A life of leisure at Wild Dunes

Sunrise on the Isle of Palms brings the calls of seagulls and sandpipers, backdropped by gentle waves lapping the soft sand. Before long, those tunes of nature are accented by the squeals of kids running across the beautiful swaths of sands, screaming in delight as they dart in and out of the water and plan their next sandcastle masterpiece. Later, the sounds of golf carts motoring up and down the quiet, palmetto-lined streets signal the beginning of the day’s rounds, as seasoned pros and amateur duffers seek to tackle the island’s coast-framed courses. Then the familiar “thwack” of tennis balls punctuates the air, as early birds hit the courts for few sets before summer’s oppressive heat kicks in. This is life at Wild Dunes Resort, a slice of heaven on the South Carolina coast, just a stone’s throw away from downtown Charleston.

A relative newcomer among high-end vacation/live communities in the region, Wild Dunes has nonetheless built a considerable reputation over the past three decades. As recently as 1972, the tip of the Isle of Palms where the resort now rests was little more than a scattering of post-World War II housing set amidst brackish ponds and coastal forest. Yet out of those humble environs grew a complex that now tops perennial “best of” lists, from golf to tennis to dining to beach scenes.

Wild Dunes offers the casual vacationer or extended-stay resident ample choices for lodgings, from private home rentals to townhouses and beachside villas. Presently, the resort sports two AAA Four Diamond properties: the Boardwalk Inn and the newly opened Village at Wild Dunes. Both offer luxurious rooms running the gamut from penthouse suites with superb service and sophistication to multi-room suites with kitchens and water views. The Village also recently completed work on the Plaza, which hosts an upscale market with adjoining spa and fitness center. And as the sun sets each evening, live acoustic music peppers the air from the terraced lawn, as visitors tuck into a cocktail and watch the tides and ebb and flow.

The Boardwalk Inn, located in the heart of the resort, offers similar luxury and relaxation, all with an obvious nod of Old South gentility and grace. Only a few yards from the ocean, the Boardwalk inspires calm and solace, from its huge sparkling pool to the award-winning Sea Island Grill located on the premises.

Of course, life at Wild Dunes revolves around golf and tennis, and as such the property began garnering accolades as far back as 1981. Designed by Tom Fazio and earning the honor of “best in the state” from Golf Digest magazine, the Harbor and Links Courses are surrounded by amazing marsh views and waterside vistas, with many holes running parallel to the beach and crossing ponds where a plethora of alligators rest solemnly on the banks.

The tennis scene is equally impressive, and as such is ranked at a U.S. Top 10 Resort by Tennis magazine. Seventeen courts grace Wild Dunes, including a stadium and five night-lit courts. Throw in a full-service pro shop and world-renowned teaching programs and it’s little wonder why internationally ranked players travel here to tune up their game between events.

For those who want to indulge in all things Southern food, the resort boasts six restaurants and cafes serving up everything from haute cuisine at Sea Island Grill to simple lunchtime fare at The Lettered Olive, each utilizing seafood, meat, and produce culled from local farms and waters. And should you want a nice massage or mineral bath soak between rounds or matches, the Sea and Sand Salon is the ideal place to help foster some inner peace or some outer fitness—personal trainers are always on duty, as are yoga teachers and wellness guides who can ensure you stay on track during your fun in the sun.

The best things in life are often those born from humble beginnings. So whether you spend weeks hitting balls and being pampered, dig your toes into the sand and watch the waves come and go, or just lounge on a private balcony with a good book and an equally good cocktail, this wonderful oasis of the Carolina coast hold immeasurable charms fit for a week’s respite or a lifetime retreat.

Peter Rerig is a Senior Writer for Vacations.com.

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