Family Photographer in Kiawah Island, SC

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We've all heard the expression "a picture is worth a thousand words". And photos really are a special way to help tell the story of our lives - who we are and what's important to us.

And, of course, some images speak to us more strongly than others. More often than not we love a photo not so much because it shows us how we look but because it captures a very human element that is hard to express in words – an authentic connection with those we love or with ourselves and how we show up or want to be seen in the world.

Whether you're looking to capture someone's attention with a professional headshot or want to commemorate the beautiful connection with your partner or family, I can help.

My name is Adam Chandler, and as a professional photographer in Kiawah Island, SC. I truly find joy and fulfillment in the work I do. I love the adventure of photography and I continually immerse myself in learning and exploring how to improve my craft which includes learning new ways to connect with and capture my subjects. I truly understand that, for many people (if not most), even the idea of having your picture taken can cause a good bit of discomfort and anxiety. That's why I place so much importance on putting my subjects at ease while also really listening to any concerns or wants they have for their session.

I draw upon my technical knowledge of photography, my ability to connect with people, and my creativity to produce beautifully memorable photos for my clients. I believe that my unique creative vision and many years of experience combined with the way I strive to give my clients the most enjoyable experience possible sets me apart from some of the other great photographers in Kiawah Island.

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Family Photography Kiawah Island, SC  Photographer Kiawah Island, SC


Now that you know a little about my background, let's take a look at some of
my most popular photography services in Kiawah Island: My Mission Is To Exceed Expectations

 Portrait Photographer Kiawah Island, SC

My Mission Is To Exceed Expectations

The importance of family is hard to overstate. From children to grandparents to nieces and nephews, families and the family dynamic can grow and change before you know it, with many beautiful milestones taking place along the way.

I think that one of the best ways to remember some of these important moments of togetherness is with a fun family photo session.

I absolutely love photographing families and, while no two families are the same, I always strive to give each session my all in order to best connect with and capture the uniqueness of each family. Even though each session is somewhat different, I approach each one with the same goal: to capture the distinct personality, affection, and energy of each family in order to provide authentic, engaging pictures and a joyful experience.

Whether you have a toddler that you want to celebrate or have grandparents in town for a visit, Kiawah Island is an amazing city for family photography. There are so many locations in the Lowcountry that make for great family photography backdrops:

  • Beaches - Folly Beach, Sullivan's Island, Kiawah, Seabrook, Isle of Palms, Hilton Head, Edisto Beach
  • Popular Places - Washington Square, Broad Street, Hampton Park, Waterfront Park, Shem Creek, The Cistern at College of Kiawah Island
  • Historical Sites - Kiawah Island Battery, Fort Sumter, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Rainbow Row

Historical Sites - The Battery/Whitepoint Gardens, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Boone Hall, Fort Sumter, Middleton Place, Morris Island Lighthouse Whatever location you choose for family photography in Kiawah Island, the Holy City is a wonderful place to explore and enjoy with friends and family.

As a family photographer in Kiawah Island, one of the reasons why I love working with families so much (in addition to getting to meet some really awesome people) is the opportunity to combine my creativity with my ever-evolving technical skill. I also gladly accommodate the style preferences my clients are looking for - be it more traditional, posed images, or candid, playful pictures.

I use a clear yet relaxed style of direction to get you and your family engaged in our photography session, to help get authentic expressions that really show the unique dynamic and relationships of each family.

Here are just a few reasons why families choose Adam Chandler Photography for their family portraits:

Document Family Growth

Change, of course, is part of life and with each passing year families, too, change and often grow. Each stage is beautiful in its own way and having annual family photographs is a fun way to document the different seasons of family life. Be it a new baby, a birthday or anniversary or simply wanting to capture your kids at each special age, I'd be honored to be chosen to help tell the story of your family over the years.

Remember Milestones

With each year that passes, new milestones are reached. From a child's first steps to a sibling getting married, there is no better way to remember these wonderful occasions than with quality photographs. Whether you're welcoming a new puppy into your life, are celebrating an anniversary or finally have gathered your extended family together in one place, capturing these special times in your life is a great way to ensure you'll be able to enjoy and relive these moments years from now.

