Do you love lighthouses? These architectural gems have guided sailors home, saved thousands of lives, and served as inspiration for countless visitors. And while the Pacific coast of North America is dotted with them, these are the best West Coast lighthouses to add to your Canada and USA bucket list!
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The Best West Coast Lighthouses
Here are the best lighthouses on the West Coast of the US and Canada.
Sheringham Point Lighthouse
A great place to visit on Vancouver Island is the picturesque Sheringham Point Lighthouse, located along the rugged south coast. Only a one-hour drive from Victoria, the lighthouse can easily be visited as part of a road trip along the south side of the island.
The story of how the lighthouse came to be is actually a very sad one. After the very tragic shipwreck of the steamship SS Valencia, where the lives of 136 passengers were lost, the Canadian government constructed 12 lighthouses along the south coast of Vancouver Island, a part of the ocean also known as the Graveyard of the Pacific (over 240 ships went down here between 1850 and 1910).
The Sheringham Point Lighthouse was built in 1912 and has since then guided countless ships along the treacherous coastline. While you can’t enter the Lighthouse itself, you can walk around the grounds. Opening hours are depended on the season., Spring hours are between 9 am and 7 pm, and summer hours are from 9 am to 8 pm.
There is a small parking area at the end of Sheringham Point, however, I recommend parking at the head of the Sheringham Lighthouse Trail (Sheringham Point Rd, Port Renfrew, BC V0S 1K0) so you’ll be able to enjoy the lovely (and easy) 3.4 kilometer Sheringham Lighthouse Trail loop trail.
Contributed by Lotte Eschbach from Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog
Pachena Point Lighthouse (British Colombia)
Pachena Point Lighthouse is located on Vancouver Island, 13 kilometers south of Bamfield, British Columbia, in Pacific Rim National Park. There are plenty of shipwrecks on the southeast coast of Vancouver Island since many ships made the mistake of missing the Juan de Fuca strait crashing onto the rocks of this coast.
The lighthouse high up on the cliffs above rough seas was completed in 1908 and is a major coastal light on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. A lifesaving trail for shipwrecked mariners was built along the coast over rough terrain and impenetrable forest, it was completed from Bamfield to Pachena Bay in 1909.
Today this beautiful trail is the West Coast Trail backpacking route, a world-renowned, challenging one-week hiking trail. The Pachena Point lighthouse is located in a rugged, isolated, and heavily wooded environment along the West Coast Trail. Many hikers visit this important landmark each summer, with beautiful views over the ocean and often sites of whales.
The lighthouse has a wooden, octagonal tower and supports a First Order Fresnel lens, it is maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard who employs lighthouse keepers at the station.
The Pachena Point Lighthouse is located within the Pacific Rim National Park and the only way to reach the lighthouse is by hiking the West Coast trail or by helicopter. The lighthouse is a 9.5km hike from Pachena Bay and Michigan Creek campsite is the nearest campsite, about 2.5km from Pachena Bay lighthouse.
Contributed by Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads
Yaquina Head Lighthouse (Oregon)
There is more to explore beyond the lighthouse itself. Be sure to head down to Cobble Beach when you’re here. This amazingly unique ecosystem features millions of smooth rocks. When the waves crash onto the rocks, the water makes it sound like a rain stick! It is truly a sound unlike any other you’ll hear at the beach.
Heceta Head Lighthouse (Oregon)
Heceta Head Lighthouse is thirteen miles south of Yachats, Oregon, and is nestled in its own state park. As one of Oregon’s most photographed lighthouses, it is also the lighthouse with the strongest light on the coast!
Although any season is a great time to visit, winter and spring are the best times to spot whales during their annual migration. To get to the lighthouse, there is a half-mile trail from the parking lot, however, it is not paid so be mindful in rainy weather or if you use a wheelchair.
For a day trip, parking is $5 USD per car. Typically, the lighthouse is open for tours every day 11 am-3 pm in the summer and 11 am-2 pm in the winter.
After checking out the lighthouse, you can make the 7-mile forest hike to the lighthouse viewpoint, or relax at the beach next to the parking lot. However, if one day isn’t enough, you can stay the night at the Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast and wake up to the sounds of the ocean and the B&B’s famous 7-course brunch!
Contributed by Kay from The Awkward Traveller
Point Montara (California)
Point Montara is a beautiful lighthouse located near Half Moon Bay airport in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s a small but incredibly beautiful lighthouse.
The best way to visit Point Montara is by staying at the Point Montara hostel run by Hostel International. It is one of the few hostels in San Francisco and offers very inexpensive accommodation in this otherwise very expensive area. The hostel is great for an individual, family, or group with lots of space, many rooms, common spaces, and most importantly private beach access.
The Point Montara Lighthouse private beach is absolutely amazing. It’s a small sheltered private beach with streams, some driftwood, soft sand, and large rocks. It makes a great place for kids to play. We have spent fabulous weekends at Point Montara and cooked all our meals in the hostel kitchens.
There are many other gorgeous viewpoints, beaches, and hikes along Half Moon Bay’s Pacific coastline. Although one can visit just the lighthouse for a relaxing weekend, I would recommend you venture out and explore the surrounding area. You can see many of the California wildflowers in bloom along the coast and inland.
Contributed by Jyoti from Story at Every Corner
Point Loma Lighthouse (California)
Today, Point Loma Lighthouse is one of the most prominent landmarks of the Cabrillo National Monument, a testament to the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who was first to discover the San Diego Bay along the California coast.
Visitors can check the visitor center for ranger-led talks and guided tours. To get a better view of the lighthouse, head down to tide pools at the beach which is better to visit during low tide.
To visit the lighthouse, visitors are required to pay a fee of $20 for one vehicle. Visitors who enter the Cabrillo National Monument by foot or bicycle have to pay $10 per person; visitors who enter the monument by motorcycle have to pay $15. Visitors who have America the Beautiful pass can enter the monument for free.
Old Point Loma Lighthouse is located at 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive in San Diego.
Makapu’u Lighthouse (Hawai’i)
If you want to see a phenomenal and breathtaking view, the Makapu’u Lighthouse in Oahu is one of the most beautiful places in the world. To reach the lighthouse you have to complete a one-mile hike uphill. Uphill sounds difficult, but it is not a rigorous hike.
The best time to complete the hike is early in the morning before the sun rises. The trail is completely paved and with no shade, so it gets hot once the sun has risen. The trail gets crowded later in the day, so if you want to take your time without bumping into other people, early mornings are the best.
As you work your way up the trail, there is more information about the lighthouse and islands. If you are heading up the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail with kids, there is a tidepool off of the trail. Once you reach the top you will be rewarded with one of the most amazing views of not only the lighthouse but on a clear day, you might catch a glimpse of Moloka‘i and Lana‘i island.
During certain times of the year, you may be able to spot migrating humpback whales (between November and May). As if this place couldn’t get any better, it is FREE!!
Contributed by Corritta from It’s a Family Thing
More USA & Canada Trip Inspiration
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Before you leave for your lighthouse road trip make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’ll be away for more than a few days. I
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