Aberdeen South Breakwater Light, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
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Aberdeen Harbour is a major British port on the River Dee. Trade has been conducted here since the 12th century, though the lighthouse on the southern breakwater has only been shining its light – three red flashes every eight seconds – since 1815.
Lighthouse of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, Italy
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San Giorgio Maggiore is a southern island of Venice that’s been occupied since Roman times. It’s best known for its 16th century Church of San Giorgio Maggiore and has an arts centre, library and open-air theatre. The squat lighthouse sits at the end of a long pontoon and dates back to 1813.
Willemstoren Lighthouse, Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean
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Bonaire, population 19,000, is an island off the coast of Venezuela that’s a special municipality of the Netherlands. Its Willemstoren Lighthouse was fully restored in 2012 and has been in use since 1837. There’s the ruin of a two-storey keeper’s house nearby, and the waters off around the lighthouse are a popular dive-site.
Capdepera, Majorca, Spain
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The residents of the fortified village of Capdepera migrated a couple of hundred metres downhill to what is now modern-day Capdepera after the danger of marauding pirate attacks from the sea subsided. The 14th century castle is a popular tourist site and the lighthouse has been in service since 1861 when wild storms were responsible for many shipwrecks in the area.
Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay, Australia
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Sitting right at the tip of mainland Australia’s most easterly point, Cape Byron Lighthouse has been protecting ships since the beginning of the 19th century. It had a live-in lighthouse keeper right up until 1989 and it’s now possible to tour the building to see how the keepers and their families lived.
Cape du Couedic, Kangaroo Island, Australia
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The waters around Cape du Couedic claimed at least five ships and 79 lives before the lighthouse was built in 1909. At that time, it was inaccessible by land and in fact, the weather was so bad on the day the president and wardens of the Marine Board were making their way to officially launch the lighthouse’s operations that they couldn’t land and had to signal the keeper from offshore.
Cape Egmont Lighthouse, North Island, New Zealand
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The lighthouse sitting on the westernmost point of the Taranaki coast was built in London and shipped to New Zealand in segments in 1865 where it was constructed at Mana Island. This proved an unfortunate position and after several maritime accidents it was dismantled, ferried ashore, dragged to the current site by teams of bullocks and, after some resistance from a local Maori group, finally began shining in 1881.
Cape Point Lighthouse, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
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This old lighthouse was decommissioned long ago as it was built in the wrong position – it was too high up so mist often obscured its light. Now, there’s a new lighthouse lower down which shines the brightest light on the South African coast and a funicular takes visitors to admire the old one.
Cape Reinga Lighthouse, North Island, New Zealand
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Narrowly missing out on the title of New Zealand’s northernmost point (that honour goes to North Cape), Cape Reinga is nonetheless a spectacular place to observe the Pacific Ocean meeting the Tasman Sea. The lighthouse was first lit in 1941 and fully automated in 1987; nearby is a gnarled pōhutukawa tree thought to be more than 800 years old from which, in Māori oral history, spirits leap into the ocean to return to their ancestral home of Hawaiki.
Castlepoint Lighthouse, North Island, New Zealand
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It’s such a popular tourist attraction, locals call Castlepoint Lighthouse “The Holiday Light”. Sitting 52 metres above sea level, this 23-metre tower near the village of Castlepoint in the North Island’s south was first lit in 1913. It’s said that the spirit of lighthouse keeper Alexander Duncan, who fell to his death in 1922, haunted the (now demolished) keeper’s cottage.
Chania Lighthouse, Crete, Greece
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Built upon the base of the original 16th-century Venetian structure, this 21-metre lighthouse dates to 1839 when the dilapidated tower was rebuilt in the form of a minaret during the Egyptian occupation of West Crete.
Notre-Dame-des-Anges, Collioure, France
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What is now the water-girt belltower of the church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges was once a lighthouse. From within the church, its possible to see and hear the rolling waves washing onto three sides of the 17th-century church and the unusual building has attracted artists such as Matisse and Picasso.
Rethymno Lighthouse, Crete, Greece
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Rethymno is a Cretan city rich in ancient history – it's been occupied since the Minoans built a city in nearby Kydonia. The nine-metre lighthouse in the Venetian-era harbour was built by the Egyptians in the 1830s.
Crisp Point Lighthouse, Great Lakes, United States
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Named for “iron-willed boatman” and first Life-Saving Service Station keeper Christopher Crisp, this lighthouse on Lake Superior in Michigan first shone its light in 1904 but fell into disrepair after being decommissioned in 1993. It has now passed from the hands of the Coast Guard to those of Luce County, and the light has been reactivated, shining a 300-millimetre LED marine light seasonally since 2013. The local historical society has set up a small visitors’ centre, which includes a shop and museum.
Start Point Lighthouse, Devon, England
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Situated at the end of a dramatic rocky promontory close to the southernmost point of the country, this beacon warns ships of the treacherous rocks that lurk beneath the water, mirroring the headland’s jagged ridge. It was built in 1836 after one too many shipping disasters and still provides a welcome glow to sailors navigating the English Channel around Devon.
Dondra Head Lighthouse, Southern Province, Sri Lanka
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At almost 50-metres tall and with seven floors and 196 steps, Dondra Head Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Sri Lanka. The British built it in 1889 from granite hauled all the way from quarries in Scotland and Cornwall. It’s a popular tourist attraction set in gorgeous, tropical gardens surrounded by palms, but the strong winds and rips in the southerly waters surrounding the still-active lighthouse are a testament to its necessity.
