Article and Photography by Kat Aviles
Where is Kiawah island? What country is that? Actually it’s in South Carolina, located about 25 miles southwest of Charleston. If you haven’t been to the South, it can feel like a different country. Cute accents, friendly mannered people, and beautiful flat sandy shores that seem like miles to the ocean! My visit to Kiawah Island Golf Resort was quite a treat, but I didn’t realize it until I woke up and got to see the nature of Kiawah in our own back yard!!
Day 1 – Our family was on vacation with another family so we rented a house with miles of rivers, swamps, and our own boat dock! Early in the morning some from our group immediately went to play golf, while others enjoyed the backyard with lunch at the hotel Sanctuary, which overlooked the pool and beach. By evening we all gathered together and went to Mingo Point for an outdoor oyster roast. It was set up as a huge outdoor pavilion, with tables extending all the way to the river, with a live band for entertainment. The 12 of us agreed to take a private pontoon-type boat out into the river to watch the sunset. It felt like we were stepping into The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn! The weather was great – not hot, not cold and thankfully, no rain! After we returned, we ate a scrumptious buffet of food with a full barbeque of chicken, ribs and fish, and lots of sides with corn bread to die for! Ahhh – that southern touch. For the oyster lovers, it was a dream. They had a large outdoor southern barbeque where they were roasted oysters by the shovel full, and then served them on these big wooden cocktail-height tables with a trash can in the middle. They had someone opening the warm oysters and we put lemon, hot sauce and cocktail sauce on them – mmm-mmm good! So tasty!! I have never had roasted oysters and they were so delicious. Huge in size, by the way, and the shells still dirty from the mud. So southerly authentic. We closed the place down at 9pm and then went back to our home to socialize.
Day 2– For some of us the next day started with more golf, while others enjoyed a long bike ride to the ocean. It was about a four-mile bike ride through beautiful residential neighborhoods, over bridges and swamps, plus a few rivers. Danger signs for alligators were in most ponds. We saw a few people fishing. It was again that feeling of stepping into a classic book, but thankfully in luxury-style, and no need to drift away on a handmade wooden float! We reached the Atlantic Ocean and took a deep breath of the fresh air. The weather was again fabulous – no rain, and no rain showing in site until our departure. We were cautiously excited because the locals said the weather could change at any time. Well, our gang was convinced – we were not going to have rain! So after looking at the sea we realized we could ride our bikes on the beach – so exciting as we had never done that before. Not possible on the Pacific Coast. It was so fun and my friends kept saying it looked like the beach in the movie – Last Song. We all loved it. In our glee, we got motivated to bike another mile or so to the Ocean Course golf club where the golfers were. We reached our destination and were in awe. The clubhouse had a huge porch with rocking chairs so we pulled some up and took a rest looking out over putting greens, sand dunes and the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean is so different than the Pacific. Darker in color, different wave patterns and a shoreline that was very long! We imagined that the Northeast must be similar. We saw mansions along the coastline with long wooden walkways from the house to the ocean. It felt like the photos we had seen about the East Coast. We assumed we were fortunate with the fabulous sunny weather we had because others in the Northeast probably don’t get to enjoy the beach as much. Dinner was fabulous again, and then a nice bike ride home.
Day 3 -Next day, up early, breakfast at home and then packed our picnic lunch for 12 as we were off to the Magnolia Planation! Our first reservation was for the plantation train tour. It was a fast way to see the 400-500 acres. We stopped along the way to see alligators, plants and other birds and wild life. We also passed through the slave houses, guest houses, gardens and got a history lesson of the time and the plantation overall. It was beautiful and very southern, no doubt. Next we did the tour of the main home of the Planation. It had quite the history as it had been destroyed three times! Talk about bad luck. Amazing that the heirs continue to showcase this beautiful estate and maintain the history of the Civil War. After, it was time for our picnic lunch, which became a challenge as it was 88 degrees, so extra-hot and the biting gnats were out to attack. We ended up tailgating under a big oak tree. We were prepared with chairs and lots of great food. It was perfect. Next on the agenda we headed to downtown Charleston to a horse drawn carriage tour of the city. Still very hot, so we were lucky the carriages were all a “surry with a fringe on the top”. The city was packed with tourists, and parking was sparse to say the least. Nevertheless, it all worked out and we enjoyed our tour, but the heat drove us to Starbucks, asap once we ended! We enjoyed our cold drinks and dinner with more oysters to follow!
Day 4 – Golf again?!?! I guess that is what golf lovers do! The rest of us had breakfast and lunch at the house, did more bike riding, and the highlight was enjoying the kayaks from our dock. We were so fortunate to have a boat dock, but just not enough time to enjoy everything. The kayaks were fun and relaxing although it was a bit windy, so you got an arm work out! So fun! Later we had dinner at the Ryder Cup Bar which was packed with all the spectators watching the Masters. Of course, every day was like that! This was a serious golfer’s resort and with Masters in play it was the constant topic of conversation.
Day 5 – We all slept in, as we had been enjoying an active trip; now it was time to pack-up and leave. We were sad that we didn’t have more time, but with the heavy golf in mind I doubt the days would have been any different. Kiawah left us all wanting to come back and enjoy the south again! There were so many outdoor activities we didn’t have time for. Great house, great resort, great service, genuine southern upscale hospitality and experience!
You can read more of my globe-trotting adventure by clicking here!0