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written by
Hailey Wist

Welcome to Kiawah

photographs by
Patrick O'Brien

Volume: 32

A Guide to Kiawah Island's Five Neighborhoods


[Orientation & Neighborhoods]  Cassique is the furthest community to the west. Technically this private neighborhood isn’t on the Island and has a separate entrance just before you cross over the river to the main gates. Cassique Clubhouse Village and the Cassique Garden Cottages are situated just a short golf cart ride from the Clubhouse, while Eagle Island lies at the more private, western tip of the neighborhood.

[The Vibe]  Elegant and cozy. The design sensibilities of the Clubhouse echo the gracious and comfortable elements of a British country house. Many full-time residents live in Cassique, so the neighborhood has a cohesive identity—a lovely, tight-knit community feeling.  Since this district is private, all homeowners are Club members, which creates a sense of camaraderie and sociability. Cassique’s proximity to Freshfields Village and Charleston makes it an easy headquarters with quick access to the greater area. 

[Natural Environment] Cassique is located along the Kiawah River, separated from the Atlantic by a long, sandy spit. Incredibly unique, this end of the Island is both open and secluded. Homes are tucked into long pines on the edge of the marsh. The course is modeled after the links of Scotland and Ireland with undulating greens and peaks of thick cordgrass. You might even catch an alligator sunning on the banks of the lagoons.

[Amenities]  The Cassique Clubhouse, Tom Colicchio’s Voysey’s Restaurant, the Cassique Golf Course, the Sports Pavilion, the Golf Center, the Kayak Dock and Boathouse, and the nearby Sporting Club on Johns Island

Cassique is a very special place to live.  As a full time-resident, it offers such a strong sense of community, a stunningly beautiful environment with incredible wildlife (including a couple of eagle’s nests!), and the proximity to Charleston.  — Karen Burger 



[Orientation & Neighborhoods] West Beach is situated around Gary Player’s Cougar Point Golf Course. It is just inside the main gates and a short forty-minute drive to downtown Charleston. It includes the Courtside Villas, the Duneside Villas, Fairway Oaks, Greenslake Cottages, RiverView, Inlet Cove, Shipwatch Villas, Seascape Villas, Sparrow Pond Cottages, The Pointe, and Timbers Kiawah.

[The Vibe]  This cozy network of villas and cottages has a casual and carefree ambiance. It is the historic heart of Kiawah, the site of the first community and inn on the Island. Currently the area is undergoing a significant revitalization, but it will retain the original village atmosphere—pedestrian friendly and cohesive. Certainly a vacation spot, West Beach is frequented by seasonal visitors—often young families—and thus has a bustling and festive vibe during the busier months. 

[Natural Environment]  This western edge of the Island is the oldest, and the maritime forest is quite mature here. Meandering boardwalks float over intact dunes to Kiawah Island’s famously wide and pristine beach. Some West Beach neighborhoods are tucked into the shady canopy of live oaks while others are beachfront along the Atlantic, open to the elements. 

[Amenities]  Sandcastle Community Center and Beach Club, Cougar Point Golf Course and Clubhouse

I love living in West Beach. I wake up each day grateful to live in Paradise. The soft sand of the beach is gentle to bare feet and a delight to bike on. Sometimes I spot dolphins romping among the waves.  — Suman Govindan



[Orientation & Neighborhoods]  This district is truly at the center of the Island. Anchored by The Sanctuary Hotel and Night Heron Park, East Beach encompasses a diverse collection of multi- and single-family residences and rentals, including: Mariners Watch, Cypress Point, Maritime Villas, Night Heron Cottages, Parkside Villas, Oceanwood Homes, Tennis Club Villas, The Enclave at Turtle Beach, Turtle Cove Villas, Turtle Point, and Windswept Villas.

[The Vibe]  This section of the Island has a social feel. Regularly infused with new energy from The Sanctuary guests and seasonal vacationers, there is an easy, relaxed ambiance in the air. Endless bike paths wind through East Beach, and it is alive with young families. Night Heron Park provides open space for kids to run, with soccer fields, basketball courts, and playgrounds. The newly expanded Roy Barth Tennis Center hosts the internationally top-ranked tennis program for players of all ages and skill levels. Like West Beach, East Beach is a popular vacation and rental district. It’s neighborhoods have been designed around a central hub. The park, amenities, and the Town Center Market are all within walking and biking distance.

