Once ship navigation necessities, lighthouses possess a strange charm of seaside adventure, and stand alone as enigmatic engineering structures that masterfully depict humans’ relationship to the ocean. However, as the need for these coastal guardians diminished, so did the excitement they ignited, and some of them have been left neglected looking over the sea. Many are no less majestic than they ever were, however, and they’ve become more historic with age, so we’re shedding light on the lighthouses (pun intended) worthy of an outing.
Elina Eronen Piper is a creative freelance writer, a curious soul and an imaginative wordsmith with a love for unique travel experiences, Scandinavian design and salty liquorice. She has written for the likes of Expedia Finland, REVS, Costume and ELLE Finland.
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Jeddah Light, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
One of the most impressive lighthouses that exists is the Jeddah Light in Saudi Arabia—it is the tallest lighthouse in the world, after all. Standing 436 feet tall on a seaport overlooking the Red Sea, the white concrete tower impresses not only with its size but also with its purpose. Unconventionally, it acts as a control room to the city port and harbor and delights with its refreshingly modern and contemporary look. Meaning, it ticks all of the boxes: It's tall, handsome and exotic—everything you look for in a lighthouse.
Photo courtesy of Yasser Zareaa CC BY-SA
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Kilauea Light, Kauai, Hawaii
Not enough people have the balls to visit a lighthouse on a volcano—even if the volcano is dormant, like the one that houses the lighthouse on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. This extraordinary landmark is surrounded by rare and endangered wildlife, like seabirds and humpback whales. The lighthouse itself is a remarkable part of the landscape and an architecturally classic example of a lighthouse worth visiting. Be warned, however—the lighthouse and volcano might be asleep but those who are dormant could one day awaken.
Photo courtesy of Imogene Huxham CC BY
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Low Lighthouse, Somerset, United Kingdom
Burnham-on-Sea in the U.K.'s Somerset is a great escape any day but what makes the English seaside town even more enlightening (yep, we did it again) is its Low Lighthouse with high legs. It doesn't maintain the mainstream regality most lighthouses have, instead it has a contemporary look that is a mixture of a beach hut and a lighthouse, which takes a beating from the sea every day with the tides receding for over 1.5 miles. It has been standing as is since 1832 (with a few coats of paint and metal plate reinforcements). It's the low lighthouse that could.
Photo courtesy of Stewart Black CC BY
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Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, Lokken, Denmark
Built on a not-so-stable land of sand, the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse facing the North Sea in Denmark is possibly the strangest looking lighthouse around. It's surrounded by sand and at the same time, swallowed up by it. The beige lighthouse is abandoned in theory but not by visitors who, believe it or not, flock there just to see the lonely lighthouse. What makes it even more extraordinary is how long it's been standing waiting to erode—it was first lit in 1900. It's a must visit before its funeral that is expected to take place in 15 to 20 years, when the tower will most likely fall into the sea.
Photo courtesy of Ehrenberg Kommunikation CC BY SA
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South Stack Lighthouse, Holyhead, Wales
South Stack Lighthouse in Wales holds the unofficial title of the spookiest lighthouse on earth. It has a spectacular setting on a coastal cliff with 400 steps to get there but with that comes Jack Jones—the lighthouse keeper who reportedly died in an 1853 storm that also wrecked over 200 ships. According to locals, the keeper's ghost can still be heard. The tale and structure make this one worth witnessing but stick to daytime visiting hours if you're easily spooked.
Photo courtesy of Paul Pierce CC BY
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Tower of Hercules, La Coruña, Spain
A lighthouse named Hercules, what could be more impressive than that? As it turns out, not much. Myth after myth has been told over the years to describe the Roman time lighthouse's creation but the most remarkable is the one where Hercules fights a giant and after winning the battle, buries its head into the ground and orders a town to be built upon it. From then on, the lighthouse has been a guardian of the city and a monument to hero Hercules' magnificence. Whether true or not, myths of such grandeur deserve acknowledgment. It's the oldest lighthouse in the world as well and, if anything, proves that not all lighthouses were built equal.
Photo courtesy of Diego Delso CC BY SA
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Lighthouse of Saint Theodoroi, Argostoli Kefalonia, Greece
If there ever were a romantic lighthouse, the Lighthouse of Saint Theodoroi would be it. Not only is it located on a beautiful peninsula close to Argostoli village where sunsets are out of this world, but the lighthouse itself, which reflects sunrays in a magical way, is a piece of art design wise. Simply put, if the ancient Greek Acropolis were a lighthouse, this is what it would look like: a 26-feet-tall circular structure with 20 columns in a Doric architectural style. The 1828-built lighthouse might not be as famous as the Acropolis, but then again, the Acropolis never was a lighthouse. Let's give this one some limelight (we had to).
Photo courtesy of Risastla CC BY SA