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If you stand on the beach behind Driftwood Cottages (which is between the Melrose Beach Club and Bloody Point), you’ll see  the Tybee Island Lighthouse off in the distance to your right (to the southeast) and the Harbour Town Lighthouse to your far left. Basically Daufuskie is situated in-between Hilton Head (where Harbour Town is located) and Savannah, GA, which is to the south of Tybee Island. The island is small, 2.5 miles by 5 miles with about  5,000 acres.

Even though Daufuskie is so close to Hilton Head (only 15 minutes by boat), and not far from Savannah (about 30 minutes by boat), lots of people living in those areas have never been to Daufuskie Island. That may be because the only way to reach the island is by water. (We have a saying on the island, “The water is our road” and anyone who is a boater knows that the most important clock is the tide clock!) Another reason people might not visit Daufuskie is because, once you get to the island, it can be difficult to get around. That’s why it’s good to check out tour companies that offer trips to the island, or, if you are staying overnight, make sure your accommodations include a golf cart.

Once you get to Daufuskie,  you’ll feel like you took a step back in time. Depending on where you arrive, (either at the private residential community of Haig Point, at the Bloody Point dock, at Freeport Marina, or  at the County Dock), you won’t find any drive-through restaurants, banks, ATM machines, or department stores. You also won’t find any stop lights on the island, and outside the Planned Communities, very few paved roads. Yes, we do have phones, indoor toilets, and internet service! Cars are allowed in the Historic District  but not in Haig Point, which is a private residential community  or Melrose on the Beach. Regardless of where islanders live, most of the 300 or so full-time residents on the island have at least one golf cart. Some people also keep horses on the island, and occasionally,  you’ll pass a horse on the road.

Many websites marketing Daufuskie will tell you Gullah people live on Daufuskie. That’s not true. The island’s past is steeped in the history of the Gullah-Geechee people and we even have a Gullah Learning Center on the island, but you will only find a handful of native islanders still living on the Daufuskie. The native islanders who grew up on Daufuskie can tell you stories of the days when Daufuskie’s oyster industry was booming, and when different neighborhoods in the community had their own schools and churches because it was hard get from one end of the island to the other (now we have one school and one church-the Jane Hamilton School and the Mt. Carmel Church are now home to the library and Billie Burn Museum). One gentleman who is over 80 years old can also show you the location of the house his mother lived in when she worked as a slave for one of the plantations. Others remember rowing to Savannah for work. Every summer in June, native islanders get together in a sort of homecoming celebration called Daufuskie Day. Generations of native islanders return with their families to share stories, music, food, and friendship.

For a comprehensive history of Daufuskie, you might want to check out An Island Named Daufuskie by long-time island resident, Billie Burn. It took Ms. Billie twenty years to complete her book which started as she drove the school bus and as she delivered the children to their homes, she started collecting information on little scraps of paper from all the residents. It’s a remarkable book and covers everything you might ever want to know about the history of the island.

You can also visit the Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation website for more information on Daufuskie’s rich history. Also check out the Daufuskie Island Conservancy website for info about the islands rich natural resources.

 

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