Kiawah River: A Sea Island Oasis

Hello, Adventurers! Welcome back to the Coastal Expeditions blog! If this is your first time visiting our blog, we’re happy to have you here. We are all about nature, adventure, and making the most out of the beautiful outdoors of South Carolina. If you enjoy all things hiking, paddling, kayaking, and spending time outdoors, you’ve come to the right place! Here on the blog, we dive deep into different habitats, excursions, conservation efforts, and nature programs. Our site is filled with interactive maps, destination guides, and educational resources. Since the weather is incredibly warm, we want to help you get out there and take advantage of all that the Lowcountry has to offer! We offer guided tours of the beautiful Lowcountry by kayak, paddleboard, ferry, boat, and private charter. We also have hands-on workshops taught by highly-trained guides on wilderness skills, birding, identifying native plants, sustainability, and camping. Anything you want to learn about, we teach! If you haven’t already, we encourage you to take a look around our site to learn more about our offerings. In our last blog, we talked about some of the best places to grab dinner before or after a guided tour with us in the Shem Creek area. Today, we’ll be talking all about Kiawah River, a beautiful island village in the Charleston countryside. We offer a few different guided tours so that you can see the natural beauty of this area up close. If you are interested in learning about all Kiawah River has to offer, you’re in the right place. Let’s get started!

 

Kiawah River is a village community located on Kiawah Island, which is a sea island, or barrier island, located about 25 miles southwest of Charleston. The Island and river are named after the Kiawah people, an indigenous group that settled close to the Charleston Harbor. The Kiawah lived near the Ashley River from 1598 to 1682, and then on Kiawah Island until 1695. After the Kiawah, the island was home to a former pirate, Captain George Raynor, who had possession of the area until he sold half of it to Captain William Davis in 1701. After Davis’s death, the island was passed through his family until it was acquired by John Stanyarne, a wealthy planter from Johns Island. In 1737, Stanyarne bought the other half of the island that had been owned by Raynor. From then on, the island was used for raising cattle and producing crops through the use of slave labor, until it was abolished.

 

In 1950, a lumberman from Georgia named C.C. Royal bought the island for logging and timber. By 1954, Royal developed a small oceanfront community. After he passed away in 1964, his heirs sold the island in 1974 to the Kuwaiti Investment Company. The company developed a master plan to turn Kiawah Island into a residential resort community, and by 1976, the Kiawah Island Resort opened and real estate sales skyrocketed. 

 

Today, Kiawah Island has a private, gated community as well as businesses and resorts, and boasts 10 miles of beaches with preserved maritime forests, sand dunes, and marshes. They are known for their golf resorts, fine dining, and guided nature tours. Spend an afternoon dolphin watching, bicycling around the community, or exploring the Kiawah River by kayaking. Whatever activity you choose, you are sure to have a great time. There are countless opportunities to see the beauty of the Lowcountry! Here at Coastal Expeditions, we are proud to offer a variety of guided tours along the Kiawah River where we work with the wonderful folks of Kiawah River to let you experience this area in a unique way. 

 

Our Kiawah River Paddle and Hike starts with a naturalist-led hike through the maritime forest at Kiawah River. We explore a curated section of the trail system with 2000 acres of stunning wildlife! We’ll be on the lookout for eagles, alligators, wild turkeys, painted buntings, and the roseate spoonbill, our object bird. This unique excursion gives you the chance to connect with nature and explore places that most people have never seen. After our hike, we’ll paddle through the tidal flats of the saltwater estuary, before hiking a few miles around undeveloped property. You never know what kind of wildlife you’ll see! We’ll then venture down creeks with expedition-style sea kayaks and cross into a completely different ecosystem, where we’ll experience a massive change in flora and fauna. Here, you’ll see the oaks and pines soon turn into cordgrass fields of a salt marsh, and you’ll have the opportunity to spot bottlenose dolphins, egrets, herons, and spoonbills! 

