The 29 Best Historic Lighthouses to Visit in Maine

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Maine is known for its beautiful lighthouses jetting out into the rugged sea, guiding boats safely into its many harbors. Maine’s rocky coastline is home to 65 lighthouses. Each lighthouse in Maine has its own unique architectural design and history, making it enjoyable to explore and attracting tourists from all over the world. Some lighthouses are still active and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, while others have been preserved as historic landmarks.

Visiting Maine’s lighthouses often involves exploring the coastal areas around them, including hiking trails, beaches, and wildlife viewing opportunities. There are fun places to camp and plenty of beach towns to explore while visiting some of Maines’s iconic lighthouses.

Many lighthouses are drive-up friendly and open to the public, offering tours, museums and visitor centers, while some are on remote islands and can only be reached by boat. 

In this post, I’m sharing some of my favorite historic lighthouses in Maine and the best way to see them. Make sure to plan ahead, as I discovered many of the ferries, boat tours, and scenic lighthouse cruises book up quickly or are only offered on certain days of the week.

It took me a whole week to see almost every lighthouse on this list, but if you are pressed for time, Portland, Maine, and Boothbay Harbor make great bases for exploring multiple lighthouses with easy access to some of the best ones in Maine that are open to the public.

If you visit Maine in September, the American Lighthouse Foundation hosts an annual “Maine Open Lighthouse Day,” where many properties usually closed to the public are open for tours. More options for scenic lighthouse cruises and boat tours to visit the lighthouses that are harder to reach are available during Maine Open Lighthouse Day. Check their website for updated events.

I’ve listed the lighthouses in geographical order, starting in northern Maine with the West Quoddy Head Light, then mid-coast Maine lighthouses, and finally into the lighthouses found in southern Maine to help make planning a bit easier.

Enjoy this list of the best historic lighthouses in Maine!

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse

Located in Lubec, the U.S.’s easternmost town, this candy-stripped lighthouse was built in 1808 by order of President Thomas Jefferson. It is the only red-and-white striped lighthouse tower in the U.S, and is often featured in calendars and posters. Today, the light keeper’s house is a visitors’ center, opened on Memorial Day, through mid-October. Enjoy a guided tour to the top of the lighthouse every Saturday in July and August. 

You can drive right up to this lighthouse. It is located in Quoddy Head State Park with ample parking. There is no fee to enter.

Mulholland Light

Consider this one a bonus lighthouse. This Canadian lighthouse was established in 1885 on Campobello island, a popular summer destination for affluent Americans and Canadians, including the family of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is no longer in service and can be seen from the shores in Lubec, Maine. The best views are from N Water Street near the McCurdy Smokehouse Museum.

Winter Harbor Light

This lighthouse is located on Mark Island just one mile off shore between the Schoodic Peninsula and Turtle Island. The light was built in 1856 and was deactivated in 1933. It had many owners over the years, many who were novelists. Bernice Richmond wrote about her experience while living at the lighthouse in Winter Harbor and Our Island Lighthouse. It is now privately owned and on the market for $2.3 Million.

The lighthouse is best viewed by boat. Its grounds and tower is closed to the public. You can also see the light from park loop road on Mount Desert Island while in Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Peninsula. Its pretty far in the distance so a zoom lens or binoculars are suggested. I took the photo above with my 150-600mm lens while on the peninsula.

description of a white and red roof next to a black light tower

Burnt Coat Harbor Lighthouse (Hockamock Head)

This unique light is located on Swan Island on the Hockamock Head peninsula. Its name is often interchanged with Swan’s Island Lighthouse or the Hockamock Head Lighthouse. Built in 1872,  the lighthouse resides within a picturesque 20-acre park with two-miles of walking trails and beaches. The keeper’s house features displays of history and art. It is still a functioning lighthouse and provides safety for local lobster boats, recreational vessels and schooners into Burnt Coat Harbor. Swan Island can be reached by ferry from Bass Harbor. Both the keeper’s house and light tower are open from June through September. Check their website for updated opening times.

