles from the Charleston airport and less than that from the historic area of town, so Kiawah’s location makes for a great way to experience relaxing beach time in conjunction with all the charms of Charleston. Kiawah accommodations include the luxurious Sanctuary Hotel, with its 255 rooms on the ocean, and a variety of villas spread out over the property under picturesque live oak trees. You can also rent one of the larger private homes and still enjoy resort privileges by going through Kiawah’s website. Check-in time is mid-afternoon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get there earlier and start exploring.
SB Note: As with many resorts, making reservations well ahead of time for meals and activities is highly recommended.
All 255 rooms at Kiawah’s luxury hotel, The Sanctuary, come with balconies and upscale amenities: Italian linen sheets, a deep soaking tub, and plush robes in the closet. Image: Kiawah Island Golf Resort
The Sanctuary opened in 2004, and the idea was for it to feel like a grand, historic seaside mansion. With that in mind, the furnishings are elegant but not over the top. The expansive lobby offers plenty of places to sit, and almost all rooms possess a view of the Atlantic Ocean. Image: Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Head to one of the bicycle rentals (one at The Sanctuary and another at West Beach Pool Shop), where you can secure a bike — there are plenty of options, including an adult tricycle or bicycle for two — then grab a map and start exploring! Kiawah excels at its easy-to-follow bike paths, and you’ll find 30 miles of trails that wind through wooded areas, over bridges, through neighborhoods, and along golf courses. You’ll likely spot signs pointing to beach access and, by all means, head that way. Kiawah’s vast shoreline is perfect for long walks, but bike-riding on the beach is a big thing here, too!
As beach-goers ponder the pros and cons of the Gulf Coast versus the East Coast, consider this: the firmly packed sand at Kiawah is ideal for bike-riding by the ocean, with plenty of space to avoid running into people. Bikes are easy to rent at Kiawah, and getting around the resort is a breeze with 30 miles of dedicated bike trails (plus the beach). Image: Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Golf courses and bike trails at Kiawah are surrounded by lush, almost other-worldly landscaping, such as this hole on the Cougar Point Course along the marshlands. Image: Kiawah Island Golf Resort/O’Brien
Lowcountry cuisine is the theme at Jasmine Porch, a restaurant at The Sanctuary. It’s a great choice for breakfast, but it’s also a relaxed, delicious option for dinner. Consistent with the hotel’s decor, brick walls and oak floors bring in a bit of Charleston charm, and there are patio tables if the weather cooperates. The restaurant menu boasts fresh-caught choices, but when in doubt, go with the specialty here: shrimp and grits.
On day two of your expedition, get up close and personal with Kiawah’s natural beauty in a kayak. The scenic Mingo Point offers guided and self-guided kayaks through the marshes, where you can observe abundant birdlife and maybe even a dolphin. Kiawah’s Night Heron Nature Center is a big hit with children, but all ages can learn from its displays and educational materials.
Natural beauty is abundant at Kiawah, and the resort loves to help guests get up close and personal with its naturalist programs. Here, a bird-watching naturalist brings his scope and binoculars to view the dozens of bird species on the island. Image: Lisa Mowry
There are two ways to get around the resort other than a car: the aforementioned bicycles and a continuously running shuttle. One way or another, get yourself over to Tomasso at Turtle Point for lunch with an Italian flair. Hand-tossed pizzas and artisan salads are one way to go, but there’s heartier fare, too, such as meatball subs and short-rib grilled cheese.
Next, relax by the pool or splurge on a spa treatment — both excellent ways to spend an afternoon. The Spa at The Sanctuary is one of the reasons the resort received a five-star Forbes rating, so you’ll want to try it out! The spa’s spacious layout includes multiple relaxation rooms, a whirlpool/sauna/steam room, and thoughtful refreshments. In other words, arrive early for your massage or facial treatment to enjoy the whole luxurious experience.