Create Memories

Many families tell me before their sessions that it's not often that they are all able to be together and they emphasize how special and important this session is. Or, perhaps, a mom or dad will talk about how fleetingly special a certain age of their child is and how they really want to capture their children's personalities. Even if you capture lots of great moments of your family throughout the year it's likely not very often that all of you are in the pictures at once (other than maybe having a stranger tell you to "say cheese" after you hand them your phone. Having a time that's dedicated to capturing the special bonds between family members - parents and their children, grandparents and their grandchildren, siblings and maybe extended family as well - is so important. We all know just how special these people and moments are and how we tend to treasure these memories more with each passing year.

Portraits And Headshots In Kiawah Island, SC

A great headshot shows you at your best - whether you want to impress a prospective employer or need professional photography for your website. In today's digitally-intensive society, having a professional headshot or portrait of you or your team that stands out for all the right reasons is becoming a necessity. It's no surprise, then, that headshots and portraits are among the most popular genres of photography.

Headshots can be tricky, mostly because many (if not most) people don't like being in front of the camera (trust me, I totally get that). I know that for some clients, it can be hard to know what to do, what to wear or how to relax enough to let their authentic selves come through so that they can end up with a professional photo or headshot that inspires authenticity and confidence.

Fortunately, I have years of experience taking professional headshots of all types of people. No matter what your comfort level is with having your picture taken, I pride myself on being able to create the conditions necessary to help capture my clients as you want to be seen. Through lighting, posing and direct yet relaxed interaction I'll help guide you to great photos that you’ll be proud to showcase and share with others.

A professional headshot or portrait is an investment into your personal brand, and here is why:

 Portrait Photographer Kiawah Island, SC
 Best Photographer Kiawah Island, SC

Show Your Personality

Not all headshots should be approached the same way. Depending on your industry or how you'll be using the photos, there are certain things to consider. A great headshot reflects not just how you look but also how you show up in the world. It can help give people an idea of the kind of person you are before you sit down to meet them. Oftentimes, too, people may want a variety of "looks" to suit different needs and uses. My goal is to listen to your expectations and then deliver results that will serve you will in your professional and/or personal life.

 Beach Photography Kiawah Island, SC

Show Your Professionalism

Clients, collaborators, investors, and employers are typically much more likely to interview you or to contact you or your business if you look professional. If you've taken the time to invest in your brand, in part by making the effort to arrange a professional headshot, people notice that. And who doesn't want to make a great first (or second or third) impression?

 Family Portrait Photographer Kiawah Island, SC

Stand Out on Social Media

Many of my clients make appointments for headshots and portraits when they want to stand out from the crowd on social media. Whether you own a business and need to create new social media pages or you're looking to network with recruiters on LinkedIn or, perhaps, update your website, a professional headshot can definitely set you apart in the modern sea of selfies and snapshots that you often see out there.

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Show Off Your Current Look

None of us look the same as we did 10 or 15 years ago yet some of us keep the same photo up for decades. Having outdated headshots can send a message of inauthenticity. When you have up-to-date, professional headshots, you're showing clients and employers that you are confident, committed, and authentic.

 Headshots Kiawah Island, SC

Qualities Of A Great Photographer In Kiawah Island, SC

Being a great photographer means more than owning fancy equipment. While having expensive gear can be quite helpful, the real test of a professional, for me, has a lot more to do with being able to draw upon my deep understanding of the craft of photography so that I can focus more on connecting with and beautifully capturing my subjects without getting bogged down in figuring out the technical side of things. It's taken me many years to get where I am and I'm always striving to improve in order to continue to deliver the best pictures and most enjoyable experience possible for my clients.

Clients choose Adam Chandler Photography because my experience shows and they trust me to always give them the results and experience that they're looking for. Here are just a few qualities that my clients appreciate:

 Engagement Photography Kiawah Island, SC


I wholeheartedly consider photography to be an artform - one that requires lots of curiosity and imagination along with a good bit of technique. A great photographer knows how to get beautiful results no matter what the conditions or circumstances are and this only comes with experience and preparation.

Family Photography Kiawah Island, SC


This quality might seem obvious but I can't tell you how many times I've seen photography that may be technically good but is missing something. My passion for photography largely comes from my passion for connecting with people in a way that helps them feel comfortable letting their guard down so they can enjoy the process. And this almost always leads to exceptional, authentic images.