If you want to visit the island using the Swan Island car ferry advanced reservations are recommended. They often sell out but do allow additional cars on a first come first serve basis. There is no public transportation on the island so you’ll need a car or a bicycle to get to the lighthouse. It is about 4.5 miles from the ferry port to Hockamock Peninsula. The island is developed with Inns and grocery stores if you want to spent the night.

white house on the side of a cliff overlooking the ocean

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Bass Harbor Light is located in Tremont, and is the only lighthouse on Desert Island, the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay. It is one of three lighthouses managed by Acadia National Park listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was constructed in 1858 and sits upon a 52-acre parcel of land owned by the National Park Service. Today, it is one of the few operational lighthouses in the world. It has free limited parking, porta-potty restrooms, a short hiking trail and an accessible rocky shoreline. The grounds are open daily from 9 a.m. to sunset.

The best way to see this lighthouse in it entirety is from the water. The views from shore are of its side. No drones are allowed in this area. The short path has a lot of stairs and you’ll have to walk along the rocks to get the best view of the side of the house. It is a very popular place for sunset with visitors arriving two hours or more in advance to snag a parking spot. Having a picnic dinner on the rocks while watching the sunset isn’t a bad idea.

white and stone tower on a rocky island

Isle au Haut Light

Isle au Haut is part of Acadia National Park, and its rugged coastline and natural beauty make it a popular destination for hiking and outdoor enthusiasts. The lighthouse’s history adds to the island’s appeal for those interested in maritime heritage and exploration. Isle au Haut Light was first established in 1907. The original light source was a fourth-order Fresnel lens, which emitted a white light with a red sector to warn ships away from dangerous areas. In 1934, Isle au Haut Light was automated and in 1972, the Coast Guard decommissioned Isle au Haut Light. It has become a symbol of the island’s maritime history and remains a picturesque structure.

The lighthouse is closed to the public but you can walk its grounds or view it from the bay aboard the Isle au Haut Ferry service. They offer multiple trips to a day to Isle au Haut and a scenic cruise where you do not leave the boat but see the lighthouse from the shore. You’ll need to ride the ferry to Duck Harbor to see the light.

Fort Point Light Station 

Located in Stockton Springs, Fort Point Light was built in 1836 as the first river light in Maine.  It is perched high on a point on the western side of the Penobscot River within Fort Point State Park. It has a unique square bell tower and maintains its original fog bell. It earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Although the actual tower and surrounding structures are closed to the public, visitors are welcome to explore the grounds daily from 9 a.m. until sunset for a $4.00 fee. This Maine lighthouse is just a short drive from Searsport, a lively artist community filled with many shops and restaurants.

a white square brick tower on a rocky island

Grindle Point Lighthouse and Sailors’ Museum

This cozy cottage style lighthouse is located in Islesboro, a rural island community filled with natural beauty. The property includes the Sailors’ Memorial Museum inside the keeper’s house, along with a boat house and an oil house. The grounds are accessible by a short ferry ride from Lincolnville every hour on the hour (until 5 ish) throughout the year but the museum is only open in summer, July through August. Although the light tower is temporarily closed, visiting Grindle Point Light and Sailors Museum still makes for a fun day trip along the coast. 

Make sure to plan your roundtrip ferry to the lighthouse in advance. The last return ferry from Islesboro is usually around 4 p.m. in the summer. The lighthouse is an easy walk from the ferry landing so you do not need a car to visit the lighthouse.

Curtis Island Light

This lighthouse was first completed in 1836 and is located in one of the most picturesque harbors in Maine, Camden Harbor. The original name of the island was Negro Island but the name was changed to Curtis Island in 1936 for Cyrus Curtis, a wealthy summer resident of Camden known for his philanthropy. The structure has been rebuilt over the years with the current dwelling finishing completion in 1896.

The lighthouse is now owned by the town and its grounds are apart of a public park. The tower and keeper’s house is not open to the public.

The best way to view the lighthouse is by boat from the water or from the Curtis Island Lighthouse Overlook Park located off of Bay View St. The small park is in a residential neighborhood. There area a few pullovers for cars. It is a very short walk from the street to the overlook and provides a lovely atmosphere for viewing.

red building on a rocky breakwater in the ocean

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse 

Built in 1902, the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is one of the more recent builts, yet still a historic Maine lighthouse. Located in Rockland, this lighthouse and attached keeper’s house guards the end of a nearly a mile of Rockland breakwater (a rock barrier built in the harbor to protect it from waves). It is a great place to take in the marine vessel traffic, shore birds and harbor seals. The grounds are open from sunrise to sunset. For tours, weather permitting, visit their Facebook page.