Receiving a treatment at The Spa at The Sanctuary is a well-earned splurge. Make sure to get there early to enjoy a soak in the whirlpool or relax in one of the lounges. Image: Kiawah Island Golf Resort
The Sanctuary’s U-shaped building offers a large lawn with plenty of places to sit and be mesmerized by the ocean. Image: Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Whether or not you’re a golf enthusiast, head over to the famed Ocean Course, the #4 public golf course in the U.S. Even non-golfers will swoon over the rugged, breezy landscape, which is often compared to locations in Scotland and Ireland. And even without a round on the coveted course, visitors can access the clubhouse, including a pro shop and dining area. Grab a drink at the Ryder Cup Bar, with its gorgeous views of the course and ocean. The Atlantic Room next door has a similar ocean setting with signature seafood selections for dinner. All the appetizers look terrific, but don’t miss the crispy shrimp starter with sweet chili sauce — They apparently removed it from the menu one day and received so many complaints that it was back 24 hours later! The Country Captain seafood stew is also well-known, and you can’t go wrong with a catch of the day prepared with seasonal vegetables.
The Ryder Cup Bar, also at the Ocean Course, is a pub-type spot for lunch or a drink. Image: Lisa Mowry
Restaurants are strategically located around the resort, but be sure to visit one of the spots at the Ocean Course (home to all of the significant PGA championships) to feast your eyes on the gorgeous view. The Atlantic Room at the Ocean Course is open nightly for dinner, and you can’t go wrong with the fresh-caught seafood. Image: Kiawah Island Golf Resort
The Atlantic Room’s Seafood Stew is one of the most popular items on the menu, with its array of ocean delights: fresh-caught shrimp, clams, crabs, and Carolina Gold Rice in a special broth. Image: Kiawah Island Golf Resort
If you can spare another day of activities before heading home, start the morning of day three with Yoga on the Beach. Then choose from any number of adventures such as fishing expeditions, tennis lessons, mosaics, or a photography cruise. Of course, there’s also nothing wrong with sitting on the beach, watching the shorebirds do their thing, and dreaming of your next trip to Kiawah. After all, it’s known for its repeat visitors!
For more information on Kiawah Island Golf Resort, head to kiawahresort.com.
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All products featured on TravelAwaits are independently selected by our writers and editors. We may earn commission when you click on or make a purchase via our links.There are so many amazing beaches to visit in South Carolina, it’s hard to choose a favorite. From the gorgeous scenery to the endless activities, there’s a perfect beach for everyone in this coastal state.There’s just something exceptional about South Carolina’s beaches keeps drawing me back. We usually enjoyed beach vacations in Maryland ...
All products featured on TravelAwaits are independently selected by our writers and editors. We may earn commission when you click on or make a purchase via our links.
There are so many amazing beaches to visit in South Carolina, it’s hard to choose a favorite. From the gorgeous scenery to the endless activities, there’s a perfect beach for everyone in this coastal state.
There’s just something exceptional about South Carolina’s beaches keeps drawing me back. We usually enjoyed beach vacations in Maryland or Virginia when I was a child. They were great, and I didn’t think a beach could get any better until I was in my 30s and took a trip to South Carolina.
Here are a few of my favorite South Carolina beaches, in no particular order.
Surfside Beach is a favorite because it was the first South Carolina beach I visited. Considered the most affordable and family-friendly beach in South Carolina, Surfside Beach is located 10 miles southwest of Myrtle Beach and north of Garden City Beach. There are 36 beach access points along 2 miles of beach coastline.
It’s not as touristy as some of the other beaches in the state, and it has a laid-back vibe. It is rarely crowded. The sand is like white powder, the beach is always clean, and the water is warm.
When we visited, we stayed in rental properties. We plan to stay at the Holiday Inn Oceanfront on our next visit. It has gorgeous ocean views, and you benefit from a full-service oceanfront hotel, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and newly renovated rooms without the hustle and bustle of more commercialized beach areas. It is ideal for a romantic getaway or a multigenerational family gathering. Plus, they have fun events happening, like “Date Night on the Beach,” and a communal fire pit at night around the pool.
The town area is a quiet beach town. You can find many family-friendly attractions like mini-golf, a water park, and delicious eateries within walking distance of most hotels and rental properties.
Surfside Beach is a short drive up the coast to the Myrtle Beach excitement, shopping outlets, the Coastal Mall, other fun entertainment, and the Myrtle Beach International Airport.
Surfside Beach is definitely worth visiting for a quiet and relaxing beach vacation!
The most popular beach destination in the state, the Myrtle Beach area, is often referred to as the Grand Strand. It boasts 60 miles of beach and 1.2 miles of oceanfront boardwalk. Historical sites, outdoor adventures, and a mild annual average temperature of 73 degrees with 215 sunny days per year make the Myrtle Beach area a dream vacation spot.