 Photographer Kiawah Island, SC


Patience can also be essential for great photos. As in life, there are many things that we just can't control. Sometimes the best photos come from patiently going with the flow and not trying to force something to happen. I find that when I'm patient yet prepared - ready to capture the right moment or expression when the time is right - that's often the best approach. As a professional with many years of experience, I understand the importance of having the patience to deal with whatever comes my way as well as the flexibility and preparedness to make the most out of any situation.

 Portrait Photographer Kiawah Island, SC

People Skills

If ever there was a business where people skills were important I think portrait photography is definitely one of them. Knowing how uncomfortable many people can be when getting their pictures taken, I put every effort into helping ensure the best possible experience for my clients and communication is such a big part of that. I love interacting with my clients to build trust and rapport as well as a deep understanding of your expectations including any concerns you may have. As I've said, for me my job is not just about delivering beautiful images but also a wonderful client experience. That's why I focus so much on each and every interaction with my clients. Yes, people skills are a must in this business. Luckily for me, it's one of my favorite parts of the job!

Eye for Detail

As a professional photographer in Kiawah Island, SC I am meticulous when it comes to details. Through my many years of photographing many different types of subjects under many different circumstances I've come to learn just how important details are. Whether it's finding or creating the best quality of light for my clients, eliciting a great expression or
adjusting the background or, perhaps, a piece of clothing, all of these things impact the overall look and feel of a photo. Whether I'm photographing a family, a business professional or a couple in love I always look for all the ways I can create the best image possible.

 Portrait Photographer Kiawah Island, SC
 Best Photographer Kiawah Island, SC

"As I hope you can tell by looking at my work, I really love my job. And most of all I love the people I get to meet and work with. I'd be honored and delighted to be chosen for your photography needs."

Adam Chandler

Ready to Get Started?

One of my favorite things to do is to talk to clients about what they're looking for and how I can serve them. If you are in need of professional photography, let's talk today about what you have in mind. Whether you're looking for family or couples' photography in Kiawah Island or want great new headshots for you or your team, I'm here to help every step of the way!  

Latest News in Kiawah Island, SC

Exploring Kiawah Island, South Carolina’s private getaway, where day visitors are welcome (by most, anyway)

KIAWAH ISLAND, South Carolina – The young man behind the counter at the West Beach pool helped me pick out a bike, handed me a map and told me to have fun.What a contrast to the security attendant I encountered a few moments before, who made me feel like an interloper at the gated entrance to Kiawah Island.I brushed aside her grouchiness and headed out on two wheels, pedaling first through the island’s leafy interior before heading to the beach, where the sand at low tide cuts an incredible coastal path along the At...

KIAWAH ISLAND, South Carolina – The young man behind the counter at the West Beach pool helped me pick out a bike, handed me a map and told me to have fun.

What a contrast to the security attendant I encountered a few moments before, who made me feel like an interloper at the gated entrance to Kiawah Island.

I brushed aside her grouchiness and headed out on two wheels, pedaling first through the island’s leafy interior before heading to the beach, where the sand at low tide cuts an incredible coastal path along the Atlantic.

Kiawah, the mostly private barrier island about 25 miles south of Charleston, is often included on lists of the world’s most beautiful beaches. For that reason alone, I put the island on the top of my to-do list as I planned a short trip to South Carolina to try out the new Breeze Airways flights out of Akron-Canton Airport.

It’s not the simplest place to visit, however, especially if you’re not spending the night.

Staying overnight

There’s one hotel on the island, the tony Sanctuary, a gorgeous, ocean-front AAA five-diamond property with 255 rooms. Rates here run $500 and up during the summer, which was too steep for me.

Instead, I overnighted at a hotel on U.S. 17, a 30-minute drive away, and planned a day trip to the island. Shortly after arrival, however, I wasn’t entirely sure that my plan was a good one.

I had called earlier to make a reservation for the Jasmine Porch, inside the Sanctuary, one of the island’s numerous restaurants. It’s one of several ways that non-guests are encouraged to visit the island, owned primarily by the Kiawah Island Golf Resort and other real estate development companies.

I made it to Kiawah by 10 a.m. on a recent Sunday, told the woman at the gate that I had a restaurant reservation and asked for a map of the island. She told me I wasn’t to linger on the island and wouldn’t give me a map.

“But I’m planning on renting bikes,” I told her. “You’re not allowed to rent bikes,” she told me.

