About Renee Harding

http://www.tourdaufuskie.com

Posts by Renee Harding:

Activities on Daufuskie Island

Daufuskie Island is a place to unplug, unwind, and escape the day-to-day buzz.  That being said, you may be looking for some activities to balance your down-time while on the island.  Here are our top picks for activities on Daufuskie Island:

1.  Take a yoga class!  Yoga is offered Sundays 9:30-10:30am and Thursdays 4:30-5:30pm.  Classes are held at the Melrose Fitness Center, which is located next to the Melrose Restaurant.  To reserve your spot, email Laura Winholt at db1945@hargray.com.

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2. Hit the water with on a kayak or paddle board.  Daufuskie’s waters are teeming with wildlife, so you may have encounters with dolphins, bald eagles, osprey, and wading birds.  If you’re new to kayaking and want some security on the water, take a guided kayak tour with Tour Daufuskie.  Our experienced kayak guide will take you to creeks and inlets that you wouldn’t access on your own.  On the other hand, if you want to do some unguided paddling, go for a kayak or paddle board rental and hit the ocean from our Kayak Shack in the Melrose Resort!  Call 843-842-9449 for reservations.

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3. Join a guided tour with Tour Daufuskie!  You can choose from a Sallie Ann Native Gullah Tour, Kayak tour, History & Artisans tour, or a “Wild Daufuskie” Eco-tour.  Call Tour Daufuskie at 843-842-9449 to book your adventure today.

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4. Need to do some shopping? Check out our local artisans, including The Iron Fish GalleryDaufuskie Blues, and Daufuskie Peach!

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Chase Allen, owern & artist at the Iron Fish

 

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“Daufuskie Blues” uses traditional indigo-dying techniques to produce eye-catching fabrics

 

Hand-crafted bath and body products by Daufuskie Peach

Hand-crafted bath and body products by Daufuskie Peach

 

5. Volunteer at the Daufuskie Island Community Farm!  Contact Pat at bowwow@hargray.net to find out about any group work days.  Don’t feel like working?  Check out the farm anyways and grab a self-guided tour at the Welcome Center.

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volunteers feeding baby goats at DICF

 

6. Grab your binoculars and try bird-watching at the Melrose Rookery.  Here you’ll find a variety of species including Wood Storks, Egrets, Herons, Cormorants, and Anhingas.

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7.  Love horses?  Go horseback riding with Haig Point Equestrian Center!

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8.  Explore Daufuskie Island’s historic district!  Visit the Billie Burn Historic Museum & Gullah Learning Center, the First Union African Baptist Church, Maryfields School, Bloody Point Lighthouse, and more!

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First Union African Baptist Church

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Frances Jones House

Daufuskie Island Ferry: dependable transport from Hilton Head to Daufuskie Island

If you’re looking for easy, affordable, and hands-free transport to Daufuskie Island, check out the Daufuskie Island Ferry!  The ferry is conveniently located at the Buckingham Landing (35 Fording Island Rd), in between Bluffton and Hilton Head Island.   Directions to the ferry can be found here.  The ferry is an affordable $35 per person round trip!

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the Buckingham Landing dock

At Buckingham Landing, you may park for free if you are visiting for the day, or pay $10/night for overnight visits.  The courteous ferry staff will meet you upon your arrival to help shuttle your cargo to the boat.  You pay no additional cost for your personal items such as suitcases, groceries, bicycles, etc.

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The ferry’s friendly crew greet visitors upon their arrival

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Don’t worry about your cargo – the staff will help get it safely stored on the boat.

The ferry offers rides to the island four times a day, with an extra run on Fridays.  The trip takes about 50 minutes.  Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to departure!  For any questions or clarifications regarding the ferry, give the ferry staff a call at 843-247-5378.

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Good news – Tour Daufuskie and the Daufuskie Island Ferry have teamed up, offering you a simple streamlined booking process.  If you’d like to ride the ferry and do a golf cart rental or self-guided tour on the island, simply call Tour Daufuskie at 843-842-9449 and we’ll book everything for you!  Please note that ALL boat rides, tours, and rentals must be booked in advance to ensure your spot is reserved.

