How to Get to Daufuskie Island

How to Get to Daufuskie Island

Craving a rural escape to an authentically preserved Gullah island paradise? Then, a day trip to charming Daufuskie Island should be on your Southern bucket list! Located between Savannah and Hilton Head Island, this tiny South Carolina barrier gem has retained its traditional laidback lifestyle resistant to modernization.

Getting to Daufuskie involves more planning than your average beach vacation. But the rewarding cultural immersion and access to one of the last remaining Gullah communities makes the ferry ride over well worth it. Here’s everything you need to know for arranging transportation to Daufuskie and back! You can also get some ideas on what to do on the Island.

How to Get to Daufuskie Island

Reaching Daufuskie Island requires some form of boat transport as no bridges connect it to the mainland USA. Your main options for Daufuskie-bound vessels include public ferries or private water taxi charters departing from various Lowcountry locations:

Old Town Bluffton to Daufuskie

The most convenient departure point for Daufuskie access is Bluffton, just 15 minutes from Hilton Head Island. Bluffton’s Old Town district serves as the mainland hub, offering daily scheduled ferry service to Daufuskie via Calibogue Cruises. The ride takes 30 minutes to cross Calibogue Sound.

How to Get to Daufuskie Island

The May River Excursions water taxi also offers ferry services, 3 people minimum, at $50 per person for a round trip. This happens 7 days a week during daylight hours.  I recommend booking your ferry tickets early online since seats sometimes sell out days in advance!

Related: How Long Does it Take to Drive Across Rhode Island?

Hilton Head Island Ferry to Daufuskie

While no direct ferries connect Daufuskie to its neighboring Hilton Head Island, local charter companies like Live Oac and Privateer Yacht Charters offer private water taxi transportation between the islands.

Prices vary around $100 per person roundtrip for the 30-minute cruise. Traveling with a larger group helps offset charter costs by splitting the overall private boat fee.

Savannah to Daufuskie

Visitors flying into Savannah can also arrange travel over to Daufuskie Island. Groups of 4 to 12 passengers can charter a whole boat just for their party through Sweetgrass Adventures Tours, providing convenient pickup from downtown Savannah hotels.

How to Get to Daufuskie Island

The smooth 60-minute boat ride floats you along the Intracoastal Waterway and up the winding Cooper River estuary straight to Melrose Beach landing.  What better way to start your lowcountry adventure than skimming over the waters, taking in those iconic Savannah-style marshes!

How to Get Around Daufuskie Island

Now that you’ve arrived exploring Daufuskie Island by land requires an adjustment from mainland transportation modes. Here’s how to make your way around the island once there:

Golf Cart Rentals on Daufuskie Island

No paved roads exist on Daufuskie Island. So golf carts represent the premier way to bounce around between sandy lanes and secret hideaways during your visit.

How to Get to Daufuskie Island

Convenient golf cart rental stations wait right at Melrose Beach and Haig Point ferry landings, ready to hand you the keys to freedom; I mean the keys to a gas-powered four-seater at $85.00. Riding along in golf carts simply feels right on Daufuskie, keeping that lowcountry vibe going strong!

A Round Trip to Daufuskie Island by Bike

If pedal power suits your physical fitness level, bicycles offer another popular independent transportation choice for covering ground on Daufuskie Island. Rent a cruiser bike from the Freeport Marina to wheel yourself from the ferry dock to scenic destinations like the historic First Union African Baptist Church and Silver Dew Winery.

Just be aware that while less populated than neighboring Hilton Head, sand tracks and rural paths still see some car traffic to be mindful of. Plus, those salty sea breezes can add resistance to pedaling!

How to Get to Daufuskie Island

Tours of Daufuskie Island

For visitors less keen on self-navigating Daufuskie’s patchwork of sandy lanes, several tour companies like True Blue Adventures offer guided van excursions of the island. Knowledgeable local guides drive you to tucked-away island points of interest while regaling your group with fascinating stories of Daufuskie’s rich Gullah history and culture. Sit back and soak up that distinctive island pace without a care!

Daufuskie Island Ferry – Explore Daufuskie Island

The public ferry to Daufuskie Island runs several times daily, with the first-morning departure from Bluffton at 7:00 AM and the last evening departure at 9:00 PM on Fridays. Return trips leave Daufuskie’s Melrose Landing starting at 8:30 AM, with the last ferry of the day leaving the island at 10:15 PM on Fridays.

Ferry fare pricing depends on the type of visitor and length of stay. For daytime visitors, round-trip passage costs $49.50 per person. Overnight visitors pay a higher rate of $60.50 roundtrip. Children under 7 years can ride free on the ferry. Daytime visitors park for free at the Bluffton Visitors Center, while overnight visitors needing mainland parking can expect rates of $12 per vehicle per night.

