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Lights on a Distant Shore: The Coolest Lighthouses in the World

Updated on September 20, 2011

Awhile back I wrote an article on haunted lighthouses and while a haunted lighthouse is certainly very cool, it doesn't always take a ghost to make a lighthouse special. Here are a few lighthouses I ran across while researching that article that I found to be amazing simply because they were... well, amazing!

Elbow Reef Lighthouse, Hope Town, Abaco, Bahamas

The Elbow Reef Lighthouse is the last remaining kerosene-fueled lighthouse in the world. It uses a wick and mantle to burn pressurized kerosene with a system of weights that manually rotates the Fresnel lens once every 15 seconds. At 325,000 candlepower, the light is bright enough to be seen more than 15 miles away.

Completed in 1864, the Elbow Reef Lighthouse was built in Hope Town on the island known as Elbow Cay. It was the third lighthouse built in the Bahamas and was needed due to the number of shipwrecks that occurred in the surrounding reefs. The original light was a stationary light, but it was upgraded in 1936 when another lighthouse was closed and its beacon used to replace the light at Elbow Reef.

The lighthouse is not only the most impressive landmark in Hope Town, it also offers the best view of the island. After making the journey up the lighthouse's staircase, sightseers are rewarded with an outstanding view of the surrounding area that is unmatched on Elbow Cay! The historical significance of this light combined with its importance as a landmark and the breathtaking view it provides make this one of the coolest lighthouses in the world.

Enoshima Lighthouse, Fujisawa, Japan

The Enoshima Lighthouse is located on Enoshima Island, which is part of the city of Fujisawa. While it is a functioning lighthouse that serves an important maritime function, it is also one of the most beautiful and intricate lighthouses in the world. When it is fully illuminated on a dark night it is especially captivating. Throughout the night, the colors of the light changes so that it may be different each time you look at it.

From a distance, even during the day, the lighthouse is by far the most prominent structure on the island. From the top of the observation tower, there is a spectacularly breathtaking view of Mount Fuji as well as the Izu Ooshima islands and Miura Peninsula. Amazingly, however, the lighthouse is not one of the most popular attractions and rarely gets more than a slight mention in travel books and travel websites if even mentioned at all.

The lighthouse is only one of many interesting sights on the island where the tradition of old Japan is often holds sway over the trends of the modern-day. Perhaps the island's most popular point of interest, the Enoshima Shrine features an unusual nude statue of Benzaiten, the Shinto goddess of music and entertainment. The Enoshima Aquarium features a wide assortment of marine life and an impressive dolphin show. The island also attracts tourist who wish to see the ancient temples, scenic overlooks and botanical gardens that make Enoshima Island a unique and special place to see.

Kiz Kulesi (The Maiden's Tower), Istanbul, Turkey

The Maiden's Tower was built in 408 B.C. to guard the cities of Byzantion and Chrysopolis from attack and control the shipping in the area. These days it is the home of a popular restaurant on the ground floor and beautiful café on the upper deck. But it earned its place on this list by serving as a lighthouse for centuries.

This lovely lighthouse has been featured in movies such as Hitman and the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. The television show The Amazing Race 7 also made use of its beauty and from 1966-1981 its image was printed on Turkish 10 lira banknotes. It is mind-boggling to think about how long this lighthouse has stood in its present location. Surely this would be the ultimate lunch date for any lighthouse enthusiast!

The Lighthouse of Cape Formentor, Majorca, Spain

Lighthouse lovers lucky enough to visit the Lighthouse of Cape Formentor will find this treasure surrounded by beautiful endangered plant life high atop a cliff at the eastern end of the Formentor peninsula in Majorca, Spain. The location of this lighthouse makes it an impressive sight even if it were not such a beautifully built structure. But this lighthouse would be impressive regardless of where it stands.

The view from the lighthouse is simply breathtaking and could not possibly be put into words. In fact, even pictures would not be able to fully convey the astounding beauty of this view. The only way to grasp it would be to experience it. This one is on my destination wishlist for sure!

Chania Lighthouse, Chania, Crete, Greece

The Chania Lighthouse is a beautiful structure with roots dating back to at least 1570. It is located at the end of a long pier off the northwestern shore of the Chania Prefecture on the Greek island of Crete. Originally constructed by the Venetians, it was rebuilt on the same base by the Egyptians in the 19th century. These days the lighthouse is still functional but serves more as an incredibly awesome tourist attraction than a warning to seafarers.

The tower is made of unpainted white stone and stands about 85 feet tall. The Egyptians built the new tower giving the lighthouse a decidedly Middle Eastern influence. Because of its unique beauty and significant history, the Chania Lighthouse has become one of the areas most photographed attractions. There is no denying this is one amazing lighthouse!

Fanad Head Lighthouse, County Donegal, Ireland

In 1817, the legend goes, Fanad Head Lighthouse was built as a result of the sinking of the Saldana with all hands lost save one parrot. However, a search of the various shipwreck databases have no record of a ship by that name going down anywhere near that area around that time. Still, considering the lack of high tech data storage back in those days, who knows. Maybe it is true.

Whatever the reason for its construction, they certainly built a beautiful lighthouse! The lighthouse was renovated in the 1880s with her towers raised to send her light even further out to sea. The Fanad Head Lighthouse is certainly a lovely guardian for the dangerously rocky Irish shores.


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    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      5 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Thank you for bringing us these incredible lighthouses. I'd love to be able to see them all, but since I probably won't thank you for bringing them to me.

    • Scatkat profile image


      8 years ago from Fort Pierce, Florida, U.S.A.

      Absolutely beautiful and well writen. Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 

      8 years ago

      WOW! I love lighthouses and these are absolutely amazing and I have to agree totally unique.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, now there are some unique and beautiful lighthouses. I like them all but the lighthouse of Cape Formentor is my favorite. The Lighthouses of Martha's Vineyard (check out my hub) are certainly quite plain in comparison to these. However, there locations are still quite nice. Voted up, beautiful, and interesting.

    • point2make profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Hub. I love lighthouses and your descriptions and photos were excellent. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.


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