As Maybank Highway narrows and passes over Church Creek and one crosses onto Wadmalaw Island, Charleston suburbia fades away and is replaced by marsh, creeks, wetlands, and wild woods. Dirt roads are named for the families who inhabited the island for centuries, making their living from the land and the water. The natural bounty has dotted the island with farms and family-owned markets. Wadmalaw Island, although just 30 minutes from downtown Charleston, is a world away.
Last spring, my family moved to Rockville, a small fishing village at the end of Maybank Highway, where the road touches Bohicket Creek. My children will grow up on a dirt lane tunneled by live oaks. We have fallen in love with this wild and wonderful island, especially as we’ve discovered the numerous farms, markets, and unique points of interest, all tucked within the beauty of this magical place.
Come take a slow drive down Maybank Highway (listening to some Long Haul Paul), and check out my family’s favorite Wadmalaw finds.
Family Favorite Wadmalaw Island Finds
- Hum Grocery at Historic PM King’s
Islanders took a big sigh of relief when Andrew and Natalie Humphrey opened Hum Grocery in the former Historic PM King’s Market. Hum supplies the island with fresh produce, non-perishable essentials, and convenience items (saving residents that long drive back to civilization), as well as products from local farmers and vendors.
Andrew, as a trained chef, creates impeccable sandwiches and take-and-bake items. You won’t find a better tomato pie anywhere . . . sorry, Grandma. We love Saturdays when Hum offers smoked chickens — but you can get killer BBQ and “the best hotdogs on the whole planet,” according to my daughter, any day the grocery is open.
Our kids love walking down to the store with a few dollars and perusing the candy shelves and cooler of specialty sodas. You feel like you’re stepping back in time as you walk in. With Natalie’s own artwork on display and her curation of products from local artisans, the grocery is a place that celebrates both the past and progress of Wadmalaw, all served up with a smile and friendly conversation to tourists and locals alike.
When it comes to South Carolina seafood, it doesn’t get any better than straight-from-the-dock, freshly-caught fish and shrimp. And that’s what you’ll get at Cherry Point Seafood. This market is run by a local family who’ve had a presence on Bohicket Creek for centuries. The service is friendly and knowledgeable, and you’ll often encounter three generations working the counter and docks. Check their Facebook page for the latest catch, then take the scenic drive down Cherry Point Road to find this treasure on the water. Take in the beautiful view from the dock, and bring home the freshest Carolina seafood you’ll ever enjoy.
The Ambrose family has lived and worked the land and waters of Wadmalaw Island for generations. The family currently owns a 200-acre farm, offering u-pick organic berries and vegetables. Follow their Instagram page for updates on picking. You can also enjoy their locally sourced products at the Stono Market and Tomato Shed Cafe on Johns Island, where mac-n-cheese is listed as a vegetable, and their Lowcountry-inspired dishes are served on paper plates. Locals and vacationers alike know the food is good so you may have a wait, which can be enjoyed on the restaurant’s oversized front porch swings or browsing the market’s local artisan wares and products.
Shortly after moving to Wadmalaw Island last April, we saw a hand-painted sign on the side of Maybank Highway right past Church Creek announcing “Strawberries!” Turning left off of Maybank down a dirt driveway takes you to fields of the sweetest, juiciest berries you could imagine. From April through May, my daughters and I made a stop at this u-pick farm as part of our routine on the drive home from school. This family-owned farm is open for u-pick strawberries in the spring, and tomatoes, peppers, and other veggies in the summer and fall, all on the honor system. They have buckets and handwashing stations available for your use, and the best berries and veggies for picking. They also accept Venmo. Check their Facebook page for info and details on picking seasons and availability.
Tucked in the heart of Wadmalaw off of Boy Scout Road, is a treasure of a u-pick blackberry farm. The farm’s owner, Mr. Bill Longman, is incredibly knowledgeable and personable. He took the time to explain to my daughters and me how to tell whether a berry is ripe (Taste testing encouraged!). He also shared with us info about his two varieties of blackberries, one of which is thornless and perfect for little fingers. Blackberry picking is typically Memorial Day through the Fourth of July, but be sure to check his Facebook page for updated info. He also sent us home with two bags of sweet corn, and in addition to berries, he sometimes has other produce to pick. The farm accepts Venmo. Check out this hidden gem on Wadmalaw!
On a beautiful plot of land off Leadenwah Creek is Pluff Mudd Farm, a fiber arts farm with goats, sheep, mini donkeys, and chickens. The farm also produces and processes flax and indigo. Part of the Farm Fun Passports Program through the SC Agritourism Department, Pluff Mudd is run by Kelly Fort, a former school teacher turned farmer/spinner/weaver extraordinaire, and her husband, Dale. The farm offers field trips, classes, and family events, where participants can meet the farm animals, learn to spin and weave, and discover more about indigo and linen processing. The Forts’ warm demeanor, ingenuity, and extensive knowledge of and passion for fiber arts enable the couple to curate an enjoyable experience for their guests, whatever their age or interest. Contact Kelly or Dale directly to set up a time for your family or school group to visit. They also have a store on-site, featuring Kelly’s fiber wares and jewelry, and Dale’s wood-turning work. While there, make sure you take advantage of the unobstructed, 180-degree marsh views from the edge of this unique farm.
On 48 acres blanketed by live oaks off Bears Bluff Road, Deepwater Vineyard is one of the best places to appreciate the landscape of Wadmalaw Island. With walking trails, access to the vineyards and farm animals, a garden, a large pond, a tasting room, and a gift shop, everyone in our family enjoys a Saturday spent at Deepwater. You won’t get my seven-year-old daughter off the surfer swing under the majestic live oak. Weekend Wine Downs, held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., are our favorite time to visit as families can enjoy live music, vendors, and rotating food trucks, or pack their own picnic. The vineyard also offers self-guided tours and tastings, private tastings, and hosts several festivals throughout the year. Grab a lawn chair, pack up the kids and the pups, and head to Deepwater to enjoy authentic muscadine wine, grown and bottled onsite from four varieties of grapes.
Other Activities & Points of Interest on Wadmalaw Island
North America’s only tea garden is located on Charleston’s back porch, directly off Maybank Highway on Wadmalaw Island. The garden consists of 127 acres of tea bushes. Admission to the garden is free, and guests are welcome to walk the grounds and the entire length of the tea production building where one can see all the equipment it takes to make tea. Guests can also take a 45-minute trolley tour for a small fee. The garden has a lovely gift shop where you can sample and purchase teas produced onsite. Our family recommends Rockville Raspberry, best enjoyed on a porch rocking chair!
This woman-owned, woman-run horse barn recently relocated from Johns Island to Bears Bluff Road on Wadmalaw Island. The owner of Bit-o-Gold, Therese Grittner, has been teaching beginner riders for 20 years and has spent countless hours volunteering at local 4-H and FFA activities. She believes in helping build a whole horse person, not just a rider. Her herd consists of a diverse group of equines, including a blind filly, named Fly. Therese offers off-mount weekly lessons, a saddle club, a mommy-and-me class, summer camps, and birthday parties, as well as homeschool and family experiences. She loves kids and loves horses and is happy to create an experience or lesson plan that fits your family’s interests. The barn focuses on encouraging communication between equine and humans while teaching kids time management and personal responsibility. This is a special place, where kids are encouraged to get dirty, snacks are always available after the chores are complete, and relationship-building is emphasized as the most important.