Kiawah Island may be famous for its golf courses, tennis courts, and gorgeous high-dollar homes, but there’s much more to the island that you may have yet to discover. Here are 5 family-friendly Kiawah Island adventures for nature lovers and curious visitors.
From gators to birds to butterflies, the Heron Park Nature Center has a team of passionately knowledgeable tour guides waiting to walk you through all the fascinating history and habitats the island has to offer. Here are just a few of the educational adventures that await you at Kiawah.
If you’ve spent any time on Kiawah, you’ve probably encountered a ‘gator or two, but what do you really know about them? Did you know that in winter they lay dormant on the bottom of a pond or in underground dens scooped out with their own claws and jaws? Learn about that and much more during the two-hour Alligator Adventure tour, which is offered at Kiawah throughout the year for $20 per person.
Back Island Birding
They say that a bird lover’s paradise awaits at Kiawah. The island has well over 220 species of birds! The Nature Center’s birding experts are waiting to take you to remote locations to explore natural habitats while learning all about the natural history of the island’s vast avian wildlife. Comfy shoes, a camera, and drinking water are recommended in hotter months, but the program is offered throughout the year. The three-hour tour is $35 per person, and anyone age 16 and over can get in on it.
Who doesn’t love butterflies? Lucky for us, Kiawah offers a family-friendly tour through the Sanctuary gardens for autumn butterflies. You’ll get to use nets to catch and gently examine butterflies to discover about the resources these stunning creatures have lived on in the island. The walk is stroller accessible, one-hour long, and $12 per person. It’s recommended that you were clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
Night Beach Walk
Kiawah’s Night Beach Walk may have a pretty beach and a sky full of stars to offer you, but there’s so much to learn. Ever wonder why sea turtles cry as they lay their eggs in the island’s dunes? Or why ghost crabs have hairy legs? Or why the sea sparkles in shades of green? The point of the walk is for the whole family to learn about the island’s nocturnal creatures and their habitat. The tour is offered late spring and early fall, it is an hour-and-a-half long, $15 a person, and available to anyone. Note: persons under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Oh, and don’t forget the insect repellent and comfy walking shoes.
Historical Sunset Cycle
If you like to cycle your way through Kiawah, you’ll love the Historical Sunset Cycle, offered year round on Sundays only or by request. Learn about where the word kiawah came from and explore the island’s history and ecology while enjoying a beautiful sunset view from your bike. The tour is an hour-and-a-half-long, $15 per person, and available for anyone. Note: participants under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. They also recommend wearing comfortable clothing and bringing along a bottle of water.
Call the Heron Park Nature Center to learn more about current tours and schedules. What will be your first adventure?
Looking for things to do in West Ashley? From the always fun West Ashley Park to the brand new farmer’s market and Higgins Pier, there’s a lot of inexpensive (and free!) ways to spend your time outside west of the Ashley River. Here are four of our favorites:
The West Ashley Bikeway starts at Wappoo Road, crosses Highway 61/St Andrews Boulevard, and continues all the way to the beautiful Ashley River, connecting residential neighborhoods along the way, like Sherwood Forest, Maryville, and Ashleyville. And this is a particularly exciting time for the Bikeway, since this summer, Higgins Pier officially opened at the end of the path on the River. The last stretch of the path before the pier is a peaceful one surrounded by forests before giving way to the magnificent view of the marsh. At the pier, you may fish, launch a kayak, or simply meditate with a book under the covered pier head and while away a lovely Charleston Day.
The West Ashley Greenway is a sacred thing for nearby residents, who use the part-asphalt, part-dirt trail for running, walking dogs, and biking. The path is over eight miles long, extending from Wesley Drive (the South Windermere neighborhood) and nearly to Main Road, Johns Island. Along the way is everything from lush, wooded areas, where you can still find fireflies if you go at the perfect hour, to the breathtaking Lowcountry marsh. Go for a walk around 5.30 p.m. and you’ll likely pass many of your neighbors as it’s the most popular time of day to venture out. Don’t forget your bike lights if you go after dark, since the area is not well lit.
Ackerman Park – 55 Sycamore Avenue
This is a two-in-one spot, since you get both produce galore in the great outdoors, plus there’s a dog park — so everyone’s happy, pups included. Launching today, Wed. Sept. 21, 2016, the West Ashley’s farmer’s market is a huge, welcome addition to the area, since with it comes boocoos of both established and fresh, new producers and food products. Get in on the action while you can, because this farmer’s market only goes every Wednesday until October 26.
3601 Mary Ader Avenue
Off Glenn McConnell Highway, you’ll find an oasis from the freeway at West Ashley Park, one of Charleston’s largest recreational parks. The park is 260 acres large, comprising everything from playgrounds (two) and a basketball court to a soccer field and an 18-hole disc golf course, which brings sports lovers of all ages and levels of expertise. Walk on the lush path past gorgeous swamps to a serene pond, where fishermen cast their lines and watch wild birds wander about. Bring your pups, too, because the park also boasts a dog park.
What’s your favorite outdoor spot in West Ashley?
Congratulations to Kristin Walker- one of the Locals We Love by Charleston Scene magazine.
Kristin Walker is a woman inspired.
The bike and pedestrian enthusiast has taken time to find her passions, earning an MBA, working in Europe and New York and serving as a back-road tour guide in Italy — all before choosing her dream job in Charleston’s real estate market.
As a guide, Walker was influenced by the positive effects of biking and walking.
“I wanted to … move the city in a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly direction. It makes people happy, confident and connected to their environments,” she said.
Never one to abandon a dream, Walker began incorporating the idea into her real estate business with Pedal to Property bike tours.
Next, Charleston ladies were targeted with Cycle Chic, a critical mass ride for women.
“I wanted women to get that it’s OK to ride your bike to a restaurant in your high heels and a dress,” she said.
Her increased activism has led to Walker’s recent selection to the board of Charleston Moves.
While some might call this a full plate, Walker is far from finished. During Bike Month in May, she is planning an event closing King Street to cars, and the launch of bikecharleston.org.
“Out of all this stuff, what defines me are livable community initiatives. It means experiencing your community in a way people haven’t been doing and connecting.”
To learn more about Walker’s initiatives, check out: www.bikecharleston.org, http://charlestoncyclechic.com and http://p2pcharleston.com.