DAUFUSKIE ISLAND, SC
Take a Day Trip | Daufuskie Island, SC
The Water’s Still Wide
Islands are romantic, a bit mysterious, set apart. That’s what makes them so appealing – the very act of leaving the mainland behind in search of adventure. Daufuskie Island, near Hilton Head Island, is a picturesque, historic destination that was first made famous by Pat Conroy’s extraordinary memoir,The Water is Wide. Based on his experience as the only teacher in a tiny schoolhouse, he worked with forgotten children who lived on the island. It was a year that changed his life and he wrote about it and published the book in 1972.
Much has changed, while many aspects of the island have remained the same. Many of the same families still live there. It’s accessible by boat, as it always has been. Development is now a part of the landscape, but the feel of the island remains alluring – full of secrets, yet sharing itself with those who visit (and some who live there).
The island is fringed with waving marshes; fishermen cast their lines from the shore or small vessels, and shrimp boats can be seen heading out in search of the day’s catch. On land, where descendants of slaves settled, shards of pottery have been found dating back more than 9,000 years. Plantations once flourished here, often producing the Sea Island cotton still prized by many.
We suggest that you make a day of it and plan an excursion with Live Oac Outfitters, whose boats depart from the Hilton Head Island harbor. The boat will show you island landmarks from the water, such as Haig Point Lighthouse, and landing options might include visiting a remote beach, or perhaps exploring the island’s fascinating historic sites by golf cart.
TripAdvisor gives Live Oac Outfitters great accolades for any of their tours, so we called and chatted with Scott Mooneyhan, who shared some of his tips for visiting Daufuskie.
“The only way you can reach Daufuskie is by boat,” he explained. “Our tour is the most fun when the weather is comfortable – usually spring and fall. There are gated communities on about half of the island, and the rest is where we spend our time.” He says that tours enjoy visiting the First African Union Baptist Church, built in the 1870s. There are older homes where the Gullah people lived and they offer a good perspective on life after slavery. The Mary Field Elementary School is another stop that’s interesting. He also takes his tours to the shops on the island, including the Iron Fish Gallery, where folk artist Chase Allen creates collector’s items with aquatic themes. Another stop is Silver Dew pottery, where Lancy and Emily Burn create beautiful pots that are inspired by the Indian pottery shards he collected growing up on the island.
The island has been both prosperous and poverty-stricken – many times. General Sherman burned some of the buildings and records were lost. Today, perhaps 400 residents live there, some with deep roots, and others who come for a laidback lifestyle. Try it for an experience that’s very different from Hilton Head Island and Beaufort.
WOW Factor: Nature, history, water, arts, a place apart.
Hint: Not really designed for very young children. Eat at Marshside Mama’s. Anything goes.
Call: 888.254.8362 www.liveoac.com.
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