daufuskie island

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

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 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!

 

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.

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!

Daufuskie Island Conservancy

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The Daufuskie Island Conservancy, established in 2005, helps to protect what it is that makes this bridge-less island so special.  With the slogan “Love it, Save it, Share it”, the Conservancy’s goal is to protect & manage the natural resources of Daufuskie while educating the public about the island’s unique ecosystem.

The Conservancy hosts a series of public environmental talks, each discussing a different aspect of Daufuskie ecology.  Topics include sea turtles, gardening, alternative energy, and fishing.  This year, the Conservancy joined forces with the Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation to showcase “the year of the oyster”.  This is year-long series of educational talks, social gatherings, and field trips celebrating the importance of oystering on the island, past and present.

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The Conservancy’s “Adopt-a-Road” program was established in 2009 to tackle the issue of litter on Daufuskie.  Willing residents “adopt” roads on the island in a promise to keep them free of litter.  A monthy clean-up day is established, but most volunteers casually pick up trash as they see it day-to-day.  Many of the Adopt-a-Road volunteers are also involved in two beach sweeps annually.

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Daufuskie keeps its charming roads clean through the Adopt-a-Road program

One completed Conservancy project that is considered a large success by many is the implementation of a new recycling center for the private community of Haig Point.  First established in 2007, the intention was to reduce items going to landfill while educating Haig Point members about the benefits of recycling.  In 2011 this center got a major upgrade to a large single-stream recycling center including drop-offs for paint, e-waste, batteries, and more.

The downside to this project is that it serves only Haig Point; Daufuskie residents outside Haig Point gates are left without a recycling option.  For the environmentally-minded residents on Daufuskie, bringing recyclable materials to the dump is a frustrating and unethical experience.  The Conservancy has been working to create an all-island waste management facility which would include recycling.  Conservancy members developed a Solid Waste Integrative Services Study and presented it to Beaufort County in the hopes of establishing island-wide recycling, but have encountered roadblocks along the way from the county of Beaufort.

To learn more about the projects and programs that the Daufuskie Island Conservancy offers, visit their page.  In addition, the website has wonderfully detailed information regarding native plants and animals on the island.

 

 

 

 

 

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