Daufuskie Island

Best Things to Do on Daufuskie Island

BY Jennifer Kornegay | October 1, 2022

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Daufuskie Island? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in South Carolina’s Daufuskie Island?”

While South Carolina’s Daufuskie Island is practically shouting distance from Hilton Head, you probably won’t be able to hear anyone calling to you from the state’s more crowded shore over the soothing sounds of coastal breezes and stands of seagrass humming as they dance to wind’s tune. And even if you did, it’s doubtful you’d listen. Who would want to be pulled away from this peaceful little slip of sand in the Calibogue Sound that forms South Carolina’s southernmost inhabited sea island? It boasts acres of woodlands, wide marshes and seemingly untouched beaches. And natural beauty is just the beginning. The tiny island, accessible only by ferry, has local art and more than its fair share of Lowcountry history, too. For such a small spot, there’s a large amount to learn and see — that is, if you can overcome the urge to do nothing but sink into the island’s relaxed vibe.

You're Here For Lowcountry History and Sunsets

Daufuskie’s eastern side faces the Atlantic Ocean, whose diamond-tipped waters catch fire daily during the island’s spectacular sunsets. The effect is mesmerizing. Equally enthralling is the little island’s long and storied past.

Bloody Point Museum
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Bloody Point Museum

Bloody Point Lighthouse and Museum

146 Beach Road, Daufuskie Island, SC, USA

Violent battles gave this spot its gory name, but the real interest lies in its unique look. This lighthouse is not the typical tall, cylindrical tower with a bright beam at its top that you’re likely picturing. The structure that houses the museum today looks like a regular residential cottage; it was the keeper’s quarters and one half of a two-light warning system. When operational, a windowed dormer on the back side was opened to expose a reflector lens. It shone in the direction of the second half of the system, a metal tower, also outfitted with a lens. Ships lined the two lights up to safely navigate the channel at the south of the island. Also on site is the diminutive Silver Dew Winery that turns the native scuppernong grape into sweet vino.

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Iron Fish Art Gallery
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Iron Fish Art Gallery

Iron Fish Art Gallery

168 Benjies Point Road, Daufuskie Island, SC, USA

After giving up a career in real estate to pursue the simple life on Daufuskie, Chase Allen began his second career as an artist. At his studio and gallery off one of Daufuskie’s many dirt roads, you can often find him working, welding and bending metal to create fanciful sea creatures like mermaids and stingrays. When he’s not around, you can still check out his art in the outdoor gallery, and even take some home. The items are all available for purchase via an honor system.

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Daufuskie Blues
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Daufuskie Blues

Daufuskie Blues

203 School Road, Daufuskie Island, SC, USA

In the old Mary Fields School building, two female friends are using island-grown indigo to hand-dye scarves, tees and other textiles into a range of beautiful blues, harkening back to the prominence of indigo on the island more than a century ago. You can see some of their work in progress when you visit and buy finished items.

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Take a Tour With Two of the Best Outfits on the Island

Tour Daufuskie
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Tour Daufuskie

Tour Daufuskie

50 Melrose Landing Road, Daufuskie Island, SC, USA

Daufuskie may be small, but it’s bursting with Lowcountry history, including well-preserved, National Historic Landmark-listed pieces of Gullah and oyster-culture heritage. A look around led by the knowledgeable guides of Tour Daufuskie is well worth a few hours’ time.

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Sallie Ann Robinson
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Sallie Ann Robinson

Sallie Ann Robinson

Daufuskie Island, SC, USA

Learn the prominent role that Sea Island cotton (a valued strain unique to the area) and indigo crops played in the island’s past on a tour from sixth-generation island native Sallie Ann Robinson. Discover how the island’s isolation allowed the distinct Gullah culture to take root and flourish among freed slaves after the Civil War. And see how oysters replaced cotton as the island’s important industry. Highlights include the 1930s Mary Fields School (currently home to Daufuskie Blues and School Grounds Coffee) where writer Pat Conroy taught in the 1970s; his novel “The Water Is Wide” is based on his time there. And keep a lookout for glimpses of the “haint blue” paint color decorating many current Gullah homes, a cherished tradition meant to keep evil spirits at bay.

