tour daufuskie

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

 

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

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!

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)

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

Grey Fox Squirrels on Daufuskie

If you have ever taken a tour around Daufuskie Island, chances are that you have seen a very peculiar animal scurrying about.  Appearing to be an over-sized squirrel with grey and black coloration, these curious creatures stop tourists in their tracks.  They are Grey Fox Squirrels, and have been prevalent on Daufuskie Island for hundreds of years.

Daufuskie Island Fox Squirrel

Daufuskie Island Grey Fox Squirrel

Why do the Grey Fox Squirrels look so different from the rest of the squirrel family?  Scientists have come up with an interesting hypothesis, and it all comes down to the relationship between the squirrels and a tree.  Fox Squirrels love to eat the seeds from cones of the Longleaf Pine tree, which used to be very prevalent on Daufuskie.  Longleaf pine cones produce some of the largest cones in the Southeastern United States (see below).  It is thought that their large body size was advantageous for the Fox Squirrel when trying to manipulate the pine cones to extract the seeds, and over time larger body sizes were selected for.  Their black-and-grey coloration may have something to do with Longleaf Pine as well.  This pine tree is extremely fire-resistant and flourishes in areas that experience fire.  In historic times on Daufuskie, leaf litter would build up on the ground and lighting strikes would cause fires.  The smokey colors of the Fox Squirrels may have helped camouflage them in a charred forest.  Whatever reason for their funky appearance, they are certainly a special species on our island!

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Longleaf Pine cone size compared to other species (Louisiana State University – Plant ID)

 

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A close relative to the Grey Fox Squirrel is the Eastern Grey Squirrel, pictured here

 

Daufuskie Island Black Fox Squirrel

Daufuskie Island Fox Squirrel

 

 

Interested in finding out more about wildlife on Daufuskie Island?  Join TD’s Naturalist in a “Wild Daufuskie” Eco tour!

Tour Daufuskie premiers Native Gullah Tour with Sallie Ann Robinson

 

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Sallie Ann Robinson, a sixth generation native of Daufuskie Island, is joining forces with Tour Daufuskie to debut the Sallie Ann Native Gullah Tour. This is the FIRST TIME EVER weekly-offered Gullah tour led by a native professional guide on Daufuskie.

Robinson is known as an authority of Gullah culture and cuisine, having been a featured favorite in programs such as QVC, The Food Network, and The Travel Channel. As a child, she was a student of the famous author Pat Conroy and is remembered in his critically-acclaimed novel “The Water is Wide”. Sallie Ann’s historical and cultural knowledge of Daufuskie Island is unparalleled, and her tour will unearth Gullah stories and give insight to growing up on this bridgeless island.

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Sallie Ann with Pat Conroy, author of Daufuskie-inspired novel “The Water is Wide”

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Robinson is the author of two Gullah cookbooks, “Gullah home cooking the Daufuskie Way” and “Cooking the Gullah Way, Morning, Noon, and Night”

 

The Sallie Ann Native Gullah Tour is offered four times a week; Tuesdays and Saturdays at 9am and 2pm. The debut tour is Saturday Nov 5 at 2pm. Tour duration is 2.5 hours and the cost is $55 per person. These intimate tours have limited spaces available and reservations are required. To book a tour call Tour Daufuskie at (843)842-9449 or email at tourdaufuskieguide@gmail.com.

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.

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