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Kiawah Island is named for the Kiawah Indians of the Cusabos Tribe who inhabited the Island until the 1600s. In the year 1699, the Lords Proprietors under King Charles II of England deeded it to George Raynor, who wasn’t interested in it, so he sold half of it and willed the other half to his daughter. The entire island was sold in 1737 to John Stanyarne, who left it to his two granddaughters, Mary Gibbs and Elizabeth Vanderhorst. It has changed hands only four times since then. The well-known Vanderhorst family of Charleston kept the island for 180 years before selling it in 1950 to C.C. Royal of Aiken, South Carolina. Over the next twenty years, Royal logged pine trees on the island, built the causeway and put in logging roads that marked the way for today’s roads. The Kiawah Island Company Ltd. bought it from the Royal family in 1974, and the Kiawah Resort Associates purchased it in 1988 and is Kiawah’s developer today. The island was also incorporated in 1988. Approximately 400 families make Kiawah Island their year-round home, and there are over 3,300 property owners in all, from 46 states and 21 foreign countries. Residential homes and homesites are in private neighborhoods that consist of four main communities, the Vanderhorst Plantation, the Village at Turtle Beach, East Beach Village and West Beach Village. Lot sizes range from approximately one-quarter acre to over one acre and home designs must be approved by the Kiawah Island Architectural Review Board prior to construction.

The town of Kiawah Island has a Mayor and four Council Members that comprise the legislative branch of town. There are many services and programs for residents, including garbage pickup, emergency preparedness and wildlife studies. There are four award-winning golf courses on the island, two complete tennis courts, five restaurants with many others located nearby, a park with a nature center, a General Store where you can stock up on items such as milk, eggs, coffee, sweets, newspapers, wines and more. Kiawah Island is only 21 miles south of the city of Charleston, so any other provisions and shopping are readily available within a short drive. Charleston also provides theater, museums, opera, ballet and fine dining. The beauty of Kiawah Island is that it is so near all the amenities of the city, yet is comfortably situated between the surf of the Atlantic Ocean and the sweeping marshes of the mainland, giving the impression of a vacation paradise, yet so near to home. The island’s ten miles of windswept, sunny beach has more beachfront property than any other individually planned resort community on the East Coast. For visitors looking for a summer rental, villas, homes and resorts are artfully woven into the landscape, without disrupting this feeling of being on a remote barrier island. Modern luxuries combine gracefully with the island’s natural beauty. Whether you’re here for a month, a week or two, or thinking of a more permanent move, Kiawah Island is a rare, beautiful find nestled on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.


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