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Litchfield Beach/Pawleys Island compared to Kiawah

Pittsburgh...
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Litchfield Beach/Pawleys Island compared to Kiawah

Hello,

i was wondering if anyone could tell me how this area compares to Kiawah Island in regard to how crowded the beaches are, how clean the water/beaches are, the nature, overall vibe of the area, etc. We spent a week on Kiawah Island earlier this year, and loved it! The only thing stopping us from booking something for next year is that we really do enjoy going someplace different each year. Here is what we loved: The uncrowded, beautiful beaches, the nature, the fact that it was not commercialized at all, and we absolutely love being able to watch gators - we saw them everywhere!

I think I am a Carolina girl now, so I'd like to check out another coastal beach area. We will most likely drive into Charleston one day - it looks to be a little over an hour and half? I appreciate any tips, opinions, or insight. We typically rent a cottage or townhouse, with pool and beach access.

Thanks so much in advance!

Best!

Pawleys Island SC
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for Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet
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1. Re: Litchfield Beach/Pawleys Island compared to Kiawah

Well, it's been 7-8 years since we stayed at Kiawah, but here's my impressions. Kiawah is essentially one large, very upscale resort. Although they have quite a few full-time residents, the place is geared toward the visitor experience, and does an absolutely wonderful job of pulling that off. The small number of businesses actually on Kiawah are controlled by very strict guidelines. It's a fantastic place.

Litchfield/PI is a great place, with most of it open to the public. It is essentially a small town with plenty of visitors. Within a couple miles, there are a variety of restaurants, shops, groceries, doctors, lawyers, etc. The area is moderately upscale, but not nearly on the level with Kiawah.

If you want to consider this area, I recommend looking into Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort - http://www.litchfieldbeach.com/ It's a gated resort/residential community on the ocean. The beaches are not crowded, and the grounds are beautifully maintained. Huntington Beach State Park is just a couple miles away, with its own almost-empty beaches, plenty of gators, birdwatching, nature programs, etc. Brookgreen Gardens is a world-class sculpture garden that has done an excellent job maintaining the environmental bounties of this area.

If you're looking to repeat the Kiawah resort experience, I don't think you'll find it at Litchfield/PI. If you decide you want to see more of SC's beautiful coast, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Just my $0.02... A couple links to explore:

http://www.brookgreen.org/

southcarolinaparks.com/huntingtonbeach/intro…

http://www.hobcawbarony.org/

Pittsburgh...
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2. Re: Litchfield Beach/Pawleys Island compared to Kiawah

Wow. What a wonderful response. Thank you very much!

What initially drew us to Kiawah was the nature. We love hiking, spotting wildlife, and finding vacation spots that are a little less known, less crowded, and not so commercialized. We like to find fun, quirky towns, or just amazing natural beauty, Kiawah was stunning. The only thing I was a bit concerned about was the upscale golf resort climate there. We are super laid back people, and typically avoid those kinds of areas. Kiawah had so much to offer that we didn't even notice all of that. We cooked in most nights, went in to Charleston one evening, and did go out to dinner on the island another night. It is very pricy, but what I loved was how uncrowded the beaches were as well as all of the wildlife we spotted every day.

I definitely want to see more of SC's coast; we actually were going to do FL this year, but enjoy SC so much I don't even see the point. I absolutely want to get to Huntington Beach State Park. That sounds perfect for us to explore. I was toying with the idea of Seabrook, then I stumbled upon Litchfield and thought I'd do a little research. I will check out the links above. Thanks again so much!

Louisville, Kentucky
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3. Re: Litchfield Beach/Pawleys Island compared to Kiawah

IMO, the Carolina beaches are the most beautiful in the world. I like that I can walk on them and I like that most are not over built. You won't see much difference between Kiawah and LB/PI as far as water, sand and marshes, but the vibe from the environment is very different.

We stayed on Kiawah one year, and to be honest, "planned" was our impression. For our preference, Kiawah was "planned" on overload, but that's what some people want in a vacation. We both said that if we drove in in a pink VW, we probably wouldn't get in. We have vacationed in the LB/PI area for over thirty years now, and we like the area's relaxed, "unstuffy" nature. Most of LB was developed in the mid-sixties on land that was once part of the Huntington estate. The Huntington's were NY philanthropists, and Mrs. H was a sculptor, hence, Brookgreen Gardens on Dude's links. Most of Litchfield was developed before sewers came into the area, so this is not a beach where you see high rises or a lot of congestion. Sewers are there now, and that led to more development. Litchfield by the Sea was built on what used to be a bird sanctuary, and this is where you will find your "resort" environment. As there are more units per beachfront area in this part of Litchfield, the beach is more crowded there that it is on South or North Litchfield, and the north section has been our favorite. If you want a pool and condo-type place to stay, look at Litchfield Retreat, but be careful about renovations...the building and grounds are beautifully maintained, but the units are privately owned. Like anywhere you might consider renting (anywhere!), ask questions and look at the pictures for updates, especially in the kitchens and baths. That said, the house we now rent in Pawleys has very rustic kitchen and baths, and we're not going to stay anywhere else!