This beach town has something for everyone to enjoy. From beachfront amusement parks to the Ripley’s Aquarium to shows at popular theaters, there is plenty to do and see in Myrtle Beach. It is the perfect destination for the 50+ traveler for many reasons. In fact, many people move to Myrtle Beach after vacationing there.
Myrtle Beach attracts more than 19 million visitors per year. It is a premier vacation destination with beautiful clean beaches, outlet malls, accommodations at every price point, scrumptious local cuisine, and more than 100 golf courses.
The gorgeous, powdery white-sand beach is the number one attraction in Myrtle Beach. You can enjoy mild waves and fun watersports, relax, and play in the surf. But there is so much more. There are many places to enjoy live entertainment with cocktails and great dining.
Head up to North Myrtle Beach, where you can enjoy great dance venues like Duck’s Nightlife and Fat Harold’s. In the north end of Myrtle Beach, there’s 3001 Nightlife, which is filled with the 50+ crowd.
Calabash-style restaurants are prevalent along the Grand Strand, as well as Carolina/Lowcountry cuisine. In the area, you can find just about every kind of food imaginable, from steak to ribs to homestyle cooking and pizza.
Fun fact: Over 3.2 million rounds of golf are played per year in the Myrtle Beach area. That’s a lot of golf!
Just south of the busy Myrtle Beach is Myrtle Beach State Park. The thing I remember most about it was the beautiful flowers blooming all along the entrance road.
This state park covers 312 acres and has picnic areas, campground sites, a fishing pier, a nature center, equestrian facilities, surf fishing, nature trails, and nearly a mile of clean beach that is rarely crowded.
They have a large parking area and a beach concession stand for snacks or lunch. We often took a picnic lunch with us.
We usually spent at least two days on this beach to avoid the crowds when we were in the area. There is an entry fee per person to visit this state park, and they have a discount for seniors.
If you enjoy history, wildlife, or fishing, Huntington Beach State Park is an ideal beach to visit, with more than 2,500 acres to enjoy away from the hustle and bustle of some of the more hectic beaches in the state. This state park boasts the 1930s-era Moorish-style Atalaya Castle, which is a national historic landmark. Over 300 species of birds live in the park.
Approximately 17 miles south of Myrtle Beach State Park, Huntington Beach State Park has a 3-mile-long beach and is a popular surf fishing location. There is a 2-mile hiking trail, picnic facilities, and campgrounds in the park.
There is a fee to visit the state park and an additional fee for visiting the castle.
Pro Tip: Brookgreen Gardens is nearby, and the gardens are gorgeous and well worth a visit.
Everyone loves an island experience. Many consider the private Kiawah Island in South Carolina to be paradise. It features 10 miles of spectacular beaches, sand dunes, maritime forestry, and lush marshes, providing gorgeous beach scenery that is simply unique.
While most Kiawah Island beaches are private, Kiawah Beachwalker Park has a public beach area. In addition to the beaches, there are waterfront golf courses, scenic trails, and some beautiful and luxurious resorts.
Editor’s Note: Really want to avoid the crowds? Our own Jeanine Consoli recommends these 9 Incredible Things To Do On Kiawah Island During The Off-Season.
A step up from your average beach, Hilton Head is the perfect beach to visit when you want to indulge in a bit of luxury. Sitting approximately 30 miles from Savannah, Georgia, Hilton Head features gorgeous beaches, luxury spas, tennis, golf, and a leisurely-paced lifestyle. It is a huge draw for those seeking a touch of luxury.
Hilton Head is a 42-square-mile barrier island with 12 miles of beautiful sandy beaches. The most popular beach in Hilton Head is Coligny Beach Park. A scenic shoreline and a wealth of amenities make this park a favorite for beachgoers.
Vacationers go to Hilton Head to relax. The nightlife consists primarily of leisurely sunset dinners and live waterfront music.
Pro Tip: Look before getting into the water. Jellyfish and stingrays are prevalent during the summer months.
An oceanfront oasis, Daufuskie Island in South Carolina consists of primarily undeveloped conservancy land. This tiny island off the coast of Hilton Head is only accessible by boat or ferry. While it isn’t far from the mainland, its remote nature makes it feel like it is a world away. There are only about 400 residents on the island.
One could spend an entire week in Haig Point, the private community on the island, without seeing more than a dozen individuals. You have the beach to yourself.
The island is a historical hub and is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are self-guided tours and guided history tours.
