Daufuskie Island

daufuskie island Travel Blog

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Walkway connecting Broad Creek Marina with deep-water pier
We woke up to a glorious blue sky and an adventurous spirit (well, maybe I had an adventurous spirit).  Jerry usually just goes along with whatever I want to do (what a nice guy) and today I wanted to take the ferry ride out to Daufuskie Island.  So we made our way down to the Broad Creek Marina to catch the Daufuskie Island Ferry.   We had explored Hilton Head the day before and found the marina, so there was absolutely no chance of us getting lost and missing the ferry.   Okay.  Where was the nice lady that I had talked to on the telephone?  We needed to buy our ferry ticket at one of the houseboats docked at the pier, but which one?   The waterfront pub was getting ready for their lunch crowd and the bartender was polishing his glasses.
Ticket "office" for the ferry ride to Daufuskie.
  He was happy to point us in the right direction.

Daufuskie Island is a sea island sitting between Savannah, Georgia, and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.   It is said that time stands still on this island and I wanted to see that for myself.  Native Americans lived here over 5,000 years ago but by the 1730's it was home to plantations of indigo, rice, and sea island cotton.  At the time when the Civil War broke out,  there were seven working plantations on the island belonging in the most part to descendants of wealthy English families.  During the first year of the war, the Union Army gained complete control of the island and thousands of Union soldiers camped there for the duration of the war.   Slaves living on the island were freed by the Union and when the war was over, Daufuskie was inhabited primarily by these freed slaves.
Colorful tugboat. Don't let its size fool you. This is a powerful little boat.
    Because of the isolation of the island, these people were able to keep their culture alive; it would have disappeared decades ago under different circumstances.  Their culture and language is called "gullah" and remains to this day on Daufuskie.  The word "gullah" comes from Angola, where the slaves were originally brought from and their language is a mixture of English and various West African dialects.    Daufuskie is gullah and means "first key" north of the Savannah River.

After purchasing our tickets, we had a little bit of time to kill.  The ferry was due to return from its early morning run to the island in about thirty minutes, so we meandered in and out of the different boat slips while waiting for our ride.
Jerry all alone on the ferry ride
   The sun was warm and we weren't complaining.  Several of the houseboats served as full-time homes for the owners and were occupied by small barking dogs.  One little fella had a barking frenzy when we came close to his boat.  He was taking his role as guardian very seriously but when I talked to him, he settled down.  Giving me a very timid look, he posed for a picture. 

Our ferry was visible in the distance, making its way slowly down the river towards us while its wake rolled off into the surrounding marshland.    After we climbed up the stairs and entered the toasty warm enclosure, we noticed that only one other couple had boarded with us.   This was early December and the off season, but the ferry was running just the same, whether it had a full load or only one passenger.
Our "ride" on the island
The ride out to Daufuskie took about 45 minutes.  As we idled down the river towards open water, the mansions on the riverfront were visible through our window.  Impressive.  And very expensive.  Definitely out of our price range.   Dolphins were playing close to the shore.  Sea birds were diving for their lunch.   And my worries and cares were slipping far, far away. 

Disembarking put us out on the island, where we had to walk just a short distance to pick up our golf cart.  Yes, that's right ~ golf cart.  For a small price, we would get to ride the roads (mostly dirt or gravel) as opposed to walking.  That proved to be a very good decision because the island covers eight square miles.
First Union African Baptist Church. Established 1881
  It would have been impossible to see everything during our short four-hour visit if we had to depend upon our legs and feet to get us there. 

Daufuskie Island is home to two historic lighthouses, the Bloody Point Lighthouse built in 1883 and the Haig Point Lighthouse built in 1873.   Remember me telling you that Jerry is anal about his car?  Well, he is also very anal about crossing over private property.  He just will not drive or walk anywhere if there is a remote possibility he might be on private property.  Maybe he thinks someone will come running out of the bushes wielding a double-barrell shotgun in his direction.  I don't know, but  I DO know that this has been the root of many arguments and quarrels over the past thirty years.
Huge live oak draped in spanish moss
  Today would be no different.  I wanted to see the Bloody Point Lighthouse but the only way to get there was to cross over private property.  I might have just as well wanted to go to the moon.  It wasn't going to happen.   Sigh.  Maybe in my next life.

