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Our Favorite Local

If you have spent any time enjoying the waters surrounding Daufuskie, you can probably attest to our playful, vibrant bottlenose dolphin population.

All around the Lowcountry’s waterways you will see these beautiful marine mammals. A rounded, gray dorsal fin will arc through the surface of the water as the dolphin draws for air. If you’re lucky, the dolphin will linger at the surface for a few moments, shooting you a playful “smile.”

Interested in bottlenose dolphins? Join a Tour Daufuskie guide and enjoy the area’s creeks by kayak, keeping a watchful eye out for a glimpse of these friendly locals. Or rent some kayaks on your own to scout them out. Give us a call to book a reservation! (843)842-9449

Did You Know?

Information and Photos Curtesy of:

NOAA

National Geographic

SeaWorld

Daufuskie Island: South Carolina’s Travel Oasis – Jeff Stafford

 

Tour DaufuskieStafford Article Image2 has the pleasure of exposing this beautiful sea island with people who truly appreciate her. We thank Jeff Stafford for his representation of and reflections on the island.

Check out his article!

Daufuskie Island: South Carolina’s Island Oasis

 

Hilton Head Island activities

Hilton Head Island is one of the most popular summer destinations for families.  It is a paradise for beach-lovers, golfers, seafood-eaters, and shoppers alike.  However, after a few days on the island, you may find yourself yearning to get away from your get-away.  Hilton Head locals and visitors have been voyaging to Daufuskie Island for years to do just that – get away.  Leave behind the traffic, tourism, billboards, and shopping for the quiet and peaceful Daufuskie Island.  Daufuskie’s Iron Fish Gallery artist Chase Allen describes the Daufuskie experience as, “the feeling of leaving the United States but without the need of a passport.”  Daufuskie Island is a world apart from anywhere you’ve ever been.

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Daufuskie Island’s historic sand roads offer a break from busy roadways and heavy traffic

Daufuskie Island has a rustic & quirky vibe that other islands in the area lack.  Ditch the car and the pavement for a golf cart and historic sand roads!  You’ll learn about the Gullah culture that remains on the island through the Gullah-constructed schools, churches, and homes.  Check out our local artisans like the Iron Fish Gallery to see how the unique nature of the island has inspired hand-crafted artwork.  For the local’s perspective, take a guided tour with Tour Daufuskie!  Kayak tours and rentals give you an opportunity to view Daufuskie from the unique perspective of the water.

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Historic Gullah-constructed homes are found throughout the island

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Explore Daufuskie by water with a kayak or paddle board

For nature-lovers, Daufuskie is a dream come true.  With its underdeveloped land, wildlife flourishes in the island’s maritime forest and salt water marshes.  Check out the Melrose Rookery for a great bird-viewing opportunity, or go beach-combing along our 3-miles of quiet beach.  Take a guided eco-tour to learn more about flora and fauna of Daufuskie!

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Wildlife is abound on Daufuskie!

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Dog-friendly beaches offer miles of beach combing

For your day trip to Daufuskie Island, call Tour Daufuskie at 843-842-9449.   Your adventure awaits!

Gullah Tours of Daufuskie Island from Hilton Head, Bluffton, and Savannah

Daufuskie Island is known for its rich Gullah history.  When Union troops occupied Daufuskie Island at the end of the Civil War, the plantation owners were driven off the island, freeing the slaves.  These folks, now referred to as “Gullah”, stayed on the island and continued to farm, fish, and harvest oysters.  In 1959 the Savannah River became severely polluted due to a paper mill company in Savannah.  This event wiped out the oyster population.  The Gullah people lost their livelihood and most were forced to leave the island, resulting in signs of abandonment throughout the island.

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abandoned oyster shack

From the period of 1959-1980, the Gullah population on the island fell from 2,000 to just 50.  Community gathering places like the First Union African Baptist Church closed down due to lack of people on the island.  Fortunately, many of these historic buildings have been restored by the Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation.

 

To see what remains of the Gullah culture on Daufuskie Island, join Sallie Ann Robinson for her Native Gullah Tour!

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Sallie is a 6th generation native of Daufuskie Island.  As an authority of Gullah culture, she has appeared in programs such as QVC, the Food Network, and the Travel Channel’s “Bizzare Foods”.  She is also a frequent favorite in magazine such as National Geographic, The South, Southern Living, and Hilton Head Monthly.  As a child, bridge-less Daufuskie Island was Sallie’s playground and her life was filled with tales from elders. The famous author Pat Conroy taught Sallie Ann along with many Gullah children at the Maryfield School, and their time together is remembered in Conroy’s bestselling book The Water is Wide(fun fact – Sallie Ann was “Ethel” in the novel and Daufuskie is known as “Yamacraw Island”).  Nowadays, Robinson is a recognized TV personality, celebrity chef, and spokesperson for preserving the legacy of Gullah culture. She is an author to two Gullah cookbooks; “Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way” and “Cooking the Gullah Way, Morning, Noon, and Night”.

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Pat Conroy, author of “The Water is Wide, with Sallie Ann

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A seasoned Gullah chef, Sallie Ann has written two Gullah cookbooks

The Sallie Ann Native Gullah Tour is currently offered Tuesdays and Saturdays at 10am and 2pm.  The cost is $55 for just the on-island tour, and from $89 with round-trip boat service.  For reservations call Tour Daufuskie at 843-842-9449 — please book your tour at least 48 hours in advance to ensure availability.

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

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