An ever-changing cultural landmark
Just minutes from Myrtle Beach lays a tucked-away island where the past, present and future collide. Being a history buff, I’ve been intrigued by Sandy Island for a while: where access is only by boat and descendants of former African slaves who worked on local rice plantations still reside. So I reached out to Captain Rodney, a native of the island, who offers tours to the public.
It all started with a pontoon boat ride, where Captain Rodney explained the history of the Africans who inhabited the island and came to be part of the culture known as Gullah Geechee. Then our group went on a van excursion through sand-filled roads to visit a bed and breakfast, the firehouse, church and the former schoolhouse, now turned into a library. The school children now get picked up by a school boat that takes them to the mainland.
There are about 80 residents still living on the island. I was struck by the sense of openness everyone we met along the way had for visitors. We were even invited to come back for church on Sunday, where afterward a “fine southern” meal would be cooked in our honor. It’s a culture all its own.