Are you looking for a truly unique and different place to visit? A place that isn’t full of cars speeding through, high rise buildings and tons of people traffic? Well, I have the place for you.
There is an entire community off the coast of South Carolina that you can only reach by ferry. Yes, that’s right – an entire little town with a history, attractions, people living there and lots to do.
Daufuskie Island is located between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, and is the southernmost inhabited sea island in South Carolina. It is 5 miles long by almost 2.5 miles wide (just about 8 square miles) and can only be reached by ferry/boat.
Based on some artifacts that have been found, the island dates back thousands of years. More recent history has the island entrenched in Gullah history. The Gullah traditions are well known along the South Carolina coast and is known for its distinct and cherished traditions in spirituality, music, food and language.
Back in the 1950’s, some two thousand Gullah folks lived on the island and made a living from picking Oysters. The Savannah river was contaminated at that time and flowed into the oysters on Daufuskie. The Federal government had to close them down putting the island out of work.
Their population dropped to 100. The few that stayed made corn liquor put in a bateau canoe and rowed 50 gallons to Savannah taking at least a day and selling it to bars along River street. They covered the drums of liquor up with scrap iron so the revenue officers couldn’t see it. When asked by the officers what they were doing they would say, “We are carrying scrap iron over to sell so we can feed our families.” They told the stories so many times that liquor became known as “Scrap Iron.”
The community is now home to approximately 400 full time residents and these residents welcome visitors with open arms. They proudly show-off all the island has to offer its visitors.
A part time resident of this serene island retreat, Singer/songwriter John Mellencamp discovered the island over 30 years ago. What he found was a relatively unspoiled spot. Fascinated by the island’s history and enamored of its privacy he purchased several acres but the land sat empty for more than a decade. “I had every intention of building a house—I just never got around to it,” says Mellencamp.
One day he snapped a photograph of a church in Myrtle Beach, and the structure’s shape inspired him to finally hire someone to begin work on his island retreat.While Daufuskie is Mellencamp’s refuge, he readily throws open the home to friends and family.
Like rum? – the little island has their own rum company – the Daufuskie Rum Company. The 100% American made Rum is distilled, bottled and packed by hand on Daufuskie Island.
Daufuskie Island has three miles of beach that offer the most stunning beach side horse back riding trails.
A cat sanctuary, art gallery, a pottery and a lighthouse are just a few of things you can visit on the island. A church, historic winery (now closed) and a cemetery with markers dating back to before the Revolutionary War will also attract visitor’s interest. The Daufuskie Island Historical Society (Museum) provides an amazing look into the past and present of the island.
At the museum visitor’s can see all things derived from the island, including an extremely unique dual-language bible with English and Gullah side by side.
When it comes to food while you’re on the island, the Old Daufuskie Crab Company at the marina is the place for you to enjoy local fish dishes. Marshside Mama’s is a second spot for another unique island experience.
Located just off the ferry dock is a General Store that you’ll find has everything you need, and some thing’s you’ll just have to have! This unique shop is the largest store on the Island and offers a great place for locals and visitors to pick up a few necessities, or undiscovered keepsakes.
If you think a day trip is just not enough time too visit Daufuskie, you can rent a waterfront cottage. Well equipped cottages are located in the marina area just steps away from the restaurant and General Store. The cottages can accommodate from two to six people. You can also rent a golf cart to get around the island. You can also rent one of the many vacation homes on the island.
You can get to the island from both Hilton Head and Savannah. Daily round trip rides leave from the Broad Creek Marina on Hilton Head and from River Street in Savannah. Be sure to arrive 30 minutes before the Ferry is scheduled to depart. Ferry transit time is approximately 1 hour.
When you visit, be on the lookout for Daufuskie’s hidden wonders among the ancient oaks, and plan to linger as you discover the charming secrets of this most special place.