We Welcome Oona! ~ Discovering the Legacy of African Cultures in America ~ A Gullah Heritage Tour

The Gullah Geechee people are descendants of Africans who were enslaved on the rice, indigo and Sea Island cotton plantations of the lower Atlantic coast. Many came from the rice-growing region of West Africa. The nature of their enslavement on isolated island and coastal plantations created a unique culture with deep African retentions that are clearly visible in the Gullah Geechee people’s distinctive arts, crafts, foodways, music, and language.
Today’s Gullah Geechee arts and crafts are the result of products designed by their ancestors out of necessity for daily living such as making cast nets for fishing, basket weaving for agriculture and textile arts for clothing and warmth. Deeply rooted in music traditions brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans, their music evolved out of the conditions of slavery that characterized their lives. The influence and evolution of musical forms that arose out of Gullah music can be heard in many musical genres such as spirituals and gospel music, ragtime, rhythm and blues, soul, hip hop and jazz.
Explore the beautiful scenery, rich in history, inspiration, passion, and home to a diverse ecological system found only on the Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor stretching the coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida . Experience their unity, love, culture, heritage, and joy on one of these incredible Gullah Heritage Tour Packages available exclusively through MARS.

5 Days /4 Nights

Group size

Tour Inclusions: 4 nights’ accommodation; baggage handling; 4 breakfasts; 3 lunches; 3 dinners; admissions, entrance, and guide fees as stated in the itinerary, including taxes, and gratuity. Except gratuity for guide fees is not included on adult tours unless otherwise requested.
We Welcome Oona! Discovering the Legacy of African Cultures in America ~ A Gullah Heritage Tour 
4 Night / 5 Day Journey from Sandy Island to Charleston 
  • Brookgreen Gardens
  • Sandy Island Touring
  • Hobcaw Barony
  • Gullah Museum Georgetown
  • Swamp Fox Tour
  • Rice Museum
  • The Clock Tower
  • Old Market and Kaminski Hardware Buildings
  • Old Slave Mart
  • Avery Research Center for African-American History and Culture
  • McLeod Plantation
  • Guided Gullah Geechee Heritage Tour & Presentation
  • Boone Hall
  • Lady's Island Oyster Farm
  • and more!

Sample Itinerary:
Day 1
  • Arrive in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, and visit Brookgreen Gardens to enjoy a unique 50-minute audience collaborative program. Entertaining and educational, this interactive, Cultural Game Show informs viewers about the rice culture lived and passed down by Gullah Geechee people of the southeastern coastal United States and its connections with Salone (Sierra Leone, West Africa).
  • Depart and board your boat for Sandy Island. Explore the island on a tour providing a unique perspective of both sightseeing and historical insight. Sandy Island is approximately 12,000-acres of beautiful Low Country landscape. Some 3,000-acres is private property belonging to the local residents – descendants of enslaved Africans who proudly carry on the traditional Gullah way of life.
  • Enjoy dinner included this evening at a favorite restaurant for fresh local fare.
  • This evening, check in to your local area hotel. (Meals: D)

Day 2
  • Enjoy breakfast at the hotel this morning.
  • Explore Hobcaw Barony, a 16,000 acres peninsula encompassing a rich diversity of every common ecosystem found on the South Carolina coast, making this an unparalleled site for research in the environmental sciences.
  • Stop at the Gullah Museum Georgetown, founded by the late Gullah artist, Vermelle “Bunny” Smith Rodriguez and her husband, Andrew Rodriguez. Bunny’s story quilts are sought after by museums and private collectors all over the world.  Her Gullah Ooman Story Quilt records the history of the Gullah Geechee people, from a West Africa village to Emancipation from slavery in the Low Country. Andrew, an activist, and researcher, uses the story quilt as a teaching tool in lectures at the Gullah Museum.
  • Enjoy lunch on own in Georgetown.
  • Experience a historic, guided Swamp Fox Tour where your tour guide will share knowledge of the rich history of this 300 year old American seaport. Visitors are surprised and inspired by the amount of history in the area.
  • Visit the Rice Museum. While the growth and production of rice was good news to the wealthy plantation owners of the area, it also produced a dark chapter in local history, as Georgetown was subsequently home to some of the largest slave-holding plantations in the entire south. The Clock Tower is home to extensive maps, dioramas, artifacts, and other permanent exhibits allowing visitors to understand a long-gone society once based on a singular agricultural crop. The Old Market and Kaminski Hardware Buildings take patrons through an extensive tour of this chapter of Georgetown. These stories are shared in detail at the rice museum, in addition to a number of other seasonal and full-time exhibits.
  • Depart for Charleston.
  • Enjoy a Welcome Dinner included at a local Oyster House in the heart of historic Charleston.
  • Return to the hotel for the evening. (B, D)

