The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism highlights the island nation’s lighthouses as romantic symbols of adventure, travel, solitude and even mystery, which lead the way to well-known beaches and distinct island experiences.
Lighthouses still stand watch throughout the islands of The Bahamas and The Bahamas Lighthouse Preservation Society safeguards three of the world’s few remaining kerosene-burning, hand-wound lighthouses.
Built in 1863, the Hope Town Lighthouse on Elbow Cay in The Abacos still guides boats and ships today. Boating remains a way of life in The Abacos (an archipelago in the northeastern part of The Bahamas) and throughout the rest of the Atlantic-Caribbean island nation and the lighthouses are treasured, even if modern captains navigate by satellite.
The Dixon Hill lighthouse on San Salvador and Southwest Point lighthouse on Inagua have also escaped automation and still must be hand-wound every two hours by keepers. Lighthouse keepers have tended these lights’ flames since the mid-1830s.
There are still two dozen active lighthouses in The Bahamas and many others that have been decommissioned; there are even a few faux lighthouses. Several are easily accessible and can be explored by visitors in search of a bird’s-eye view of the respective islands.
Easily accessible lighthouses in The Bahamas include:
Hog Island Light: Originally built in 1817 and situated on Paradise Island just off Nassau, New Providence, Hog Island is the oldest lighthouse in The Bahamas and is also the oldest surviving lighthouse in the West Indies;
Pinder’s Point Lighthouse: Overlooking bustling Freeport Harbor, this red-and-white, candy-striped icon was restored, relit, and reactivated in 2009. Grand Bahama also has two often-photographed “faux” lighthouses – Lucaya and High Rock;
Hope Town Lighthouse: In operation since 1863, Abaco’s red-and-white-striped lighthouse is still hand-wound and is accessible by ferry from Marsh Harbour, where it is surrounded by Bahamian style buildings;
Hole-in-the-Wall: Also on Abaco, this British-style lighthouse is painted white on the lower third and red on the upper two-thirds and is home to the work of the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization;
San Salvador Lighthouse (Dixon Hill): Established in the mid-1800s and built in 1887, Dixon Hill is a very popular Bahamas lighthouse facility to visit because it is still occupied and operated by lighthouse keepers who refuel the 400,000-candle-powered lighthouse by hand every 2 hours and 15 minutes;
Andros Lighthouse: Built back in the early-1890s, this Andros landmark was made famous in the Blake Alphonso Higgs (known as Blind Blake) song, “Run Come See Jerusalem,” which told the story of a 1929 hurricane when more than 20 islanders drowned near the lighthouse;
Eleuthera Point: The long island of Eleuthera has several lighthouses and this early-1900s version is a classic. The island also has several other active lighthouses, including North Palmetto Point, which is available as a vacation rental;
Southwest Point: Great Inagua’s classic all-white lighthouse near Matthew Town is popular with visitors who want to see the hand-cranked light and visit with local lighthouse keepers;
Gun Cay: Bimini’s famed 1836 lighthouse is alive and well, thanks to continued restoration. The island also features the recently reactivated Great Isaac Light, site of a late-1960s mystery when two lighthouse keepers went missing – and were never found; and
Great Stirrup Cay: Built in 1863 in the sparsely populated Berry Islands, this historic lighthouse has become a popular spot for cruise-ship passengers.