That came as news to the young man at the nearby West Beach pool, who told me I was welcome to rent a bicycle and to pedal anywhere I liked. “Security being security,” he said, and shrugged.

Indeed, non-guests are also welcome to sign up for recreational activities and nature programs, including dolphin encounters, kayak tours, art classes and more.

They’re even allowed to golf – and this island is well known for its spectacular and prestigious courses, including the waterfront Ocean Course, which hosted the 2021 PGA Championship in May. Five courses are open to the public, whether you’re staying on the island or not, including the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course, Cougar Point, Turtle Point, Osprey Point and Oak Point.

I’m not a golfer, which kept my to-do list simple for my short visit: Explore the island by bike, enjoy a nice meal, check out the beach, maybe witness some wildlife.

I popped into the Nature Center, too, for some air conditioned-relief, where I saw numerous snakes, turtles, a stuffed bobcat and two infant alligators in tanks (the only gators I saw during my visit, despite omnipresent signage warning visitors to stay away from ponds and waterways).

I enjoyed almost all of it – the biking was terrific, with 30 miles of shady, flat, paved paths that rarely intersected with the roadways; and the Southern cuisine at Jasmine Porch was excellent, featuring she-crab soup and crab cakes plus bottomless peach iced tea. The beach, as expected, was absolutely stunning, massive at low tide, flat and perfect for walking, cycling, lounging, even bocce playing.

The attitude of the folks manning the security gates, however, was decidedly unwelcoming. Perhaps purposely so?

Cocktails at the Ocean Course

After we returned our bikes, my husband and I decided to have a drink at the Ryder Cup Bar, at the far east end of the island, overlooking the spectacular 18th hole of the Ocean Course. Our waitress at lunch assured us that the bar was open to the public.

There is a second security gate about midway down the island, which controls access to the eastern half of Kiawah. I told the woman at the gate that we were headed to the Ryder Cup Bar.

She saw the pass from earlier in the day on our car’s dashboard and asked us if we had been to the beach. “Um, yes,” I answered. She then told us that we should not have been on the beach. “If we let everyone on the beach, there wouldn’t be enough room for the people who pay a premium for access,” she said.

That did not seem to be remotely a possibility, given the size of the beach here. But I smiled and nodded.

In a more friendly tone, she said she would make an exception for us, and handed us a pass to proceed to the bar. I thanked her while controlling the urge to roll my eyes.

My husband was put off by her attitude that seemed to suggest we weren’t welcome. I was amused, but also confused.

Other than the security staff, everyone we encountered on the island – vacationers, homeowners, wait staff, shopkeepers – were all wonderful and welcoming. They seemed to want us around.

The drive out to the Ocean Course was stunning, past spectacular, multimillion-dollar-plus properties, along live-oak lined roadways that were draped with Spanish moss.

At the end of the drive: the Ryder Cup Bar, where I very much enjoyed a cocktail called a sweet tea mojito. I sipped my beverage and enjoyed the view.

Thirst (and curiosity) quenched, we made our way back west, toward the only public destination on the island, Kiawah Beachwalker Park, part of the Charleston County Parks system (note: parking here is $15).

While technically all beaches in South Carolina are public, private landowners can (and do) restrict access to those beaches.

Beachwalker park provides public access to Kiawah’s entire 10-mile stretch of sand. Theoretically, a visitor could access the beach here and traverse (by foot or bicycle) the entire stretch of the Kiawah coast.

I wasn’t that ambitious, walking perhaps a mile to the island’s western end, where the Kiawah River joins the ocean. I was hoping to see some dolphins strand feeding, a fascinating practice where the dolphins herd fish onto the sand then launch themselves out of the water to eat. Kiawah, nearby Hilton Head and other low-lying coastal regions are among the handful of places throughout the world where this occurs, typically just before or after low tide.

Alas, I didn’t see any dolphins, but the beach was engaging enough – wide and flat and glorious.

I could have walked longer, but my feet were tired, the sun was setting and my hotel was a half hour drive away.

If you go: Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Getting there: Kiawah is about 25 miles southwest of Charleston, an easy drive from the airport or downtown.

Staying overnight: The Sanctuary offers 255 oceanfront rooms, starting at about $500 per night during the summer. Other options include the Andell Inn, part of the Freshfields Village development, just off Kiawah on St. Johns Island.

