Hilton Head Island is full of activities for the vacationer but if you would like to experience something a little different, take a day trip to Daufuskie Island. Daufuskie is full of history and culture just waiting to be explored. Daufuskie was originally occupied by native Indians prior to the arrival of European explorers in the 16th century. Plantations covered the island prior to the Civil War when they were occupied by Union Soldiers. Freed slaves then occupied the island and grew cotton which has left a legacy of rich Gullah history. Remaining virtually untouched, Daufuskie Island offers a glimpse of what other sea islands were like before technology and urban growth.
Visitors won’t find the hustle and bustle of city life. In fact Daufusie has very few paved roads and not a single traffic light. Instead the visitor will find unspoiled beauty of the lowcountry, quiet beaches, and natural woodlands filled with pines and live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Included in the natural flora and fauna of Daufuskie Island, you’ll find loggerhead turtle nests, herds of deer, the rare black fox squirrel, alligators sunning on banks, bald eagles soaring the sky, and pods of dolphins frolicking along the shore. Exploring this beautiful island, you’ll find treasures including arrowheads and pottery from Indian settlements, relics from revolutionary and civil war battles, and remains of china from large plantation homes that once occupied the island. Daufuskie is also home to some of the few remaining tabby ruins in Beaufort County. Serving as plantation slave quarters, these homes were constructed of a mixture of crushed oyster shells, lime, sand, and water. Few know that Jimmy Buffet’s 1988 song, “The Price of Tides” laments the urbanization of the island and the loss of the Gullah culture. And Pat Conroy’s book, The Water is Wide, was set on Daufuskie island where Mr. Conroy recounts his experiences of teaching on the island in the 1960’s.
Daufuskie is home to approximately 250 full time residents and 400 part time residents. Haig Point and Melrose include private residences and rental cottages but the rest of the island remains undeveloped with a few homes scattered throughout the island.
Daufuskie is accessible by passenger ferry or private boat with travel times ranging from 15-45 minutes. Ferry boats to Daufuskie Island leave from Hilton Head Marina at various times. Once you arrive on the island, golf carts are available for rent. Be sure to rent your cart for at least two hours giving you plenty of time to explore. You’ll be provided with a detailed map of the area including landmarks you won’t want to miss. Once you’ve finished your exploration, the island offers two restaurants, the Old Daufuskie Crab Company at Freeport Marina and Marshside Mamas at the county dock.