The City Magazine Since 1975

John's & Kiawah Islands - Summer Guide 2018

Not long ago, John’s Island was a sleepy rural farming community where the local Gullah population thrived and historical plantations lined the waterfront. While it’s still all of those things, the rapid pace of development visible on Maybank Highway and Bohicket Road is encroaching. Farms and forest are giving way to neighborhoods—that means more traffic, but also more places to eat and play. On Kiawah, it’s full-on resort culture, and the ever-growing Freshfields Village keeps adding to its array of quality restaurants and shops.

On the Water

There’s only one thing more frustrating than being on a boat while someone tries over and over to get up on a wakeboard or water skis without success—and that’s being that person in the water. If you’ve ever been on either end of that equation, commit to finally learning by spending a few hours on the cable tow or with a professional boat driver at Trophy Lakes Watersports Training Center (pictured above), where the perfect pull every time makes learning easy. If you’re already comfortable on a wakeboard, up your game at this world-class facility, or just watch the pros do their thing while tossing a round of disc golf at the impressive 18-hole course. They also offer SUP rentals and SUP yoga classes on the lakes’ protected waters. 3050 Marlin Rd., John’s Island,

Explore Nature

Kiawah Beachwalker Park (pictured above) is the closest beach access to John’s Island, and it’s consistently listed among the world’s best. That’s because it offers access to Captain Sam’s Spit, a (thus far) undeveloped, narrow peninsula of dunes, beach, and marsh at Kiawah’s southern tip. The back of the spit features a rare river-facing sandy beach, an ideal habitat for dolphins to strand feed, so keep your eyes peeled for—and your distance from—these federally protected marine mammals. At the beach in front of the park, there are lifeguards, bathrooms, picnic areas, and umbrella rentals. 8 Beachwalker Dr.,

Eat & Drink

Fat Hen: On Sundays, brunch and the Fat Hen are synonymous. Go big with a pastrami-and-waffle sandwich, or indulge in crème brulee French toast doused in strawberries soaked in Grand Marnier. Sit inside if it’s a scorcher, or find a table in the shade on the porch. Just get there early, as there’s always a wait. 3140 Maybank Hwy.,

Tattooed Moose (pictured above): This downtown dive’s expansion to John’s Island was a welcome addition, and the spacious digs mean even more people can chow down on their famous duck club. Pull up a stool on the wraparound porch and slowly sip a local draft beer. 3328 Maybank Hwy.,

Lokal Seabar (pictured above): Bohicket Marina’s hidden gem is this raw bar and seafood eatery that draws you in with its cool blue nautical theme and brings you back with blue-crab-stuffed flounder, oysters Rockefeller, and shrimp empanadas. 1886 Andell Bluff Blvd.,

Vincent’s Drug Store (pictured above left): At a decade old, Vincent’s is a veteran in Kiawah’s Freshfields Village (pictured above right), but the classic soda fountain feels 60 years older. The soda taps churn out malts, shakes, and the Vacation Sundae, a six-scoop behemoth covered in toppings, whipped cream, and cherries. 110 Planted Row Ln.,

Pro Tip

Many locals may take the Angel Oak (pictured above) for granted—“if you’ve seen it once”—but it’s easy to forget the awe this massive live oak inspires upon a first visit. Don’t deprive your friends when they come to visit. Bring a picnic and soak in the majesty. 3688 Angel Oak Rd.,