Did you know, the heart of the largest Gullah community in the United States beats strongest on an island near Beaufort? For more than 150 years, Gullah storytelling, cuisine, music, art, farming and more have been preserved on St. Helena Island, a short 10-minute drive from downtown Beaufort. The island community exhibits strong influences from West and Central African cultures and is steadfast in preserving their heritage in today’s culture. Native Gullah welcome visitors to experience their culture first-hand. From Gullah cooking classes to traditional arts, galleries and tours, start planning your trip to experience Beaufort and the Sea Islands the Gullah way.
1. Gullah Grub: Owners, Bill and Sara Green, have been preparing authentic Gullah meals for more than 15 years at their restaurant Gullah Grub located on St. Helena Island. From classic Lowcountry meals like mac & cheese, squash casserole and peach cobbler to fish chowder and delicious gumbos—stopping by to grub is a must for a taste of Gullah. They even practice true Gullah traditions such as choosing to eat and buy local and to teach the youth in Beaufort how to grow and prepare Gullah meals.
2. Gullah-N-Geechie Mahn Tours: For the ultimate Gullah experience, you won’t regret booking a tour with the Gullah-N-Geechie Mahn Tours that will take you to the heart of the rich culture. Discover an Episcopal church built entirely of oyster shells by the Gullah or learn about the oldest Baptist church in all of South Carolina.
3. Gullah-Geechie Visitors Center: If your time is limited but you still want to brush up on everything Gullah, the Gullah-Geechee Visitor Center located in Beaufort, serves as a hub for all things Gullah and Geechie. From art exhibits to books and documentaries, this is the perfect one-stop shop for visitors interested in learning more about this historic culture.
4. Penn Center: Take a step inside Penn Center, the first African American school of freed slaves and where Martin Luther King Jr. reportedly began his, “I have a dream speech.”
5. Gullah Festival: For the past 32 years, the Gullah have held an annual festival every Memorial Day weekend to celebrate the rich, historic heritage at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. From unique Gullah treasures to tasting authentic Gullah cuisine, this festival is one of the most remarkable ways to celebrate Gullah in the community.
What’s your favorite way to explore the Gullah culture in the Lowcountry? Let us know by using #luvBFT!