Lighthouses are to Cape Cod like stars are to the sky: a bright beacon of hope in a dark night. Travel the length and breadth of the Cape to discover more than a dozen of these iconic structures, as beautiful as they are purposeful. A symbol of safety and security to seafarers navigating the dangerous coastline, their unique beams signaled a safe harbor or warned of hazardous shoals. Take a Cape Cod lighthouse tour this year. Seeking these beauties out is a fun activity for guests of our Inn, regardless of the season.
The lure of the lighthouse evokes images of stormy nights, shipwrecks, and heroic rescues. If walls could talk, what tales would they tell? The lonely life of the lighthouse keeper, the drama of a storm-tossed sea? It’s no wonder why visitors are drawn to the romantic image of beacons of light illuminating a turbulent ocean.
It is possible to climb the circular stairs to the top of some lighthouse towers on Cape Cod, but it is not for the faint of heart. Steep, narrow stairs, often poorly lit, snake slowly to the top of the tower where the beacon shines. However, those who dare will be rewarded with some of the most breathtaking vistas of Cape Cod imaginable. Even if you choose to remain on terra firma, gazing up at the tower or out to sea, you’ll be amazed at the sheer beauty of these iconic landmarks.
Start your tour in Falmouth, just over the Sagamore or Bourne bridges, then travel east to locate the lights described below.
“It shines like your very own star. Every time you see it, you won’t have to be afraid.
You’ll know that you’re not alone.” – Cynthia Ellingsen, The Lighthouse Keeper
Nobska Point Light*
233 Nobska Road, Falmouth, MA
Perched on a cliff overlooking Vineyard Sound and the island of Martha’s Vineyard, the light has been completely restored due to the commitment of the Friends of Nobska Light. Open for tours at the discretion of the weather and volunteers.
Sandy Neck Light
West Barnstable, MA
Located at the entrance to Barnstable Harbor, this light was first established in 1826m but decommissioned in 1931. The current tower was restored as a private navigation tower by a committee of volunteers in 2007.
Lewis Bay Light
Also known as Hyannis Harbor Light, it’s located on private property on Harbor Road in Haynnisport. It is a welcome sight for ferries carrying passengers from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
Bass River Light
Owned and operated by the Lighthouse Inn in West Dennis, this light shines seasonally (May-October).
Stage Harbor Light
Aalso known as Harding’s Beach Lighthouse, it’s is also located on private property and not open to the public. You can still get a great view of the light from Harding’s Beach in Chatham.
Only accessible by ferry to Monomoy, an island off the coast of Chatham. This light operated from 1823 to 1923, when it was deemed that Chatham Light was sufficient navigational aid to sailors in the area.
Located at the “elbow” of Cape Cod on the grounds of the Coast Guard Station Chatham, is the tallest and most-often photographed. Open for tours during select months, admission is free.
Three lighthouses, once located along the coast of Eastham, fell victim to coastal erosion and were moved to their current location on Cable Road. Staff of the National Seashore offer regular tours in season.
Situated directly above Nauset Beach in Eastham, within the parameters of the Cape Cod National Seashore, you may recognize this Cape Cod icon as it appears on every bag of Cape Cod Potato Chips. Tours are free and open to the public.
Nestled on a bluff beside the Highland Links in Truro, the light was moved back from the eroding coastline in order to protect it from falling into the sea. Currently closed for structural repairs, the lighthouse will re-open for tours in 2021.
Long Point Light
Standing tall at the entrance to Provincetown Harbor, this unmanned light is unique for its square body. Because of its remote location, accessing this light requires a long walk or short boat ride.
Race Point Light*
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this light is open for tours from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month, from June through October.
Wood End Light
If you’re up for a good hike, the trek to this lighthouse can take the better part of an afternoon. Still in operation, the Wood End Light is essential for guiding ships into Provincetown Harbor.
*Normally open for tours from late April/early May throughout the summer months, though it is wise to check their websites for accurate information.
So get out a map or fire up your GPS and take to the road for a day of exploring Cape Cod as a mariner might. It’s just one of the many things to do when you travel to Cape Cod.