How to Get to Daufuskie Island

The ferry service offers special one-way and island hopper discounted fares in certain situations. An Island Hopper Pass costing $22 roundtrip applies solely to visitors already staying on Daufuskie Island who want to visit the mainland for the day. One-way trips to either Daufuskie or Hilton Head run $33 per person. Direct one-way travel from Daufuskie to Hilton Head is also available for $33 per passenger. Children under 7 also ride free for these special one-way and hopper fares.

Advance reservation for ferry passage is highly recommended as seating is limited, and during busy tourist season, tickets frequently sell out for the Daufuskie Island route.

The H2O Sports Daufuskie Island Ferry Water Shuttle

The H2O Sports Ferry provides fast, direct water shuttle transportation to Daufuskie Island from Sea Pines Resort. This 20-minute trip operates on a reservation basis with multiple departure and return times daily from the Harbour Town Marina dock. As the area’s quickest ferry crossing, it takes just 20 minutes to reach Daufuskie aboard the H2O Sports vessel. 

How to Get to Daufuskie Island

Round-trip fare rates are $45 for adults and $35 for children 12 and under. Departure times vary daily, but reservations can be made for a time most convenient for visitors. The H2O Sports ferry water shuttle offers a speedy, affordable option for Sea Pines guests looking to access charming Daufuskie Island and return easily in a day.

Island Head Daufuskie Island Ferry

The Island Head ferry provides daily round trip service to Daufuskie Island from Hilton Head during the season from March 1st through September 30th. Departure times from their Hilton Head dock location at 18 Simmons Rd are 9 am, 11 am, and 1 pm, with return trips leaving Daufuskie at 4 pm, 6 pm, and 8 pm, respectively. Riders are asked to arrive 30 minutes early to check in, as the ferry crossing takes approximately 45 minutes each way.

Fare rates are $49.99 round trip for adult passengers ages 13 and up. Children ages 3-12 have reduced rates of $39.99, while infants 2 and under ride for free. The Hilton Head departure dock is located at 18 Simmons Road. Visitors should proceed to the wooden pier and look for the white floating building with a blue roof marked Island Head at the far left end to check in with staff before boarding.

How to Get to Daufuskie Island

Reservations are recommended to guarantee seats during the spring and summer Daufuskie Island season. The Island Head ferry allows visitors easy access to enjoy Daufuskie’s beaches, history, and activities for a day or longer directly from Hilton Head.

Why Take a Day Trip to Daufuskie Island?

What sets Daufuskie apart from popular neighbors like swanky Hilton Head or touristy Tybee Island? This enchanting island clings delicately to its traditional Gullah culture, a community passionately sustained by descendants of West African slaves dating back centuries. Poignant historic landmarks like the First Union Church sanctuary, built entirely by hand in 1885, anchor this living time capsule to the past.

Visiting Daufuskie Island before outside elements further modernize the landscape feels urgent, knowing this preserved bubble cannot resist progress forever. So hop aboard that ferry to Daufuskie for an enriching glimpse into enduring Gullah traditions found nowhere else stateside. Just pay attention to the departing ferry ‘cause we gotta protect this real-deal culture gem! You can also check out why Daufuskie Island is so cheap.

How to Get to Daufuskie Island


What is the cheapest way to get to Daufuskie Island?

Securing passage aboard the Calibogue Cruises public ferry represents the most budget-friendly transport to Daufuskie at $35 per adult roundtrip. Reserving tickets early ensures seats on the 100-person vessel.

How long is the ferry ride to Daufuskie Island?

Thankfully, reaching Daufuskie from the Bluffton departure dock takes 30 minutes across Calibogue Sound on the passenger ferry at $50 per adult roundtrip. For visitors prone to seasickness, the quick, relatively calm crossing makes island hopping pleasantly manageable.

Can I drive my car on Daufuskie Island?

Nope, no paved roads exist on wee Daufuskie! The island instead relies on a network of sandy paths traversed predominantly by golf carts, bicycles, and foot. Daufuskie proudly resists modernizing influences with artifacts like street lights to maintain cultural heritage.

How to get to Daufuskie Island from Savannah

Visitors flying into the lovely riverside town of Savannah can charter transit to tour Daufuskie via private boat tour companies like Sweetgrass Adventures. The 60-90 minute cruise winds you through the photogenic Lowcountry saltwater marshes straight to the ferry landing dock. Just don’t miss your return ferry because ongoing transport back to Savannah does not wait!

Water Taxi or Ferry to Daufuskie Island?

Trade crowded commercialized beach resorts for an intimate look at enduring Gullah traditions still thriving on Daufuskie Island! This portal to Lowcountry culture past and present delivers an eye-opening half-day visit back to a slower era before modern Luxuries touched southeastern sea islands.

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