Art studios and galleries and a rum distillery call the island home. The Daufuskie Island Distillery is one of only two island distilleries in the U.S.
Visitors enjoy a show of daily wildlife experiences: bottlenose dolphins leaping out of the water on the shoreline; loggerhead turtles nesting each spring on the shore; and the trotting sound of Marsh Tacky horses.
Horseback rides on the beach are offered year round, and golf lovers can tee it up with ocean views at Haig Point’s signature course.
The Daufuskie Island Ferry offers service every 3 hours to and from the island. Tour Daufuskie takes the stress out of a day at the beach with packages that include chairs, a tent, and beach items for the day, so you don’t have to schlep anything with you.
There are fun accommodation options for overnight visits on the island. Visitors can enjoy a secluded beach getaway by staying in a lighthouse dating back to 1873 or a 1910 mansion built as a summer retreat.
Pro Tip: Enjoy the island while exploring from your rented golf cart. There are no cars on the island.
South Carolina is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. From Myrtle Beach to Hilton Head, there are plenty of amazing beaches to choose from. Each offers its own unique charm and appeal. If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy the sun and sand, visit one of South Carolina’s many world-class beaches.
PAWLEYS ISLAND — The Pawleys Island Town Council will hire a consultant to develop a rising sea level plan the town hopes will open itself up to grant money for adaptation strategies, such as improved drainage and flooding mitigation.The seaside town will work with Elko Coastal Consulting, a Folly Beach-based company headed by Nicole Elko. Elko serves as executive director of South Carolina Beach Advocates, a group founded by elected officials of South Carolina beach communities.Elko has also worked on a sea level plan fo...
PAWLEYS ISLAND — The Pawleys Island Town Council will hire a consultant to develop a rising sea level plan the town hopes will open itself up to grant money for adaptation strategies, such as improved drainage and flooding mitigation.
The seaside town will work with Elko Coastal Consulting, a Folly Beach-based company headed by Nicole Elko. Elko serves as executive director of South Carolina Beach Advocates, a group founded by elected officials of South Carolina beach communities.
Elko has also worked on a sea level plan for Folly Beach, a marsh management plan for Kiawah Island and a coastal management consultancy with Myrtle Beach.
Pawleys Island Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri, who serves on the South Carolina Beach Advocates board of directors, said he believes having such a plan in place will make it easier for the town to seek grant money for adaptation strategies in the future. Pawleys Island Mayor Brian Henry introduced Elko’s proposal at the April 18 town council meeting by mentioning a pilot program set up around the Pawleys Island Town Hall to clean out drains and replace backflow preventers to fight flooding.
Fabbri likened Pawleys Island’s situation to that of a company needing a business plan to receive a loan.
“Without the ammunition and having a plan that really spells out kind of the starting point of what you’re trying to achieve, you’re not going to get it,” Fabbri said.
Elko’s plan for Folly Beach considered three feet of sea level rise through 2066.
The Folly Beach plan suggested infrastructure projects to improve drainage and offer strategic education for residents and elected officials as long-term goals for the town. Elko developed the plan alongside the university-based conservation program S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program at the University of South Carolina.
“If you read through those studies and plans that were put together, you would think they were talking about Pawleys Island,” Henry said.
The plan will not cost more than $11,900. Fabbri said that $10,000 was already in the town budget for consulting.
“I knew that we would have to look into getting the services of someone like Nicole who has a lot of knowledge in coastal resilience and knows where to go to find the money, and she has a history of successfully getting those grant funds,” Fabbri said.
From inside of Voysey’s, the private restaurant that overlooks Kiawah Island’s Cassique course, a diner might be tricked into believing that this country club island is just like any other luxury destination. The windows that frame the course betray swaying grasses, moody greens and nearly imperceptible stick-figure golfers enjoying the splendor of one of the country’s most celebrated golf courses.But the barrier island of Kiawah, some 25 miles south of Charleston, S.C., is more than a golf destination with premier b...
From inside of Voysey’s, the private restaurant that overlooks Kiawah Island’s Cassique course, a diner might be tricked into believing that this country club island is just like any other luxury destination. The windows that frame the course betray swaying grasses, moody greens and nearly imperceptible stick-figure golfers enjoying the splendor of one of the country’s most celebrated golf courses.
