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Kiawah Island is located just outside Charleston, South Carolina. At a distance of 15 miles from Charleston itself, Kiawah is a barrier island on the Atlantic coast. It is known for its natural beauty and variety of wildlife and is surrounded by large salt marshes and the Atlantic Ocean. Today it is operated primarily as a gated golf and beach resort, known as the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The island has a small population totaling around 1,500 full time occupants. Kiawah has a mixture of lush maritime forests, brackish water ponds, and dunes. Deer, bobcats, gray foxes, raccoons, river otters, and ospreys are just a few of the many animals that can be found on Kiawah Island.
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The Kiawah Island Golf Resort opened in may of 1976 and has five golf courses, most notable of which is the Ocean Course added in 1991. This course has hosted major golf tournaments including the Ryder Cup in 1991, the World Cup in 1997 and 2003, and the PGA Championship in 2012. It also hosted the PGA Club Professional Championship in 2005 and the Senior PGA Championship in 2007.
Kiawah Island is widely hailed as one of the premier golf destinations on the East Coast. The island features five award-winning golf courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Fazio, and Pete Dye. The courses snake along the skinny island, moving from the dense wooded interior of the island to the breezy oceanfront.
Kiawah Island is a master planned community and thus development is managed very carefully. There are a number of different housing options including townhomes, cottages, villas and a large variety of custom homes. The architectural styles range from shingle-style beach homes to cottages to traditional English garden cottages and Southern Lowcountry designs.
For boaters, the Bohicket Marina, located between Kiawah Island and the adjacent Seabrook Island is the primary marina in the area. Considered to be one of South Carolina's Best Kept Secrets, the marina has 200 wet slips, 90 dry storage slips and a market area with restaurants, shops and offices.
Kiawah offers a quality of life that includes world-class golf, upscale homes and breathtaking views of the Lowcountry's landscape.
Pottery found on Kiawah island dates as far back as 4,000 years. Ownership of the island changed many times through the years from the Indians to the British and then to some of the earliest "Charlestonians." Its history is linked to names you may already be familiar with: Gibbes, Vanderhorst and Middleton to name a few.
Development of the island loosely began in the 1950's when C.C. Royal, who made his fortune in the lumber business, purchased the island. He build a home for his wife and seven children and then sold 65 lots to friends. In 1974, the Kuwait Investment Co, purchased the island from Royal's heirs and created a land plan that consisted of a resort and residential development. Kiawah Development Partners is currently the master developer of the island.
Approximately 1,200 full-time residents inhabit the island, but the population swells in the spring and summer when about 600 of the islands properties are rented.
The island is also home to the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which includes five public golf courses and two private courses. The Sanctuary, a AAA Five Diamond hotel; an award-winning spa; and several restaurants.
In August 2012 the PGA Championship was played at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The PGA major brought more than $200 million of economic impact to the area, including millions of dollars worth of worldwide exposure. The PGA has announced that the tour will return to Kiawah Island in 2021 when the Championship will once again be held on the island.
Outside of golf, the island also caters to tennis players and is a destination each year during the annual Kiawah Island Marathon, held each December.