There are nearly 70 lighthouses along the coast of Maine, 57 of them still active. For hundreds of years, their job has been to keep the safe light burning through good weather and bad, protecting the coast and those navigating to Maine’s ports. The following are just a few of our favorite Maine lighthouse tours.
While the lighthouses themselves are not open to the public, the grounds around them are, giving you a chance to see the coastline and beyond as a light keeper did. The Wayside Inn is happy to provide you with our own personalized lighthouse guide. Just ask us at the front desk.
Rockland Breakwater Light, Rockland, ME
The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse sits at the end of a breakwater on the northern side of Rockland Harbor.
The breakwater was built to protect structures, businesses along the waterfront, as well as ships in the harbor. The 4,346-foot-long breakwater was constructed using nearly 700,000 tons of granite at a cost of $750,000. The breakwater took 18 years to complete. After it was finished in 1900, the lighthouse was completed in 1902.
Several temporary lights were set up at different locations along the breakwater until the lighthouse could be completed. The lighthouse itself stands 25 feet tall from the base and sits 39 feet above the water.
In the early days, the lighthouse was maintained by keepers who were paid up to $540 per year to keep the beacon lit. Eventually, the Coast Guard took over and maintained the light until it was fully automated in 1964.
The lighthouse is still in use today. The beacon flashes every 5 seconds and has a range of 17 nautical miles.
Weather permitting, the grounds surrounding Rockland Breakwater Light are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends, holidays and other special event days between Memorial Day weekend and Columbus Day weekend. It can also be viewed by boat tour.
Owls Head Lighthouse, Owls Head, ME
Owls Head Lighthouse is located at the Owls Head Light State Park and sits at the top of a hill at the southern entrance to Rockland Harbor. The lighthouse sits 100 feet above sea level, yet the lighthouse itself is only about 30 feet tall. Built in 1825, the lighthouse was constructed using granite and brick. It was automated in 1989.
Owls Head Lighthouse is still in use today.
Owls Head and Rockland Breakwater lighthouses are both maintained by the Friends of Rockland Harbor Lights. The nonprofit organization has seen to the restoration of both lighthouses.
Weather permitting, the grounds around Owls’ Head Lighthouse are open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends, holidays and other special event days between Memorial Day weekend and Columbus Day weekend. Carefully climb the staircase to the lighthouse for an amazing view of the harbor.
Browns Head Lighthouse, Vinalhaven, ME
The Browns Head Lighthouse was built near the northwestern tip of Vinalhaven Island in 1857. The station itself was established with a temporary light in 1832. The white tower stands 20 feet tall, but sits 39 feet above the water. It was automated in 1987.
In order to get there, you will need to take a ferry from Rockland to Vinalhaven. It’s recommended that you drive your own car onto the island, as the lighthouse is about 6 miles from the ferry.
Browns Head is still an active lighthouse; and while the lighthouse itself is not open to the public, you can explore the grounds and imagine what it’s like to experience hurricane force winds or dense fog in a place seafarers look to for safety.
When you visit any of the lighthouse grounds, we recommend you wear comfortable shoes and use caution as you walk around. Bring a rain coat and/or jacket just in case it’s a windy day and there is a bit of spray. All of the lighthouses have a “carry-in, carry-out” policy. Help keep our lighthouses and the grounds beautiful and please do not leave anything behind.
The Hartstone Inn
The Hartstone Inn is an enchanting bed and breakfast hideaway in the heart of downtown Camden, Maine. Choose from 21 elegant guest rooms and suites, appointed with luxurious amenities, including soft robes, fine linens and down quilts and pillows. Enjoy gourmet cuisine morning, afternoon and evening, and maybe even try your hand at preparing a gourmet meal or two yourself with our Foodie Adventure Packages. Our Camden bed and breakfast is the perfect place to get away from it all.
Photo Credit: Mark Ittleman / Owls Head Light, Maine / Flickr