Daufuskie Island may only be 14 miles from Georgia’s popular major city and tourist destination of Savannah – but the island knows a completely different way of life.
Horseback riding, bottlenose dolphin sightings, and old schoolhouses that remember the past and lazily keep up with the present await the visitors who come to this little slice of timeless relaxation.
Dense with pines and only eight square miles wide, the island is home to only 400 people. About a quarter of them are the Gullah people – descendants of the African slaves who were brought to work the Low Country plantations, which had their own unique modus operandi.
The intimate community moves at the kind of slow pace where stoplights have been deemed entirely unnecessary, and are entirely absent. And apparently, so are hospitals – the island has none, though the mainland isn’t too far away to reach if there’s a real emergency (though who is in charge of deciding that, we’re still unsure. It seems to be working out…)
Many of the local Gullah community have commandeered what tourism does reach the island, such as Sallie Ann Robinson, and tour guide who takes visitors to the old schoolhouse referenced in Pat Conroy’s enduring autobiographical novel The Water Is Wide, and a cook who authored her own cookbook in her spare time. She also takes visitors into her own car to down bumpy dirt roads to show them restored Gullah shotgun homes, many of which have been transformed into vacation rentals.
In fact, Daufuskie Island has turned a few other historic places into sleeping space: there’s the 1873 Haig Point Lighthouse and the 1910 Strachan Mansion. Late next year, two brand-new cottages standing out against the old change-resistant island architecture will open at Haig Point, a golf community for the locals. Alongside it will be Daufuskie’s fourth restaurant, though it’s yet to be named, to join the existing favorites like Old Daufuskie Crab Company, a seafood joint loved for its deviled crab.
The beaches and local activities have vacation written all over them – so don’t miss out.