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The Secret South Carolina Paradise

Few have heard of the island with a no-car policy. Lush, untouched low country landscape and Southern charm, it comes off as the land time forgot.

But while it flies under most people’s radar, Haig Point on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina quietly became a haven for C-Level executives.

The exclusive community is home to the former CEOs of General Motors, NetJets, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Dayton Hudson, to name just a few. Buying a home here gives you a ticket into a world normally reserved for Blue Bloods and Ivy Leaguers.

Or if you’re in the know, there are ways to vacation in this idyllic community.

Located just a short ferry ride away from popular Hilton Head Island, Daufuskie Island is a perfect add-on for clients who want another island experience that is very different from touristy Harbour Town.

The pace is slow, and while the residents are impressive, they aren’t impressed by title or income. It ‘s considered a local faux pas to drive your golf cart without issuing a friendly wave and smile to everyone you pass.

When I was on the island, I had long stretches of beach literally to myself. This peace and solitude, combined with Low Country luxury, makes for a destination that allows travelers to really disconnect and relax.

There are two ways to stay in Haig Point as a visitor: The first is to rent one of the many gorgeous homes, and the second is to do a discovery visit through the community. While the visit is intended for prospective buyers, I was told with a wink-wink that there is no hard sales pitch—only a real estate tour of the communit—and any traveler could take part in the program.

The discovery visit includes three days/two nights staying in the Strachan Mansion or the 1873 Lighthouse, a breakfast, lunch and dinner for two, a round of golf on the Rees Jones course, ferry transportation from Hilton Head and a golf cart for the duration of your stay.

The community recently completed multi-million dollar renovations to the golf course, clubhouse and pool because life on Haig Point revolves around the outdoors.

Enjoy solitude on the beach as I did, or get out on the water for boating, fishing, kayaking or paddle boarding. For landlubbers, Haig Point has several clay tennis courts, a community filled with hitting partners, plus a USPTA pro offering private and group lessons.

Not surprisingly, golf is one of the most popular ways to spend the day either on the 18-hole signature course or the 9-hole Osprey course.

Horse lovers will be giddy with the large Equestrian Center featuring four turnout pastures, riding arena, round pen, 12-stalls and tack room. There are daily rides and instructions for Western and English riders of all ages and abilities, including the wildly popular and romantic beach rides.

While there is plenty to keep visitors occupied within the confines of Haig Point, it’s worth checking out the rest of Daufuskie Island either in your golf cart or on rented bikes.

Many of the local residents are Gullah, descendants of the native enslaved Africans who lived on the island. The Gullah developed a creole ethnicity and language that is unique among African Americans. History buffs will enjoy Sallie Ann’s Native Gullah Tour. A sixth-generation Gullah, she is an author and recognized spokesperson for preserving Gullah culture. 

Art lovers will want to head to the Iron Fish, the open-air studio of world-renowned metal sculptor Chase Allen. Allen creates pieces featuring sea creatures and his work dots the yard. While he is often on site working, don’t expect a hard sell. He likes people to wander and see what speaks to them.

Amazingly, if he is busy or not on property, a sign directs guests to take what they want and leave money in the “honor box” or sign the guest log to have him call for your credit card number.

While guests will enjoy a gourmet dinner in the Calibogue Club at Haig Point, the perfect counterpoint is the local’s favorite, Marshside Mama’s. This is as unpretentious as unpretentiousness comes. Dining is both indoors and out (bring bug spray!), and diners are cautioned that there is “no whining, only dancing.”

The restaurant has some of the best live music in the Low Country and, as the night progresses, tables are moved out of the way so patrons have a dance floor to shake it to everything from a Grateful Dead cover band to the blues.

While the vibe is casual, the food will surprise you with how skillfully the fresh seafood and Low Country classics are prepared. Dinner reservations are a must or you’ll never get a table.

For travelers looking to embrace quiet while enjoying Low Country culture, outdoor activities and understated luxury, Daufuskie Island should be on their radar.

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