But the barrier island of Kiawah, some 25 miles south of Charleston, S.C., is more than a golf destination with premier beachfront homes. Kiawah Island has solidified itself as one of the most eco-friendly residential areas and tourist destinations in the United States, with conservation efforts dating back nearly half a century. Visitors are the beneficiaries of these extensive efforts, and the island is a rare example of how tourism and ecological concern can coexist.
In 1973, Kiawah Island established the Kiawah Turtle Patrol, an organization that tracks and protects the island’s native population of nesting loggerhead turtles. Soon after, Kiawah Investment, a Kuwaiti-owned company, purchased the island from heirs to a lumber company operator and, in 1975, conducted an environmental inventory of the island over the course of 16 months, studying natural habitats, wildlife and archaeological history, said Donna Windham, executive director of the Kiawah Conservancy.
The widespread inventory led to a master plan, which has since been enacted by the town of Kiawah, that combines environmental activism with tourism and leisure. “It was a whole new environment for them,” Windham said of the Kuwaiti effort. “They took it very seriously that this island was special.” Today, Windham said, the Kiawah Conservancy operates as a nonprofit land trust for the island, encouraging the protection of the environment by working in conjunction with landowners.
The conservancy, established in 1997, can hold land and issue easements. It has, to date, preserved “2,273 acres of Kiawah’s 10,000 acres,” according to the island’s website. In January 2000, Windham said, 152 acres of land known as Little Bear Island — a nesting destination for coastal birds such as the piping plover, peregrine falcon and osprey — were preserved by the Wetlands America Trust, part of the Ducks Unlimited nonprofit conservation group. The easement was updated in 2007 to include protection from the trust and the Kiawah Island Natural Habitat Conservancy.
As a traveler, you may see no concrete indication of the infrastructure that governs the island’s conservation. Yet the influence is everywhere, evident in the clamoring hermit crabs at the shoreline, the robust oyster beds that climb upward on the riverbanks, and the petite raccoons that scale trees at dusk in search of their next meal.
Close to the island’s Ocean Course, where a strip of cerulean is just visible beyond the marsh, a passerby might be privy to any number of natural encounters: alligators with snouts just visible in the pond water; hook-necked blue herons staring out into the palmettos; white-tailed deer bedding down beneath the drapery of Spanish moss. These moments, despite their frequency, arrive as a surprise in a place where golf clubs and impeccable architecture are the local currency.
But you’re more likely than not to encounter a wild animal during your visit, and that’s because Kiawah Island includes 3,000 acres of tidal salt marsh and 10 miles of shoreline, providing shelter for a variety of wildlife. According to town of Kiawah Wildlife Biologist Jim Jordan — his position was created in 2000 and, eight years later, Assistant Wildlife Biologist Aaron Given arrived — there are 315 species of birds, more than 30 species of mammals, more than 40 species of reptiles, more than 20 species of amphibians, and thousands of invertebrates that call the island home.
“It’s pretty unique,” Jordan said. It is, he said, “a functioning, intact ecosystem that’s working the way it would have worked if there were no houses there.”
One of the island’s most fascinating predators is the bobcat; the current bobcat population, Jordan said, is between 15 and 20. Four to six bobcats are collared by the biology team each year, so their movements can be tracked via GPS. “Visitors and residents can look at the tracking maps online and see where they’ve been,” he said.
Take a boat out onto the serene Kiawah River — you can book tours through the island’s sole resort, the Kiawah Island Golf Resort — and you’re bound to see a dolphin or two, gray fin slipping in and out of the water. These are the island’s bottlenose species, and they’re friendly, tracking vessels and providing the occasional show, flippers aflight. They also engage in a unique behavior known as “strand-feeding.”
“In a coordinated effort, they will basically force a school of fish or a school of shrimp up toward the bank,” Jordan said. “They beach themselves.” The western end of the island makes for good viewing of this behavior, although he warned that disrupting dolphins during their strand-feeds can be harmful. “It’s a learned behavior,” passed down from generation to generation, Jordan said. Should a strand-feed get interrupted, dolphins could abandon the behavior entirely, thus keeping future generations from learning how to eat in this location-specific manner.
The serenity experienced on this island oasis is thanks to more than just the work of the conservancy. At the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, for instance, an AAA five-diamond resort that was built in 2004, live, mature oak trees were transplanted to help promote the maintenance of the natural environment. “This really wasn’t required. It was just something that we did voluntarily, because we thought it was the right thing to do,” said Bryan Hunter, director of public relations for the Kiawah Island Golf Resort.
