Do you love lighthouses? Check out this list of Southern Maine lighthouses during your next getaway to the coast!
The picturesque, sprawling Maine coastline has 65 lighthouses scattered along islands, bays, and coastlines. Many of the lighthouses are historical structures with some dating back to the 1700s.
The importance of Southern Maine lighthouses, however, cannot be understated because they have been beacons of light and navigation on the stormiest and darkest days at sea for mariners.
About Southern Maine Lighthouses
While you’ll find lighthouses and light stations up and down the coast, Southern Maine lighthouses are some of the state’s most beautiful, well-maintained lighthouses.
From the New Hampshire-Maine border up to Freeport Maine, one could spend days spotting the lighthouses of Southern Maine from the beautiful beaches and rocky coastline.
Each year, Maine holds an annual Open Lighthouse Day. Visitors can tour the state’s lighthouses for free and get a rare glimpse inside the various light stations. The event typically occurs in September.
Whether you’re looking to learn about the state of Maine and its seafaring roots or interested in the architecture of historical lighthouses, these Southern Maine lighthouses will wow you with their preserved structures and powerful presences on the islands and coast.
Boon Island Lighthouse
Boon Island (York County)
Located on Boon Island about 7 miles from the shores of York Maine, Boon Island Lighthouse is the tallest on the coast of Maine. Standing 133 feet on the rocky, barren island, the tower provides a visible guide for those navigating the waters.
It was built in 1811 and has undergone many refurbishments and rebuilds throughout its existence. The lighthouse is a beacon made of granite and steel, making it easy to view from Long Sands Beach and Sohier Park in York. A small, deserted innkeeper’s house can be seen up close from a boat.
Unfortunately, this lighthouse is not open to the public for touring, but it is active. When viewing from the shore or boat, look for a flashing white light that goes off every five seconds.
Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse
Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse was built in 1874 and stands 67 feet tall. The tower is one of the most photographed on the Atlantic coast.
There used to be two active lighthouses in Cape Elizabeth — one to the east and one to the west. The lighthouses were referred to as Two Lights or the Twin Lighthouses because they were built at the same time and synchronized when active.
In 1924, the West Light was shut down, and the East Light remained a navigational mark in the sea and still stands today. The East Light continues to shine bright and is considered one of the strongest lights on the New England coastline.
Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse is made of cast iron and features four white flashes every 15 seconds. It’s not open to the public but can be viewed from Two Lights State Park or by boat.
Cape Neddick Light
Cape Neddick Light, known to locals as Nubble Light, is located directly off the shores of York. The lighthouse stands 41 feet high on its own pristine island. The tower was built in 1879 and has been well-kept through the years.
Often decorated for holidays and special events, visitors flock to Sohier Park to take in the gorgeous views of the lighthouse. Cape Neddick Light is picturesque and always a popular photo subject.
Along with amazing pictures, visitors can fish, scuba dive, and picnic from Sohier Park in the shadow of the lighthouse.
The U.S. Coast Guard manned the lighthouse from 1939 to 1987, at which time it was automated. Cape Neddick Light has an alternating light signal with three seconds of red lights and then three seconds off.
Goat Island Lighthouse
Located in Cape Porpoise Harbor, Goat Island Lighthouse was built in 1833 and reconstructed in 1859. The structure stands 25 feet in height and is made of brick. Also at the lighthouse is a keeper’s house, a boathouse, an oil house, and a fog bell tower.
Goat Island Light flashes a white light every six seconds. It was the last light tower to be automated in 1990.
Visitors can view the lighthouse from Pier Road in Cape Porpoise or by boat. There is a dock on the island for those wishing to see the island and lighthouse up close. The keeper’s quarters is a private residence, and the residents sometimes give tours if they are available.
Halfway Rock Lighthouse
Casco Bay (east of Portland and Falmouth)
Halfway Rock Lighthouse is so named because it is located right in the middle of Casco Bay, halfway between two capes — Cape Elizabeth to the south and Cape Small to the north.
Built in 1871, the light tower stands 76 feet in height. It’s made of granite and features a conical structure with a white and black lantern. The light flashes red every five seconds.
Halfway Rock Lighthouse went through a significant renovation in the last decade as it was abandoned for nearly 40 years from the 1970s. A private entrepreneur purchased the lighthouse at auction and has worked to restore it to its original dominating presence in the bay.
Halfway Rock Lighthouse is not accessible for touring or visiting because it’s in very choppy, rocky waters, but it can be viewed from a distance by boat or from the shores of Casco Bay and Portland Maine.
