Kiawah for the Holidays: Our Top Ten List of Holiday Happenings

Palmetto Palms swaying gently in the breeze, daytime temperatures in the 50s and children throwing a Frisbee on the beach—for many of us, these are not the images we associate with the holiday season. But they can be if you choose to spend the holidays on Kiawah Island.

BJ D’Elia with Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty has compiled this Top Ten List of Kiawah Holiday Happenings:


It’s no wonder bird watchers flock to Kiawah Island. The island is home to over 200 species. You’ve got everything from bald eagles to ruby-throated hummingbirds. If you’d like to capture any of them on camera, we suggest you sign up for the Wildlife Photography Tour on the 12th and 19th from 8:30 am to 11:30 am. The cost is $60 and you will meet up at Night Heron Park at 4000 Sea Forest Drive.


If nature’s not your thing, how about Oil Painting Instruction? Charleston Artist Tina Maryland will be your guide as you paint your first Low Country “Masterpiece.”

Classes are the 12th and 19th beginning at 9:00 am. Supplies are included with the $150 cost. And it’s recommended you wear clothes you don’t mind getting splattered with paint.


You won’t have to feel guilty about eating that extra dessert or two if you sign up for Beach Boot Camp. Think sit-ups in the sand! Classes are $18 and are held regardless of weather throughout the month at Sanctuary Beach. Call the main Kiawah Island Phone Line at 843.768.2121 for exact times and dates.


With its 30 miles of paved trails and 10 miles of hard-packed beach, Kiawah Island is a bike riders’ paradise. Bikes are available daily from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm at the Green Canopy outside the Sanctuary Hotel. Prices begin at $15 for a four-hour rental.


More than anything else, Kiawah Island is known for being one of this country’s premier golf resorts. The island has five championship courses – including the Ocean Course – one of only four to have hosted every major PGA event. So, whether you’ve never picked up a club in your life or you see yourself as the next Tiger/Tigress Woods, you can take lessons with one of the island’s premier pros. Private and semi-private classes are available daily at the Tommy Cuthbert Golf Learning Center at (843) 266-4030. Prices vary.


Many dolphins make their homes in the rivers, inlets and creeks of Kiawah Island. If you want to get up close and personal with one sign up for “Dolphin Encounters” offered daily between 2:00 pm to 3: 30 pm until the end of January. The price for the hour and a half long excursion is $60. Participants should meet up at Mingo Point.


Great fishing is another reason Kiawah Island is so popular. Join guides for an offshore adventure the whole family can enjoy. You’ll be taken between 1-3 miles off the coast where you can catch Redfish, Weakfish, Cobia, Black Sea Bass, Triggerfish, Spadefish, Black Drum or Sharks Anglers: For parties between 1-4 the cost is $650 and $750 for 5 to 6. Please call the main line to make a reservation (866) 224-2612


Everyone regardless of their age is welcome at Kiawah Island’s, New Year’s Eve Family Celebration. The night begins at 5:30 pm with a full a la carte menu that includes roasted oysters, BBQ chicken and ribs and collard greens. For the kids, there will be jump castles, lawn games and party favors. And then at 9:00 pm, everyone will head over to the Night Heron Park Soccer Field for fireworks. Reservations required, please call the main line to secure a spot. (866) 224-2612


Kiawah Island is at its most beautiful at sunset when the skies glow pink. It’s arguably the best time for a paddle tour of the island’s marshes and waterways. Tours are held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday beginning at 3:30 pm. Participants must be 16 years old. Please call the Nature Center for reservations and further details: 843.768.6001.


Have you got the guts or are you crazy enough to jump into the Atlantic Ocean on New Year’s Day? If you answer yes to either, you’ll want to make your way over to the beach in front of Kiawah Island’s Sanctuary Hotel at 11:45 am for the 6th Annual Polar Bear Plunge. The good news is the water temperature is about 64 degrees this time of the year, not ice cold, but also not warm enough for a leisurely dip.