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Doing Daufuskie: Getting There and Getting Around

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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The Beaufort County Dock on Daufuskie is a popular entry point for island visitors.

You’ve heard so much about that magical place called Daufuskie, South Carolina’s southernmost inhabited sea island and former bastion of a storied, robust Gullah community. Historic, rustic and quirky, the approximately 8-square-mile wooded expanse with stretches of quiet beaches is bordered by the Calibogue Sound, Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean with nary a bridge in sight.

If you want to go there, you must do so by boat. While that’s part of the charm of such an adventure, it does require a bit of planning. Therefore, choosing the right ferry or water taxi is the first step in preparing for a day on Daufuskie. There are several services from which to choose, depending on your point of departure, individual needs and number in your party.

Another necessity for your visit is a golf cart—the main mode of transportation on the island. You will need one to traverse the network of dirt roads that trail off from the two or three paved avenues crisscrossing the island. When arranging transit to Daufuskie, inquire about package deals that include golf cart, bicycle or electric bike rental so your ride is ready and waiting for you when you arrive. Experienced Daufuskie day-trippers will concur that having a golf cart delivered to the dock is the best way to save time and ensure you don’t find yourself stranded trying to secure transportation for you and your luggage, beach chairs and coolers.

With these things in mind, check out the following options for getting to—and around—Daufuskie. Call ahead or visit each online to confirm availability, get details on baggage, parking, golf cart rental fees and other important info for optimizing the unforgettable island experience that awaits you. It might be hard getting to Daufuskie, but if you do your research and plan ahead, you’re likely to find it even harder to leave.

Daufuskie Island Ferry   
Point of departure: Buckingham Landing, Bluffton

Length of passage: 45 minutes

Docks at
: Melrose Landing

Cost
: $45 round trip/no charge for children younger than 7; park free at the Daufuskie Island Visitors Center and ride the shuttle to the landing; See website for pet and baggage rules and rates. Also offers private water taxi service from Hilton Head Island, Savannah, Beaufort, Palmetto Bluff and other areas. See website for details.

Service
: Departures to and from the island daily, with an evening ferry departing at 9 p.m. and returning at 10:15 p.m. on Fridays only. Special hours apply on Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Make your reservations online.

 

May River Excursions Water Taxi 
Point of departure
: Old Town Bluffton

Length of passage: 25 to 30 minutes

Docks at: Beaufort County dock

Cost: Pricing begins at $50 per person round trip, with a three-person minimum; $20 fee applies for bicycles. No kayaks, paddleboards or coolers larger than 50 quarts.

Service: The water taxi operates during daylight hours only; call to make arrangements for your party.

 

Bull River Marina 
Point of departure: Savannah

Length of passage: 25 to 30 minutes

Docks at: Beaufort County dock, Freeport Marina; call for other options

Cost: $45 per person round trip for four or more passengers; one 50-pound piece of luggage, one carry-on and one soft cooler per passenger. Call for pricing for other items.

Service: Runs seven days a week, daylight hours only; call for reservations and to select times for departure and return.

 

Hilton Head by Boat  
Point of departure: Hilton Head Island public dock closest to your location

Length of passage: Depends on point of departure; call for info

Docks at: Call to specify

Cost: $55 per person, round trip; $150 minimum if fewer than three people ride; includes assistance with luggage, groceries and supplies on and off the boat.

Service: This is a Daufuskie Island private shuttle service; call to select dates and times.

 

Daufuskie Difference  
Point of departure: Broad Creek Marina on Hilton Head Island

Length of passage: 1 hour

Docks at: Freeport Marina

Cost: $45 for ages 13 and older; $30 for ages 3 to 12; $19.99 for dogs, round trip; $89 per person for round-trip fare, golf cart rental and $20 meal voucher.

Service: Passage available seven days a week; reserve online.

 

H2O Sports
Point of departure
: Harbour Town Marina, The Sea Pines Resort

Length of passage: 15 to 20 minutes

Docks at: Freeport Marina

Cost: $45 per person, round-trip ferry; $25 for children 12 and younger; two-person minimum.

Service: Call for dates, times and reservations.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.