Haig Point lighthouse - Daufuskie Island
Just a couple miles from the south end of Hilton Head Island lies
Daufuskie Island. Called the Haig Point lighthouse, this now handsomely restored structure
was built in 1873 and was manned continually from the time it was built until 1924. It
once included a wharf and boathouse but they had fallen into major disrepair by the time
the International Paper Realty Corporation of South Carolina bought the site to develop it
as an exclusive resort. In 1984 they began a painstakingly thorough restoration of the
light using original floor plans and other historic reference material. The inside is
furnished with period antiques. The Victorian structure includes a kitchen annex, parlor,
dining room and two upstairs bedrooms. It is used as a guest house by the organization
that restored it and although privately owned the lighthouse is still listed as an
"official aid to navigation." The original Fresnel lens is gone and a modern
acrylic optic lens and solar panels powering batteries have taken its place. It's a
gorgeous and well kept lighthouse. Even the oil house and the six thousand gallon cistern
are in fine condition.
Called a rear range light, Haig Point worked in conjunction with another nearby smaller
light. When the two lights were lined up ships could determine their position in the
channel. Several like it were used to guide ships in to the ports of Savannah and
Charleston through the Intracoastal Waterway. Since the shoals were constantly drifting
and changing, the channel would also change. To accommodate for this the smaller light was
built on rails so it could easily be moved to reflect these changes in the channel. The
smaller light no longer exists nor do any of the other range lighthouses that were once in
this area. This is the only one that remains.
If youre thinking about visiting this beautiful lighthouse, I hope you have more
luck than I did. The part of the island where the lighthouse stands its watch is an
exclusive and very private resort, even more so than Hilton Head. With its golf course,
tennis center, equestrian center, and large club house, the island is off limits to all
but the rich. I called the resort and explained that I was doing this book and wanted to
include their lighthouse. No amount of talking with the people in charge could persuade
them to let me visit. This is a lighthouse that is not accessible to the public. Although
they sent me a lot of information before I took my small boat over to the island, I was
told before hand in no uncertain terms not to set foot on the island unless I was a member
or guest of a member.
A boat ramp at the end of Hilton Head Island is available where you can launch for a
fee. From there its just a short hop over to Daufuskie Island. Just down from the
lighthouse, there is a pier with a well appointed reception center attached but again we
were met with some misgivings and told to leave after they saw my twelve foot aluminum
boat in which I arrived. Its a shame its not more accessible to the public.
The good news is that you can actually see just about all you want to from the water.