The resort, he said, places a premium on conservation efforts, encouraging guests to immerse themselves in the local environment through organized boat trips to other barrier islands, alligator safaris and dolphin-viewing excursions. Visitors can also tag along with the Turtle Patrol in the morning in search of hatching and migration patterns (although that program has been greatly restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic). Some may even get to assist hatchling turtles, Hunter said. Those who join the Turtle Patrol outings look for nests, take notes and record observations about the year’s hatch.
One conservation effort enforced by island residents — including hoteliers — is the Lights Out for Sea Turtles initiative, which requires that beach-illuminating lights be turned off in the evenings during loggerhead nesting season. As Jordan pointed out, artificial light confuses hatchling turtles, often accidentally guiding them away from the ocean.
Low light pollution, Hunter said, is “vital.” “The resort, along with the rest of the island, through town ordinance, makes sure that we really carefully monitor light pollution along the beach, so that it doesn’t disorient nesting sea turtles or hatching sea turtles,” he said.
As the sun descends at dusk, there is a vibration in the air. Is it the cicadas, on their 17-year cycle? Or maybe just a faraway flock of birds? Whatever the origin of the ambient noise, it calls to mind a soothing bedtime melody, the kind you might slip into as you wind down into sleep.
This AAA five-diamond property has 255 guest rooms and suites, as well as multiple dining venues and direct beach access. Rooms from about $240.
Run by the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, this 1.5-hour boat excursion takes guests through creeks and marshes in search of the island’s native bottlenose dolphin population. $450 for up to six passengers.
Situated on the west end of the island, this ocean beach offers the only public access on Kiawah. Amenities include lifeguards, chair and umbrella rentals, restrooms, outdoor showers, a snack bar and a picnic area with grills. Parking $5 to $15 per vehicle.
Guests can ask resident wildlife biologists about the local ecology and visit with some of the native and nonnative species, such as diamondback terrapins and a 10-foot-long Burmese python. The center’s gift shop sells handcrafted items made by local artists. Free.
Walk or bike this one-mile scenic trail that extends over the marsh to a lookout tower. Part of the larger Kiawah Island bike trails system, which covers about 30 miles, this trail is suitable for all ages.
KIAWAH ISLAND, South Carolina – The young man behind the counter at the West Beach pool helped me pick out a bike, handed me a map and told me to have fun.What a contrast to the security attendant I encountered a few moments before, who made me feel like an interloper at the gated entrance to Kiawah Island.I brushed aside her grouchiness and headed out on two wheels, pedaling first through the island’s leafy interior before heading to the beach, where the sand at low tide cuts an incredible coastal path along the At...
KIAWAH ISLAND, South Carolina – The young man behind the counter at the West Beach pool helped me pick out a bike, handed me a map and told me to have fun.
What a contrast to the security attendant I encountered a few moments before, who made me feel like an interloper at the gated entrance to Kiawah Island.
I brushed aside her grouchiness and headed out on two wheels, pedaling first through the island’s leafy interior before heading to the beach, where the sand at low tide cuts an incredible coastal path along the Atlantic.
Kiawah, the mostly private barrier island about 25 miles south of Charleston, is often included on lists of the world’s most beautiful beaches. For that reason alone, I put the island on the top of my to-do list as I planned a short trip to South Carolina to try out the new Breeze Airways flights out of Akron-Canton Airport.
It’s not the simplest place to visit, however, especially if you’re not spending the night.
There’s one hotel on the island, the tony Sanctuary, a gorgeous, ocean-front AAA five-diamond property with 255 rooms. Rates here run $500 and up during the summer, which was too steep for me.
Instead, I overnighted at a hotel on U.S. 17, a 30-minute drive away, and planned a day trip to the island. Shortly after arrival, however, I wasn’t entirely sure that my plan was a good one.
I had called earlier to make a reservation for the Jasmine Porch, inside the Sanctuary, one of the island’s numerous restaurants. It’s one of several ways that non-guests are encouraged to visit the island, owned primarily by the Kiawah Island Golf Resort and other real estate development companies.
I made it to Kiawah by 10 a.m. on a recent Sunday, told the woman at the gate that I had a restaurant reservation and asked for a map of the island. She told me I wasn’t to linger on the island and wouldn’t give me a map.
“But I’m planning on renting bikes,” I told her. “You’re not allowed to rent bikes,” she told me.
