Tour of Four Florida Lighthouses – Key West, Ponce Deleon, St. Augustine and Sanibel Island
I really enjoy visiting lighthouses and learning about their history. I especially like climbing their spiral stairways and viewing the surrounding area from the top of a lighthouse. I took a tour along the coastline of Florida in early 2012 and visited four lighthouses; Key West, Ponce Deleon, St. Augustine and Sanibel Island. I was able to get some nice photos of their majestic beauty and the amazing coastal scenery that surrounds them.
Florida Lighthouses – Key West, Ponce Deleon, St. Augustine and Sanibel Island
The Key West Lighthouse
We visited the Key West lighthouse in January 2012 on a nice sunny day, so were able to take some nice pictures from the observation deck at the top. The Key West lighthouse is not an active lighthouse any more, but it is open to the public. You can take a tour of the lighthouse and other buildings on its site. The other buildings on the site include a keeper’s dwelling, a privy, an oil storage house and a chicken coop.
The Key West lighthouse is very well-kept and picturesque, with a white-washed conical brick exterior tower and a black lantern on top. The light at the top is a fixed white light with a third-order fixed Fresnel lens that was installed in 1859. It has a metal spiral staircase black that is 98 steps up to the top that brings you up to the observation deck which is 91 feet off the ground. This is the shortest lighthouse of the four that I visited.
You can read about the history of the lighthouse in the museums on site. The Key West lighthouse was constructed back in 1847 and was first lit on January 15, 1848. It was deactivated in December 1, 1969 and restored between the years of 1989 and 1991.
The Key West lighthouse is operated by the Key West Art & Historical Society and includes a nice gift shop. The admission costs $8.00 per person and this includes touring the restored keeper’s dwelling with museum, displays of several Fresnel lenses, and a first-order fixed lens from the Sombrero Reef Lighthouse. It’s well worth a visit on your next trip to Key West.
The Ponce Deleon Lighthouse – Ponce Inlet, Florida
On a nice sunny day in February 2012, I took a trip to the Ponce Deleon lighthouse near Daytona Beach. It was recently restored, and in my opinion, the Ponce Deleon Lighthouse is a picture perfect lighthouse. It has a red-washed brick conical tower with a black lantern on top. The grounds and buildings are impeccably maintained with plush green lawns. The other buildings on site include three keeper’s dwellings, a woodshed/privy, an oil storage house, a pump house, a boat yard and a Lens Exhibit building. These are all included with admission, which is $5.00 for adults and $1.50 for children 11 and under. You enter and buy your admission through gift shop which features unique nautical and lighthouse merchandise.
Ponce Deleon is the tallest lighthouse on the East Coast of Florida. It is 175 feet tall and has a 213 step spiral staircase that you take to the top. Please make sure you’re in good shape because it a pretty good workout, especially on a hot Florida day.
The spectacular Lens Exhibit Building features a first-order lens that was from the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, the original Ponce Inlet first order lens, a fourth order clam shell lens, a 6th order rotating lens, and a Chance Brothers circa 1850 third order middle lens complete with pedestal, tanks and lamp.
The Ponce Deleon Lighthouse is an active lighthouse. It was built in 1887. It is the only Florida Lighthouse listed as a National Historic Landmark and it is the second tallest brick tower in the U.S.
The museums were quite interesting with a lot of lighthouse facts and history. They even have a nice exhibit on the race car history of Daytona Beach (with nice videos of the old races that took place on the beach). Next time you’re in the Daytona Beach area, be sure to check out this lighthouse.
Sanibel Island Lighthouse
In early March 2012 I spent a weekend away in the Fort Myers area. I made it priority on the trip to go to Sanibel Island to see its lighthouse. The lighthouse is a very interesting design. It is a brown square pyramidal skeletal tower that encloses a stair cylinder. The lighthouse is 112 feet tall and has a 101 step staircase to the 300mm lantern on top. It is not open to the public to climb; you can only view the lighthouse and buildings from the grounds. The lighthouse itself is not as beautiful as the other three that I visited, but I’d have to say that hands down it has the most beautiful scenery of the four that I viewed on this tour. It is located right next to the beach and from every angle it has a perfect tropical backdrop for picture-taking
The Sanibel lighthouse is an active lighthouse.. There is no cost to walk around it and view it. The other buildings on site include two elevated, wood-frame keeper’s dwellings and a brick oil storage house.The Sanibel lighthouse was constructed in 1884. It was first Lighted August 20, 1884.There is a museum and gift shop that you can visit as well. It was fun spending the day on the beach and viewing this lighthouse. It was well worth the visit!
St. Augustine Lighthouse
I went to St. Augustine Florida in early March 2012. As you approach the St. Augustine lighthouse, you see the towering lighthouse behind a classic southern style brick building. I couldn’t help but take some photos of it through some very large and beautiful oak trees. You enter this building, and it is a museum and gift shop.
After paying for my admission in the gift shop, I proceeded outside where you can stare straight up at the lighthouse. I always take a shot of the lighthouse from directly below. It helps you to appreciate its height before you go in and climb it. The St. Augustine lighthouse’s height is 167 feet, and it markings are quite unique with black & white spiral stripes and a red lantern on top. It is a conical tower with a brick exterior.
You enter the lighthouse through a cute little white building that was originally used for oil storage. It has a little museum inside of it now. You then come to the stairway. I always attempt to take pictures up and down the spiral stairways. I really like the black metal stairway in the St. Augustine lighthouse. It’s 219 steps to the top, but it’s well worth trip up. The views in all directions are just incredible.
The lighthouse is active. It was built 1871 and restored in 1994-95 and again in 2000. It has is original first-order Fresnel lens that was installed in 1874 (although some one shot a bullet at a few years back and it had to be repaired.)
I noticed that they offer ghost tours on certain nights (they are by appointment only). I think that would be a lot of fun. I may just go back and try that sometime. All four of these lighthouses were a real treat to visit. I’m going to make some plans to see some more of Florida’s great lighthouses real soon. If you are planning a trip to Florida you should visit http://www.FloridaVacationPlans.com, it has some great Florida vacation information.