The island also has hundreds of villas and private homes available to rent via the Kiawah Island Golf Resort or individual owners.

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Kiawah Island, South Carolina

A barrier island on South Carolina’s Atlantic coast, Kiawah is a private beach and golf resort some 40 km southwest of Charleston, the largest city in the state. With a population of just under 1,800, according to 2019 estimates, Kiawah Island is well known for its eponymous Golf Resort. Its other attractions include various beaches, villas, and other boating activities.Geography And Climate Of Kiawah Island Kiawah Island has a total land area of 35 square kilometers, of which 6.4 square kilometers or nearly 19% is wate...

A barrier island on South Carolina’s Atlantic coast, Kiawah is a private beach and golf resort some 40 km southwest of Charleston, the largest city in the state. With a population of just under 1,800, according to 2019 estimates, Kiawah Island is well known for its eponymous Golf Resort. Its other attractions include various beaches, villas, and other boating activities.

Geography And Climate Of Kiawah Island

Kiawah Island has a total land area of 35 square kilometers, of which 6.4 square kilometers or nearly 19% is water. A barrier island on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, summers are noted for being oppressively hot on the Island, while winters are short and windy.Between May and September, average daily highs are 28 C, with July as the hottest month of the summertime; highs in that month average 31 C, with lows of 24 C. The winter is considered to last from December to March, with highs of 19 C. January is the coldest month on average for Kiawah Island, with highs around 17 C and lows of 7 C.According to local meteorological guides, the best time recommended to visit Kiawah Island for moderate temperatures is from April to May or September to October.The wet season on Kiawah Island lasts from June to September. July is considered the wettest. Of the 31 days in the month, an average of 15 days has at least 1 millimeter of precipitation. November is the driest month, with only six days out of 30 presenting a minimum of 1 millimeter of precipitation, while the dry season typically lasts between late September and June.

Brief History Of Kiawah Island

Named after the Kiawah indigenous people, English settler, and former pirate George Raynor, first obtained Kiawah Island through a land grant in 1699. In 1701, he sold half of the area to another sea captain, while the other half was passed on to his descendants after his 1743 death.Used primarily for cattle farming in its early history, during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the settlement was also used as a recovery and refuge place for soldiers and family members. It was the Civil War (1861-1865), however, that had a greater impact on Kiawah Island.South Carolina was the first state to join the Confederacy, and during the War, Kiawah Island was sieged by Northern troops and taken over. By this time, the Island was maintained by the wealthy Vanderhorst family, and after the War, they hired formerly enslaved people for labor, producing cotton on the land. The Family maintained their administration of the area until well into the mid-20th century when it was purchased by logging entrepreneur C.C. Royal in 1950.

The Island was further sold to the Kuwait Investment Corporation in 1974, and a boom in real estate sales began. In 1976, the first golf course, Cougar Point, was opened. The Kiawah Island Golf Resort soon followed. The 1980s saw continued growth and expansion for the Island, and a town also called Kiawah was formally established in 1988.The Kiawah Island Club opened in 1993, while more golf courses, including Ocean Course and Oak Point, were founded in 1991 and 1997, respectively. Today, Kiawah Island is filled with an abundance of golf courses, lodges, hotels, and public beaches, making it a calm and appealing place for many tourists.

Attractions On Kiawah Island

Lauded as one of the best golf destinations on the United States’ East Coast, Kiawah Island features seven award-winning golf courses. Several of these were even designed by pro golf legends like Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. The courses of Turtle Point, Ocean Course, Cougar Point, Oak Point, and Osprey Point are owned and operated by the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The Ocean Course has hosted events like the 1997 World Cup of Golf and the 2012 and 2021 PGA Championship.For those not inclined to golf, Kiawah Island also offers a variety of other outdoor activities for tourists and their families to enjoy.

Beachwalker County Park is located on the west end of the Island and has been ranked by several publications as one of the best public beaches in the United States.Kiawah Island has 48 km of paved hiking trails and 16 km of beach, giving residents and visitors alike beautiful settings for biking, walking, and jogging. Any tourist to Kiawah Island will surely find kayaking, canoeing, and other boating opportunities on the water.

For the historically inclined visitor, Kiawah Island is home to two sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places; the Arnoldus Vander Horst House, a former plantation house built in 1802, is now a museum that highlights the history of the area, and of the Island’s record during the Civil War. The Bass Pond Site is an archaeological excavation locale that spotlights the geological history of the land and the development of the early human activity.