Day 3 -
  • Enjoy breakfast at the hotel this morning.
  • Explore the Old Slave Mart Museum. Displays in this former slave auction building, constructed in 1859, tell the story of the slave trade in Charleston, and is believed to be the last surviving slave auction facility in South Carolina.
  • Tour the Avery Research Center for African-American History and Culture, a division of the College of Charleston library system, located on the site of the former Avery Normal Institute in the Harleston Village district.
  • Enjoy lunch on own and free time in the historic area of City Market, spanning four blocks and home to more than 300 vibrant entrepreneurs. Sweet grass basket weavers can be seen in every building, along with local artists, jewelry, tapestry, souvenirs, church dolls, afghans, rugs, rice, beans and sauces, local candies and cookies and much more.
  • Spend the afternoon exploring McLeod Plantation. McLeod Plantation was built on the riches of sea island cotton - and on the backs of the enslaved people whose work & culture are embedded in the Lowcountry’s very foundation. It is a living tribute to the men and women and their descendants who persevered in their efforts to achieve freedom, equality, and justice.
  • Enjoy an included dinner at popular local restaurant known for its downhome comfort foods and family vibes.
  • Return to the hotel. (B, D)
Day 4 -
  • This morning, depart to Geechie Seafood for a taste of locals’ breakfast!
  • Enjoy a full day of Guided Gullah Heritage Touring. Drive through and visit places of history and lore relevant to the rich and varied contributions of black Charlestonians. Enjoy a Workshop Presentation by a Native Gullah Sweetgrass Basket Weaver where you’ll learn about “The Five Senses of Gullah”. #1 Touch: Rice; “Carolina Gold”; a product so sought after in the 18th and much of the 19th century, it made Charleston one of the richest cities in the US and was built by slaves who carved the rice fields out of cypress and gumtree swamps filled with alligators, snakes, and disease-carrying mosquitoes. Your fingers will feel the leaf of the state tree, the Cabbage Palm, which will be used to create your very own Palmetto Rose to take home with you. #2 Hear: Your speaker explains the art of sweetgrass weaving and its history by way of West African slaves brought to America to work on plantations. West Africa resembles South Carolina in climate, landscape, and rice production. This basketry uses a type of marsh grass known as bulrush to create beautiful and unique works of art. #3 See: Beautiful, one of a kind sweetgrass baskets, carefully hand-crafted over a period of many days, and each one completely unique unto itself. #4 Smell: The sweetgrass baskets and the traditional Gullah foods as we enjoy our Gullah Experience. #5 Taste: Enjoy a Gullah Soul Food Luncheon included from authentic traditional Gullah recipes and learn about the African influences on today’s foods.
  • Return to the hotel to refresh, then depart for dinner on own in Downtown Charleston. (B, L)
Day 5 -
  • Enjoy breakfast at the hotel this morning and check-out.
  • Explore Boone Hall Plantation with a Gullah Culture Presentation and Gullah lunch. Boone Hall Plantation was founded in 1681 when Englishman Major John Boone came to Charleston. The family and descendants of Major Boone were influential in the history of South Carolina, the colonies, and the nation. In 1743, live oak trees were planted and arranged in two evenly spaced rows.
  • Tour Lady’s Island Oyster Farm where they grow the signature 'Single Lady' oysters in the beautiful Coosaw River using maricultural techniques.
  • Depart for home.
Base rate does not include motor coach transportation, airfare, airport transfers, driver gratuity, guide gratuity, (student groups exempt) or any upgrades or add-ons unlisted from itinerary as stated. Pricing may vary based on day of arrival or other conditions. Personalized itineraries with custom pricing and/or additional transportation can be created and added based on client needs and upon client’s request. MARS will customize quotes or personalize itineraries for FREE.

Click 'PDF' below for a Sample Itinerary:            

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