Visitor’s love renting a golf cart for $75 for 4-hours, $10 for one additional hour, and $5 for every hour after.  This self-guided golf cart tour comes with an orientation and map of the island.  If you want more local insight into the past and present of Daufuskie, take a guided History and Artisans Tour ($45 per person, 2.5 hours) or a “Wild Daufuskie” Eco-tour ($35 per person, 1.5 hours).  For the outdoor enthusiasts, the guided Kayak / Paddle Boarding Tour ($55 per person) is a great way to spend an hour-and-a-half on the water.  For a real treat, spend 2.5 hours with Sallie Ann Robinson in her Native Gullah Tour ($65 per person)

Yoga on Daufuskie Island

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If you’re looking for some activity during your stay on Daufuskie Island, a yoga class could be just what you need.  Located at the Melrose Fitness Center, the Daufuskie yoga space has fantastic views of the beach, ocean, and palm trees.  It’s a perfect spot to relax, unwind, and tune in with your body while experiencing the beauty that this island offers.

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entrance to the Melrose Fitness Center

Laura Winholt, owner of Om Cat Yoga and lead instructor on Daufuskie, is an E-RYT 500 hour registered Anusara Yoga teacher.  Anusara yoga, which means “flowing with grace”, is grounded in inner and outer body alignment, and Laura has a particular focus on balanced action. She has been leading yoga classes on Daufuskie for over a decade!

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Yoga classes on Daufuskie Island are currently offered at the Melrose Fitness Center twice a week; Sundays 9:30-10:30am, and Thursdays 4:30-5:30pm.  The Thursday class is taught by Renee Harding, who blends a variety of yoga styles including Anusara, Kripalu, and Thai Yoga techniques.  Classes are $10 when you use a pre-purchased class pass, and $13 for drop-ins.  All you need to bring is your mind, body, and spirit — mats and props are set up for you ahead of time.  A light treat of chocolate or fruit is provided at the end of the class.  Private classes are offered upon request.

For more information or to purchase a class pass, contact Laura at db1945@hargray.com.  Namaste!

 

May River Excursions: water taxi from Old Town Bluffton to Daufuskie Island

Anyone who’s planned a trip to bridge-less Daufuskie Island knows how many boat options exist for transportation to and from the island.  It’s enough to make anybody’s head spin!

One of the quickest and most scenic routes to Daufuskie is through May River Excursions, located at 81 Calhoun Street in Old Town Bluffton.  The trip takes about 25 minutes and costs $45 per person round trip.

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May River Excursions leaves from the public dock in Old Town Bluffton.

After you check in with Molly in the May River shop, you’ll head down the historic road to Bluffton’s public dock.  There you’ll hop on the water taxi with one of their many experienced captains.  May River Excursions has a route unlike any other to Daufuskie.  You’ll wind through small creeks and inlets, feeling as though you’re taking a secret “back way” to the island.

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Wildlife viewing opportunities are abundant on this 25 minute boat ride

Along the way, you’re sure to spot some wildlife.  Dolphins, fish, herons, eagles, and ospreys are a common sight!  The dolphins are especially social, and if you’re ahead of schedule, your captain may slow down to give you a better viewing.

Once you’re done touring Daufuskie Island and head back to the mainland, you may want to spend some extra time exploring historic Old Town Bluffton.  This charming little town offers unique dining and shopping opportunities for your group.  If you’re lucky enough to be in the area on a Thursday, be sure to stop by the local farmer’s market, usually open 1pm-6pm.

Remember, May River offers more than just rides to Daufuskie!  If you’re looking for more adventure, try a fishing charter, crabbing charter, or dolphin excursion.  For more info, call May River at (843)304-2878.

