Island Fun

The ferry churned its way through the calm waters off the South Carolina coast. Bright warmth from the sun beamed down upon me as the breeze and mist kicked up from the vessel's sides. To my right, I noticed an osprey's nest in an unusual place - a high -powered utility grid. This is the experience of the ferry that carries you to Daufuskie Island, a tiny hamlet off Hilton Head.

This once -secluded island that felt cut off from the world is now at a crossroads. As the splendid Daufuskie Island Resort expands physically and financially under the palmettos, residents hold on to its unique past even in the midst of all this growth.

No one feels this more than Sylvia Wampler, who has been running Southern Shirtique for years in the backwoods of Daufuskie. Her T -shirt and gift shop is accessible only by a golf cart equipped with rugged tires, which the island's resort loaned me.

"It is definitely changing around here," she said. "Just looking around here, you can see the old shacks are going, and spacious homes are being built on their land."

At Wampler's shop, I picked up a copy of author Pat Conroy's novel "The Water Is Wide," a fictionalized account of his one -year teaching stint here. I began to learn about the island's history. "

"He hasn't been back since he taught here years ago," Wampler said.

From the gift shop, I navigated Daufuskie's terrain by stopping at the Historic First Union African Baptist Church and a museum complete with island artifacts and information about the Gullah people, descendants of slaves who settled on Daufuskie. The small -town atmosphere can be felt everywhere on this part of the island. At a local restaurant/grocery/mail facility, it seems that everyone knows each other. "Oh, Sylvia (Wampler) has been here forever," said one gentleman who was seated at the next table from me at a barbecue lunch.

As I left the eatery, the store's pig gave me a warm greeting as I hopped on my golf cart.It would be an understatement to say that life is slower on Daufuskie Island, and that's evident at the resort. Some of the most exquisite cottages sit beneath the quiet pines. Great for couples and families, these cozy homes come with handsomely decorated living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens. All of the cottages have breathtaking views of the beaches and water. You can never go hungry at the resort. Stocking up on goods for my kitchen at the nearby grocery store seemed like a daunting task for a vacation. I opted for a visit to the resort's Beach Club, which offers some of the finest seafood that can be found in the Lowcountry.

Off to Hilton Head

My Lowcountry tour continued with a ferry ride back to Hilton Head, where I took in a night at the Westin Hotel with an oceanfront view. The hotel has excellent swimming facilities, a workout room and, best of all, good access to the beach, which is clean and filled with shells. My daughter Caitlin, scoured the area and came up with quite a collection. The most rewarding part of lodging at this location is the awesome sunsets.

After a night at the hotel, I surveyed the town of Hilton Head and was quite impressed with how its city fathers balance economic growth with natural beauty. A Wal -Mart or Home Depot in this setting never looked better. The biggest disadvantage about Hilton Head is the traffic created by tourists as well as residents. It was a bit of a challenge for my guide to get to Signe's Bakery and Cafe for breakfast. Once there, I forgot all about the traffic. Signe's is a unique hole -in -the -wall that serves up the finest Corned Beef Hash Sunrise and Whole Wheat Waffles.

The road to Palmetto Bluff

Just around the corner from Hilton Head is Palmetto Bluff. As I drove into the property, I felt like I was going into a whole new world. Every bit of the long and winding road here was worth it. Palmetto Bluff is a resort village tucked away in acres of unspoiled wilderness.

What is spoiled here is you. The cottages on this property are simply out of this world, with first -class amenities from start to finish. Although I had my family in the cottage, I couldn't help but think that this is the perfect romantic getaway. Each cottage is done up in a colonial design, complete with vaulted ceilings and pine floors. As for the bedroom, I have never slept better. Mornings are picturesque with a walk out onto the back veranda that looks out onto the waterway. Nothing beats a great cup of coffee while taking in this fantastic scenery.

What also makes Palmetto Bluff a place for couples is the unbelievable food and wine experience. The restaurant at the inn is fine dining at its best. Undeniably scrumptious food, including the out -of -this -world She -Crab Soup, impeccable service and desserts that are to die for make this a meal that every couple should experience at least once in their lives.My guide, Norris, who hails from Jamaica, was, a stupendous chaperone. Norris informed me of the many activities that are available at Palmetto Bluff, including canoeing, kayaking, biking and hiking. He also drove me over to a massive tree house that overlooks the property in a secluded section of the property.

Get wild' at Wild Dunes

After Palmetto Bluff, it would seem that anything else would be a letdown. That was not true at Wild Dunes on the Isle of Palms. Wild Dunes is home to a variety of lodging choices including condos, apartments and free-standing homes. I chose to stay in a house where I could take advantage of its massive kitchen. A house here is a great idea for families who are enthusiastic about beach activities, which are plentiful here. Fun and sun is what the Isle of Palms is all about.

Back to Charleston

Heading back home to Atlanta meant a trip through Charleston. As with any road trip, I decided to stop at the original Sticky Fingers restaurant in the suburb of Mount Pleasant. This fantastic barbecue joint, which is the brainchild of three young men from Chattanooga, Tenn., is something that Atlanta needs. After dining, I had to hit one more point of interest in the Lowcountry. In this time of war, it is paramount to visit the aircraft carrier Yorktown. My daughter enjoyed every exhibit - especially ones with gears and gadgets.While you might not take in a whirlwind trip of the Lowcountry, there is so much to see and do that you can never be bored or hungry on a trip to this part of South Carolina.Editor's Note: Accommodations provided by Wild Dunes Resort, Palmetto Bluff Resort, Daufuskie Island Resort and the Westin Oceanfront Hotel.

Comments

Markk said…
You must be a TRAVEL writer!!!
Great stuff.
I live in Bluffton and work on Hilton Head, and you really described our area wonderfully.
Take care,
Mark Kreuzwieser
Robert J. Nebel said…
Thank you very much. I hope to visit again very soon.

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