Kiawah Island – A Natural Wonderland

Egret preparing for a landing.

Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

I’d never heard of Kiawah Island until becoming acquainted with Tina from the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge team. Having seen many images featuring Kiawah’s world of nature from her photo challenge responses, I was intrigued by the natural beauty she shared in her photos.

When we left Florida in early February, we headed north to visit our son and daughter-in-law in North Carolina. It seemed like a perfect time to mention to Tina that we’d like to learn more about Kiawah and maybe check out the island for ourselves. Tina and Bailey were fabulous hosts and we spent time over dinner. The next day we toured the island with Tina as a driver and tour guide sharing some of her favorite places to capture nature photography on the island.

Egret gathering.

The island is famous as a golfer’s resort with pro and amateur golfers alike playing on one or more of the courses designed by well-known professional designers. Visitors can stay in a resort hotel or spend a week or a month in a private home rented from the home’s owners. Indeed, the view of this pond is but a few steps from one of the course clubhouses and restaurants.

Sunset view.

We enjoyed dinner while overlooking one of the courses, and the natural beauty of the island. Though it had been cloudy all day, the sun descended below the clouds to bid us a good night. I was reminded of that old saying that ends, “Red sky at night is a sailor’s delight.” The next day would prove the correctness of that centuries-old seafarer’s weather forecasting tool.

Condos along the beach.

The morning arrived clear and cool, and one of our first stops was at the resort from where we captured a few views of the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can walk or cycle the 10 miles (17 km) of beachfront.

Garden at the resort.

The landscaping around the resort is well cared for and contains some interesting plantings. I couldn’t resist capturing a couple of images that will no doubt find their way into a future challenge-response for the Lens-Artists team.


One interesting plant in the garden deserved a close-up. I expected my plant identification app to tell me what species it is, but the app didn’t get it right, I’m sure. If you know what species of plant this is, please let me know in the comments.

Alligators sunning on the shore of the water hazard.

Golf courses on the island bring new meaning to the term “water hazard”. Tina mentioned that we’d be visiting a place where we were sure to find alligators. She did not disappoint, though she commented that there are usually many more than these two on the banks of this pond.

One of the many lagoons on Kiawah.

In addition to their beautiful beach, there is a river on the barrier island as well as many lagoons, natural marshlands, and maritime forests on Kiawah. Tina showed us examples of each on our photography tour.

Kiawah is a private island.

Like South Carolina’s more well-known barrier island, Hilton Head, golf is a primary reason for people to spend time there. But Tina showed us that there is plenty to do and see while the golfer in the family is out on one of the courses.

If Kiawah’s golf or natural wonders are attractive to you, keep in mind that Kiawah’s resort is set up as a private, restricted facility and the private homes are in a secure, gated community. The island is only about 13 square miles and there are no commercial hotels other than The Sanctuary Hotel, which is part of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Prime time is busy so reserve early if you have specific travel times in mind.


Though Hilton Head Island is larger and has many more options for visitors, Kiawah’s limited access and exclusivity have their own benefits. The island is about 45 minutes from Charleston, South Carolina via a causeway that first crosses Johns Island.

Thanks again to Tina and Bailey for showing us around their natural paradise.

John Steiner


  1. I’ve always loved seeing Tina’s photos of Kiawah and I’m not at all surprised you decided to visit and see it for yourself. Looks like she gave you a great tour and you found some beautiful spots for your own photography 😀

  2. It was great fun having you both visit John – so glad we got some sun for our tour! Loved your images, which reminded me of a fond memory 😊. And of course thanks to Lynn for being a good sport as we clicked away LOL. One of these days I hope to see some images of your subsequent visit to Charleston!

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