Daufuskie Island: Frequently Asked Questions About a Special Place Along the South Carolina Coast

By:Kerry Egan

Date:5/21/2015

Discover history and heritage on Daufuskie Island, SC.
A haint blue oyster house under a massive, Spanish moss-strewn live oak.

Do you have questions about the wild and wonderful place called Daufuskie Island, South Carolina? Are you looking for places to visit near Hilton Head Island? Here are some answers to help you better understand what you’ll see and experience on a trip to Daufuskie.


Q: What is all that gray stuff hanging from the trees?
A:
It's Spanish moss, a tropical plant (related to the pineapple!) that has no roots and gets all of its water and nutrients from the air. It especially likes to grow on live oaks but does not harm them at all.

Q: Why are many of the old houses, or windows and doors of old houses, painted blue?
A:
That lovely shade of blue is called "haint blue." It was believed that the color blue would drive "haints" (ghosts or bad spirits) away from a house. It’s the same reason so many Southern porch ceilings are painted blue.

Q: Why are many of the old houses under gorgeous, ancient, enormous live oaks?
A:
For shade! Many were built in a time before air conditioning, or even electricity, and a shady place was important. Because most of the island was farm fields 100 years ago, people sought out the massive live oaks as places to build.

Q: Why are most of the graveyards on the water?
A:
All but one of the graveyards on Daufuskie Island are right by the sea. The native islanders, mostly descendants of slaves, always built their graveyards facing east and overlooking the water. There are several legends about the reason, most dealing with the fact that the graves faced east toward Africa, or were near the waters that brought their ancestors to America and could return them home. You can visit these peaceful, beautiful spots today.

Q: Are there still plantations on Daufuskie Island?
A:
No, not in the historical sense. There are no large farms on the island anymore. There are, however, three large housing developments and golf clubs that were built on land that was once occupied by plantations and derive their name from them. They are sometimes referred to as "plantations" today. There is a great community-run farm you can visit called the Daufuskie Community Farm.


Q: What are these bugs?
A:
Daufuskie has its fair share of tiny biting bugs, locally known as “no see ’ums.” It doesn’t really matter what they are. The most important thing to know is that they can (and should) be stopped from making a meal of you. Make sure you bring lots of strong bug repellent, and while on the island, pick up a bottle of Daufuskie Survival Spray. This all-natural repellent has to be reapplied every 15 minutes or so when the bugs are really out in force, but it is remarkably effective. You can purchase this spray at the General Store at the Freeport Marina.


Q: What's a "deviled crab?"
A:
It's a local specialty of crab meat that's cooked with herbs and spices, and then spooned back into the crab shell and baked. As you explore Daufuskie, look for signs outside of houses advertising deviled crabs. Knock on the front door, and the owner will sell you frozen deviled crabs you can bake at home. You also can order them at the Old Daufuskie Crab Company restaurant.


Q: Why do so many of the historic houses look so similar?
A:
These old homes – low-slung with wide porches, tin roofs and centered front doors – are called "oyster houses" after the oyster industry that dominated the island from the turn of the 19th century to the late 1950s. They were all built following the same plans.

Q: Where do the Gullah people live?
A:
"Gullah" refers to the distinct culture and history of the people of the Sea Islands of South Carolina who are the descendants of slaves. Because the Sea Islands were geographically isolated from the rest of the country in the decades after the Civil War (before bridges were built connecting them to the mainland), the people were left alone to develop their own folklore, arts and crafts, cuisine and even dialect. In this academic sense, the African-American people of Daufuskie were Gullah. Be aware, though, that many of the people who were born and grew up on Daufuskie Island would never identify themselves that way. Some people, but certainly not all of them, even find the word somewhat offensive. They would say they are simply American, like everyone else.

Related Content

Explore Small-Town South Carolina at the Bluffton May River Shrimp Festival
Experience South Carolina’s coastal culture and sample some of the Lowcountry’s finest flavors at Bluffton’s annual May River Shrimp Festival.
Explore Bluffton Farmers Market
Discover a fun-filled adventure every Thursday at the Bluffton Farmers Market — open year-round in Old Town Bluffton, South Carolina. Enjoy the scents and flavors of Lowcountry produce as you shop for locally grown groceries and goods.
Hilton Head’s Inn & Club at Harbour Town
If there’s anything more exciting than a round at Harbour Town Golf Links, it’s the idea of waking up the morning of your round and gazing down at Harbour Town’s first tee from the comfort of your room at the Inn & Club at Harbour Town.
A History of Gullah Cuisine
Without the cultivation of rice by the Gullah people of South Carolina’s coast and Sea Islands, many of the Lowcountry’s most famous dishes would have never existed.
South Carolina Sea Islands: Take a Day Trip to Daufuskie Island
Spend an adventurous and beautiful day with your family on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, to see the Sea Islands as they have been for generations.
South Carolina’s Sea Islands: Discover Another World on Daufuskie
Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, gives visitors the chance to experience a little-developed Sea Island.

Featured Products

Daufuskie Island
Coast

Hilton Head Island

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
No bridge connects this eight-square-mile treasure to the mainland, and it is only accessible by ferry or private boat. For here, it is often said time stands still. Nati ...

Featured products and attractions in "Daufuskie Island: Frequently Asked Questions About a Special Place Along the South Carolina Coast"

Nearby Attractions

  • {{item.name}}

You might also like:

Pratt Memorial Library
Coast

Ridgeland

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Pratt Library holds 250 rare books on the history of the Lowcountry area, 200 relevant portraits and maps. ...
Lowcountry Cajun Festival
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Bringing Louisiana to the Lowcountry, Cajun Fest is a full-day of Zydeco music, Cajun and Creole foods, children’s activities and all around ragin’ Cajun entertainment! F ...
Quality Inn & Suites
Coast

Ridgeland

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Indoor Heated pool, Seasonal Out Door Pool, Full Hot breakfast.Exercise Room, 30 minutes from Historic Beaufort and Paris Island; 2 minutes from Jasper County's Webel Mus ...
Lowcountry Oyster Festival
Coast

Mount Pleasant

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
The Oyster Festival is a one day tribute to the mighty mollusk so many of us know and love. It is little wonder that the Oyster Festival has been the highlight of Charles ...
Quality Inn & Suites At Patriots Point
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Hotel is adjacent to Patriots Point Home of the USS Yorktown, Patriots Point Golf Links, Fort Sumter Tours, Water Taxi to downtown, Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park, Mount ...
Old St. Andrew's Parish Church
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Nestled close to the Ashley River on ten acres of land, Old Saint Andrew's property is comprised of a graveyard, the main church building dating back to 1706, the oldest ...