When you think of an island off of the coast of South Carolina, you probably think: Hilton Head. And so do hundreds of thousands of other tourists, especially in the summer time. If you want to get away from the crowds, I’ll let you in on a secret island that’s a little bit harder to get to (there’s no bridge) and is practically deserted, but still has luxury amenities–it’s Daufuskie Island. This Lowcountry getaway has no gas stations (everyone gets around by bike or electric golfcart), minimal tourists, and plenty to do.
How to Do a Weekend on Daufuskie Island
Hotel: Haig Point’s Strachan Mansion combines luxury and history. This magnificent building was built in 1910 on St. Simons Island, and then moved via barge over to Daufuskie Island in 1986. This exclusive mansion guarantees quiet and privacy, as it only houses four suites, all of which are furnished with elegant antiques. Or, for an even more unique stay, you can rent the 1873 Lighthouse, which was restored by Haig Point and turned into a two-bedroom guesthouse.
The private, gated community of Haig Point offers everything you need to enjoy the island (plus a private ferry from Hilton Head to get you there): electric golf carts, bikes, a golf course, tennis courts, two pools, and three restaurants. To stay within Haig Point, book a Discovery Experience (for Lighthouse and Strachan Mansion stays) or rent one of the vacation homes on the island.
Friday: Catch the short ferry (about 30-minutes) from Hilton Head and keep an eye out for dolphins who like to frolic in the boat’s surf on your cruise over to Daufuskie Island. Haig Point’s private ferry will drop you off right next to The Strachan Mansion so you can get settled in. Pick up your electric golf cart and a map of the island and give yourself a self-guided tour to get acquainted with the lay of the land. Follow the Rob Kennedy Historic Trail and you’ll see plenty of numbered markers telling you some history behind the island’s main sights.
Motor back to Haig Point’s Beach Club in time for happy hour and a delicious dinner buffet held by the pool.
Explore Daufuskie Island’s coast with Tour Daufuskie on a kayak tour. The wildlife is most active in the morning, and you’ll have a good chance of seeing dolphins, egrets, great blue herons, and maybe even an eagle! After, head back to Haig Point for a well-earned lunch at the Grill Room, and enjoy the much-needed air conditioning.
Meet back up with Tour Daufuskie in the afternoon for a History & Artisans Island Tour. A knowledgeable local guide will drive your group around in a golf cart, pointing out the historic landmarks of Daufuskie Island and explaining the island’s unique story. On the trip, you’ll get the chance to meet local artisans and learn the process behind their craft–a highlight is a stop at Daufuskie Blues, where you’ll learn how indigo-dying is done.
If you’re looking for a little exercise, go for a walk, jog, or bike ride along Haig Point’s beautiful beach-side fitness trail, a hard-packed sand trail that winds along the coast and has plenty of trees for shade.
When you’re ready for dinner, snag a table on the patio at the Calibogue Club on Haig Point and enjoy watching the sunset as you dine on locally-sourced food.
Enjoy complimentary coffee and pastries at The Strachan Mansion before borrowing a bike from Haig Point and exploring the island via two wheels. Daufuskie Island is just five miles long by about three miles wide, so it’s easy to cover the whole thing under your own power in just a few hours. Daufuskie Island is so secluded, that you could go for hours without seeing another person! Cycle down to one of the island’s sandy beaches, take a dip in the warm water, or just lounge on the sand. Then it’s time to hop back on the ferry and prepare yourself to go back to mainland life.
Bars & Restaurants
- Calibogue Club
- The Grill Room
- The Clubhouse
- Daufuskie Island Rum Company
- Iron Fish Art Gallery
- Bloody Point Lighthouse
- Daufuskie Community Farm and Artisan Village
More from SmarterTravel:
Caroline was hosted by Haig Point. Follow Caroline’s adventures around Boston and the world on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline and on Twitter @CarolineMorse1.
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