6 Lighthouses to visit in South Africa

Are you a pharophile? A lighthouse enthusiast; always intrigued by the historic stories of these coastal beacons? When it comes to these important landmarks, I definitely classify them as one.

Many of these awe-inspiring lighthouses date back to the 1400s in South Africa with its main purpose to serve as a navigational aid and, to warn boats and ships of dangerous areas.

For sailors and fishermen to identify a lighthouse, you have to colour it a different colour to see it during the day. This is why each lighthouse is not the same.

Today, some lighthouses are useless while some are still running by machines and remote monitoring and, there are even a few you can stay at.

Here are a few South Africa’s most iconic lighthouses worth exploring:

Cape Columbia Lighthouse, Paternoster

Built-in 1936, Cape Columbia is situated five kilometers outside of Paternoster which stands on a massive outcrop of rock known as Castle Rock.

Named after the barque Columbine, wrecked just north of here in 1829, its the first to have light, fog signal, and a radio beacon all installed as one unit instead of individual units. It’s still manned by an actual lightkeeper.

Cape Columbine Lighthouse is open from Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), from 10h00 to 15h00. Please contact 021 449 2400 or lighthouse.tourism@transnet.net for more information.

Slangkop Lighthouse, Kommetjie

Made of cast iron and 33 meters in circumference, Slangkop Lighthouse was established as the result of a commission appointed in 1906 by the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, His Excellency, the Honorable Sir Francis Hely-Hutchinson, but was commissioned in 1919 only.

It only became fully automated in 1979 and, it’s still manned by a lightkeeper, today.

Visiting hours are from Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, with a half-hour break between 12:00 and 12:30 pm. It’s closed over weekends and public holidays.

Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse, Mossel Bay

Cape St Blaize Lighthouse is one of only two lighthouses manned 24 hours daily on the South African Coastline and, built-in 1864.

Still, functioning as a beacon to navigators, the white tower lighthouse stands 20,5 metres high above a cliff face; attracting holidaymakers with spectacular views of the coastline.

Open to visitors Monday to Friday from 10:00 – 12:00 and again from 12:30 – 15:00, closed on weekends and public holidays. Contact: 044 690 3015

Cape Agulhas Lighthouse

The Cape Agulhas Lighthouse is the second oldest working lighthouse in South Africa which has stood over 150 years as a maritime chaperone over the notorious ‘Cape of Storms’. 

Built-in 1848, visit the museum inside which displays the remnants of ancient fish traps made of stone and used by the Khoisan people for a small price. If you want a panoramic view, climb the 71 steps. It’s a bit steep so make absolutely sure you want to do the climb.

The lighthouse is open from 09:00 to 11:30 / 12:00 to 17:00.  The last tower climb of the day is at 16:30.  Tariffs are R22.00 per adult and R11.00 per child under 12 years. Contact: 028 435 6078.

Cape Point Lighthouse, Cape Peninsula

Standing at 238 metres above sea level, Cape Point Lighthouse was built in 1859 with a long and colourful history.

Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was the first to round the Cape Peninsula in 1488. By day, it was a navigational landmark and by night, and in fog, it was a menace beset by violent storms and dangerous rocks that over the centuries littered shipwrecks around the coastline.

It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions to visit with an entrance fee of R76.00 per person and if you would like to go on the Funicular, it’s an additional R80.00 per person. Visit the website for more information.

Danger Point, Gansbaai

Situated on the southern edge of Walker Bay Nature Reserve, Danger Point Lighthouse was built-in 1895.

Wondering why it’s named Danger Point? Due to the treacherous peninsula on the southern point of Walker Bay, it has a rather bad reputation for it being the final resting place with nearly 7 shipwrecks under its belt. The 8,3 m tall octagonal lighthouse can be reached via a tarred road, on foot, or even with a bicycle.

Open for visitors on Monday – Friday from 10:00 am to 15:00 pm. Contact: 021 449-2400.

Other Lighthouses around South Africa

  • Roman Rock Lighthouse on the outskirts of Simon’s Town
  • Seal Point Lighthouse in Cape St. Francis, Eastern Cape
  • Umhlanga Lighthouse in Durban
  • Dassen Island Lighthouse in Yzerfontein, Western Cape
  • Cape Recife Lighthouse in Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth
  • Green Point Lighthouse in Mouille Point 

What lighthouses are your favourite to visit time and time again?

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Till the next adventure.

Stephanie Marthinus Blog