Photographer: Squire Fox
This exquisite barrier island is home to 10 miles of unspoiled fine-sand beach; wild-growing palmetto, oak, and magnolia trees; a veritable Noah's ark's worth of mammals and rare birds; and 1,626 lucky residents. With small-town charms and proximity to the gracious urbanity of Charleston, Kiawah makes the ideal possible: a vacation-like lifestyle with easy access to commerce and culture.
Home to five award-winning golf courses, 30-plus miles of paved paths ideal for biking, and shopping at local hub Freshfields Village, residents often kayak down the tree-shaded Kiawah River to watch egrets, herons, and bald eagles enjoying their sanctuary.
Where to Stay: The beachfront Sanctuary Hotel has spacious suites with access to five golf courses and a spa. Rates start at $440; 800/576-1570 or