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May 1, 2023

Neighborhood Stroll: Haig Point, Daufuskie Island

Cheryl Ricer

Photography By

Daufuskie Island is the southernmost sea island in the Carolinas. Five miles by three, it is 5,000 acres virtually untouched by man, 400 residents (give or take), three miles of uncrowded beach, two lighthouses, and one elementary school. Daufuskie is surrounded by the Atlantic, the Calibogue Sound and the Cooper River. And civilization has thankfully […]

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Daufuskie Island is the southernmost sea island in the Carolinas. Five miles by three, it is 5,000 acres virtually untouched by man, 400 residents (give or take), three miles of uncrowded beach, two lighthouses, and one elementary school. Daufuskie is surrounded by the Atlantic, the Calibogue Sound and the Cooper River. And civilization has thankfully (according to those who call the island home) been kept at bay. The connections there are few and discerning, most between the sea and one another. Since 1664, when English sea captain William Hilton wrote in his log, “The air is clear and sweet, the country pleasant … all that want a happy settlement would be well transported hither,” very little has changed—even getting on and off the island. There is no bridge, so any and everyone who either lives on or visits Daufuskie Island must come and go by boat.

Laura Leigh Miles is the lead Realtor at Premier Properties at Haig Point, the island’s premier residential community. She and her husband moved to Daufuskie 16 years ago from Savannah. “Daufuskie is a unique island, suspended in time and steeped in history,” she said, “It is so pristine, with deep connections to the natural world. What strikes you immediately is the quiet. Your senses literally reawaken because there are no cars here, strictly golf carts and bicycles. We listen now to the dolphins at dawn and the crickets at dusk. Oh, and the birds … by the thousands. Life here moves more slowly and with more appreciation for what is important.”

Doug Egly, CEO of Haig Point Club and Community Association, and his wife have lived on Daufuskie since 2015. “You have to experience it to believe it,” he said. “The serenity. It’s like going back in time. Kids are out riding bikes and playing on the beach all day long and parents don’t worry about them. Before we moved here, I came a couple of times to play golf without my wife. I couldn’t adequately explain it to her. When she visited, she said ‘I see what you mean.’ It is truly breathtaking, quiet, simple.”

There are no grocery stores or gas stations on Daufuskie either. And maybe most important, no crime. Everything you need, however, is available to you through the valet services, with literally anything and everything delivered to your door. Even to your refrigerator, if you’re arriving for a visit or after a trip away, or simply out playing, your supplies, sundries, baggage, all make their way magically from the Haig Point Embarkation Center on Hilton Head Island via the ferry and little trolley cars to your front door. 

Vail and Bill Shipley retired to Daufuskie in 2004, and as soon as they got off the boat, they fell in love. “We had been making plans to retire and had been to Hilton Head, but never to Daufuskie,” Bill said. “We got a flyer advertising the ‘Discovery Weekend,’ so we took advantage of that. When we disembarked from the boat, we walked right to the Strachan Mansion, and it felt so amazing. We made plans to buy that very weekend and never looked back. It’s been great. We get all the benefits of Hilton Head but are just one step removed and can avoid the busyness and frenzy there, especially during summertime.”

“We’d never give up the magic of living on a bridgeless island,” Vail said. “But the other thing that just works here is convenience. Absolutely everything in our daily lives is delivered, with a smile, right to our home. We never lift a finger. We don’t even think about what we used to do—the pace and stress of our life before. If you’re a person who needs to be somewhere in 10 minutes, it’s not for you. But the ease of having everything you need and the ferry or water taxi at your disposal makes the transition very easy to figure out.”

FERRIES AND WATER TAXIS

A seven-boat fleet makes crossings effortless—charming double-decker Haig Point ferries and two high-speed water taxis. All are private, reserved for Haig Point residents and guests. You can set your clock to them—and you can set it whenever you like because Haig Point water taxis are on call, 24/7.

“The crossing defines why we live here,” said Adam Martin, vice president of sales and marketing at Haig Point Club. “It is this singular point of departure that separates Haig Point from other Lowcountry communities and from the world you leave behind when you arrive on Daufuskie.”

The ferry offers 18 round trips a day, so every hour, there is an opportunity to go to the mainland or return to the island. The ferries are well-appointed, heated and cooled, with indoor or outdoor seating. The ferry not only connects you to Hilton Head Island, but on Thursdays and Saturdays, to Old Town Bluffton.

“The crossing builds togetherness,” Egly said. “When you ride the ferry, you’re sitting next to your neighbors for 30 minutes. Important connections are made. People get to know one another on a boat; they have meaningful conversations.” 

A private water taxi runs a regular schedule and is on call 24/7 for quick jaunts (only a seven-minute ride) to Harbour Town—where Haig Point members have access to a luxurious private club to enjoy drinks and dining overlooking the harbor. Enjoy the shops, boutiques, and dining, as well as a jumping off point for golf on Hilton Head. The Point’s water taxi is also available for outings to Palmetto Bluff, for spa, dining and golf, as well as to Savannah. Ferry transportation for members and guests is included in POA fees, and there is only a nominal fee for private water taxi service. Once on the island, most residents have golf carts and bicycles. For guests, rentals are available.

“We’ve taken away every objection anyone may have about living here,” Martin said.