You can walk along the breakwater to access the lighthouse. Its an easy, mostly flat walk along broken cement blocks. It is seven-eighths of a mile each way.

girl in a red dress sitting on a white railing leading to a black top light tower
large bell and white house on a lawn overlooking the ocean

Marshall Point Lighthouse 

This is one of my favorite picturesque lighthouses in Maine. The first Marshall Point Lighthouse, was built in 1832, a new tower was built in 1858. The lighthouse and keeper’s house have gone through many iterations due to fire and modernization. The lighthouse was featured in the movie Forest Gump, starring Tom Hanks. The gift shop and museum in the old keeper’s house offer a glimpse into the history of the lighthouse, its builders, keepers, and owners with unique treasures such as jewelry, books, toys and more. Visit their website for updated opening times. There is a small parking lot for cars and a few porta-potties omn site.

Owls Head Lighthouse 

This towering lighthouse is located in Owls Head State Park at the entrance of Rockland Harbor on western Penobscot Bay. Constructed in 1825, then rebuilt in 1852 with a keeper’s house added, it became automated in 1989. The keeper’s house is now the American Lighthouse Foundation interpretive center, where you can learn about lighthouses. If you like stories about ghosts, shipwrecks and dogs, you will like this lighthouse. It is open six days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesday) from Memorial Day through Columbus Day for tower tours. You can access the grounds by car and a short shaded walk.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse 

Located in New Harbor in Bristol, this scenic light was commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1827 and built in 1835, after the 1827 lighthouse deteriorated due to poor construction. Situated on the west side of the Muscongus Bay entrance, Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was the first to be automated in Maine. It remains an active lighthouse and features the Fisherman’s Museum in the keeper’s house. Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse between Memorial Day and Columbus Day. Check the town’s website for opening times and tickets. The lighthouse and park are accessible by car but a scenic boat ride from Boothbay is another great way to see the lighthouse and Maine’s rocky coastline.

red roof buildings and a brick stone tower peaking up over green trees

Monhegan Island Light 

Another light located near Boothbay Harbor is Monhegan Island light, 10 miles off the shore of mid-coast Maine. The first keeper of the lighthouse moved in during 1824.  The lighthouse went through a series of renovations, expansions and modernization over the years. Today, it is a functional, solar powered lighthouse. The keeper’s house serves as a museum and lighthouse tours are offered daily, weather permitting.

Allow a full day to visit the lighthouse via ferry from one of three ports, Boothbay Harbor, Port Clyde or New Harbor. The one way ride is 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on what port you leave from. Advanced planning is a good idea since ferry schedules can be limited. Visit the Monhegan Island website for planning information.

white tower with a red light on top on a rocky island

Burnt Island Light

The stunning Burnt Island light station is located about one mile from Boothbay Harbor and thanks to many volunteers, is now known as a remarkable site for educational and recreational purposes. Built in 1821, this light is Maine’s second oldest surviving lighthouse. It hosts a living history museum, hiking trails, indigenous fauna, forest and a sand beach. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 23, 1977.

Burnt Island can only be reached by boat or kayak and is open seven days-a-week from 10 AM – 5 PM, June–October. The best views are from the water. You can view the lighthouse via many sightseeing ferries from Boothbay Harbor. I went on a sunrise photography lighthouse tour with Balmay Cruises but the tour didn’t bring us to shore.

Cuckolds Lighthouse 

Cuckolds Lighthouse is located near Boothbay Harbor, on the southern tip of Southport Island, and was one of the last lighthouses to be built on the Maine coast in 1874. The original tripod beacon warned mariners of the dangers of the rocky coast when entering Boothbay Harbor until 1891 when appropriations were made to build a full-fledged fog signal station. The light was automated in 1974. It is still an active station. An Inn and restaurant were once opened on the island but the business didn’t last long. Now the grounds are privately owned and closed to the public. The best views are by boat but you can see it from a distance from the Southport town landing.