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An Early Spring on Daufuskie Island

On Daufuskie Island, it is normal to see a layer of sandy dirt covering homes, buildings, and golf carts.  However, anyone who has visited the island over the last couple of weeks has probably noticed a new shade of dust that has taken over the island — the dust of yellow pollen.

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Yellow pollen currently decorates the majority of homes on Daufuskie Island

The Spring bloom came early this year to Daufuskie, about 20 days earlier than usual according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  The month of February saw an average temperature of 68 degrees Farenheit; 8 degrees warmer than February’s usual average.  There were seventeen days in February over 70 degrees on Daufuskie Island this year.

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The Azalea, one of the most popular flowerings shrubs in the southeast, usually blooms late March into April.  The Azaleas on Daufuskie Island this year, however, started blooming in late February!

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“Phenology” is the study of earth’s natural cycles, which includes seasons.  Spring is categorized by not only warmer temperatures but the return of migratory birds / insects and flowering of plants.  Daufuskie Island has certainly seen warmer temperatures and flowering plants, and many migratory birds have begun to resurface.

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Wood Storks, who migrate south for the winter months, have arrived back on Daufuskie Island.

While we enjoy the early warm temperatures and splashes of colors popping up, an early spring can be dangerous.  In previous years, the early onset of warm temperatures in February and March promoted early growth and flowering of spring species.  Temperatures then dropped in April, resulting in extensive loss in diversity in the southeast. The average last frost date on Daufuskie Island is April 1st-10th, so our frost-sensitive flowers could be in danger.  If these species die, they do not regrow for that year, which leaves crucial pollinators with little food.

False or early spring upsets the complex relationships within our ecosystem.  Some plants (such as many of the flowering plants on Daufuskie) respond to changes in temperature as their queue to flower.  Other species such as Beech and Oak trees use daylight as their signal that Spring has arrived.  Thus, these species will become out of sync if warm temperatures precede extended daylight time.  In addition, if a plant blooms a month early, hibernating animals which eat those plants may lose an important post-hibernation food once they become active.

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This map shows the early onset of spring in the south-eastern United States. This year, early spring is happening first in the Southeast, but it is advancing upwards and outwards.

Early spring is one of the biggest red flags of global climate change throughout the United States. Spring plant growth has been shifting earlier documented over the past couple of decades amid rising global temperatures. “Earlier spring onset may cause phenological mismatches between the availability of plant resources and dependent animals, and potentially lead to more false springs, when subsequent freezing temperatures damage new plant growth,” says a recent study in Environmental Research Letters.

For now, we bask in the March sunlight, enjoy the blooming flowers, and hope that no damage is done to our unique and flourishing ecosystem here on Daufuskie Island.

 

-Tour Daufuskie Naturalist

Oysters: to farm or not to farm?

Harvesting oysters was a culturally and economically significant activity on Daufuskie Island.  From the late-1800s to mid-1900s, oysters were heavily gathered in the waterways surrounding Daufuskie, and the Gullah people made a good living off of this practice.  Although a pollution incident depleted the oyster populations in 1959, harvesting oysters continues today – both wild and farmed populations.  With so much consumer confusion regarding farmed seafood, it can be difficult to discern what is sustainable and what is not.  Tour Daufuskie’s Naturalist is here to help!

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While “farmed seafood” is the cheaper and more available option in the US food industry, it has a strong negative connotation tied to the practice.  Health experts warn that farmed fish are full of antibiotics, disease, and parasites due to their overcrowded environment.  While this generalization holds true for the majority of farmed salmon, talapia, cod, etc, there is one group of farmed seafood that may be the exception – oysters.

First off, how does this oyster farming process work?  Sterile larvae (which cannot create offspring) are created by mating a 4-chromosome male to a 2-chromosome female. This is similar to the science used to create seedless fruits.  These larvae are introduced to ground-up oyster shells, which they then attach to (called “spatting”).  The spatted larvae are contained in fine mesh bags, and are later upgraded to crab-pot type containers where they grow to full size.

