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Four Lighthouses in Florida You Should Visit

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Lighthouse at Egmont Key State Park in St. Pete, Florida.

If you’re like Stanley Hudson from “The Office” and have dreams of living in a decommissioned lighthouse, then you’ll want to read on to find out more about four lighthouses located in Florida.

Florida actually has a total of about 30 lighthouses, according to this handy lighthouse map from LighthouseFriends.com.

As far back as the Seminole Indians, Floridians relied on goods arriving by boat, but the Florida coastline was dangerous and often led to shipwrecks, according to the Florida Lighthouse Association. To help give ships a visual reference, lighthouses were built along Florida’s coastline and even on coral reefs. Other lighthouses were built to guide ships safely into port, the Florida Lighthouse Association reports. At one time, Florida had 65 lighthouses. Although lighthouses don’t play the same prominent role they used to in guiding boaters, smaller boats that don’t have electronic systems still find visual comfort from lighthouses, according to the association.

Plus, there’s a real lure to lighthouses, as they give you a sense of history and sometimes an extra special view of the area, if you’re allowed to climb to the top.

The four lighthouses we feature here are random—it simply means that we’ve visited them. However, as we’re able to check out more, we’ll add to this story.

The lighthouses we describe below are:

  • St. Augustine Lighthouse in St. Augustine
  • Egmont Key Lighthouse on Egmont Key in St. Pete
  • Boca Grande Entrance Rear Range in Boca Grande
  • Port Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island

Let’s go on to discover more about our four Florida lighthouses.

St. Augustine Lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida.

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, St. Augustine

Not far from the downtown of America’s oldest city, you’ll find the St. Augustine Lighthouse, located on Anastasia Island. The lighthouse is 175 feet tall, making it one of the longest in the U.S.

The lighthouse site has some real history behind it, with the original lighthouse built in the 1500s and the current one constructed in 1874. The lighthouse continues to be lit at night, and the view from the top is stunning—definitely worth it after you climb the 219 stairs on a vertigo-inducing spiral staircase.

The stairs in the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Don’t look too long, it’ll make you dizzy.

One major hook with the St. Augustine Light house is its haunted history. There were two young girls, Eliza and Mary, who died on the lighthouse property in 1873, and some visitors and employees claim to hear their giggles or even see them. There are also reports of the spirit of former lighthouse keeper, Peter Rasmussen, smoking cigars—and the smell of his cigar is sometimes still detected. Another former keeper, Joseph Andreu, fell to his death from the top of the tower. Both the children and the former lighthouse keepers are said to still “live” on the property. The show “Ghost Hunters” has featured the St. Augustine Lighthouse several times, and the lighthouse’s own Dark of the Moon tours detail the lighthouse’s haunted history.

We’ve visited the lighthouse both during the day and for the Dark of the Moon tour, and we recommend both experiences. During the day, take advantage of the lighthouse museum, nature trails, and Maritime Education Museum. Plus, the gift shop is pretty cool. At night, get more scoop on the lighthouse’s haunted history, where you’ll also get free time to wander the property with an EMF meter, a device that detects electromagnetic fields and is said to spike high if spirits are nearby. Although we’ve never had a ghostly, ghastly encounter ourselves there, we’ve witnessed or spoken with others who have. It’s definitely possible to believe that it could be haunted.

But a tip for the living: Wear good walking shoes and bring a bottle of water with you for climbing up those 219 stairs. You’ll be glad you did. And read some of our other St. Augustine tips in our previous article. In that article, we share a picture from the lighthouse taken at night that could be a mere blooper—or something otherworldly.

Adult admission to the St. Augustine Lighthouse is $12.95 for adults and $10.95 for kids. The Dark of the Moon tour has a separate charge and requires advance registration. If you google “St. Augustine Lighthouse coupons,” you can find some discounts. Or, pick up those handy printed guides on site in St. Augustine and you’re likely to find a coupon to save you a couple of bucks.

Egmont Key Lighthouse in St. Pete.