Veli Rat Lighthouse, Dugi Otok, Croatia
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Dugi Otok is a picture-perfect island in the Adriatic Sea and Veli Rat Lighthouse, near the village of the same name, is suitably quaint. Built in 1849, it even retains a keeper, who lives in the keeper’s cottage built around its base with his family (currently, it’s Zvone and his wife and daughter). The lighthouse is a pale yellow hue – according to local legend, thousands of egg whites were used in the construction of its thick walls.
Hornby Lighthouse, Sydney, Australia
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The festive red-and-white striped exterior of Hornby Lighthouse stands sentinel at the southern entrance to Port Jackson and Sydney Harbour like a barbershop pole. It was built in 1858 after two disastrous shipwrecks that together cost 142 lives. Two sandstone keepers’ cottages were also built nearby. The light was automated in 1933 and from World War Two the army occupied much of the shoreline, with married personnel moving in to the former keepers’ residences, until 1977 when the National Parks & Wildlife Service took over. The cottages have been restored and there’s talk one will soon become a café.
Dreyfus Tower, Kourou, French Guiana
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Now used as a day beacon, this signal tower was built to communicate with the Islands of Salvation (Îles du Salut), which included the Devil’s Island penal colony, off French Guiana’s northeast coast. The tower is named after the French artillery officer Alfred Dreyfus, who was famously imprisoned on the former leper colony known as Devil’s Island, where he was shackled to his bed each night. He was eventually exonerated in 1899 after 1517 days on the island.
L’Île Louët Lighthouse, Brittany, France
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Just off the coast of Carantec is a tiny rocky island complete with 19th-century lighthouse. The island was home to several lighthouse keepers and their families until the light was automated in the 1960s. Now, visitors can stay in the keeper’s cottage, which sleeps 10, and explore the island, which is home to many rare birds.
Peggys Point Lighthouse, Nova Scotia, Canada
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Peggys Point Lighthouse sits on an enormous granite outcrop where it was built in 1914 to replace an earlier wooden structure. It’s now a major tourist destination as well as a functioning lighthouse.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California, United States
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This lighthouse and surrounding area form Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park. It’s still a functioning lighthouse but thanks to its history (first lit in 1872) and picturesque setting, it’s also a landmark along this stretch of the Pacific Coast and receives many visitors. It’s named after the Carrier Pigeon, a ship that wrecked here on its maiden voyage in 1853.
Ploumanac’h Lighthouse, Côtes-d’Armor, France
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This lighthouse blends in with the unusual rose-tinted outcrops, cliffs and sandy beaches that earned this section of the Brittany coastline the name Côte de Granit Rose. Made from the local pink granite, it was built in 1946 to replace an earlier structure that was destroyed during World War Two.
Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse, Michigan, United States
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One of the oldest lighthouses in Michigan, Pointe aux Barques was built in 1848 and its name means “Point of Little Boats”, a warning to large vessels of the treacherous shallow reefs and shoals that are hidden just beneath the surface of the water. The US Coast Guard took over operations in 1932 with an electric light bulb replacing the lighthouse keepers of a bygone era.
Wadjemup Lighthouse, Rottnest Island, Australia
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Soaring high above the quokkas on Wadjemup Hill, the base of this 1896 lighthouse sits 45 metres above sea level. Rottnest was used in colonial days to imprison local Aboriginal people; it was their labour that produced an earlier, smaller lighthouse on the site. The last lighthouse keeper left the island in 1990. Now, the 1890s lighthouse keeper’s cottage is available for short stays.
San Juan del Salvamento Lighthouse, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
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Argentines often refer to Les Eclaireurs as “Faro del Fin del Mundo”, or “the Lighthouse at the End of the World”, inspired by the Jules Verne novel of the same name. Actually, there is a lighthouse that has a far stronger claim to the title. The San Juan del Salvamento Lighthouse, no longer operational, lies much further east, on the Isla de los Estados.
Farol da Barra, Salvador da Bahia, Brazil
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In the 17th century, Salvador was one of the busiest ports in the Americas and protected by the Fort of Santo Antônio within which the Farol da Barra (or Barra Lighthouse) resides. Visitors can walk up its long spiral staircase to the top where spectacular views of the sunset and All Saints’ Bay await. Below, there’s a small museum displaying artefacts rescued from shipwrecks.
Tourlitis Lighthouse, Andros, Greece
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Roosting on a spindly rise of rock in the middle of the Cyclades, just off the port city of Andros, Tourlitis Lighthouse was first built in 1897. The original structure was destroyed in World War Two and replaced with a replica in the 1990s, built by a Greek businessman to honour his daughter. It’s fully functioning and its fantastical appearance draws lighthouse enthusiasts from all over the world.
Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
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At the extreme southern tip of South America, in both Argentina and Chile, lies The Beagle Channel. Within that channel lies Les Eclaireurs (meaning “the Enlighteners”), a group of islands just east of Ushuaia. The Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse has operated since 1920 from the small, lonely, north-easternmost island of the group. The tower is remote-controlled, and light is generated by solar panels.
Up Next: Experience the Magic of Winter at these 20 Must-See Destinations
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Bustling cities, sleepy towns and natural wonders. Travel to these destinations during winter when they become even more enchanting under a blanket of snow or in the light of a brilliant winter sun.