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Bluffton oyster farming (bluffton.com)

How do farmed oysters vary from wild oysters?  There are two key differences.  First, the farmed oysters are smoother and rounder.  Farmers disrupt the oysters from time to time to reduce clustering, so there are fewer imperfections on the farmed variety.  Secondly, farmed oysters are meatier.  Because the farmed oysters are sterile, they do not lose energy to reproductive activity.  Wild oysters, on the other hand, spawn in the summer.  Their body mass reduces greatly during this time and they become somewhat “watery”.

All in all, consuming farmed oysters is something that you can feel good about on an environmental level.  The only “unnatural” aspect of the process is the creation of the sterile larva, which does not change the nutritional value of the food.  The farmed oysters don’t disrupt the well-being of the wild oysters.  In fact, propagation of these species through farming can help wild populations be more resilient!  So eat away, oyster lovers!

The Daufuskie Island Cat Sanctuary

When Laura Winholt moved to Daufuskie Island in 2006, she was alarmed by the number of stray and feral cats present.  Not only was it an unhealthy situation for the cats themselves, but these animals were causing a nuisance for businesses and homes in the area.  With the help of Daufuskie volunteers, Laura successfully implemented a trap/spay&neuter/release program which dramatically decreased the number of feral kittens born on the island.

While this program was a major success, Laura and her volunteers felt as though their mission wasn’t quite complete.  Feral cats on Daufuskie were still at risk, and their relocation efforts became challenging.  With the support of the ASPCA and Daufuskie volunteers, the Daufuskie Island Cat Sanctuary was created.  This fenced-in outdoor sanctuary is a half-acre plot of land on Winholt’s property, and it serves as a place for “at risk” cats to safely live with food, shelter, and care.

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vertical space allows the cats more room to spread out... and have fun!

Vertical space allows the cats more room to spread out… and to have fun!

Over 70 cats call this sanctuary their happy home.  Every morning and evening, volunteers arrive at the shelter to feed and water the animals, clean up the sanctuary, and give the felines much-needed love and affection.

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Feeding stations are spread throughout the sanctuary

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Re-purposed styrofoam coolers are used for shelter in the colder months

Re-purposed styrofoam coolers are used for shelter in the colder months

When volunteers arrive at the sanctuary, they are always greeted by a handful of friendly cats waiting at the entrance.  These kitties crave attention and appreciate it when volunteers take the extra minute to say hello!  Other cats stay below the radar; still feral, they tend to hang out in the back of the sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the volunteers.

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the greeting party

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The sanctuary is a happy place, and its presence on the island has minimized the problem that feral cat populations once posed.  What’s in the future for the Daufuskie Island Cat Sanctuary?  Winholt hopes to eventually open up the shelter to the public as an interpretive walk.  Not only will this provide education to visitors, but the cats will get some extra playtime with new people – something that they’re certainly looking forward to.

WWOOFers on Daufuskie Island

Walk into the house of Daufuskie Community Farm‘s general manager and you’ll see an unlikely sight.  77 year-old Pat Beichler shares her home with a horde of farm volunteers called “WWOOFers”.  WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, an organization that pairs willing volunteers with organic farms all over the United States.  WWOOFers (farm volunteers) usually work 20-30 hours a week in exchange for food and housing provided by the host farm.  It’s a way to travel, learn about sustainability, and meet interesting people without the logistical & financial concerns of housing and food.  You simply work to live.

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Beichler’s home

Pat built her house 18 years ago (at the age of 60) about a half-mile down the road from the farm.  A couple of years ago she decided to move out of her self-built home and into a little shed in the backyard.  She liked the privacy of living away from the bustling house, and decided that WWOOFers could stay in her house instead.

For a downsized experience, WWOOFers have the option to stay in the “gypsy caravan” which is located on the farm.  Dan and Brian (pictured below) called the gypsy caravan home during their month-long stay on the island.

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The Gypsy Caravan

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Brian shows off the orchard’s ground cover, which includes delicious watermelons!

