Set off the mainland United States’ East Coast, lighthouses have been guiding ships at sea to, from, and around Long Island for centuries, with the oldest being Montauk Lighthouse commissioned by President George Washington himself in 1792!
Many of the region’s landmark lighthouses allow visitors to climb to the very top to take in sweeping ocean views and capture magnificent photos. Many also offer tours for visitors to learn more about Long Island’s cherished maritime history and understand the important role of these nautical icons.
Whether you’re a history buff, social media influencer or a family looking for a memorable adventure, Long Island’s lighthouses should be on everyone’s bucket list for #NationalLighthouseDay and beyond! For more summertime Long Island fun, click here.
Long Island’s Iconic Lighthouses
Completed in 1826, the 74-foot tall Fire Island Lighthouse was the first sight of land upon arrival to the Americas for many European immigrants. Learn the history of the lighthouse during a 182-step tower tour with panoramic views of the Atlantic, Fire Island, and on a clear day, the New York City skyline. The lighthouse is open for tours throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons.
Insider’s tip: Don’t miss the scenic, six miles of hiking trails surrounding the historic structure.
Celebrated as the oldest lighthouse in New York State and the fourth oldest lighthouse in the United States, Montauk Lighthouse was authorized under President George Washington in 1792. The lighthouse is still in operation and its flashes can be seen every five seconds from up to 19 nautical miles away. Visitors are welcome to tour the lighthouse during the spring, summer, and early fall seasons. Although the property sits on (Montauk State Park) is open year-round, lighthouse tours and climbs are not offered in the winter.
Insider’s Tip: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) was partially filmed at this lighthouse!
The Cedar Island Lighthouse was built in 1839 to protect mariners entering Sag Harbor when the area served as a busy port for whaling ships other fishing ships. The original lighthouse was replaced with the current structure in 1868, which was then decommissioned in 1934. The lighthouse is non-operational and not open to the public, however, visitors can hike the Cedar Point beach where it lays and enjoy nature in all her glory.
Another historic welcoming symbol of Long Island’s maritime culture, Long Beach Bar “Bug” Lighthouse helped mariners navigate around the sandbar between Orient Harbor and Gardiner’s Bay and welcomed travelers to the Peconic Bay. The lighthouse is only visible from the water, but visitors can easily view it by signing up for a Bug Light Cruise through the East End Seaport Museum or by chartering a private boat.
Erected in 1857, the Horton Point Lighthouse is 58 feet tall, and its lower level (the Keeper’s House) now functions as a nautical museum showcasing maritime exhibits. The Lighthouse is listed on both the State & National Registers of Historic Places and is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from Memorial Day weekend through mid-September. For more information, please visit the Southold Historical Society website.
Insiders Tip: Admission is cash only and is less for families!
The Sands Point Lighthouse is located at the northern tip of the Cow Neck Peninsula and is named after the prosperous sea captain, Captain John Sands who originally acquired the land in 1691. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1922 and the property was sold in 1924 and again in 1994 to private owners. Since its most recent owners took over, the lighthouse and grand property remains intact. Although not open to the public, the landmark can be spotted from boat tours and the shore along the Long Island Sound, like at Sands Point Preserve.
This unique lighthouse dates to 1857 and was first established to help guide any watercrafts through Eatons Neck and Lloyd Harbor. In 1988, it was added to the National Registry for Historic Buildings. What makes it a masterpiece is its ornate design done in a Venetian Renaissance, resembling a castle. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1912 and is currently undergoing and repairs. Visitors can see the lighthouse from a variety of shorelines in Northwest Suffolk County, and tours are available on weekends throughout June-September.
The Stepping Stones Lighthouse was initially constructed in 1875 in the Long Island Sound to warn incoming sailors of a shoal and the rocky area that extended out north from Kings Point. The structure was refurbished in 1944 and is still in active use today! It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 and is maintained by the Great Neck Historical Society and North Hempstead. It can be viewed off the coast of Great Neck and the shores of King’s Point.