daufuskie history tour

USA Today Got Off the Beaten Path

This past winter Brian Barth, a writer for USA TODAY, explored some hidden gems of the South Carolina Lowcountry. One of his stops: Daufuskie Island.

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Stepping off the beaten path and onto Daufuskie’s dirt roads, Barth had the chance to explore the island with Sallie Ann Robinson. Enjoy his piece, recently published on USA TODAY’s website. Come experience Sallie Ann’s Native Gullah Tour and, in the words of Barth, her “never-ending well of laughter.”

USA Today: South Carolina’s Lowcountry

 

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

 

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.

Daufuskie Island Guided Tour Options

Taking a guided tour with Tour Daufuskie is a great way to get a local’s perspective and insight into our rustic and quirky island.  Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, or an outdoor enthusiast, we have a guided tour for you!

 

History and Artisans Tour

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The guided History & Artisans tour is a classic favorite!  If you’re looking for a great overview of the past and present of Daufuskie Island, this tour is the one.  While we can’t possibly cover everything in this 2.5 hour guided golf cart tour, we can tailor the tour to each group’s specific interests.  Common historic stops include the First Union African Baptist Church, Maryfield School (where famous author Pat Conroy taught and wrote a novel based off his experience), Billie Burn Historic Museum, Gullah Learning Center, and a number of original Gullah-constructed homes.  Evidence of Civil War, Native American, and Gullah history can be found throughout the island.  A handful of artisans practice their craft on Daufuskie, and this is your chance to visit their galleries.  Chase Allen at The Iron Fish creates unique coastal sculptures from rusted metal, while Lancy and Emily Burn spin Native American inspired pottery at Silver Dew Pottery.  “Daufuskie Blues” dyes fabric with blue indigo, creating eye-catching patterns and designs.  Jan Crosby offers her luxurious hand-crafted soaps with an island flare at Daufuskie Peach.  At “Wine and Woodworks”, Mike Loftus creates hand-carved wooden kayaks and canoes.  Not only will you get the chance to visit their galleries and view their work, but you’ll also learn more about each artisan from your local guide.  There’s no better way to get to know Daufuskie Island’s past and present!  $45/person, 2.5 hours

 

Sallie Ann Native Gullah Tour

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Sallie Ann Robinson is a 6th generation native on Daufuskie Island.  As the only native professional tour guide on the island, Sallie’s tours are highly sought-after and are available Tuesdays & Saturdays at 9am & 2pm.  In this 2.5 hour guided golf cart tour, Sallie will provide personal insight into what it was like to live on Daufuskie Island as a native Gullah.  One of her more notable experiences is that she was a student of Pat Conroy at the Maryfield School; she is remembered as “Ethyl” in his book The Water is Wide.  Sallie’s enthusiastic, humorous, storyteller style will leave you both entertained and informed about the history of Daufuskie Island and its people. $65/person

 

Kayak / Paddle-board Tour

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Tour Daufuskie’s Kayak & Paddle Board Tours are a hit among outdoor enthusiasts, athletes, and nature lovers alike!  Whether you want to cruise slowly and enjoy the scenery, or push yourself to exercise, these paddling tours are a great option for your group.  The tour can embark from two places, offering two different experiences.  For an ocean-front paddle, we start at the Kayak Shack near the Melrose-on-the-Beach Pool & Restaurant.  We may also leave from the County Dock, which offers more creeks and inlets to explore.  Either way, you’re in for a scenic and memorable ride.  $55/person, 1.5 hours

 

“Wild Daufuskie” Eco-Tour

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Daufuskie Island’s ecology is unique, to say the least.  Wood storks and egrets roost in trees above ponds inhabited by alligators.  Dolphins are a common sight on the shore, along with pelicans, osprey, and bald eagles.  Marine life is evidenced along the sandy beaches in the form of shells, turtle tracks & nests, and the occasional horseshoe crab.  In our “Wild Daufuskie” Eco-tour, you’ll have the chance to get an up-close look at some of these creatures.  You will also hear fun facts about these animals and conservation information from our naturalist guide.  Plant life can’t be forgotten – Daufuskie is known for its lush and untouched landscape.  Learn about both the flora and fauna in this exciting eco-tour! $35/person, $25/children under 12.  Kids under 5 are free!

 

Self-guided Golf Cart Rental

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Don’t forget – Tour Daufuskie also offers golf cart rentals!  If you are more interested in a self-guided adventure, this would be the choice for you.  A Tour Daufuskie representative will set you up with a detailed map and orientation, and then you’ll be sent off to explore the island on your own.  A 4-seater golf cart costs $75 for a 4-hour period.