AMENITIES

“The amenities our residents enjoy are amazing,” Martin said. “Whether you enjoy great food or drinks, great golf, racquet sports, boating, or horseback riding, you’ll be as busy as you want to be.”

Residents at Haig Point have no trouble getting together, whether it’s on two legs, or two wheels by bike, or four wheels by golf cart. The only question is where to meet: the Golf Clubhouse, the beachfront Calibogue Club, or the Strachan Mansion for early risers. Gatherings are fueled by a creative culinary team and talented tenders behind the bar.

Dining

The Calibogue Club is open out of season Wednesdays through Saturdays for dinner. From March 22 through Labor Day, the beach club deck overlooking the water is available for lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Sundays. For a little extra fun, a swimming pool lives there, too. 

“The Tiki Bar down on the deck is probably the number one used amenity,” Martin said. “Our members love it there and use it often as a place to come together as a community, have an afternoon drink, and enjoy the ocean setting.”

Golf

Golf on the island is championship rated and ranked by Golf Digest in the top 100 courses in the nation. There are two courses: the Signature Course (18 holes) and the Osprey Course (9 holes). Even in an area where there is a plethora of landmark golf courses, Haig Point consistently draws accolades from its noteworthy tournament players.

“If there is anywhere on the Point where pictures are worth 1,000 words, it is our Rees Jones masterpiece,” Martin said. “The design and physical beauty are breathtaking, and both contribute to an incomparable experience. Three holes of the course touch the water, providing those memorable ‘get your camera’ moments.”

Part of the fun of playing Haig Point’s Signature course is that both the 8th and 17th seaside holes have two greens from which to choose. Additionally, throughout the Signature and Osprey courses there are multiple tee boxes, many of which present entirely different vantages, distances and wind conditions. Every day on these courses is different because you can play a different scorecard.

While a private club, Haig Point does welcome a limited number of daily guests to the course. Day players embark on the ferries from Hilton Head Island or other Lowcountry communities, and the Haig Point valets see to transporting bags and gear to and from the golf clubhouse, or, to residences at Haig Point.

Tennis & Fitness Center

Tennis and pickleball at Haig Point are active, engaging, and year-round, and the U.S. Tennis Association has granted the Haig Point Tennis Center its Outstanding Tennis Facility Award. Clinics and private lessons are available, and the six Har-Tru courts regularly host USTA-sanctioned adult and senior leagues, regional tournaments, and professional exhibitions.

Equestrian Centers

The Equestrian Centers (there are two: one private and one public) at Haig Point are spacious, well-equipped, and charming, set under sprawling oaks and surrounded by the arching fences of training rings and pastures. Lessons and trail rides are offered, and members can board their horses.

“Even those who are not horse people make the Equestrian Centers a ‘must visit’ when kids or grandkids are here,” Miles said.

Boat Club

A grassy path and long dock lead from the Mansion grounds to the 12-boat dock Haig Point Boat Club. “Members arriving from Charleston and points north tie up here, as do those coming day tripping or overnighting from Hilton Head marinas,” Martin said. “The program includes dry dock storage—we drop in and haul out as well as handle provisions and necessary essentials for days on the water. It’s a treasured amenity.”

The Great Lawn

On the Great Lawn, a grassy square framed by the Mansion, tabby ruins, and an oak tree that dates to the signing of the Constitution, residents gather for competitive games of bocce ball and croquet. Some of the regularly scheduled events that members and guests enjoy at Haig Point include:

  • Equestrian Ride ’n’ Wine
  • Weekly Tennis Round Robin & Clinics
  • Monthly Birthday Club
  • Beach Club Wine & Dine Events
  • Fitness Classes & Water Aerobics
  • Men’s & Women’s Golf Days
  • Family Dining Specials
  • Prime Rib Night
  • Can’t Miss Friday Happy Hour at the Calibogue Club

“Our members and guests quickly realize that you fall into balance here,” Martin said. “You can play golf or pickleball as much or as little as you like. You can dine in or out to your liking. Though we have constant activities to choose from, everyone here respects each other’s privacy.”

Solitude is never a problem, and there may be no better place than an island with no cars to have a walk and listen to the sounds of the Lowcountry.

“No other community has a private, uninhabited stretch of beach like Haig Point,” Martin said. “We have three miles of beachfront at Haig Point where we can walk or bike in complete peace, at one with nature.”

REAL ESTATE

The real estate is distinct, desirable, and dwindling. On the 1,1100 acres that comprise Haig Point, inventory is running low. With no more than 500 homes to be built total, currently there are 280 existing homes, 16 homes under construction, and only about 125 lots remaining for sale.

Like other Lowcountry communities, the demographic at Haig Point sports a mixture of ages and backgrounds. “The community is definitely enjoying a younger demographic since the pandemic,” Miles said. “Now that more and more people can work from home, we’re seeing younger families moving here. There are lots of kids’ activities to enjoy, and it’s exciting to see the changes.”

The Haig Point community offers three different Discovery Weekend options for those who want to explore the island as a guest and/or a future resident. If you are overnighting on a Discover Visit, your accommodations may be at the Strachan Mansion or the 1873 Lighthouse, two historic properties that showcase the beauty and elegance of the South.

To learn more about Haig Point and Daufuskie, visit haigpoint.com. To schedule a Discovery Weekend, visit haigpoint.com/discovery-visits.

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