Whether you're on land or sea, lighthouses have a special allure. We all fantasize about the solace and peace of the ocean. Most folks tend to forget the power of Neptune when the seas get ugly and gales and hurricanes pound the shores. Instead, it's easier to romanticize and imagine the splendor of a 360º ocean view. Lighthouses are indispensable to sailors, although in recent years, the traditional lighthouses are being replaced worldwide by mechanical, more efficient structures that do their duty, but have nowhere the charm of their predecessors.
Here's our short list of 10 interesting lighthouses we've seen in our travels. The list is nowhere comprehensive, but each lighthouse was chosen because of its unique appeal, location or sheer beauty.
Faro del Eclaireurs – Beagle Channel, Ushuaia, Argentina
The most beautiful lighthouse of all … Faro del Eclaireurs (the French name "Les Éclaireurs" means "the Enlighteners" or "the Scouts") stands in the Beagle Channel about 5 miles from Ushuaia on the northeastern- most islet of the five Les Eclaireurs islets, from which it takes its name.
Nubble Light – York, Maine, USA
In 1874, Congress appropriated $15,000 to build a light station at the "Nubble" and in 1879 construction began. Cape Neddick Light Station was put into service in 1879 and is still in use today. It's one of the most photographed lighthouses on the US East Coast and definitely our favorite.
Bird Island Lighthouse – Port Elizabeth, South Africa
The Bird Island Lighthouse is stunning … at least from a distance. Close up, there's lots of bird poop. Historically, a wooden lighthouse was erected in 1852. Work on a stone lighthouse began in 1872. The lighthouse, now fully automated, is home to a myriad of sea birds.
Cape St Blaize Lighthouse, Mosselbaai, South Africa
Built in 1864, it’s one of only two manned lighthouses remaining on the South African coast. Unfortunately, the lighthouse keeper was not available and no one else was around. We climbed the steep stone steps to the lower observation balcony and got a good up-close view of the neatly kept lighthouse and stupendous views of the foreshore below.
Bunbury Lightouse, Bunbury, Western Australia
A storm lantern on a wooden keg sufficed as the port’s beacon for many years. The structure became more sophisticated over time, but it wasn't until 1971 that a formal lighthouse was erected on the hill and painted the distinctive black and white checker-board design.
Waipapa Point Light, The Catlins, Southland, New Zealand
The Waipapa Point Light is particularly photogenic. The sheep graze almost down to the seashore as the lighthouse pops into view. The lighthouse was originally constructed of kauri and totara, local hardwoods, with rock in its base as ballast against the terrific storms and winds which occur there.
Deal Island Light, Deal Island, Bass Strait, Tasmania, Australia
The most outstanding structure on Deal Island is, of course, the lighthouse. Built in 1848, it is the tallest lighthouse in Australia at nearly 1000′ (305M) above sea level. In fact, it’s the tallest lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, it is so high, it was many times occluded by clouds and fog and couldn’t be seen by ships … not good if you’re a lighthouse. It's most impressive because we had a chance to climb to the top and actually stand inside the fresnel light lens.
Ceru Bontana Lighthouse, Washington/Slagbaai NP, Bonaire
Very little is known about this lighthouse, but we found it oddly interesting when we toured Bonaire and the Washington/Slagbaai Park back in 2003. We're told it was restored and repainted in 2012.
Entrance Island Light, Hells Gate, Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania, Australia
The narrow 120m (~400') entrance to the huge Macquarie Harbour was discovered in 1815. The entrance is narrow enough, but the navigable channel through it is only a few boat lengths wide in spots, making it somewhat daunting. Though there was a penal colony at Sarah Island within the harbor, it wasn't until timber cutters and silver miners had problems entering and leaving the harbor that the 6-sided wooden towers, Entrance Island Light and Bonnet Island Light, were erected in 1891.
The Wedding Cake – Sydney Harbour, NSW, Australia
Western Channel Pile Light, also known as the Wedding Cake due to its shape is an iconic and active lighthouse in Sydney Harbour marking the western end of the Sow and Pigs Reef. Sailing past it was just one of the many thrills of Sydney Harbour.
More lighthouses? We've got a whole collection to peruse if you're interested. Check out the Nine of Cups website for a lighthouse photo gallery.