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Cape Cod, a charming peninsula/island in Massachusetts, is an iconic summer destination boasting quaint villages, seafood shacks, and iconic lighthouses. These lighthouses have guided mariners through the treacherous waters of the Atlantic Ocean for centuries, and today, they stand as powerful landmarks and a testament to Cape Cod’s rich maritime history.
There are 14 beautiful lighthouses scattered throughout Cape Cod, plus a few more on the nearby islands, each with its own unique history and charm. Many are open to the public and offer tours or access to their grounds, allowing visitors to learn about their maritime heritage and enjoy stunning coastal views.
A self-guided lighthouse tour is a fun way to spend the day on the Cape. Out of the 14 Cape Cod lighthouses, 10 are relatively easy to get to with parking and grounds open to the public. The four others are a little more challenging, requiring a guided tour or overnight reservations.
Here is a rundown of all 14 Cape Cod Lighthouses and how to see them during your next trip to New England, starting with the easiest ones to see on your own.
Long Point Light Station
Located at the very tip of Cape Cod, the Long Point Light Station in Provincetown offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The lighthouse, managed by the National Park Service, is the most remote on the Cape Cod National Seashore. Although it is remote, it is still easier to see than some of the other lighthouses on this list.
Long Point is only accessible via a scenic hike from Provincetown – you can walk along the Provincetown Causeway (a stretch of rocks leading from Pilgrims’ First Landing Park to the island) for about three miles to reach this lighthouse. You can also take a 20-minute boat ride from Provincetown for a faster route.
Although you can’t go inside the lighthouse, the views from the exterior, showcasing the Provincetown harbor from a distance, are fantastic. You don’t have to walk all the way to the light in order to get a good view. It may be small but you can catch glimpses of this light from South Commercial Street.
Wood End Lighthouse
Lit up for the very first time in 1872, Wood End Light is one of the most historic lighthouses in Cape Cod. This lighthouse, surrounded by rolling sand dunes, is a beacon at the end of a long, sandy spit that extends from Provincetown.
The journey to Wood End Lighthouse is a bit of an adventure, involving a walk across the breakwater and a trek along the beach, but the views are absolutely worth it.
From the parking area, it will take you about 35 minutes on foot to reach this Cape Cod lighthouse, but keep in mind that parking is limited. If you’d rather walk from the center of town, add on another 20 to 30 minutes.
Race Point Lighthouse
The Race Point Lighthouse was first lit in 1816 and then replaced in 1876 with its current 45-foot tall iron-plated tower, in addition to a new keeper’s dwelling. Three keepers and their families lived between two separate keepers’ houses, and their children walked three miles to school every day!
In 1957, this lighthouse was electrified, and three years later, one of the keeper’s houses was torn down while the other was renovated. This dwelling, which has now been restored to feature 1950s-era details with a bed-and-breakfast-style atmosphere, is open to the public for overnight stays, sleeping up to eight guests.
Today, this lighthouse is maintained by the Coast Guard. Visitors can park at Race Point Beach and then walk along a sand road for two miles, eventually leading to the lighthouse.
Owned by the National Park Service, the Highland Lighthouse is the oldest and tallest lighthouse in Cape Cod. Also known as the Cape Cod Light, this was the first lighthouse on the Cape Cod National Seashore.
While it was originally built over 500 feet from the edge of a 125-foot clay cliff, erosion brought the edge of the cliff about 100 feet from the lighthouse by the 1990s. Because of this, Highland Lighthouse was moved 450 feet back, funded by the Truro Historical Society.
Explore the museum and gift shop, or climb to the top for panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean – guided tours are also available. This historic lighthouse is located on Highland Light Road in North Turo and has a parking area for easy access.
Perhaps one of the most iconic lighthouses in Cape Cod, the red and white Nauset Lighthouse in Eastham is a must-visit. Made with cast iron and brick lining, this lighthouse currently stands 48 feet high. However, when it was first constructed, it consisted of 15-foot brick towers about 500 feet from the edge of a cliff.
Due to erosion, these towers were replaced by three 22-foot high wooden lighthouses in 1892. Unfortunately, the lighthouses had to move yet again because of the eroding shoreline in 1911.
The lighthouse standing today was initially constructed in 1877 in Chatham as the companion to the one standing there today. This lighthouse was moved to its current location in 1923, replacing the wooden lighthouses from 1892.
The Nauset Light Preservation Society offers free tours of this property. The parking area is located off Ocean View Drive, and it’s only a short walk from there.
Three Sisters Lighthouses
These three charming lighthouses in Eastham, now located together in a woodland setting, were originally built along Nauset Beach. Accessible via a short walking trail, these 15-foot high lighthouses were called the “three sisters” because, from the ocean, they looked like three women wearing white dresses and black hats.
While the original three brick towers fell into the ocean due to erosion in 1890, they were replaced with wooden buildings on brick foundations two years later. Since then, they have been moved further inland to prevent further erosion issues.
The parking lot has a designated time limit of 30 minutes, which is just enough time for a quick photo stop!
Chatham Lighthouse Beach
The Chatham Lighthouse is an active Coast Guard station overlooking a beautiful sandy beach with bright blue water. The original structures, two towers, were built in 1808 and replaced with stone in 1841.
While you’re here, you can climb to the top of the lighthouse, experience the incredible view from the top, and walk on this beautiful shore. Although Chatham Lighthouse is not open for overnight stays, the nearby Chatham Gables Inn is a great substitute.
