Accessible only by boat, Daufuskie Island offers a unique and rustic experience for visitors. Whether you’ve taken a day trip from Hilton Head Island or Savannah, you will discover a place teeming with rich history and culture. 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 received national recognition for their hard-to-get-to galleries with island-inspired art. Much of Daufuskie’s land is undeveloped and roads are unpaved which gives the island its characteristic “are we still in the United States” feel. Whether it is part of a guided tour with Tour Daufuskie, LLC or a fun excursion exploring in your own golf cart rental, a day trip to Daufuskie Island is well worth the adventure and a day you will not soon forget!
A common misconception of Daufuskie Island is that no cars are allowed. There are some car restrictions within the private communities, 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.
Although the island is small, dirt and paved roads weave throughout the community. Renting a golf cart allows visitors to explore the galleries, eateries, and natural and historic spots that line Daufuskie’s scenic roadways.
Tour Daufuskie offers 4-passenger golf cart rentals for self-guided adventures starting at just $75. Or upgrade to a 6-passenger cart, starting at $115.
Unearthing the vast and colorful history of Daufuskie Island is no easy task. With artifacts found on the island dating as far back as 7000 BCE, it is apparent that the island has a rich history. But with limited written records and resources, Daufuskie’s history is ever evolving as new information comes to light.
The first inhabitants that we have records of are the Creek, or Muskogee, Indians. It is the Creek Indians who named Daufuskie. In the Muscogee, or Creek in English, language the name was derived from two terms; “daufu” meaning feather and “fuskie” meaning sharp or pointed. The terms reflect the shape and appearance of the island.
Early European explorers included the Spaniards, French, English and Scottish. The first land grants were given to Native American traders, although eventually relations became strained and after a number of skirmishes Native Americans were forced off the island in lieu of death or imprisonment. Lands were gifted to numerous families, eventually leading to 12 plantations on Daufuskie Island.
Plantations were small, and produced crops such as sea island cotton, corn, potatoes and indigo. Filled with Loyalist during the Revolutionary War, Daufuskie experienced a number of clashes with the Tories of Hilton Head. Post Revolutionary War, plantations on the island continued to produce and export crops. The island stayed relatively quiet during the Civil War, however there were Union troops stationed on Daufuskie.
After the Civil War, some lands on Daufuskie were repossessed by original slave owning families. Parts of the island were sold to freed slaves returning to the area. This gave rise to Daufuskie’s Gullah population. Being forced to America through slavery, descendents of West Africans worked the lands on the South Carolina sea islands. The descendents of these West Africans kept tight their cultural heritage, creating the rich Gullah culture now present.
Up until the mid twentieth century, Daufuskie had a substantial population of mostly Gullah families. Oystering, farming and logging were just a few economies that drove Daufuskie Island. But competing pricing, pollution and limited resources led to an incredible decline in the island’s economy. Many families left the island in search of work, establishing roots elsewhere.
Developers came onto the island in the 1980s and 1990s. Haig Point, Bloody Point Resort and Melrose were developed as resort communities. Daufuskie Island now boasts around 400 full time residents.
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 properties and companies we recommend.
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 Helmus Community Center. Yoga classes are offered Sunday and Tuesday mornings at 9:30 am. Schedule ahead of time (email at firstname.lastname@example.org) for $15.
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. 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.