That came as news to the young man at the nearby West Beach pool, who told me I was welcome to rent a bicycle and to pedal anywhere I liked. “Security being security,” he said, and shrugged.
Indeed, non-guests are also welcome to sign up for recreational activities and nature programs, including dolphin encounters, kayak tours, art classes and more.
They’re even allowed to golf – and this island is well known for its spectacular and prestigious courses, including the waterfront Ocean Course, which hosted the 2021 PGA Championship in May. Five courses are open to the public, whether you’re staying on the island or not, including the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course, Cougar Point, Turtle Point, Osprey Point and Oak Point.
I’m not a golfer, which kept my to-do list simple for my short visit: Explore the island by bike, enjoy a nice meal, check out the beach, maybe witness some wildlife.
I popped into the Nature Center, too, for some air conditioned-relief, where I saw numerous snakes, turtles, a stuffed bobcat and two infant alligators in tanks (the only gators I saw during my visit, despite omnipresent signage warning visitors to stay away from ponds and waterways).
I enjoyed almost all of it – the biking was terrific, with 30 miles of shady, flat, paved paths that rarely intersected with the roadways; and the Southern cuisine at Jasmine Porch was excellent, featuring she-crab soup and crab cakes plus bottomless peach iced tea. The beach, as expected, was absolutely stunning, massive at low tide, flat and perfect for walking, cycling, lounging, even bocce playing.
The attitude of the folks manning the security gates, however, was decidedly unwelcoming. Perhaps purposely so?
Cocktails at the Ocean Course
After we returned our bikes, my husband and I decided to have a drink at the Ryder Cup Bar, at the far east end of the island, overlooking the spectacular 18th hole of the Ocean Course. Our waitress at lunch assured us that the bar was open to the public.
There is a second security gate about midway down the island, which controls access to the eastern half of Kiawah. I told the woman at the gate that we were headed to the Ryder Cup Bar.
She saw the pass from earlier in the day on our car’s dashboard and asked us if we had been to the beach. “Um, yes,” I answered. She then told us that we should not have been on the beach. “If we let everyone on the beach, there wouldn’t be enough room for the people who pay a premium for access,” she said.
That did not seem to be remotely a possibility, given the size of the beach here. But I smiled and nodded.
In a more friendly tone, she said she would make an exception for us, and handed us a pass to proceed to the bar. I thanked her while controlling the urge to roll my eyes.
My husband was put off by her attitude that seemed to suggest we weren’t welcome. I was amused, but also confused.
Other than the security staff, everyone we encountered on the island – vacationers, homeowners, wait staff, shopkeepers – were all wonderful and welcoming. They seemed to want us around.
The drive out to the Ocean Course was stunning, past spectacular, multimillion-dollar-plus properties, along live-oak lined roadways that were draped with Spanish moss.
At the end of the drive: the Ryder Cup Bar, where I very much enjoyed a cocktail called a sweet tea mojito. I sipped my beverage and enjoyed the view.
Thirst (and curiosity) quenched, we made our way back west, toward the only public destination on the island, Kiawah Beachwalker Park, part of the Charleston County Parks system (note: parking here is $15).
While technically all beaches in South Carolina are public, private landowners can (and do) restrict access to those beaches.
Beachwalker park provides public access to Kiawah’s entire 10-mile stretch of sand. Theoretically, a visitor could access the beach here and traverse (by foot or bicycle) the entire stretch of the Kiawah coast.
I wasn’t that ambitious, walking perhaps a mile to the island’s western end, where the Kiawah River joins the ocean. I was hoping to see some dolphins strand feeding, a fascinating practice where the dolphins herd fish onto the sand then launch themselves out of the water to eat. Kiawah, nearby Hilton Head and other low-lying coastal regions are among the handful of places throughout the world where this occurs, typically just before or after low tide.
Alas, I didn’t see any dolphins, but the beach was engaging enough – wide and flat and glorious.
I could have walked longer, but my feet were tired, the sun was setting and my hotel was a half hour drive away.
If you go: Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Getting there: Kiawah is about 25 miles southwest of Charleston, an easy drive from the airport or downtown.
Staying overnight: The Sanctuary offers 255 oceanfront rooms, starting at about $500 per night during the summer. Other options include the Andell Inn, part of the Freshfields Village development, just off Kiawah on St. Johns Island.
The island also has hundreds of villas and private homes available to rent via the Kiawah Island Golf Resort or individual owners.
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