Kiawah is a sea island, or barrier island, on the Atlantic coast of the United States. Located 25 miles southwest of Charleston in Charleston County, South Carolina, it is primarily a gated beach and golf resort—the Kiawah Island Golf Resort—with spacious villas, beaches, large and acclaimed golf courses, and other attractions. The island is part of the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metropolitan area. Alternative spellings and variants of the name itself include "Kiawa", "Kittiwar" (in DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy), and "Kittiwah" (in George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess).
Kiawah Island is widely hailed as one of the premier golf destinations on the East Coast. The island features seven award-winning golf courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Fazio, and Pete Dye. The courses snake along the narrow island, moving from the dense wooded interior of the island to the breezy oceanfront. Five of the courses are owned and maintained by Kiawah Island Golf Resort. These include the Ocean Course, Turtle Point, Osprey Point, Oak Point, and Cougar Point. Two courses, the River Course and Cassique, are owned and maintained by Kiawah Island Club. Pete Dye designed the Ocean Course in 1991 and the course has since proved to be one of the toughest on the East Coast. The Ocean Course was the home of the 1991 Ryder Cup, the 1997 World Cup of Golf, the 2007 Senior PGA Championship, and the 2012 PGA Championship, becoming only the fourth golf course in history to host each of the PGA of America's men's major championships. The Ocean Course was featured in the 2000 movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, starring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron.
Tidal creeks, salt marshes, and the Kiawah River itself provides the opportunity for various canoeing and kayaking expeditions. There are numerous water access points, including a community kayak rental dock at Mingo Point and boat storage near the 15th green of the Cassique golf course, as well as a full marina just outside Kiawah's gate, for more expansive Kiawah Island fishing and deep sea fishing excursions. Also, Kiawah Island Club Members enjoy private access to a kayak dock in Cassique, and the Kiawah Community Association maintains a launch and storage at Cinder Creek and Rhett's Bluff.
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