Kiawah Island is mainly known today for its renowned golf courses and beachfront access on the coast of the Atlantic, but it also has, like so many small towns and habitations in America, a unique history. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to the modern real estate boom, Kiawah Island is a lesser-known spot on the American map but a charming and pleasing destination for anyone who chooses to visit.

The People Who Make The Place: The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

“For me, this isn’t a job,” proclaims Kevin McQuade, head concierge at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, near Charleston. “I’m absolutely obsessed with it. It&...

“For me, this isn’t a job,” proclaims Kevin McQuade, head concierge at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, near Charleston. “I’m absolutely obsessed with it. It’s who I am; I eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Charleston is in my bones.”

It’s been just under three years since McQuade joined the concierge team at the luxury Kiawah Island retreat. Over twenty-plus years as a hotel concierge—18 of those were spent at properties in downtown Charleston hotels—McQuade has exhibited an unbridled passion for his job. He also happens to be exceptional at it—so exceptional that he’s been recognized by Les Clefs d’Or (an international organization of elite hotel concierges) for his outstanding service and devotion to the profession.

The Sanctuary, located on a 10,000-acre barrier island 21 miles from downtown Charleston, is one of those quieter pockets he speaks of. The elegant outdoorsy retreat has become a magnet for visitors who prefer a dash of “nature time” sprinkled into their already-flavorsome Holy City itinerary. A stay at The Sanctuary, in fact, could easily be considered the cherry on top, a necessary wind-down after jam-packed days reveling in Charleston’s historic district. What’s there not to love when the agenda consists of lazy days lounging on one of the best-rated beaches in the country, incredible Lowcountry food, and a sense of solitude and renewal? “A lot of people will go downtown for a few days, and then come right to The Sanctuary, where they feel like they’re in the middle of nowhere,” he says. “They come here to relax—it’s called The Sanctuary for a reason. It’s almost like you have to be reminded that Charleston is just 45 minutes away from this refuge.” Then, of course, there are those who come for the golf.

The resort boasts some of the most renowned golf courses not just in South Carolina, but across all 50 states. This superlative reputation is no secret. In 2021, one of golf's biggest, national tournaments was hosted at Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s prestigious Ocean Course, which rambles through the wind-swept dunescape of the island's eastern coast, not far from The Sanctuary’s 250 guest rooms. The course also has the largest number of seaside holes in North America, making it one of the most challenging public courses in the world.

“We are obsessed with five-star service at The Sanctuary,” McQuade fervently declares. “When you first walk in and see the ocean straight ahead, it’s hard not to feel the stress wash away. And our spa is just amazing.” Best of all, cars aren’t necessary to experience the best of the resort; guests have access to complementary shuttles that whiz about the grounds, from the beach, to the golf course, to the excellent restaurants located on and around the property.

Jasmine Porch at The Sanctuary highlights Lowcountry comfort food (think shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, roast chicken) in a family-friendly setting, while the poolside Loggerhead Bar and Grill is a great spot for easy-breezy coastal bites. “Then there’s the Ocean Room, the nicest restaurant at the resort,” says McQuade. “It’s an upmarket steakhouse with such an elegant atmosphere; you almost feel like you’re in the dining room of the Titanic. Expect excellent filet, ribeye, and elevated seafood dishes. Guests like to dress up for the experience.” Outside The Sanctuary exists a handful of other solid dining options, like the Atlantic Room, which overlooks the Ocean Course (“Chef Fernando is one of the best in Charleston for seafood”) as well as sister restaurant Ryder Cup Bar—both offer unbelievable ocean views. With endless fodder for curating unforgettable experiences for guests at The Sanctuary, McQuade's dedication to sharing the best of Charleston is resolute: “If I had one hour left on this earth,” he says “I would spend it planning a trip for someone to Charleston, South Carolina.”

Sample Gullah Cuisine at Hannibal’s Soul Kitchen

“There’s really just one place in the world to eat Carolina Gullah cuisine, and it’s in and around Charleston,” says McQuade. According to Hannibal's website, the restaurant has been “feeding the soul of the city" for more than 40 years. Located inside a big orange building, this down-home soul food and seafood joint has been run by the Huger family since 1985. It’s a veritable Charleston institution that serves authentic and hearty Gullah dishes like crab and shrimp rice, collard greens, hoppin’ john, and more. “There’s been a big craving—even among guests at fancy upscale hotels—for authentic restaurants,” says McQuade. “Though I still give them a heads-up that it’ll be casual, it’s a dive. They always end up loving it. Going to places like Hannibal’s is like lighting a candle to Charleston’s ancestors.”

