Daufuskie Discoveries creates opportunities to explore Daufuskie Island's lush, historic habitat with customized guided or private outings. An enclosed or open-air water taxi quickly shuttles small groups from Hilton Head or Savannah to the island's three-mile stretch of sandy beach in 30 minutes, with captains tossing out facts about Calibogue Sound and Cooper River. Customers disembark and board their conveyance of choice—golf cart, boat, or shoes—before bursting through the tree line into specific isle regions, such as Bloody Point, which houses the Bloody Point Cemetery and Bloody Point Lighthouse & Silver Dew Winery. Three-hour private cruises skirt the coastline as a guide artfully describes the sun dipping beneath marshes as a hot air balloon deflated by a stampeding herd of storks.
North Island Surf and Kayak's durable and dependable rentals transport paddlers into the natural world of Georgia's barrier islands. Kayaks zip through inland rivers, bays, and sinuous creeks with equal deftness and gusto. Adventurers can load the versatile vessels onto cars with the aid of a willing staff or cast off from North Island's floating dock to explore the surrounding territory. Navigate the marshes of nearby Little Tybee Island or climb to the top of Cockspur Beacon and misdirect hapless mariners. From the perch of a kayak, vigilant oar-pullers can commune with the region's native species, including dolphins, otters, and a bevy of avian friends. In addition to the pointy aquatic vessel, each rental comes with a paddle, life jacket, comfortable seat back, and flushing toilet.
With more than three decades as a marine biologist tucked under his waders, Dr. Joe Richardson has studied beaches from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas, but he still never ceases to marvel at the diversity of Tybee Island’s shores. The widely published professor emeritus of marine sciences at Savannah State University delights in sharing his knowledge about these lively shores, and to that end hosts walking tours for groups of all ages that incorporate conversation and hands-on activities. As his followers comb their fingers and toes through the sand of the beaches and inlets, they search for fossilized shark teeth and animals that Dr. Joe helps identify. He also discusses the tides, sand layers, local marine life, and which creatures eat with salad forks or soup spoons. Along the rock jetty, groups splash into tide pools to learn about the intertidal zone and the ways animals adapt to this habitat, then help Dr. Joe collect live specimens for a field aquarium by pulling in a 50-foot beach seine net and examining the fish and crabs caught in its weave. Lucky guests can glimpse the sleek fins of dolphins, and curious ones can ask Dr. Joe about his research projects, current ecological concerns, and how mermaids keep their fingers from getting pruny.
Dirk Hardison finds the beauty of Savannah to be in its details—the cherry trees that line Huntingdon Street and the antebellum Victorian architecture of the Mercer House. These are elements he knows inside and out—in his two decades as a Savannah resident, he has worked on preservation projects of the First Bryan Baptist Church and the 1921 Lucas Theatre. He also served as the architectural design consultant for the Historic Savannah Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes the maintenance and restoration of buildings in all nine historic districts.
Dirk knows that Savannah’s details are easily blurred from onboard a moving vehicle or traffic-dodging police horse, so he founded Savannah Rambles, where he orchestrates walking tours of his beloved city. Though the rambles are built around architecture, the city’s structural elements also serve as stepping-stones into explorations of Savannah’s history and culture. Aside from the signature Savannah Architectural Ramble—a two-hour tour that can be open, private, or extended to the five-hour grand version—the nighttime Dark Ramble meets at Tomochichi’s gravesite and slinks through the oldest streets and burial sites as Dirk recounts eerie Savannah lore.
In 1820, an upwardly mobile carpenter named Isaiah Davenport designed a 6,800-square-foot Federal-style home to live in with his wife, children, and slaves. After his death, Davenport’s wife turned the stately brick house into a boarding house, though it later devolved into a run-down tenement—until the Historic Savannah Foundation saved the landmark when it was threatened with demolition in 1955. The organization’s award-winning preservation, their very first effort, jumpstarted an organized preservation movement that spread across the entire port city.
Today, the Davenport House Museum’s rooms are filled with antique furniture from the 1820s, acquired after careful research relying on estate inventories and detailed artist renderings of long-ago games of musical chairs. These period-accurate tables and chairs join ceramics, textiles, and books to form the museum’s collection of about 500 historical items. Behind the home, where a carriage house, garden, and privy once stood, a garden designed by renowned landscape artist Penelope Hobhouse flourishes. After walking among its flowers, visitors can drop by the museum shop to pick up jams and jellies, books about Savannah, and reproductions of early 19th-century items.
Local author Robert Edgerly is a virtual storybook as he spins old tales of Savannah on his walking tours. He waxes both historical and folklorical on subjects from the evolution of the city's 19th-century ironwork and architecture to the verifiable histories of its many ghosts. He carefully constructs his stories without non-historical padding. Each tale is the product of his extensive research, even tracking down eyewitnesses to local supernatural happenings to lend credence and color to his stories.