Ram Island Lighthouse

After many shipwrecks and close encounters, Ram Island (not to be confused with Ram Island Ledge in Portland) lighthouse was Established in 1883 near Boothbay Harbor. Ram Island light has been the center of many eerie encounters and ghost stories told by local fishermen, boat captains, and its keepers over the years. Robert Thayer Sterling tells several eerie stories of Ram Island in his book Lighthouses of the Maine Coast and the Men Who Keep Them. You can visit the lighthouse’s grounds by boat but the tower is privately owned and closed to the public. There are sightseeing cruises and many boat tours from Bath or Boothbay Harbor that pass by this light.

Hendrick’s Head Lighthouse

Hendricks Head Light in Southport, Maine is just a 15-minute drive (or less) from Boothbay Harbor. The light station was established in 1829, and rebuilt in 1875. It was deactivated in 1933, but relit in 1951. The two-story keeper’s house is now a private summer residence. It is best known for some of its heroic rescues, one by Shep, a keeper’s dog, and another by a keeper himself when a small wooden box floated to the shore during rough seas with a baby girl inside. It is also said to be haunted by a woman whose body washed ashore after her supposed death by suicide. Her identity was never discovered, but is now known as “Lady Ghost of the Dusk.”

The lighthouse can seen from Hendrick’s Beach. You can climb up the rocks on the beach for a better view. There is parking along the road. I flew my drone from the beach to get shots of the peninsula. The road to the lighthouse is private property, so please do not drive or park along the lighthouse road.

Doubling Point Lighthouse 

Also known as the Kennebec River Range Light, Doubling Point Lighthouse is located in Arrowsic, bordering private property. Established in 1899, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is still an active lighthouse. Because it sits directly behind someone’s house you can only visit the lighthouse between the hours of 9 a.m and 5 p.m. There is a small parking lot

UPDATE: The boardwalk leading from the shore to the light tower collapsed during Maine’s Open Lighthouse Day, 2023. 11 people fell into the marshy waters below but all recovered. This light is now not accessible until repairs can be made.

Squirrel Point Light 

Located on Arrowsic Island near Bath is Squirrel Point Light. It sits along the Kennebec River and requires a 0.8 mile hike to get to. You can explore the grounds, but the buildings are not open to visitors and there are no restrooms. A few interpretive signs highlight the history of the lighthouse on the property. The hike is easy and offers a few scenic viewpoints along the river. There were a TON of mosquitoes during my visit in early September so dress appropriately and bring bug spray!

Portland Breakwater Lighthouse (Bug Light)

Also referred to as Bug Light, this small lighthouse is located in South Portland and was established in 1855 after a breakwater was constructed to the mouth of Portland Harbor. It is located in Bug Light Park, a wonderful place for a sunset walk or flying kites. Its location offers great views of the boats coming to and from the harbor. There is a generous parking lot at the park and also a public boat launch. There are also many lighthouse tours, including the Harbor Lights and Sights Cruise leaving Portland Harbor, that offers sights of Portland’s three lighthouses.

small white lighthouse on a rocky pathway in the ocean

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse 

Also located in South Portland, this light was built in 1897 and is still an active working lighthouse. Its an integral part of the area’s history. Near Portland Harbor in Casco Bay, Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse is the only caisson-style lighthouse station, sometimes called a sparkplug lighthouse or bug light. It is accessible to visitors by foot along the breakwater and provides a terrific view of Portland Harbor with its rich array of vessels. It is open to the public during summer weekends for tours. 

yellow foliage in front of a white light tower and red roof house

Portland Head Lighthouse 

The Portland Head lighthouse is the oldest and most photographed lighthouse in Maine. It sits on Cape Elizabeth and features an award-winning museum. Originally built in 1787 and in service in 1791, it has seen numerous upgrades as one of the oldest Maine lighthouses. President George Washington approved the appointment of the first keeper, Captain Joseph Greenleave. It sits adjacent to the 90-acre Fort Williams Park, boasting many outdoor recreational activities and striking ocean views. The tower is open to the public one day a year on Maine Open Lighthouse Day. 

The park is open from sunrise to sunset. The gates are locked with no entry outside of these times. There are a number of lighthouse viewpoints from the park, my favorite being “Head Light Scenic Viewpoint 3.” From here you can walk through the small gate to the rocks below and get a great view of the lighthouse from the water.

stone tower on a rocky island

Ram Island Ledge Light 

Ram Ledge Light is located in Casco Bay a mile offshore from Portland Head Light. It is a 72-foot granite tower built in 1905 after another major shipwreck from the dangerous rocks of Ram Island. It is still an active U.S. coast Guard Light. The tower and grounds are closed to the public, although a Google review said visiting the island is possible with an appointment. I could not find any further information about this while in Portland.