Explore the Wilds of Bull’s Island

“A big part of Charleston is being on the water—we’re surrounded by it on all sides,” McQuade describes. “No visit to the city is complete without some activity on the water. And it’s more interesting if you go off the beaten path, away from the harbor and into the marshes and estuaries.” The concierge recommends adventure group Coastal Expeditions for all—you guessed it—coastal expeditions for his clients. Of all the excursions, McQuade’s top pick is the guided kayak tour around Bull’s Island, which the company has been running for over 27 years. “It’s an incredibly pristine wild island filled with gators, birds, and other wildlife,” he says. “Don’t miss the boneyard.” McQuade’s referring to Boneyard Beach, an otherworldly swath of shore scattered with hundreds of pieces of whitewashed driftwood. It’s an eerie scene to some, but a downright magical one to most.

Visit the Caw Caw Interpretive Center

Another outdoor attraction McQuade recommends is the Caw Caw Interpretive Center, a wildlife preserve containing 11 distinct coastal plain habitats teeming with American alligators, bald eagles, and other native fauna. “Caw Caw is often overlooked because it is 25 minutes outside of the city, but you could spend hours on the trails, meandering through brackish marshes, maritime forests, pinewood, swamps, and so much more,” the concierge adds. “It might have the best birding in the state because of all the different ecosystems.” Caw Caw also features old 18th-century rice fields (Charleston was once the largest rice purveyor in the U.S.), a Stono Rebellion site, and thousands of naturalized tea plants from a 20th-century tea farm.

Take a Black History Tour

“In addition to a general tour of the city, everyone should take a Black history tour,” McQuade suggests. “About one-third of America’s enslaved people came through Charleston Harbor. Franklin is the guy behind Frankly Charleston Black History Tours, which does great walking tours focused on the historic areas.” The Beyond the Fields tour at Middleton Place, one of the region’s most-visited plantations, also lands high on McQuade’s list. “Plantation house tours tend to focus on the family and the furniture—and that’s all very interesting, but there are other windows into our culture we need to peer into,” he says. “For about an hour, the Beyond the Fields tour details what it was like for enslaved people as they got off the slave ships; how they grew rice, and how they lived. I understand we don’t want to make people uncomfortable with this subject, but we all need to be unafraid to dive in and embrace it, in order for it to never happen again.”

Plan your next trip and explore Charleston today.

Pawleys Island hiring consultant to develop plans for handling rising sea levels

PAWLEYS ISLAND — The Pawleys Island Town Council will hire a consultant to develop a rising sea level plan the town hopes will open itself up to grant money for adaptation strategies, such as improved drainage and flooding mitigation.The seaside town will work with Elko Coastal Consulting, a Folly Beach-based company headed by Nicole Elko. Elko serves as executive director of South Carolina Beach Advocates, a group founded by elected officials of South Carolina beach communities.Elko has also worked on a sea level plan fo...

PAWLEYS ISLAND — The Pawleys Island Town Council will hire a consultant to develop a rising sea level plan the town hopes will open itself up to grant money for adaptation strategies, such as improved drainage and flooding mitigation.

The seaside town will work with Elko Coastal Consulting, a Folly Beach-based company headed by Nicole Elko. Elko serves as executive director of South Carolina Beach Advocates, a group founded by elected officials of South Carolina beach communities.

Elko has also worked on a sea level plan for Folly Beach, a marsh management plan for Kiawah Island and a coastal management consultancy with Myrtle Beach.

Pawleys Island Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri, who serves on the South Carolina Beach Advocates board of directors, said he believes having such a plan in place will make it easier for the town to seek grant money for adaptation strategies in the future. Pawleys Island Mayor Brian Henry introduced Elko’s proposal at the April 18 town council meeting by mentioning a pilot program set up around the Pawleys Island Town Hall to clean out drains and replace backflow preventers to fight flooding.

Fabbri likened Pawleys Island’s situation to that of a company needing a business plan to receive a loan.