[Natural Environment]  Like West Beach, this district sits on the western half of the Island, a solid landmass with very few low points or lagoons. The maritime forest is healthy and mature, home to countless species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. The beach is the prominent natural feature here, and countless paths and boardwalks lead from the community out to the Atlantic. 

[Amenities]  The Sanctuary Hotel, Night Heron Park, the Nature Center, Jack Nicklaus’s Turtle Point Golf Course, the Roy Barth Tennis Center



[Orientation & Neighborhoods]  A collection of small, distinct neighborhoods, the Vanderhorst district is situated behind the second gates at the center of the Island, bridging Ocean Park with East Beach. It includes Indigo Park, Ocean Green, Ocean Oaks, Ocean Palms, Rhett’s Bluff, Summer Islands, Terrapin Island, The Preserve, The Settlement, and Vanderhorst Beach.

[The Vibe]  A network of smaller, detached communities, Vanderhorst is the largest and most diverse district on the Island. It encompasses all of the homes behind the second gate, which affords it another layer of privacy. This region truly is the residential heart and soul of the Island. There are more full-time residents and no multi-family complexes. In a way, Vanderhorst offers something for everyone: a wide variety of building styles, natural environments, and amenities, all linked by an extensive network of bike paths. 

[Natural Environment]  All the distinct characteristics of a barrier island are at play here. This part of the Island is a bit younger than the western half, and you can see that the geologic ridges break into high, long fingers of land, separated by lagoons and marshland. As you drive through the second gate, this dynamic landscape unfolds into wide vistas, like lifting a veil. Infinity marsh views to the north, and the wide, pristine beach to the south—this part of the Island is only a mile and a half across. The interior of Vanderhorst is a rich ecosystem of maritime forest where deer and bobcats are regularly sighted moving through the trees. 

[Amenities]  The Beach Club, the River Course and Clubhouse, Sasanqua Spa, Rhett’s Bluff Landing, Eagle Point Launch, Cinder Creek Lodge, Osprey Point Golf Course, Turtle Point Golf Course and Clubhouse

We have lived for twelve wonderful years on a picturesque cul-de-sac surrounded by neighbors from Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, and Atlanta.  We party together, walk together, play golf and tennis together, and bike together. We volunteer at schools, fill backpacks for hungry kids, serve on the town council and the Conservancy board.  Living here is great—as are our neighbors!    Dan and Nancy Prickett



[Orientation & Neighborhoods]  Ocean Park sits at the very end of Kiawah’s rugged eastern tip. The only land further east is Little Bear Island, a 250-acre nature preserve, separated from Ocean Park by a system of tidal creeks and marshes. Beyond that, the Kiawah River meets the Atlantic. This district is at the very furthest point from the main gates and Freshfields Village—the end of the road, so to speak. It is situated just behind The Ocean Course and includes the Marsh Walk neighborhood.

[The Vibe]  This private neighborhood is secluded and graceful. The residents here have come to Kiawah to truly get away—to commune with nature and disconnect. A meandering park runs through the centerline and acts as an anchor and gathering place for the community. The furthest neighborhood from the main gates, Ocean Park isn’t a thruway to get anywhere else. Perhaps that’s what cultivates such a lovely feeling of serenity and privacy. 

[Natural Environment]  Ocean Park boasts seventy-five acres of parkland and lagoon. With some of the highest sand ridges on the Island, the endless layers and textures capture the imagination and give you the feeling that the land is still a bit wild. The neighborhood was designed to allow residents to live in concert with nature, and, indeed, the shady mystery of the deep maritime forest creates a deep sense of place. The live oaks here are some of the largest and oldest on the Island.  Gazing south towards the Atlantic, the scene is reminiscent of the African savannah, with wind-scrubbed trees and a network of intricate and pristine marshland and tidal creeks. 

[Amenities]  The Marsh House, The Ocean Course and Clubhouse, The Atlantic Room, the Treehouse and Playground, the Ocean Park Dock 

Ocean Park is quintessential Kiawah. The sound of the ocean, the eagles soaring above, the lush paths to explor—it is neighborly, quiet, and out of the way. We are tickled to call it home and have to pinch ourselves to make sure it’s not a delicious dream.   Bryan Dunn and M. Ellen Mitchell 

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