There exist relatively few places where one can fully experience the beauty of their surroundings, unhindered, untethered, and uninterrupted. In the Lowcountry, we are graced with a location that perhaps embodies this more than any other: Daufuskie Island.
Accessible only by boat — and maybe Michael Phelps — the southernmost sea island of South Carolina is something out of a fairy tale. At only 5,000 acres offering more than three miles of pristine beaches, it is truly the epitome of island living… a natural playground. The roughly 20-minute private ferry ride (or 6-minute water taxi, for those in more of a hurry) from the Haig Point embarkation center on Hilton Head Island begins on Broad Creek, the waterway that nearly bisects Hilton Head.
Riding aboard the ferry is an opportunity to do some reading, get some work done, chat with your fellow passengers, or simply gaze at the beautiful sights along the way. Boats swaying on sparkling waters give way to the impressive shoreline of Brams Point, and incredible views of Sea Pines’ famous Harbour Town. Crossing into the Calibogue Sound, the ferry arrives at the northern tip of Daufuskie Island before you know it. Welcome to Haig Point.
I’ve often heard it said that those who fall in love with Daufuskie do so the moment they step off of the ferry, and it is easy to see why. Absorbing the sunshine and coastal breezes as I walk leisurely up the dock toward the island, I am swept away every time by both the beauty and history that surround me — the entire island is on the National Historic Registry. The sensation of reconnection simply never gets old.
A Day with Doug
On the visit that inspired this blog post, I had the opportunity to take advantage of a most serendipitous run-in with Doug Egly, General Manager and CEO of Haig Point, one of the island’s gorgeous communities. Doug greeted me with a smile and a golf cart, the island’s favored form of transportation. In fact, no cars are allowed within Haig Point, save for service vehicles brought by barge and left in a designated area when not in use.
Travel around the community is done on foot, bike, or golf cart, lending an additional layer of calm to the space.
As I hopped into the passenger seat, I decided to take the opportunity with my captive audience (who graciously accepted my barrage of questions) to learn even more about this wonderful community from the man who now heads its operations.
Driving to our first location, we discussed recent happenings on the island, including the expansion of the ferry service that began in August. This will allow more of the island’s residents transportation on an expanded schedule — something that has, in the past, served as a sticking point for those who would likely have otherwise bought their Daufuskie dream homes on the spot. In my opinion, this is a move in the right direction, making island access easier without adulterating one of the greatest identifying features of life here.
Real estate activity is seeing a boost on Daufuskie, as well, and Haig Point is leading the charge. Case in point: The Sanctuary, the community’s newest residential nook. This intimate neighborhood, characterized by coastal, casual luxury, was still in the construction phase when I wrote this (though is well finished now). It includes a small group of breezy, beach-style homes. These adorable abodes are the perfect size, and enjoy a prime peninsula location with private docks on a peaceful waterway.
Throughout the community, homes are currently available from less than $300,000, ranging all the way to nearly $3.0M, as well as quite a few gorgeous building sites. As with other developed communities in the Lowcountry, Haig Point has a Property Owners Association (POA) and a related fee structure, membership dues for property owners, and a limited supply of non-property owner memberships. All of these come in the form of Social or Golf.
What the Dues Do
So, other than the ferry (which accounts for a significant portion), what can one expect to get for all this talk of fees and dues?
You might think that, on a 5,000-acre historic island, there wouldn’t be much to do. I am here to tell you that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Haig Point offers an incomparable lifestyle in a setting that has mastered that elusive blend of the elegant and the unpretentious. The amenities are many, and — like the price range — truly include something for everyone.
Life amongst nature is par for the course in Haig Point, and on Daufuskie in general. Trails, tennis, world-class golf (if you so desire), and beautiful resort-style pools offer many ways to enjoy time outdoors. A beautiful equestrian facility gives members the opportunity to explore the island on horseback, including the shoreline.
Prefer a pool day? Relax at the Beach House, offering poolside food and beverage service. And you mustn’t miss the winding, waterfront cart path leading to the Calibogue Club, with its Hamptons-esque architecture and locally-known Happy Hour, now offering a fabulous outdoor beachfront environment with outdoor bar, huge open-air deck and stairs leading to the sand.
The Nitty Gritty
As wonderful as thoughts of this real-world dreamland are, Doug and I inevitably ended up on the more earth-bound topic of life’s daily necessities, and concerns that we’ve each faced when talking with those looking at Haig Point property. Here are a few of the things we hashed out:
This is the biggie, and the truth of it is, access-by-boat is not for everyone. But, neither is life on an island. While a definite mental shift is in order to see boats as normal transportation, here’s the thing: It allows for much better use of one’s time than driving that same distance. And that’s just the ferry. The water taxi — also available to Haig Point members — is a method of quick access to and from Harbour Town. Unless you’re already in Sea Pines, it will probably take you longer to get there by car. Bottom line: It’s a mindset, and it can shift as quickly as you’ll let it.
Another biggie, and directly related. Little ones may attend Daufuskie Island School through 5th grade. Starting in 6th grade, students are transported to their respective schools on Hilton Head Island via ferry and bus. I didn’t grow up with dolphins chasing me to school every day… did you
While there are small shops for the essentials, Daufuskie does not have any large stores. Community gardening and farming are features of life on the island, for those who wish to participate. But, for those who prefer the grocery store, fear not: Haig Point members can order their groceries, which Member Services will then transport to your home, and even stock your kitchen. How much easier can it get?
This one is just a fact, but is important to know. Building property on Daufuskie is more expensive. Those who build are looking at a premium of roughly 25-30%, as a result of having to bring the materials and vehicles to the island by barge. It costs more, but for those who choose to live here, it’s a worthy expense. Just ask them
Shopping & Entertainment
While you aren’t going to find a big nightlife scene, people from all walks of life call Daufuskie home, and the artisan community that continues to grow offers its own form of entertainment and adventure. Included is acclaimed artist Chase Allen’s Iron Fish Art Gallery, Wine & Woodworks (it’s exactly what it sounds like) and Silver Dew Pottery & Gift Store, among others. Uber-popular southern accessory company Spartina 449 also got its start here. Inspiration is in the air!
Speaking of inspiration: Established less than two years ago, the Daufuskie Island Rum Company, has seen tremendous success, and is always happy to offer a taste test of their island-made rums — silver, gold, spiced, and more. Variety is the spice of life, so step outside the gates and check out The Eagle’s Nest and Melrose on the Beach (that’s a rich and interesting history of its own, and another post altogether), or start your weekend off right by grabbing your mat for Saturday morning yoga at Mary Field School (now the community center, and the site of Pat Conroy’s famous stint as a Daufuskie Island educator) before embarking on a day of fun at the Freeport Marina.
Grab lunch at Old Daufuskie Crab Company (added Crab Co. bonus: daytime dock for free and LOTS of live music!) before perusing the area, where you’ll find the general store and always some fun event or another. No matter what you decide to do, you’re guaranteed to have a wonderful time.
The Bottom Line
Splashed with sunlight, layered in the natural beauty and rich history of the Lowcountry, and dotted with architecture that fits seamlessly into the landscape, Daufuskie is a world apart, where the tide replaces the clock and life is measured in moments. If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting this magnificent piece of paradise, you owe it to yourself to change that… we wouldn’t be surprised if you never leave.
You can thank us later.
(This post was originally published on September 28, 2016. Much has happened since then! Contact us to get today’s scoop on Daufuskie Island.)