“Without the ammunition and having a plan that really spells out kind of the starting point of what you’re trying to achieve, you’re not going to get it,” Fabbri said.

Elko’s plan for Folly Beach considered three feet of sea level rise through 2066.

The Folly Beach plan suggested infrastructure projects to improve drainage and offer strategic education for residents and elected officials as long-term goals for the town. Elko developed the plan alongside the university-based conservation program S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program at the University of South Carolina.

“If you read through those studies and plans that were put together, you would think they were talking about Pawleys Island,” Henry said.

The plan will not cost more than $11,900. Fabbri said that $10,000 was already in the town budget for consulting.

“I knew that we would have to look into getting the services of someone like Nicole who has a lot of knowledge in coastal resilience and knows where to go to find the money, and she has a history of successfully getting those grant funds,” Fabbri said.

Kiawah Island executive chef named 2022 ‘Chef Ambassador’ for South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – A Lowcountry chef was named one of South Carolina’s ‘Chef Ambassadors’ during a special ceremony at the Statehouse Wednesday morning.Gov. Henry McMaster was joined by the Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers, and South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Director Duane Parrish as they appointed three chefs to serve as South Carolina Chef Ambassadors for 2022.These chefs prepare dishes using Certified South Carolina produce, meats and seafood, support local...

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – A Lowcountry chef was named one of South Carolina’s ‘Chef Ambassadors’ during a special ceremony at the Statehouse Wednesday morning.

Gov. Henry McMaster was joined by the Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers, and South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Director Duane Parrish as they appointed three chefs to serve as South Carolina Chef Ambassadors for 2022.

These chefs prepare dishes using Certified South Carolina produce, meats and seafood, support local farmers and highlight the state’s rich food traditions.

“South Carolina Chef Ambassadors do South Carolina a great service by shining a light on our state’s destinations, signature dishes and locally grown foods, and their own incredible talents,” said Gov. McMaster. “We’re proud to have these three great chefs represent our state.”

Among them is Executive Chef John Ondo of The Atlantic Room on Kiawah Island.

Chef Ondo grew up playing in the tidal creeks of the Lowcountry, according to the governor’s office. It’s something he said left an indelible mark on him as he has spent his 20-plus-year culinary career drawing inspiration from the area’s fields and waterways.

It was here in Charleston where Chef Ondo developed long-lasting relationships with local farmers and fishermen. He often stops by to visit and discuss how crops are coming in and to pick up produce that will appear on plates that same night at The Atlantic Room.

“With his wry sense of humor and affable nature, Chef Ondo is a recognizable spokesperson for Lowcountry foodways,” said Gov. McMaster’s office.

Ondo accepted the honor along with fellow Chef Ambassadors, Chris Williams of Roy’s Grille in Lexington, and Haydn Shaak of Restaurant 17 at Hotel Domestique in Travelers Rest.

“Man, had y’all told me all these cameras were gonna be here today I would have brushed my hair,” Ondo joked as he stepped before the podium, just seconds before First Lady Peggy McMaster reached up to brush his hair with her hand.

“This is a huge honor to be able to represent my home state and the hard-working farmers and fishermen and shrimpers, just producers of Carolina products,” he said. “This is a huge honor and I’m happy to be here.”

The governor’s office said the Chef Ambassadors, a program now in its eighth year, will represent South Carolina at food festivals, media events and other forums.

The program was created in 2014 to highlight the state as a top culinary destination. It unites agribusiness and tourism, two of the state’s largest industries, which together contribute tens of billions of dollars to the state’s economy each year and account for hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide, according to Gov. McMaster’s office.

“These three talented Chef Ambassadors honor South Carolina’s diverse culinary heritage and local ingredients,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers. “Chefs connect with and promote our state’s farmers and help teach us all how to eat fresh, local food in season.”

“Our hospitality industry has been on a rollercoaster ride since March 2020,” said Duane Parrish, Director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism. “From shifting to a to-go model almost overnight, to navigating workforce challenges, to welcoming an influx of visitors as tourism began to rebound – they’ve really seen it all in a very short timeframe. The Chef Ambassador program highlights and celebrates some of the very best of what this resilient and tenacious industry has to offer, and helps showcase just how significant and extraordinary our culinary scene is in the Palmetto State.”

To learn more about the program and past Chef Ambassadors, visit


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