 

For those that may be a tad more interested in dolphins, we recommend the Captain Sam’s Spit Dolphin Kayak Tour. This is a full-day expedition that begins under oak trees at the Farmhouse at Kiawah River. We’ll first head down to Bobcat Landing for a short lesson in sea kayaking, and the adventure will begin shortly after! Kayak through salt marsh and tidal flats and spot wildlife such as pods of bottlenose dolphins and a plethora of birds like egrets and herons. After our 4 to 5-mile paddle, we’ll take a well-deserved break by beaching on Captain Sam’s Spit, a small shifting island that is home to an abundance of wildlife, such as piping plovers, diamondback terrapins, and bottlenose dolphins. You’ll be able to walk along the tide line, beach comb, and search for treasures, then take some time to bird watch as you eat lunch. Then, we’ll head back to our starting point. 

 

Feeling wild? Coastal Expeditions also offers a Kiawah River Safari Cruise! This excursion is offered in the fall and winter when the tide is ideal, so be sure to dress for the weather. This family-friendly cruise takes you down the Kiawah River where you are sure to spot dolphins and other wildlife. One of our dedicated naturalists will be on board to point out wildlife you may have missed, such as deer feeding along the edge of the river. You’re sure to learn something new, and the sights are beautiful. Don’t forget your binoculars! In the summer months, we offer our Bird Key Baby Pelican Cruise as an alternative. On this cruise, we will start on the intimate creeks that wind through Kiawah Island and reach a salt marsh estuary. As one of the most super bio-diversified ecosystems, we’ll see many different avian species and pods of bottlenose dolphins. We’ll continue down the river until we reach Bird Key, one of only four active seabird and shorebird nesting sanctuaries on the South Carolina Coast! This cruise gives you an unobtrusive vantage point to watch these birds and their fledglings from a respectful distance. 

 

Before or after a tour with us, be sure to check out the great dining options in the area, visit the Kiawah Island Farm for fresh produce, or take a moonlit walk on the beach. There is so much to do on this beautiful barrier island. You may even consider coming back for a weekend retreat at The Dunlin in one of its cottage-style rooms or villas. There’s nothing like an escape to the Charleston countryside! We hope you enjoy the atmosphere and wildlife as much as we do.

 

As you can see, the Kiawah River is a fantastic place for a day trip or even a weekend getaway. It has a rich history and is abundant with wildlife. We hope that you found this article informative and helpful. As always, we thank you for reading and we hope to see you back on our blog soon! If you have any questions about our guided tours, reach out to us! At Coastal Expeditions, we are committed to introducing people to the wonders of the ecosystems of the Charleston area by providing guided tours and educational opportunities. If you’re looking to explore all that the Lowcountry has to offer, check out our offerings on our website to find the adventure which suits you best! We also offer kid-friendly tours as well as kids’ programs, camps, and kayak lessons. Our tours are led by knowledgeable, approachable naturalists and sea captains who are eager to answer your questions! Until next time, readers. Get out there and explore! Adventure awaits!

Explore. Chat. Visit. And come on back, y’all.
@coastalexpeditions

Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant Rentals

Offering Kayaks and Paddleboards

Take in the stunning beauty of local creeks and waters from one of our kayaks or SUPs. Walk-ups are welcome or call / text to book and we’ll be ready when you are. All gear and instruction provided.

Call or text 843.884.7684 to book.

Outpost Location

Need A Guide?

If you really want to get a feel for the local history, identify the native wildlife, and get to special places, you'll need someone experienced to show you the way. We'll get you there.

Check out our Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant tours.

Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard Click to Book via Text

Isle of Palms Rentals

Offering Kayaks and Paddleboards

Take in the stunning beauty of local creeks and waters from one of our kayaks or SUPs. Walk-ups are welcome or call / text to book and we’ll be ready when you are. All gear and instruction provided.

Call or text 843.884.7684 to book.

Outpost Location

Need A Guide?

If you really want to get a feel for the local history, identify the native wildlife, and get to special places, you'll need someone experienced to show you the way. We'll get you there.

Check out our Isle of Palms tours.

Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard Click to Book via Text