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Kiawah Island , pronounced KEE-a-wah, is a windswept island located just 21 miles south of historic Charleston. It was selected # 3 in the 2003 Conde Naste Readerís Choice Award for Top American Islands and the city of Charleston was ranked # 3 for U.S. Cities. Kiawah Island has over ten miles of beautiful beach and dunes, which provide several important functions. First, they provide storm protection for the upland areas and are a habitat for several species of plant and animal life and a nesting site for sea turtles. Last, but not least, it is full of outdoor recreational opportunities for visitors and residents. The unusual name, Kiawah, comes from the Cusabos Indians, a now extinct tribe, who once inhabited the island. The island covers 10,000 acres with a maritime forest of oaks, palmetto and pines, hickories, sweetgum and magnolia trees and sea oats. There are over 65 ponds or lagoons on Kiawah Island, 18 species of mammals and more than 30 species of reptiles and amphibians, including alligators. Kiawah Islandís efforts to protect the Atlantic Loggerhead Sea Turtle received national attention in 1981 when the Izaak Walton League honored the islandís program with a National Conservation award. Things to do, besides simply enjoying the ocean views and beachside activities, include enjoying golf on one of the islandís four award-winning courses, playing tennis, hiking or biking on the many miles of trails, or visiting the islandís nature center. Several special events are also held on the island throughout the year. Kiawah Island has five restaurants that offer everything from casual outdoor dining to fine gourmet meals. Groceries, gasoline, health and hardware items are available at the islandís General Store, and other shops offer gifts, clothing, jewelry, sports equipment, souvenirs and personal items.

With over 300 years of history, art and culture, the city of Charleston, which is just a short drive from Kiawah Island, brings even more opportunities for those visiting the area. Many consider this vibrant city to be a living museum. You can see historical landmarks, 18th century homes and plantations, museums, the Maritime Center, Fort Sumter and the city marketplace. The cityís Waterfront Park, called ďthis generationís gift to the future,Ē by Mayor Riley, is a popular destination for residents and tourists. Itís located right along Charlestonís historic harbor entry, and combines spacious lawns with spectacular fountains, intimate ďgarden rooms,Ē walking and jogging paths, picnic tables, wooden swings and a long pier. You can spend days in the city and enjoy shopping, Broadway productions, and concerts of all types, sports events, fashion shows, opera and ballet. Then return to the island at night for a quiet peaceful dinner and a stroll on the beach Ė itís all here and the choice is endless. Kiawah Island and the whole Charleston area make a perfect choice for a family vacation because there is sure to be something here to make everyone happy.


 

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