Portland Breakwater Light
Portland Breakwater Light is also known as Bug Light. The nickname came from the lighthouse’s small size, like a bug.
Built in 1855, the lighthouse was originally wooden. It was later renovated with cast iron to reinforce the structure. Fully restored in 1989, the lighthouse was activated again in 2002. While small, it packs some really neat architectural styling with Corinthian columns and ornate details.
The lighthouse stands in Bug Light Park, where visitors can get a close look and photo opportunities. Though only 26 feet tall, it remains a popular tourist stop and a welcome sight for boaters in the harbor. The park where the lighthouse resides is perfect for picnics, fishing, boating, and walks.
Portland Head Light
Portland Head Light is one of the most recognizable Maine lighthouses and is set in gorgeous Fort Williams Park. Visitors stop by to admire the beautiful light tower and enjoy the 90-acre park followed by the on-site museum and gift shop. The gift shop is located in the original innkeeper’s house.
Portland Head has a storied history dating back to the American Revolution when soldiers stationed here warned of incoming British attacks.
Over the years, Portland Head Light has undergone many refurbishments and upgrades. It was originally built in 1787 and lit for the first time in 1791. A keeper’s quarters, Fresnel lens, and staircase were added throughout the late 1700s and early 1800s.
In 1865, the light tower was made even taller with an addition of 20 feet. The total height is now 80 feet of rubble stone and brick in a conical structure.
Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse
Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse is a rugged, weathered light tower located in Casco Bay not far from the Portland shoreline. This lighthouse is 90 feet in height and was constructed in 1905. It features two white flashes every six seconds.
The tower is made of granite and while not the prettiest of Maine’s lighthouses, it has served its purpose of warning mariners of dangerous and rocky waters. Ram Island is notorious for its jagged, long rock structures that are not visible to the naked eye.
Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse is closed to the public for tours, but the island can be visited by appointment. It can also be viewed from Fort Williams Park and Portland Head Light or by boat.
Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse
Visitors who are looking to tour a beautiful Southern Maine lighthouse can do so at the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, which is located in South Portland. It is a caisson or bug light-style and the only of its kind that visitors can tour.
Constructed in 1897 of brick and cast iron, the lighthouse is accessible by walking out onto the granite breakwater. The height of the lighthouse is 54 feet, and it flashes white every six seconds and features two red sectors.
Spring Point Ledge Light is perfect for picture-taking opportunities, seeing what a real lighthouse looks like up close, and admiring the gorgeous Portland Harbor water views. When not open for tours, visitors can still walk down the 950-foot breakwater and around the lighthouse’s exterior.
Located at the mouth of the Piscataqua River, Whaleback Lighthouse can be seen from many locations from Kittery Maine to Rye New Hampshire. The lighthouse was built in 1830 but was soon found to be poorly built and fell into disrepair.
Over the years, the lighthouse has been rebuilt and renovated many times. It stands 70 feet tall and is constructed of granite. Every 10 seconds, the lighthouse lets off two white flashes.
Whaleback Lighthouse is closed to the public, but because of its visible location, it can be viewed from the shore or by boat.
Wood Island Lighthouse
Accessible only by boat, Wood Island Lighthouse stands 47 feet tall and is built of stone. This tower was constructed in 1808 and then again in 1839, and it includes a keeper’s house, an oil house, and a storage building. Views of the lighthouse can be seen from the East Point Audubon Sanctuary’s trails.
Those looking to tour the island and lighthouse can set up a visit during the summer through the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse.
The trips leave from Biddeford Pool and include a 15-minute boat ride to the island followed by a half-mile walk to the lighthouse. Once at the lighthouse, visitors can climb the lighthouse tower and view the keeper’s house.
Enjoy All the Historic Southern Maine Lighthouses
If only the lighthouses could talk, they would tell stories of the evolution of ships and boats, times of dark stormy days and war, and times of heavenly summer days.
While many Southern Maine lighthouses are not open for regularly scheduled tours, Open Lighthouse Day is always a big hit with locals and tourists alike. This one day in September allows the general public to explore the insides of these amazing pieces of history. Visitors can meet former and current innkeepers, learn about the history of the lighthouses and get a glimpse into the special structures.
Southern Maine always conjures up images of lighthouses standing proudly on rocky inlets, barren islands, and jagged coastlines. Plan a visit to one of these architectural feats by boat or from a distance with binoculars, and be sure to have your camera ready to snap some breathtaking photographs.