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Doing Daufuskie: Lodging and Food Finds

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 38 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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Gullah cottage under live oak on Daufuskie Island
The historic Gullah cottage, the Frances Jones House, is one of the island's most popular rentals.

Great! You've decided to vacation on Daufuskie Island and are eager to put your plans together. You're also just a little anxious  – escaping to a remote island requires an especially thoughtful approach as resources like food and day-to-day necessities will be far more limited than what you are accustomed to. No need to worry, though. Here are some tips for ensuring you have everything you need for the perfect Daufuskie holiday.

A Place to Stay

Planning ahead is key for finding the right Daufuskie Island vacation abode for you and yours. This isn't Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head Island – if you want a specific kind of property, start searching far in advance of your trip. Last-minute planning isn't a good strategy, especially if you have a large group.

Airbnb, VRBO, HomeToGo, Orbitz and other vacation rental sites are avenues for securing an island place to lay your head. If you're looking for a little luxury for a big family or group, the gracious and spacious Captain Monroe House might fill the bill.

The team at Jonbie Maison offers a host of waterfront guest cottages with plenty of creature comforts as do the folks at Daufuskie Rental Group. The colorful little bungalows between the general store and Old Daufuskie Crab Co. at Freeport Marina are perfect for solo travelers or couples.

If you want to experience a treasured piece of island history, try your luck at snagging a few nights in the Frances Jones House – a renovated Gullah cottage that's always in high demand. For this one, you'll need to be on top of your game and reserve far ahead. 

Deviled crab with lemon
You can get Ernestine Smith’s famous devil crab at Old Daufuskie Crab Company at Freeport Marina.

Finding Food

There is a commonly held belief that if you don’t haul your own groceries to Daufuskie Island, you risk starvation, or at least the grim prospect of sitting down to packs of peanuts and canned sodas at mealtimes. With a little planning and know-how, this does not have to be the case. Of course, if you have specific dietary needs, preferences, picky eaters, or plans for fancy meals, you will need to cart your groceries over.

Because the majority of lodging options are equipped with a kitchen, you may well wish to prepare some meals yourself - depending on the length of your stay. A kitchen, in fact, is a desirable feature if you are dead set on taking your meals according to your own schedule.

While you might not be able to head to a store for a steak to throw on the grill, there are varied resources for enjoying a ready-cooked meal or putting together one of your own. And you can certainly rest assured that a snack and drink is just a golf cart drive away. 

Here is the lowdown on the food scene on Daufuskie:

Old Daufuskie Crab Company 
Considered “party central” on the island, Old Daufuskie Crab Company  is a hopping restaurant and bar. It might be no-frills, but islanders like it that way. This is your solid source for tasty, local sustenance. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with live music outdoors on the weekends, this is where you’ll find the famous Daufuskie deviled crab prepared by islander Ernestine Smith.

There’s also shrimp, chicken, flounder, burgers, nachos and such. Wash it down with a cold beverage or Scrap Iron cocktail – a drink steeped in island history dating back to when the Gullah smuggled their illegal moonshine concoction in their bateau canoes, carefully covering them with pieces of scrap iron to hide it from the prying eyes of revenue officers.

You can only get it here – and the recipe remains a secret. Fill your belly and slake your thirst indoors or outdoors – there are plenty of seats to go around.

D’Fuskie’s Store & Eatery
Head down to the county dock and you’ll find this hotspot for noshing and picking up necessities and kitchen goods. Hungry? Head inside D'Fuskie's and place an order for a made-to-order pizza or deli sandwich like the Smoky, with layers of top round roast beef, smoked Gouda, roasted red peppers and pickled banana peppers, slathered with a bit of pesto mayo and tucked between marbled rye.

Grab a table in the spartan dining room complete with TVs for game watching and a bar for ordering up your favorite beer, wine or spirits, or eat outside on the deck. Fresh sausage biscuits are offered some mornings, as well. 

Let the kids hit the playground beneath the gorgeous live oaks while you relax. Islanders and overnight guests love the convenience of the market inside where you can buy everything from a fine bottle of wine to candy bars to a bag of grits, spaghetti fixings, milk, eggs, bread, cheese and necessary items like toothbrushes or ibuprofen. 

Shrimp gumbo with rice
Shrimp gumbo is one of the delicious dishes Chef Mau Plascencia has on rotation at the Deck Diner at Daufuskie Island Distillery.