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Relax on Quiet Beaches

You are on an island, so save at least a few hours to sit back and relax with your toes in the sand. There are multiple quiet, uncrowded public beaches beckoning. And several of the businesses that will rent you golf carts will also rent you a “beach day” package that includes beach chairs and other fun-in-the-sun essentials.

 

Eat Southern-Style Seafood and a Lot of Good Sandwiches

It’s been mentioned before, but Daufuskie Island is small (only five miles long and about 2.5 miles wide), and its culinary scene is also diminutive. But that’s not to say there aren’t enough good eats to please. You’ll find a lot of super-fresh seafood and other satisfying options. 

 

Geneva’s Joint
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Geneva’s Joint

Geneva’s Joint

111 Benjies Point Road, Daufuskie Island, SC, USA

This new restaurant opened in July 2022 and serves local seafood, grilled or blackened, piled high on a plate or overflowing from a po’ boy bun. Dive into your meal at a table outside under an oak’s shade. While main-course portions are filling, don’t forgo the comfort-food starters and sides – boiled peanuts, smoky pimento cheese, collard greens and potato salad.

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D’Fuskie’s Store & Eatery
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D’Fuskie’s Store & Eatery

D’Fuskie’s Store & Eatery

15 Haig Point Road, Daufuskie Island, SC, USA

Pizza and hearty sandwiches are the main offerings at this combo general store and café. The Dirty Birdie sammy is a fab fowl creation of roasted turkey and pesto-laced cream cheese rolled into a toasted flour tortilla.

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Daufuskie Island Crab Co.
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Daufuskie Island Crab Co.

Daufuskie Island Crab Co.

256 Cooper River Landing Road, Daufuskie Island, SC, USA

Locally caught crab is the star on most of the island’s menus. That’s certainly the case at Daufuskie Island Crab Co., where folks pack the large waterfront deck to feast on deviled crab and sip Scrap Iron cocktails, the island’s unofficial signature drink. Watch out: Imbibe one too many, and the deck’s steps will reach out and trip you.

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School Grounds Coffee
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School Grounds Coffee

School Grounds Coffee

203 School Road, Daufuskie Island, SC, USA

For a morning jolt or afternoon pick-me-up to fuel more sightseeing, pop in this coffee shop housed in part of the historic Mary Fields School. Grab a cup of joe for sure, but don’t skip the baked treat of the day: hot-from-the-oven lemon cookies, pound cake, muffins and more. Don’t want coffee? Try a frozen lemonade or a bourbon maple pecan milkshake.

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Drink Island Rum

Daufuskie Island Distillery
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Daufuskie Island Distillery

Daufuskie Island Distillery

270 Haig Point Road, Daufuskie Island, SC, USA

Fully embracing the “island life” vibe, this rum distillery is handcrafting seven varieties of rum, with the entire process taking place onsite and using all-American-made equipment and ingredients. It’s also turning out a blueberry-lavender vodka and even a smooth-sippin’ bourbon.

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Explore Oaks and Centuries-Old Graveyards via Golf Cart

The wealth of information flowing from a tour guide is great, but embarking on some DIY exploration is a must-do on Daufuskie, too. Cars are few and are between here — most of the island’s approximately 400 residents traverse the tree-lined streets on golf carts. So do as the locals do; several businesses rent carts by the day. While many of the roads are unpaved, they’re flat and easy to travel, and lead to old churches and centuries-old graveyards guarded by oaks wearing beards of Spanish moss, including six Gullah cemeteries. You may even get temporarily lost, which is highly recommended for full immersion in the island’s charms.

Where to Stay

There’s a large abandoned resort on Daufuskie that’s rumored to be making a comeback, but until then, renting a house through a third party like Airbnb or VRBO is your best bet. Options range from large luxury homes to cute beachfront cottages. Or if you’re into horses or golf, consider Haig Point. 

Haig Point
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Haig Point

Haig Point Club House

10 Haig Point Court, Hilton Head Island, SC, USA

This swank yet sans-snobbery gated community and club occupying one end of the island invites you to be a golf or equestrian member “for a day.” These discovery visits include accommodations in a lovely historic house turned into a four-room inn on the property, a round of golf or a horseback experience, ferry passage to and from the island (from Hilton Head) and a golf cart to use during your stay. Haig Point is also home to the second of the island’s lighthouses, this one constructed in the 1870s.

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