You can view the lighthouse from Fort Williams Park, where Portland Headlight is located, one of the most famous lighthouses in Maine. There are many viewpoints from shore, including both lighthouses.

white tower sticking up above green trees
The view from the parking lot

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse

The beautiful Cape Elizabeth Twin Lights or Two Lights are also located along the coast, guiding ships safely into Portland Harbor. In 1827, it was decided that two lighthouses were needed to ward off confusion caused by land lights near Portland Head and Wood Island. Both the East and West towers are beautifully constructed but closed to the public and reside along private roads. You can drive past the lighthouses but parking is not encouraged.

For the best public views of the East Lighthouse, park at the Two Light Road parking lot. This parking lot is for the Lobster Shack so if you don’t want to eat there, go before or after business hours. The parking lot offers views of East Light Tower. I flew my drone from the small beach and got the above aerial shots of both lighthouses.

white tower on a rocky island

Wood Island Lighthouse 

Wood Island light is the fifth oldest lighthouse in Maine, located on Wood Island in Saco Bay, just off the coast of Biddeford Pool in southern Maine, one of the best beach towns in Maine. The 200-plus year-old history of Wood Island Light is riddled with intriguing stories of murders, shipwrecks, heroism and more. July and August tours of the active lighthouse require reservations and can be made online starting in early June. Tours depart the Vine’s Boat Landing in Biddeford Pool and are subject to weather and sea conditions.  

This lighthouse is best seen from the water on a tour but you can catch a glimpse from the small Vines Landing park in Biddeford Pool. It’s pretty far away so binoculars or a zoom lens are recommended. You can see how small it is even with a 600mm camera lens in the photo above.

island with a white building and American flag blowing in the wind

Goat Island Light 

First lit in 1833 and still active, Goat Island Light is located about a mile offshore from Cape Porpoise near Kennebunkport. As a point of interest, Secret Service agents often used Goat Island Light to protect President George H. W. Bush when visiting Kennebunkport. The lighthouse is accessible by boat, but visitors can dock only one to two hours around high tide. The resident keepers give tours to visitors during the summer months. It can be viewed from the south end of Bickford Island from Cape Porpoise.

Cape Porpoise is a busy area with a boat launch, harbor and a few restaurants. Parking is limited but its a cute area to enjoy some authentic Maine scenery and grab a bite to eat.

Lobster Point Lighthouse

This quaint lighthouse can be seen in Ogunquit along the Marginal Way Cliff Walk or from a distance across the water at Ogunquit beach. First built in 1948 by a member of the town’s original family, it has been renovated and reconstructed a few times using only donations. The tower is not open to the public but it is a fun sight along an even prettier walk. There are about 10 (2 hour parking) parking spots along Stearns Road where this light is located.

The Cape Neddick Lighthouse  (Nubble Lighthouse)

Located in York, Neddick Light (also called The Nubble Lighthouse) is the southernmost lighthouse in Maine and one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine. It sits on a picturesque island surrounded by rocky shores. The term “nubble” refers to a tiny off-shore island. The lighthouse was established in 1879 and automated in 1987. The lighthouse is not open to the public but there is a generous parking lot and benches along the waterfront to enjoy the views.  

Take notice of the small dot on the left of the keeper’s house in the photo above; it is a bald eagle!

stone tower on a rocky island in the sea

Whaleback Lighthouse 

Built on a small island in 1872, Whaleback Lighthouse stands at the entrance of the Piscataqua River in Kittery, Maine. Bordering Maine and New Hampshire, it was first established in 1830, later going through a series of upgrades and becoming automated in 1963. The lighthouse is not open to the public but can be viewed from Commons Park on Newcastle Island near Portsmouth, NH, with some binoculars.

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Don’t forget to venture into the communities surrounding these lighthouses, such as Ogunquit, York, Kennebunkport, and Rockport; these are some of the best beach towns in Maine. There is so much more to see along the enchanting Maine coastline, from scenic road trips, boat tours, hiking, and camping; you’ll leave wanting to return year after year.

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