Egmont Key Lighthouse, Egmont Key State Park, St. Petersburg

The Egmont Key Lighthouse is located on Egmont Key, a small, secluded island only accessible by boat in St. Petersburg. If you have a boat, you can get their on your own, or you can take part in boat trips like the Egmont Key Ferry, which takes off from nearby Fort De Soto Park. The trip over to Egmont Key is 15 to 20 minutes. The Egmont Key Lighthouse and island also are also visible from Anna Maria Island.

The 87-foot lighthouse was built in 1858, and its beacon is still managed by the Coast Guard to help navigate ships and recreational boaters, according to the Egmont Key Alliance, a group that helps to preserve the island.

The island itself served as a yellow fever quarantine site for soldiers returning from Cuba during the Spanish American War and as an internment site for Seminole Indians on their way to reservations in the Midwest. During most of the Civil War, the island was occupied by the Union Navy. Find out more about Egmont Key’s history here. With that kind of history, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Egmont Key or its lighthouse could be haunted.

Although as of now you can’t go inside the lighthouse, you can still enjoy its looming presence on Egmont Key, which is worth a visit for its beautiful beaches, nature, and secluded feel. Discover more about Egmont Key in our article here.

There’s no charge to visit the Egmont Key Lighthouse, although unless you have a boat, you will have to pay a fee for the ferry to take you to the state park.

The Boca Grande Entrance Rear Range Lighthouse.

The Two Lighthouses in Boca Grande

Boca Grande is an isolated, affluent community in Southwest Florida’s Charlotte and Lee counties. The town is located on Gasparilla Island, and the whole area is generally known for some great fishing.

The two lighthouses on Boca Grande—Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Boca Grande Entrance Rear Range—and are often confused. People looking for them may assume they are one and the same, or assume that they are located right beside each other (that’s what we thought). The two lighthouses even had the same name at one time due to a clerical error. Actually, they are two separate lighthouses that are a mile or so apart.

Let’s look first at the Boca Grande Entrance Rear Range in Boca Grande, which has a more traditional lighthouse look. This lighthouse is the one closest to the actual town of Boca Grande, before you reach Gasparilla Island State Park. The history of this lighthouse actually began in Delaware, of all places. That’s because there was a lighthouse in Lewes, Delaware, in the 1880s that helped to guide vessels into Delaware Bay, according to US Lighthouses. By 1918, that lighthouse was no longer needed.

The beach area near both of Boca Grande’s lighthouses.

As railways expanded in the Boca Grande area in the 1920s, it was decided that shipping phosphate (which was transported in rail cars) right off of the waters near Boca Grande would be economical. As the lighthouse in Delaware was available, local leaders aimed to obtain the 100-foot lighthouse tower. The iron tower in Delaware was disassembled, with each piece marked to put it back together (if only Legos were so easy). Eventually, the tower was shipped to Gasparilla Island and reassembled in 1927. By 1969, Port Boca Grande was the fourth-busiest port in Florida. However, by the 1970s, phosphate companies began to use ports in the Tampa Bay area. After 1979, Port Boca Grande was no longer used for phosphate transportation, US Lighthouses writes.

There were plans to demolish the lighthouse in 2004, but those were quickly met with resistance. Nowadays, the lighthouse is managed by the Barrier Islands Park Society, and it was restored in 2017. You currently can’t climb to the top, but make sure to check the society’s webpage for updates. If you’re into lighthouses, it still is a site to see, and you can always enjoy the adjacent beach area.

Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum.

Just about a mile down, drive straight into Gasparilla Island State Park and you’ll find Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum. It was built in 1890 and originally used to guide ships into Charlotte Harbor. It doesn’t have a traditional lighthouse look as you just climb up a flight of stairs to reach it. Once you do get up there, you can tour through the museum and gift shop and learn more about the area’s history. The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse also is managed with help from the Barrier Island Parks Society.

Due to COVID-19, as of October 2020, the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse was closed, although you can still walk around the exterior and enjoy the beach area in Gasparilla Island State Park. Park admission is $3. Check the lighthouse’s webpage to find out when it is usually open.

Another view of Port Boca Grande Lighthouse in Boca Grande, Florida.

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