Accessible only by boat, Daufuskie Island offers a unique and rustic experience for visitors. Tourists will discover a place teeming with rich history. Our historic district, which is named in the National Register of Historic Places, boasts original Gullah-constructed homes, churches, and schools. Evidence of a once-thriving Gullah oyster community can still be found throughout the island. Nowadays, Daufuskie hosts around 400 full-time residents and 3 private/semi-private resorts. Our landmark artisans have made a splash in their hard-to-get-to galleries with island-inspired art. Much of Daufuskie’s land is undeveloped, which gives the island its characteristic untouched feel. Whether it is part of a guided tour with Tour Daufuskie, LLC or a fun excursion exploring in your own golf cart, a day trip is well worth the adventure!
From Hilton Head or Old Town Bluffton:
A common misconception of Daufuskie Island is that no cars are allowed. There are some car restrictions within the private resorts, but many folks outside of the resorts drive cars or trucks. That being said, 99% of all visitors or tourists rent golf carts as their mode of transportation on Daufuskie Island.
Tour Daufuskie offers 4-seater golf cart rentals for self-guided adventures; $60 for a 3-hour block, $15 per additional hour. We also offer 6-seater golf cart rentals for self-guided adventures; $95 for a 3-hour block, $20 per additional hour. $45 for a 2-hour block is offered to Tour Daufuskie customers finishing up a guided tour. Call (843)842-9449 to reserve a cart!
The first people on Daufuskie Island were Native Americans from the Creek and Yemassee tribes. Artifacts of these people have been found such as arrowheads and pottery shards that date back 9,000 years! The name “Daufuskie” comes from two Creek Indian words; daufu meaning “feather” and fuskie meaning “sharp/pointed”. The Native Americans compared the shape of the island to a pointed feather, and over time Daufufuskie was morphed into “Daufuskie”. Nowadays, the name is loosely translated to “Land with a Point.”
The first encounter Native Americans had with Europeans was in the 1520s. The Spanish came to Daufuskie Island, had a look around, and then continued South to what would become their Florida sanctuary. It wasn’t until the 1670s that settlers from England and Scotland settled on Daufuskie Island. At first, relationships between natives and settlers were amicable. The Native Americans traded produce, pelts, and local knowledge for the European’s tools and weaponry. The relationship became bitter once the Europeans began to overcharge the natives for trades, eventually putting the Native Americans “in debt.” Over time, Daufuskie’s Native Americans were forced off the island. The majority of those displaced joined the Yemassee Indians in an alliance with the Spanish.
The Spanish had claimed territory from Charleston, SC to St. Augustine, FL, so they recognized an encroachment of their land when the English settled on Daufuskie. The Spanish started rewarding their Yemassee allies for raiding English settled territories. In 1715, the Yemassee came to Daufuskie in an attempt to surprise-attack the settlers. The English, however, got wind of the onslaught ahead of time and were ready for the attack. When the Yemassee arrived on the southeast tip of the island, they encountered gunfire from the woods where the English were hiding. In the battle that gave “Bloody Point” its name, the Yemassee invaders were massacred. A series of skirmishes followed with losses from both sides, but in the end the English won out and kept their land.
Plantations began to develop on Daufuskie Island after the Revolutionary War. Twelve original plantations existed with sizes ranging from 200 – 1,100 acres. Similar to the rest of the Carolina low-country, the main crop grown was sea island cotton. Daufuskie’s cotton was renowned as the finest cotton in the country. Some plantations grew Blue Indigo and used the stunning color to dye their cotton, producing blue fabrics and clothing. Keep in mind that blue was a tough color to produce before synthetic color arose, so these blue fabrics were sought after by royalty. African slaves worked on these plantations and lived primarily in houses made from “tabby,” a combination of oysters, sand, and water.
During the Civil War, Union troops occupied Daufuskie Island and drove off most of the plantation owners and slaves. Once the war passed, many freed slaves from the southeastern coast (or “Gullah”) settled on the island. A large portion of the Gullah population on Daufuskie worked in the oyster industry; oysters were plentiful in the waterways surrounding the island and a canning company was located near what is now the Public Dock. In 1959 the Savannah River became severely polluted from a paper mill, and the oyster population got wiped out. This caused the majority of Gullah people to leave the island in search of a living in larger cities. Churches, schools, and other community gathering places shut down for a period due to low population on the island. A handful of families stayed on the island, however, to continue farming and working in other trades. To this day, you can find evidence of this time period through Gullah-constructed homes and buildings sprinkled throughout the island. Interested in discovering more about the Gullah culture? Read here about our Sallie Ann Native Gullah tour!
Daufuskie Island is truly one of the best kept secrets on the east coast for the perfect family coastal vacation. Although a day trip is a great adventure, staying on the island allows for a true Daufuskie experience. Below, we have compiled a list of links for rental companies we recommend who will help guide you in renting the perfect house for your family or group.
These creative minds have made a splash among locals and visitors alike. Collectively they have been showcased in national and regional magazines such as Coastal Living, Southern Living, Martha Stewart Living, Charleston Home, Hilton Head Monthly, and more!
On Island Tours
Visit Daufuskie’s historic buildings
Yoga: For a relaxation boost, join yoga instructor Laura Winholt for a 60 minute class. Yoga classes are offered in the Melrose Fitness Center which showcases a gorgeous view of the ocean. Hour long classes are offered Sunday and Wednesday mornings at 9:00 am. Schedule ahead of time (email at email@example.com) for $10, or feel free to drop in for $13.
Beaches: Daufuskie offers 3 miles of pristine sand beaches, all of which are open to the public. You may lounge in the sand & sun all day, or perhaps take a walk down to Bloody Point, a historic battleground between Native Americans and English settlers. Bloody Point is also the local fishing hole of Daufuskie, for those of you who may want to test your luck. Dolphins, Pelicans, and Osprey are a common sight for beach-goers, as well as a wide variety of shells. Loggerhead turtles use these beaches for nesting, so be mindful by only using red flashlights at night from the months of May-October and never driving your golf cart on the beach.
Horseback Riding: Contact Haig Point Equestrian Center for more information regarding horseback riding tours of Daufuskie Island!
Golfing: The Bloody Point Resort offer 18-hole golf courses, full service practice facilities, and a pro shop.
Farm: Take a guided tour Daufuskie Island Community Farm or grab a self-guided pamphlet at the Welcome Center to explore on your own. This farm was created in 2010 on “a dream and a dollar” by Pat Beichler along with friends and partners. Interested in volunteering at the farm during your stay? Contact Pat at (678)897-0942 to find out more.
Lucy Belle’s Cafe (843)341-6477: “Daufuskie Entertains” catering business opened up their new restaurant, Lucy Belle’s Cafe, at the end of 2016. It has been a hit ever since, with people flocking to their doors for lunch and breakfast. The meals are southern-focused, hearty, yet quickly arrive after ordering. The cafe is located at the intersection of Benjie’s Point Rd and School Rd.
Old Daufuskie Crab Company: Located in the Freeport Marina, the Crab Company offers a variety of southern dishes including deviled crab, local fish, chicken quesadillas, and burgers. Seating includes picnic tables outside overlooking the Freeport dock.