Daniel Island, South Carolina, is often given the moniker “Modern Mayberry” because of its casual, comfortable, and convenient way of life. The island, which is surrounded by the East Cooper River, the Wando River, and Ralston Creek, is ideally situated five miles from Mt. Pleasant, ten miles from the Charleston International Airport, and 14 miles from historic downtown Charleston. Real estate on Daniel Island is comprised of waterfront estates, golf course villas, single family homes, townhomes, condos, and apartments. Daniel Island is divided into ten sub-neighborhoods, each with its own admirable attributes. Recently, Golden Bear Realty agent and Daniel Island home specialist Lynn Barber, along with a few other homeowners, spoke about what makes this community a top choice for families.
Over and over again, residents of Daniel Island proudly proclaim it is a safe place to raise a family. In fact, safety is the number one reason homebuyers cite when purchasing property on the island, according to Lynn. With invitation-only social media sites for both moms and dads, island residents are always aware of any suspicious activity or of any ill-mannered kids. Abiding by the mantra that it takes a village to raise to a child, residents praise parents when they witness acts of kindness and voice concerns when they see children behave negatively. For homeowner Clary Vance, knowing that like-minded parents are nearby is a peace of mind. “Recently, the chain on my daughter’s bike came off while she was riding to the park with her friends. A kind couple walking their dog stopped and fixed her bike so that she could be on her way.” Situations like this are not uncommon on Daniel Island as residents vigilantly vow to create an environment reminiscent of their own youth. Resident Tara Sahn appreciates the freedoms that she is able to give her children. “I am perfectly comfortable letting my son roam here because I know there are a tribe of moms and dads keeping watch,” she explains. Children greatly benefit from the controlled freedom, too. In an article published in Psychology Today, Dr. Peter Gray writes “creativity blooms in the soil of freedom” and notes the drastic decline in children’s TTCC (Torrence Tests of Creative Thinking) is directly linked to the the lack of imaginative, outdoor play. On Daniel Island, children want to finish their homework so they can run outside and play with their friends. Whether swinging from the monkey bars at the park, fishing at Smythe Lake, biking along the scenic trails, catching fiddler crabs in the marsh, wading through tidal creeks, or participating in playful Nerf gun wars, children have a protected safehaven to independently explore and nurture creative development.
Ask mom of three Kris Guerin the best thing about Daniel Island and she will enthusiastically respond, “no car lines!” The Guerin family recently moved to Daniel Island from Maryland after watching a HGTV episode featuring Charleston. She says a primary draw to Daniel Island is the neighborhood school. “The kids hop on their bikes, meet their friends at the corner, and bike to and from school every day,” Kris says. The majority of children bike to school, following the designated bike paths that lead directly to the building’s side doors. If the weather is suspect, children “golf cart pool” to school with nearby classmates on their street.
Daniel Island School serves children from kindergarten through eighth grade. Located right off Daniel Island Drive across from the Daniel Island Library, the excellent rated school is part of the Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics initiative (STEAM). The school issues Google Chromebooks for students to use both at home and in the classroom. With these devices, students learn how to create multimedia presentations, appropriately research educational topics, and how to develop computer codes. With a focus on these initiatives, core curricula is based on a kinesthetic style of learning. In this mode, teachers incorporate movement and multi-sensory tasks to truly bring education to life for students.
After completing eighth grade, students transition to the brand new Philip Simmons High School, located off Clements Ferry Road. As an alternative, students may wish to attend Bishop England High School, which is situated right off Seven Farm Roads. One of Charleston’s premier private schools, Bishop England was founded in 1915 and presents a Catholic-based, classical-style education. The stately school is highly respected for its academic rigor and athletic achievements.