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Dan prepares Sursy the goat for milking

 

Some WWOOFers bring their home with them.  Matt and Anna Clark barged over their cargo-trailer-turned-tiny-home earlier this fall, and expect to stay until March 2017.  They use the animal pasture as their front lawn, and enjoy the company of geese and goats as neighbors.

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The Clarks and their nosey neighbors

WWOOFing is for everybody; both old and young.  18-year old Farley Hammond, Daufuskie WWOOFer, explains why this is a special way to live:

I love WWOOFing because it expands your horizons in a way that no other form of travel can. Staying in a big city, taking guided tours, and enjoying a fancy hotel is one thing; but meeting the people and animals that support the local community, and having your own hand in cultivating both physical and metaphorical growth, is another. I chose to WWOOF because I wanted to choose a more raw, involved, and radically different experience from daily life.

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Farley brushes Oreo, a farm-favorite goat

Of course, everybody loves getting to know the friendly goats on the farm, especially the babies!  This year the kids needed more care than ever.  Two young goats broke their legs and needed daily attention and care.  A pair of sisters lost their mother and had to be bottle-fed throughout their upbringing.  This is usually the WWOOFers’ favorite aspect of the job!

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Overall, the WWOOFers bring some much-needed young energy to the farm and to the island in general.  They mill lumber, construct buildings, design and implement permaculture landscape, muck stalls, feed the animals, pull up weeds, and more.

WWOOFer Gena helps finish up some landscaping in the orchard

WWOOFer Gena helps finish up some landscaping in the orchard

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Patrick begins building a new chicken coop

 

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Milling lumber is one way WWOOFers use their energy to improve the farm

What’s so great about WWOOFing specifically at Daufuskie Community Farm? Courtney, a New York office worker turned WWOOFer, explains her experience:

On Daufuskie, everybody knows everybody and the whole island greets each other with a smile. Doors are left unlocked, bartering and work / trade is a real form of currency, and the residents all have a unique and friendly disposition to both local islanders and visiting tourists. I’ve never before encountered such hospitality from strangers.

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Courtney and Junebug

Courtney, who grew up in the suburbs of New York, was getting tired of her 9-5 office life and turned to WWOOFing as a way out. “I’d always been infatuated with agriculture and farming but never had the opportunity to immerse myself,” she says.  Courtney is not alone; many WWOOFers at the community farm have left their financially-secure career life to explore a new way of living.

“In our culture it is the norm to work forty-plus hours a week at a job you are not necessarily passionate about”, one WWOOFer says. “You then use your paycheck to buy food that has been shipped from all over the country.  This lifestyle doesn’t make sense to me.”  In the WWOOFing world,  you put in physical work to help create the food and goods you need to survive.  Plenty of WWOOFers take side jobs during their stay, and they end up leaving more financially secure than when they came.

More importantly, though, WWOOFers leave with a greater understanding of their role within the world’s ecosystem.  WWOOFing is growing in popularity every year, and some hope this reflects a global mindshift in which we become connected to the food systems that sustain us.

Daufuskie Peach

When Jan Crosby started experimenting with home-made soaps, she had no idea that she would eventually become the number one provider of bath and body products for Daufuskie Island. With an impressive variety of scents and products, “Daufuskie Peach” pleases the taste and style of anyone who comes through her door. Her soaps are made and sold in-house, which invites customers directly to her back porch.

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Oddly enough, the roots of Daufuskie Peach began with a dinner party. A handful of Jan’s friends attended John C. Campbell Folk School, where students can choose to learn about a variety of hand-made crafts (wood-turning, pottery, blacksmithing, spinning, etc). These friends came together for dinner and showed off what they learned during their attendance of the folk school, from French Bistro cooking to doll-making. “I came away from that dinner so inspired,” Jan explains, “I thought, ‘I want to do something crafty and creative too!’”. While checking out the folk school catalog, the category of soap making jumped off the page at her, and she was immediately hooked. Jan started doing research and became more interested with the more she learned. She started playing around with soap bases and essential oils to get a feel for the creative process. Eventually she realized her desire to make the soaps from scratch, which is a much more intensive process than using a soap base. “I experimented for a better part of a year on and off before I actually sold anything,” Jan says.