We were rambling along the dirt road at a snail's pace and I was keeping my eyes wide open, watching for a reason to yell, "Pull over here."   No other vehicles meant we could stop alongside the road without worry of getting run over.  I noticed an unusually large live oak tree off to my left and I wanted a picture.  "Stop, stop," I asked and Jerry pulled over and let me crawl out.  "That looks like private property.  You better not go over there,"  was his warning to me that I chose to completely ignore.
"Haunted" cabin. Read my blog to understand.
  Today was my turn to have convenient loss of hearing.   As I approached the huge oak, its size overwhelmed me.  Spanish moss was heavily hanging from all its limbs, making quite a show.   There was a small white house on the property, not too far from the tree, that appeared to be completely abandoned.   Although there were no "No Trespassing" signs on the property, Jerry had spooked me a little bit and I felt as if I was being watched.  All of a sudden, I heard noises coming from the house that sounded like it was being torn apart.  Every hair on my head must have stood straight up and I didn't know whether to run for my life or to stand still and pretend to be invisible.  Then I recognized a familiar sound ~~ the angry chatter of squirrels.
Bald eagle nest in tip-top of pine tree.
  One hundred or more squirrels had taken up residence in the old homeplace and they obviously didn't take too kindly to intruders.  The tin roof was rattling with their excitement.  They continued to voice their disapproval and only hushed when I turned and left "their" property.  So much for Jerry and his "no trespassing" theory.

We continued to ride the roads and enjoy the day.  The beautiful white beach was absolutely deserted and we were able to pick up shells and sand dollars as we strolled along.  Lunch was a simple meal at Marshside Mama's Cafe.  Located at the end of the dirt road and very close to the marsh, the eatery is actually a very popular night spot and has live music on weekends.  It is housed in an old frame building that is in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint, inside and out, but no one is complaining.
Driftwood on white sand beach
  The food was freshly prepared and tasty. 

Bald eagles are seen from time to time around the island and we had been told to watch out for a nest high in the treetops on the beach road.   Unfortunately, Daufuskie Island is being developed into several different resorts offering first-class accommodations as well as a top-rated golf course.  For some reason, the eagles had chosen a pine tree right next to the golf course for their homesite.   With all the undeveloped forest on the island, why would they choose this spot?    When I got off the golf cart to take pictures of the nest, there were numerous fresh deer tracks in the soft mud on the road.  I guess they like the fresh green grass on the golf course.
Barrier fence situated among sea oats
  All the deer were hiding until dusky dark, when they would come out to feed.  We had been told there were hundreds of deer on the island, but the ferry would be leaving soon and we couldn't hang around to see them.  

It had been a wonderful day of exploring and relaxation.  Hopefully, we will be able to make a return visit to this very special place some day soon.

joolee4 says:
Daufuskie is one on my favorite place in the world. It is beautiful and relaxing. Being that I am from South Carolina, Daufuskie is a quick get-a-way and escape to where you feel as though you have traveled to a different country. You will be treated like royalty on this island and waited on hand and foot if visiting the Melrose Resort and Breathe Spa. I loved it so much that this was my wedding destination. You can find some great deals on ocean front cottages by visiting www.vrbo.com Prepare for relaxation, as there is not much else to do on this island, aside from the Melrose Pub and Marchside Mama's. Ask for "Bunny" at the Melrose Pub... he will take care of you!!!
Posted on: May 30, 2008
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Walkway connecting Broad Creek Mar…
Walkway connecting Broad Creek Ma…
Ticket office for the ferry ride…
Ticket "office" for the ferry rid…
Colorful tugboat.  Dont let its s…
Colorful tugboat. Don't let its …
Jerry all alone on the ferry ride
Jerry all alone on the ferry ride
Our ride on the island
Our "ride" on the island
First Union African Baptist Church…
First Union African Baptist Churc…
Huge live oak draped in spanish mo…
Huge live oak draped in spanish m…
Haunted cabin.  Read my blog to …
"Haunted" cabin. Read my blog to…
Bald eagle nest in tip-top of pine…
Bald eagle nest in tip-top of pin…
Driftwood on white sand beach
Driftwood on white sand beach
Barrier fence situated among sea o…
Barrier fence situated among sea …
Main Street
Main Street
Front door of African Baptist Chur…
Front door of African Baptist Chu…
The Guardian
The "Guardian"
17 km (11 miles) traveled
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daufuskie island
photo by: kingelvis14