Not sure exactly how to approach this holiday season? Here are some ideas from local folks that might make the season brighter AND put a little good into the world. These are all companies we have experienced first-hand, and they share our love for our lowcountry natural resources. Whether you want to give a tangible gift or a certificate for an experience, these companies are worth checking out. Several of them have direct connections to Dewees Island.
South Carolina Aquarium
The South Carolina Aquarium is an invaluable resource for conservation in the local area. They have fantastic exhibits, including touch tanks, rays, and galleries for observing their sea turtle hospital. The pandemic has cost them dearly in terms of income, so a donation in someone’s name, animal adoption or a gift membership would make a great gift. They are facing cutting services for turtles, other animals, and guests, so you can make a difference here. Here on Dewees Island, we’ve been so fortunate to have them take in two turtle rescues (one was released right here), to have Kelly T visit our turtle program, and we even have former interns who’ve gone on to work there. It’s an annual treat for our summer interns to go behind the scenes and see what it’s like. Donating to the Aquarium, joining or visiting helps them continue to do amazing work. Below are some scenes from the rescue we helped with.
Dorsal Bracelets is a company based in Mount Pleasant, and they support ocean charities and plastic waste cleanup. Every purchase removes a pound of trash from the ocean. AND, they are fun to wear. Dewees Island turtle team members were all sporting these by the end of the summer, and they made great gifts for our interns at the end of the summer. They have more than just turtles: there are sharks and whales and more: check them out!
Buxton Books for some Lowcountry Reading
Local booksellers Polly and Julian Buxton have a sweet location on King Street at the Charleston Library Society. If you can’t make it to the store, don’t worry, you can order online. My last order literally arrived as a brown paper package tied up with string and it was gorgeous. Here are three books connected to Dewees in some way:
Lowcountry Boughs of Holly is set on a fictional island where Dewees is located.
Dewees Island friend Mary Alice Monroe’s Christmas novel.
And if you’re looking for a copy of my Island Babies book, they have it at Buxton as well.
Oyster Candle Company
I got my first Oyster candle from a friend and I’ve been a devoted fan ever since. Right now, I have the cheery crackle of one burning in my office. There’s a lot to love about this local company: the plastic free packaging (with a pearl), the fact that they recycle the oyster shells from restaurants and choose only the best ones, returning the others to support oyster reef restoration, the fact that they’re produced right here at Shem Creek. But my very favorite thing is the wooden wick– the candle burns for hours and sounds like a campfire. Click here to shop.
If you want to go to Bull Island or hunt for shells and sharks teeth in Charleston Harbor, the nature guides at Coastal Expeditions can help you with that. We really enjoyed their Pelican Tour earlier this year. You can book your own tour here, or give them a call and have a gift certificate sent to someone you love. They also have a foundation that’s been very active in the Crab Bank Restoration Project. Below is a video we made after one of our recent adventures with them.
Wild Birds Unlimited: Mount Pleasant
Danielle and Mark Motley, the owners of WBU Mount Pleasant, have been big supporters of Dewees Island birding programs and educational outreach, sponsoring our geocaching program and doing live broadcasts from our feedercam station. A visit to their store is always a treat, but you can shop online from home as well. Their seed creations make great centerpieces as well as highly entertaining bird feeders.
Barrier Island Ecotours
They drive past Dewees on the ferry headed to Capers Island, and everyone needs to go on this tour at least once. Engaging naturalists tell you all about the lowcountry ecosystems, stopping to watch dolphins play or pelicans dive. And in the summer, they are part of an amazing partnership with our summer interns and turtle programs: they take an intern to Capers to keep track of turtle nesting there. They support citizen science initiatives like Dolphin counts too. Take someone on one of their trips~ it’s great fun!
The Blue Root
The Blue Root is a locally owned artisan bakery making classic and fabulous zucchini bread. You have to get to them fast before they sell out, but they have some incredible holiday specials beginning November 29. They’re located right here on Sullivan’s Island.
Josh and Kayla Jones are the founders of Gray House Design, and they are currently doing some work on the island with a renovation and some great built-ins. We spent some time together watching an alligator/bird feeding frenzy on their first visit here, and it was fun to be part of their first glimpse of Dewees. You can see their Dewees project on their instagram. Their charcuterie boards caught our eye as a gift possibility~ they are completely gorgeous! With a chemical free finish and one-of-a-kind designs, they have great potential!