Family Fun at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Family Fun at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Grand Lawn of The Sanctuary
Photographer: Michael Cyra

Family Fun at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Located just 21 miles from downtown Charleston, and an easy 2-hour flight from New York, Kiawah Island has a natural setting that feels like you’ve been swept back in time. If you love cities, but also want the kids to be active in a pool while you lay on a chaise, you can have it all here.

The resort isn’t a single-structure, rather nestled amongst a 10-mile stretch of shoreline, 5 PGA-worthy golf courses, and many different restaurants.

You can have as many kid-friendly activities as a family your heart desires, while still having a “grown-up” vacation with the Sanctuary Spa, golf and tennis, and much more.

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The Stay

If you are used to having food delivered in the city, good news! Kiawah Island Golf Resort offers the option to pre-stock your fridge, so you can easily feed hungry kids without having to make an immediate grocery store run.

The Sanctuary main hotel was built in 2004, but looks like a classic southern seaside mansion. It has 255 rooms and four stories, but for large families or those travelling with small children the villas are really the way to go.

The villas all come with full kitchens, and some accommodate furry friends.

While there are other options for condos on the island, staying in a Kiawah Island Golf Resort villa is the only way to have an access card to use the Night Heron pool and fitness center, preferential treatment for dining reservations as well as the free shuttle (which means you can drink wine and not have to drive home, yay!).

They’re also closer to Night Heron park, which not only has kid activities daily, also boasts two family pools.

Family Fun at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Riding bikes on the trails at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Family fun in South Carolina

There are so many activities to choose from at Kiawah Island, even the crankiest of pre-teens will find something fun to do. Here are a few options:

Bike rentals: For convenience, bikes can be delivered straight to your villa. They even have cute little seats for babies and toddlers, as well as basket options and locks. Bikes are allowed on the 10 miles of oceanfront sand, and rentals start at half-day to monthly options. Helmets are complimentary.

Pools: Want to make a splash? Don’t be surprised if this is the only activity your kids beg to do. The Night Heron pool is the kid-friendly option, and has all-age level activity including open-flume slides, a toddler splash zone, and a separate heated lap pool with a zero-entry feature. You can order lunch from various locations around the pools which is way easier than trekking back to your villa with kids in tow.

Nature exploration: If you have a budding naturalist on your hands, The Nature Center is open daily at 8:30am. It includes animals native to the area (including tiny alligators!) snakes, and more. They also run an alligator tour in the area, if you’re feeling brave.

Golf: If you’ve watched golf on TV at Kiawah Island, seeing it in person is even more exciting.  Featuring five championship award-winning courses designed by Dye, Fazio, Nicklaus, Player and Johnston, the courses offer challenging play for all levels. The resort is also home to the Tommy Cuthbert Golf Learning Center, offering a variety of golf instruction with PGA-certified pros for children of all ages (and adults!).

Camp: Want to get some alone time? It’s encouraged. Depending on your children’s ages, Kiawah offers 3 camps:

  • Camp Kiawah: traditional themed day camp for kids ages 3-7 years old.
  • Camp Xtreme: geared to kids ages 8-13 years and includes explore sports, scavenger hunts, team building games, and more!
  • Adventure Camp (Available Seasonally), for kids ages 8-15, and includes paddle boarding, boogie boarding, archery and more!

If your kids are feeling shy about staying at camp, there are shorter lessons available such as art lessons in Turtle’s Nest Art Studio, which include making pottery, painting, or even making shark tooth necklaces.

You can leave kids there for class or do a craft as a whole family! Glass fusing is the most popular class they offer, so you may want to bring some bubble wrap in your luggage if you plan on bringing your child’s work back home in your carry on.

Dolphin tour: This is not your standard boring boat tour. A real naturalist captains the boat, as you and your family search Kiawah’s inlets, creeks and marshes for the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin. You’ll learn about their habits and behaviors, and the marsh ecosystem as a whole. 

Family Fun at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort

The Food

There are many restaurants, pubs, and takeout options at Kiawah, but some are more kid-friendly than others. The Nest is a takeout restaurant with both groceries, and truly delicious fresh food (and coffee!) which changes daily.

With its large front porch and proximity to the pool, it’s a convenient option for simple yet tasty fare. The Ryder Cup bar is on the 18th hole of The Ocean Course, and a fun activity is to sit on the porch and have a glass of wine while enjoying the ocean breezes.

While the restaurant is luxurious, it’s also down to earth with both a kid’s menu and children running around on the putting green once they’ve finished their meals. 

Ready to book your trip and head out of town? Visit

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