Free tours are available, offering a glimpse into the life of a lighthouse keeper. While paid parking is available in front of the beach, you can also get there via a 20-minute walk from town.
Stage Harbor Lighthouse
Also known as Harding’s Beach Lighthouse, the Stage Harbor Lighthouse in Chatham is one of the most iconic Cape Cod lighthouses. It was built in 1880, which makes it the youngest lighthouse in Cape Cod.
Although this lighthouse is now privately owned, you can still admire it from a distance or by contacting the owners to get special permission – they often allow schoolchildren on field trips and tourists to access it.
If you want to view it from a distance without entering, the best view is from Harding’s Beach in Chatham. There is a generous parking area (for a fee in high season) and a sandy path that starts at the parking lot leading to the lighthouse. It takes about 20-30 mins to get to the lighthouse, but you’ll start getting views in the distance after about a 10 min walk. The sandy path also allows cars during certain times of the year.
Hyannis Harbor Light
Also known as the Lewis Bay Lighthouse, Hyannis Harbor Light was built in 1816. When it was put into service in 1849, its conical brick lighthouse tower was 19 feet at the lantern’s base and topped with an aviary-style lantern. With a fixed white light and red area, this guided ships from the southwest sound, which was quite dangerous.
Throughout the years, Hyannis Harbor Light has been bought and sold several times, and the keeper’s house has undergone numerous renovations and enhancements.
This lighthouse, located in a private residential community in Hyannis, is not open to the public, but you can view it from the water or the nearby Veteran’s Beach. You’ll get great views of the light if you plan a day trip to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard via ferry from Hyannis Port.
Nobska Point Lighthouse
Overlooking the Vineyard Sound in Woods Hole, the Nobska Point Lighthouse offers stunning views on the southwestern tip of Cape Cod. Comprising the tower, the keeper’s house, a small oil house, and a radio beacon house, this lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The tower has a brick interior and metal exterior, rising to 40 feet. The keeper’s house is not open to the public, as it is currently being renovated to become a maritime museum. However, the lighthouse grounds and tower are open to visitors.
Located on Nobska Road in Falmouth, you’ll find limited parking in front of this lighthouse.
West Dennis Light
Also known as Bass River Light, this lighthouse in West Dennis is part of the charming Lighthouse Inn. This light was first lit in 1855 and was officially discontinued in 1914.
After being sold at an auction, the property was purchased by Harry K. Noyes, who enlarged the main house, landscaped the grounds, and added several cottages. This created the perfect atmosphere for an inn – and in 1938, overnight guests began staying on this property.
Today, you can enjoy fresh seafood at the onsite restaurant while admiring the views of the Bass River and Nantucket Sound. If you stay overnight, you can choose between several different rooms or cottages. Guests particularly enjoy the location and access to West Dennis Beach.
Located on Lighthouse Road, the onsite parking lot means that you’ll have easy lighthouse access.
Sandy Neck Lighthouse
Located in West Barnstable, the Sandy Neck Lighthouse once stood “headless” for 75 years, after which local volunteers restored it to its former beauty. Sandy Neck has rightfully earned its name, situated on a 6-mile-long, half-mile-wide sandy peninsula on the north side of Cape Cod.
This charming lighthouse is not open to the public but you are able to access the grounds if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle and permit, or strong enough legs to walk 6 miles one way in the sand! However, the easiest way to see it is likely on a whale-watching cruise – several tours leave from the nearby Millway Marina.
Note: Google GPS will lead you to a park, from there it is a 12 mile round trip hike to see the lighthouse. Barnstable Harbor and Millway Beach offer views from a distance.
Wings Neck Lighthouse
Wings Neck Lighthouse, located in Bourne on the west side of Massachusetts, was established in 1849. The present lighthouse was constructed in 1890 but was then deactivated in 1945.
Today, this lighthouse has been converted to a vacation rental, offering a unique opportunity to live the lighthouse keeper’s life. It has been completely renovated so that guests can enjoy its historic features like wooden floors, fireplaces, and a mahogany spiral staircase. The best way to see it is from the water as there is no public access near the lighthouse.
From this property, the surrounding Buzzards Bay is breathtaking – you’ll get 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean and private beach access. Located a short distance from the nearby towns of Pocasset, Sandwich, and Falmouth, this is a fantastic Cape Cod vacation spot.
As one of the first cast-iron lighthouses in Cape Cod, Monomoy Point Light in Chatham was formerly a wooden tower with a brick lantern room constructed in 1823. It wasn’t until 1849 that it was converted into the cast iron tower that exists today.
The keeper’s house has been well-preserved and was formerly open to the public for overnight stays – unfortunately, these programs have been discontinued.
Located on Monomoy Island, this lighthouse is a bit tricky to reach, but the island’s untouched beauty makes it a worthwhile adventure. From Chatham, you can take a 45-minute private ferry to Monomoy island with Monomoy Island Ferry. This area is extremely remote – you won’t find any residents, electricity, paved roads, or vehicles on the entire island. As a result, it is one of the least-visited lighthouses in Cape Cod!
Note: The Google Maps location takes you to the Monomoy National Wildlife refuge that does not have views of the light. It does have a few walking trails with views of the ocean as in the photo above. I have yet to get to Monomoy island as the ferry has been recently suspended
If you are looking for more lighthouses in Cape Cod, head to nearby Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard which has another 8 lighthouses between them including the dramatic red and white striped Sankaty Lighthouse in Nantucket and the first on Martha’s Vineyard, Gay Head Lighthouse.
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