11 Luminescent Lighthouse Stays Around the World
While no longer solely responsible for guiding ships safely into harbor, thousands of lighthouses of every shape and size still stand as bastions of hope along the world’s coastlines. Perched atop craggy cliffs or at the edge of narrow peninsulas, they continue to capture the imagination, with many now maintained as monuments and museums or simply serving as picturesque points of interest in their own right. In honor of these luminescent landmarks and to celebrate National Lighthouse Day on August 7th, Booking.com has delved into its more than 28 million listings in over 152,000 destinations around the world to share 11 spectacular stays near (or actually in) some of the world’s most stunning lighthouses. From a centuries-old monolith in Spain to a volcanic crater in Hawai’i, these bucket list getaways are sure to inspire some serious wanderlust for when the time is right to travel again.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s oldest operating lighthouse, the Tower of Hercules was built almost 2,000 years ago by the ancient Romans along what is now the northwest coast of Spain. Located only steps away from this legendary lighthouse, Blue Ocean Penthouse offers uninterrupted views of the stunning monument, perfect for soaking up plenty of sun, scenery and history.
Fanad Lighthouse, Letterkenny, Ireland
Surrounded by miles of rugged coastline and serenaded by waves crashing along the rocks, the Fanad Lighthouse in Ireland’s Donegal County is the perfect place to live out any latent lighthouse keeper fantasies. Now run by a local non-profit organization, guests can actually sleep in one of three cozy cottages once inhabited by the former resident lightkeepers, all in a truly idyllic location. After a day of spotting seabirds and exploring the peninsula’s secluded beaches and coastal towns, guests can warm up by the fire and watch the sun set over the North Atlantic Ocean.
Galle Lighthouse, Galle, Sri Lanka
Set within the walls of Galle Fort (also known as Dutch Fort), the Galle Lighthouse is the oldest light station in Sri Lanka and was actually first built in 1848 by the British. The lighthouse standing today was completed in 1940 after the original burnt down and was named a UNESCO world heritage site along with the rest of the fort in 1988. Located just across the street, Villa Aurora, Galle Fort is a beautiful holiday home with a garden and sun terrace, where guests can enjoy direct views of the lighthouse and the Indian Ocean.
Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay, Australia
Built at the turn of the 20th century to help safeguard the dangerous East Australian coastline, the Cape Byron Lighthouse was operated by light keepers until 1982. Today it is a gorgeous point to watch the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean and is additionally noteworthy as being the most easterly point on the Australian mainland. Just steps away from Wategos Beach and Byron Bay’s iconic lighthouse, The Watermark offers luxurious suites and is ideal for those looking for a little pampering R&R.
“There is no better location where even in winter you can sit on a swing chair with a glass of wine and watch a mesmerising sunset over the water” - Recent Booking.com Customer Review
Lighthouse of Chania, Crete, Greece
The Venetian Lighthouse of Chania is among the world’s oldest and dates back to the late 16th century. Located at the end of a long pier, the approach makes for a romantic evening stroll, particularly in the summertime. Also situated right along the city’s historic harbor in a restored villa from the 1890s, the Ambassadors Residence Boutique Hotel is an ideal home base to wander the city’s many winding alleys filled with cascades of fragrant flowers. After a day of exploring, guests can relax on their balcony and watch the ships pass across the mesmerizing blue of the Mediterranean.
Umhlanga Lighthouse, Durban, South Africa
Identifiable by its characteristic red stripe around the top, Umhlanga Lighthouse was built in 1954, with construction completed amazingly in just under five days. Directly overlooking the lighthouse and the vast azure expanse of the Indian Ocean beyond, The Oyster Box is in the heart of one of the best stretches of beach in South Africa, with all the golden sand and enticing warm waters that Durban is famous for. The hotel’s Lighthouse Bar is a perfect spot to enjoy dramatic views of the lighthouse and is also home to an interesting collection of pieces created by local artists living in the surrounding KwaZulu-Natal province.
Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida, USA
Built in 1825 to help ships entering the port, Key West Lighthouse is in the heart of the southernmost city in the continental United States and a perfect place to soak up the laid back vibes that have made the remote getaway a favorite with the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. Curious explorers can climb the 88 iron steps to the top of the tower for spectacular views out over the Caribbean, and to get a glimpse of how former lighthouse keepers lived. With a sleek, tropical chic vibe, the Kimpton Lighthouse Hotel is nestled amongst the palm trees in the heart of iconic Key West, just steps away from the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, as well as numerous bars, restaurants and beaches.
Split Rock Lighthouse, Beaver Bay, Minnesota, USA
Set in a state park with the same name, Split Rock Lighthouse is perched dramatically on the edge of a cliff in northern Minnesota, offering gorgeous views out over Lake Superior. Constructed in 1910 after a series of devastating shipwrecks along the coast, the lighthouse is now said to be one of the most visited and photographed spots in the state. Nestled among the trees just a few miles up the coast, the Cove Point Lodge resort provides a stunning home base from which to explore Split Rock Lighthouse State Park’s scenic hiking trails, and the dramatic setting of the lighthouse itself.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Newport, Oregon
Standing at 93 feet tall on a pretty peninsula just a little over two hours south of Portland, the historic Yaquina Head Lighthouse is considered to be the tallest in the state and is located near the mouth of the Yaquina River. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the lighthouse year-round to learn more fun facts, but to tempt the curiosity, it was interestingly originally made in Paris in 1868 and later shipped to Oregon, where it was first lit in 1873. Nestled amongst the pine trees on a secluded cove just a quick five-minute drive away, Ocean House makes for a cozy getaway to explore all of the rugged beauty the central Oregon coast has to offer, including sensational sunsets over the Pacific.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero, California, USA
Built in 1871 to guide ships past a particularly rocky and treacherous point along California’s Pacific coast, the Pigeon Point Lighthouse is now a historical landmark and the most photographed in the whole state. The original lighthouse keepers’ houses have been fully renovated and transformed into a hostel. Offering panoramic ocean views right from the base of the lighthouse, the unique HI - Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel is a perfect spot for whale watching and stargazing, in addition to some fairly epic pics.
Diamond Head Lighthouse, Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA
Located in the shadow of Diamond Head, a large, distinctive volcanic ridge on the southern tip of the island of O’ahu and the eastern end of Waikiki Beach, the Diamond Head Lighthouse was originally built in 1899 and is one of the best known lighthouses in the Pacific. Featured on a United States postage stamp in 2007, the Diamond Head Lighthouse is also officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The luxurious Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head offers lush, imposing views of Diamond Head and is just steps away from Kaimana Beach, great for both swimming and snorkeling, with its warm, shallow, turquoise waters.