This East Coast Island Is A Great Spot For A Charming Coastal Vacation

If you're looking for a beach vacation with Old-World charm and balmy temperatures year-round, Daufuskie Island in South Carolina won't disappoint. The island is known for its laid-back lifestyle, offering visitors a chance to enjoy a peaceful coastal vacation. You may even be familiar with Daufuskie from Pat Conroy's memoir "The Water Is Wide," which details Conroy's efforts to teach people on the island in the 1960s (Conroy named the island Yamacraw in his book.) Accessible only by boat, Daufuskie is close to the thriving city of Savannah — and even closer to the busy resort of Hilton Head — but feels a world away from the hustle and bustle.

Daufuskie Island is all white-sand beaches, dense forests, and unpaved roads. The great oaks draped in Spanish moss give the island an unmistakable Southern feel. You're more likely to see people whizzing by in golf carts or on bicycles than in cars. But don't imagine that there's nothing to do on Daufuskie. There's history to discover, golf courses to play, and the whole Atlantic Ocean to explore.

What to do on Daufuskie Island

You can spend your days doing a whole lot of nothing on Daufuskie if you want to. The gorgeous shoreline invites you to spend lazy days with your toes in the sand. But if you like to spend your vacation in a more active way, the island can provide.

First, decide whether you want to rent a golf cart or a bike to get around. There are few cars on the island, which really adds to its charm, so embrace it. You can take your own bike on the ferry if you wish. Then get a map of Daufuskie's Gullah History Trail and dive into the island's historic sites. (You can pick up a copy of the map at the Billy Burn Museum.) Highlights include some of the six Gullah cemeteries on Daufuskie, all located near the water, and Mary Field School, which is now home to a textile store and a coffee shop. The trail also takes you to Bloody Point, where you'll find three miles of paradisiacal beach.

Once you're done exploring around the island, why not head out onto the water? Kayaks and paddleboards are available to rent, and several companies offer fishing excursions. Back on land, you can take a tour of the island on horseback or play a round of golf at Haig Point Golf Club.

Travel, eat, stay

One thing that makes Daufuskie so charming is that you can only get there by boat. There's a ferry from Buckingham Landing near Bluffton that runs year-round. Buckingham Landing is just a 40-minute drive from Savannah, and day and overnight parking are available. Otherwise, a water taxi runs from Old Town Bluffton and takes just 25 minutes as compared to the ferry's one-hour journey. You can get to Daufuskie directly from Savannah's Bull River Marina, too.

Whether you're there for the day or staying overnight, you'll need to eat. Luckily, Daufuskie has several tasty options for visitors. Check out The Old Daufuskie Crab Company for local favorites like shrimp and deviled crab. Reviewers on TripAdvisor say the service isn't the best, but the food is good, and the views are excellent. Many people highly recommend getting the Scrap Iron drink here (it's a cocktail made of sweet tea and local vodka.)

The Island Shack Cafe serves comfort food like hot dogs and burgers, and at D'Fuskie's Store and Eatery, you can get some groceries and "amazing sandwiches," according to one Google reviewer. If you want to stay overnight, book one of the private vacation rentals around the Freeport Marina or book a Discovery Visit to stay at Haig Point, a private resort-style community on the island.