A 10-mile stretch of secluded beach, swaying palms and quiet sophistication may sound like an idyllic South Seas island, but really, it can be found much closer to home. Fly into Charleston, S.C., hop in a car and drive south for about 35 miles, and you’ll arrive at Kiawah Island, one of the country’s most beautiful yet least-well-known spots (outside golf circles, that is). Here are a few pivotal reasons you’ll want to put Kiawah on your summer-vacation agenda:

Family Tee Time The PGA Championship will be held at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort (www.kiawahresort.com) in August. But there’s a come-join-the-fun element that slants in favor of parents who’d like to get their kids into the game. During summer, Family Tee allows the whole gang on the course prior to the pros. Junior clubs can be rented, and Family Tee markers are set in each fairway so no hole is longer than 250 yards.
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Mingo Point Oyster Roast and BBQ On Monday evenings, the Lowcountry tradition of oyster roasts on the banks of the Kiawah River returns (through August). Fresh-roasted oysters and Southern barbecue are served with Paula Deen-esque sinful sides and desserts (corn bread, loaded potato skins, cobblers — you know the ones) while the Island Trio blues band serenades the setting sun.

Gator Walk This landed-gentry version of the popular Everglades activity is an interactive adventure through Kiawah’s meandering river, tide pools and marshes in search of the biggest gator the island has to offer.