Daufuskie Island Distillery On-Deck Diner 
This distiller of vodka and bourbon added a dining and live entertainment deck in 2022, and islanders and visitors are eating it up. Chef Mau Plascencia, an island caterer, serves up a rotation of delectable dishes at Daufuskie Island Distillery On-Deck Diner.  They run the gamut from shrimp gumbo to Philly cheesesteak sandwiches to Greek salads. The rum cocktails are great, too. 

Freeport General Store 
Just off the docks and adjacent to Old Daufuskie Crab Co., you’ll find Freeport General Store. It is filled with all kinds of options for pulling together a beach picnic, hot breakfast, quick lunch and more: chips, cookies, candy, pantry items, eggs, dairy products, bread, condiments, drinks, beer, wine, etc. This is also a good place to find an island souvenir, including bumper stickers, local crafts, Daufuskie T-shirts and books written by storied author, sportsman and islander Roger Pinckney XI.

Frye's Corner
Pull your golf cart up to Daufuskie's little chicken shack for fresh chicken strips and wings, Vidalia onion rings, fresh-cut fries and homemade coleslaw. Enjoy at a shady picnic table or carry back to your abode.

Ice cream with cone
Luscious ice cream studded with the fresh fruit of your choice can be had at Melrose Landing.

Ice Cream at Fuskie Bikes Kiosk
Listen up. If you want a second-to-none sweet treat, head to the corner of School Road and Oakridge, turn onto Buckthord Road, and you’ll find Ice Cream at Fuskie Bikes Kiosk. This nifty little kiosk serving up amazing soft-serve ice cream studded with the fresh fruit of your choice: strawberry, mango, pineapple, peach, blueberry, raspberry and more.

Get a cup or cone and thank us later. Hours vary, so check the website for the most up-to-date information.

Island Shack Cafe
Eat breakfast and lunch under the oaks at Island Shack Cafe on Benjies Point Road. Burgers, hot dogs, breakfast sandwiches and comfort food fare are on the menu.

Note that this island eatery varies in hours and days of operation, according to the season. 

School Grounds Coffee House
Savor a cup of freshly brewed java, chai and other tea drinks, frozen lemonade and more at School Grounds Coffee House. This island favorite operating in the back of the historic Mary Fields School. Yummy baked goods make for fine accompaniments.

Place an order at the window and enjoy it at one of the picnic tables while the kids hit the swings or test their skills on the basketball court.

Sign for deviled crab with trailer
Look for the crab sign in the front yard of Willis Simmons house.

Caterers and Such

Earnestine Smith (the deviled crab wizard of Old Daufuskie Crab Co. fame) prepares and delivers family-style meals to locals and visitors. Think fried chicken, deviled crab, collards, peas, rice, cornbread and other delicious sides – more than your family can eat in one sitting. Call (843) 842-3011 to make arrangements.

Sallie Ann Robinson, an island native who found fame as an American cookbook author, celebrity chef and cultural historian, will also prepare a home-cooked meal using her celebrated Gullah recipes. Please call (912) 604-8210 to coordinate meals prior to your arrival.

Janie’s Devil Crab
Daufuskie Island deviled crab is legendary, and you can get your fill when you purchase directly from local Willis Simmons. Made from an island recipe that is more than a century old, these tasty beauties are made with 100 percent blue crab meat – no fillers. You can simply stop by Simmons’ house on Benjies Point Road and toot your golf cart horn (you’ll see the big sign in his front yard advertising devil crab) or give him a call at (843) 842-1263 to place an order.

Signs nailed to tree
Follow the signs to find Daufuskie grub and more.

Other Options

Saturday Farm Stand, Haig Point and Church roads
Most Saturdays, weather permitting, a small, but worth-your-while farm stand appears in this tiny lot. Fresh catch like red snapper, flounder and local shrimp are among the seasonal offerings, which also include an array of fresh veggies. Bring a cooler and stock up.

The Burger Boat
Melrose Landing is a regular stop for The Burger Boat, a Savannah operation that services the island a few times a month. But to catch them, you will need to follow postings on the food boat's Facebook page. This is where islanders fill up on juicy burgers made your way, awesome dogs, fish tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches and more. 

Grocery Delivery 
If you still feel the need to stock up on groceries, you can get them delivered from the mainland via two services that come to the island: the Nauti Butler and Low Country Grocery Runner. Order prior to your visit and your groceries will be delivered and stocked in your vacation rental when you arrive. While it’s a little pricier than doing the shopping yourself, the convenience and variety are priceless.


Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 38 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.