Another advantage of living on Daniel Island is its remarkable sports programs. The City of Charleston Recreation Department, which has an office on Daniel Island, manages a variety of sports programs including basketball, soccer, softball, baseball, lacrosse, tennis, flag football, and field hockey. Generally, both practices and games for outdoor sports are located at either Governor’s Park, Etiwan Park, or Freedom Park. This is another convenient hallmark for Daniel Island families, especially those with multiple children. Children with a competitive edge are pleased to join Daniel Island Soccer Academy, an elite club that practices on Daniel Island, or the Daniel Island Flying Fish Swim Team, a year round organization that practices at the community pool on Pierce Street. Encouraging country club sports, the Daniel Island Club offers golf instruction at the Cerrudo Learning Center and participation in its junior caddie program. Tennis aficionados are thrilled to have access to the clay courts behind the Volvo Car Open Stadium, the venue that features the world’s top female tennis players at its annual tournament, as well as the Park Club’s tennis pavilion for camps, private lessons, and leisure matches. Sport spectators of all ages enjoy cheering for the Charleston Battery, a United Soccer League (USL) professional team whose home field is the MUSC Health Stadium on Daniel Island.
Not only is Daniel Island a safe community with top notch schools and competitive sports, but it is also a friendly one! Unlike other areas of Charleston, Daniel Island is an eclectic mix of people from all over the country. The geographical diversity is most visible in the fall season when residents proudly display the flag of their favorite collegiate or professional football team on their front porch. Northeasterners, Midwesterners, Southerners and even West Coast couples all come together as “islanders” and cordially celebrate their cultural and dialectal differences. Annual events such as the Pumpkin Walk, Island of Lights Luminary Night, Red Balloon Yard Sale, Daniel Island 5K, and the Kids’ Fishing Tournament all lend to community camaraderie and neighborly fellowship. Many events are hosted by the Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association, the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association, or the Daniel Island School PTA, with proceeds directly benefitting the school, a local nonprofit, or a community project. Other ongoing social outings and opportunities include Gaia fitness and bootcamp classes, a run club, a fishing club, prayer groups, book clubs, and numerous hobby-based or academic interest groups. Most recently, Daniel Island resident Alicia Reynolds initiated the DI Kindness Project, a volunteer program to help neighbors in times of need. The gracious and generous giving of Daniel Island residents is a core virtue of the community.
Many businesses on Daniel Island cater to families as well. For example, Black Tie Music Academy offers art and instrumental instruction; Fit Culture hosts yoga and fitness classes for adults and children; Japan Karate Institute offers after school pick-up and programs for children ages 3 and up; and Peace Love Hip Hop presents a wide array of dance groups for both kids and adults. Working parents rave about the Daniel Island Academy, a preschool facility that offers full and half day options. The island has a couple of pediatrician and dentist offices, making regular and unexpected visits incredibly convenient. And to help residents eat healthy dinners as a family during the week, chef Todd Ladd of Daniel Island Dinners prepares and delivers fully cooked meals!
At the apex of the James B. Edwards bridge in the late afternoon, the bright orange glow of the scintillating sunset greets residents and the glistening Wando River metaphorically drowns workplace worries and undue stress. Avoiding most of Charleston’s traffic turmoil, residents of Daniel Island nostalgically navigate their way onto their own private oasis, a picturesque island with stately homes, gas lanterns, inviting front porches, and gentle salt breezes. The streets are lined with majestic oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss and wisteria in the spring. Bike trails meander along the river and through the various subdivisions, and open green spaces provide the perfect place for pick-up soccer games and king of the hill battles. “This is an idyllic community,” says Lynn, “which is one reason why I think residents are always smiling, always giddy.” Stacy Palmieri echos the same sentiments and elucidates, “It’s almost like a magical world where residents often escape the stigmas and struggles of typical communities.” Recognizing the delicate balance between development and environmental preservation, Lynn, who was one of the two first agents to sell real estate on Daniel Island when it was still dirt, emphatically warns residents to protect the island’s natural beauty. “The secret is out: Daniel Island is the best place for families,” she states
Purchasing a home on Daniel Island is not only a sound investment, but it is also a guarantee for a myriad of fond memories and a gaggle of life-long friends. “Often, the same family will buy multiple houses on the island. They will upsize or downsize and move from one neighborhood to another, depending on their life circumstance. But they will almost always stay on the island,” explains Lynn. Considering its unfettered beauty, abundance of amenities, friendly neighbors, and island-style attitude, why would anyone ever leave this modern Mayberry?