After about one year, Jan was convinced to showcase her soaps at a fundraising event for the Daufuskie Island Community Farm and Artisan Village. “I sold a fair amount considering I’ve never sold before,” she recalls, “People thought it was great, and I thought ‘I need to start a business!’” Daufuskie Peach was formed, and Jan had success initially by selling her soaps at the local farmers’ market.

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At first, Daufuskie Peach was based around 8-10 soap scents. “I then realized that I really needed products that compliment the soap,” she explains. She thought about what she, as a customer, would hope to find at a bath and body store. Jan knew right away that pump lotion was to be added to her list, and over time richer products such as body butters and scrubs entered the mix. Lotion sticks were later added for convenience sake. “I carry one with me always, in my purse,” Jan says, “It’s just so handy.” Her newest addition is a bath bomb, which hit the market last month.

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In addition to soaps, Daufuskie Peach offers lotion bars, pump lotion, body butter, and scrubs.

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Bath bombs are the newest addition

“I had to start [Daufuskie Peach] part time at first,” Jan explains. She had a full-time job and two children along with her soap-making. “You hit a crossroads sometimes where you have to make the decision – what’s it going to be?” Jan left the financially security of her full-time job in 2015 to commit completely to Daufuskie Peach. Would she change anything if she had the chance? “No regrets,” Jan says with a smile.

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the soaps offer a scent for everyone

Jan has over 30 scents including peppermint, honeysuckle, lavender, and a “camp fuskie” bug-off bar. Common curiosity wonders what Jan’s favorite scent is. Her top three:

  • Black Raspberry “The first time I smelled it out of the bottle… it was one of those ones that I immediately had to make.”
  • Islander “It’s the combo of the coconut lime with a little extra coconut in it… I knew it would sell great.”
  • Lemongrass “I love the exfoliation of the poppy seeds. It’s so fresh and citrusy but earthy at the same time.”

Even though Jan creates a number of additional bath and body products, the original is number one. “Soap is still my favorite.”

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Daufuskie Peach products make a great gift!

Jan draws inspiration from the island for her scents, and she is lucky enough to call Daufuskie her home. What does she love most about living on Daufuskie? 

“Something I realized very early on was that there is such a strong sense of community here… It’s such a great place to raise kids. You can really control the pace at which life hits these kids here. Because it’s such a slower pace, they grow up to be more conscientious and observant about the community, the environment and the people they are around.”

 

Check out Jan’s online store at www.daufuskiepeach.com!

Tour Daufuskie Explorers Membership

Are you looking for a great outdoor activity to offer your family?  Want some help entertaining your guests that come to visit Daufuskie?  Would you like to kayak or paddle board without dealing with the logistics of buying, storing, and maintaining the vessel?  Looking for a unique gift for your adventurous family?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then a Tour Daufuskie Membership could be right for you!

What is a Tour Daufuskie Membership?

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This all-inclusive one year membership is a great way to explore the island from multiple angles.  You’ll gain a number of guided golf cart tours, access to hours of kayaking and/or paddle boarding, free merchandise, and discounts on apparel.  Every level up offers more adventure, and you can upgrade at any time.  One membership is good for an entire family; you may divide up the tours and kayaking hours however you’d like!

Daufuskie residents, you will realize the benefit of having this membership ready-to-go when friends and family visit.  Instead of worrying about how to entertain your guests, send them off for a guided tour or a paddle on the water!  They’ll come back with a greater understanding and appreciation of this little island you call home, and you don’t have to worry about being their tour guide.  Leave that part to us!

Once you buy a membership, all that’s left to do is explore and have fun.  Pay now and leave your wallet at home for the rest of the year!

For more information on the Tour Daufuskie Explorer’s Membership, give us a call at (843)842-9449.

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