Pawleys is historic. The island - really a sandbar - was a destination for families at the turn of the century. The original dwellings were literally wooden "tent" like structures with no frills. "Arrogantly Shabby" is the mantra of this island, and many of the houses were - and some remain - wonderfully rustic. Hurricane Hugo changed that, and today there are newer, more modern homes on the island and some of the houses went through extensive renovation as a result of the storm. Rental prices for houses with no dishwasher or A/C were up there with the newest and most modern in other resorts, but people didn't mind paying those rates for the history and panache of staying on Pawleys. While still retaining its historic character (though I really miss the Pavilion and public pier!) the condition of the houses has changed, and the most of the houses have been modernized with the conveniences you expect at home. The historic character, however, has been preserved. When you are considering a place to stay, note how dense the houses are. The more houses, the more people, and if you can find a place toward the narrow south end of the island, you almost have your own private beach. There will be "groins" (retaining structures) on this part of the island, but we are more than happy with our current location. That said, the density or housing on Pawleys and Litchfiled is not such that either beach every feels overcrowded...busy at times, but not on overload. There is also a small condo development on

Pawleys, Pawleys Pier Village, near the center of the island, and a B&B, the Seaview Inn.

Markets, shopping and restaurants are along Highway 17 that connects these two beaches. When we first started traveling to LB/PI, there was very little as far as grocery stores and restaurants (and never a fast food restaurant or car wash!), but today, you have everything you need. The area has attracted excellent chefs and market/deli owners, and we are really looking forward to the new Fresh Market when we return in the fall. Our FM is full of wonderful prepared foods, and I think it's going to be my morning trek. Our thing is to veg in our house and on the beach. We dine out on occasion - usually for lunch - and do carry out or grill for dinner. We don't want to leave the water or the serenity of our house..

In summary, we like the feeling of history on Litchfield and Pawleys vs. a "planned" community. When I first walked into the kitchen of the house we now rent, I looked at my husband and said "I don't know..." However, I started getting vibes that good times had been had in that kitchen, and over the past four years that we've stayed in that house, we have created our own little "history" and good memories. Dude is right that you won't recreate your Kiawah experience on Litchfield Beach or Pawleys Island, but you will discover another wonderful part of the Carolina coastline.

...can you tell I'm ready to go back? We'll be there in the fall. Yeah!!!!

Edited: 09 July 2012, 17:52
Charleston, South...
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4. Re: Litchfield Beach/Pawleys Island compared to Kiawah

You might want to consder Wild Dunes on the Isle of Palms. It is a gated community on one end of the island, beaches very uncrowded. Lots of birds (herons, etc) around, dolphins in the creeks, etc. Barrier Island Eco Tours leaves from the Isle of Palms marina. Great kayaking available, could learn to paddle board. Not as large as Kiawah, but very nice and as you wanted ~ an alternative location. Plus, Charleston is only about 20 min away if you want to take advantage of restaurants, historic sites, etc. There are many full time, year round residents on the island (I live there), some in Wild Dunes, most not.

www.wilddunes.com

www.nature-tours.com

www.kayakcharleston.net

www.kayakcharlestonsc.com

www.iop.net

Pittsburgh...
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5. Re: Litchfield Beach/Pawleys Island compared to Kiawah

Thank you so much for the additional awesome responses to this question. I love all of the history, and I think there is plenty to satisfy our tastes as far as scenery, vibe, overall feel, etc.

I agree that Kiawah is very planned. That is a very good way to describe the resort activities there. While we absolutely loved the area, the scenery, the nature, the fact that you almost always feel like you have the island to yourself, and beauty we are not big on planned resort-esque type of activities either. We like to hang out on the beach, look for shells, photograph wildlife, explore the area we are in on foot or sometimes bike, hike, and just sort of march to the beat of our own drummer. We will also be traveling with my 10 year old and 2 year old, so we do like to have the option of a pool in addition to the ocean and beach. I looked around on VRBO and found one property that seemed to fit the bill (although a condo, I prefer a cottage/cabin, something with a grill) and it actually looks like it is part of that resort area on Litchfield that has been mentioned. I truly would prefer to be on the least crowded part of the beach, but that may not be possible with the wish list for accommodations that we have (pool, ocean view, etc)

Perhaps a day trip to isle of palms depending on how long we stay; I almost booked there last year before deciding upon Kiawah.

Wish me luck, and thanks again. It sounds like a photographers dream when you include the state park, garden, and surrounding area.

Louisville, Kentucky
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6. Re: Litchfield Beach/Pawleys Island compared to Kiawah

As I tend to do, I may have gone a bit overboard on this post on things to do in the area, but if you read my post #2, you might get some ideas about places to go that aren't always obvious to the first time visitor. All said, we have friends who have traveled to the region and asked us "Didn't you love...?" The truth be known, we usually stay in our house and on the beach and veg. We start out with a list of things we're going to do and end up staying put...but on our collective trips to Pawleys and LB, we've made it to most of these locations!

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g54384-i827-k46253…

Have a great trip!

Edited: 19 July 2012, 03:00
7. Re: Litchfield Beach/Pawleys Island compared to Kiawah

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