Explore New Jersey's lighthouses—located in some of the most picturesque areas in the state. Rich in history and stature, the state's beacons that hug the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware River have been a vital component of New Jersey's maritime heritage and draw thousands of visitors each year.
Brilliant Tip: Visitors are encouraged to check out the official websites for these lighthouses or call ahead to confirm hours of operation and admission fees, if any.
Like saltwater taffy and the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk and piers, the Absecon Lighthouse is one of Greater Atlantic City's most popular attractions. This statuesque 171-foot tower with its distinctive yellow and black color scheme has been the "sister" of Barnegat Lighthouse for more than 160 years. After it was built in 1857 to mark the dangerous shoals of Absecon and Brigantine, it immediately attracted thousands of visitors to climb its 228 steps. The majestic tower still retains its original first-order Fresnel lens—the only New Jersey light to do so—and offers sweeping views of the Atlantic City skyline.
Cape May Lighthouse
A visit to historic Victorian Cape May becomes even more memorable with a stop at Cape May Point State Park and the Cape May Lighthouse. Towering 157 feet above the southernmost tip of the state, its distinctive beam flashes once every 15 seconds and is visible 24 miles out to sea. Built in 1859, the original lens was so large the keeper actually stood inside it when refueling. Nearby at the Cape May Court House Museum, the Fresnel lens is on display. Most of the state park, nearly 250 acres, is a natural area where visitors can observe migrating birds and butterflies. There are also four miles of hiking trails, surf fishing and picnic areas. Another historical site at the park is the World War II Bunker.
East Point Lighthouse
This beacon stands alone in a picturesque setting on the shore of the Delaware Bay, marking the mouth of the Maurice River and miles from any developed lands. East Point Lighthouse has guided commercial fishermen and pleasure boaters since 1849. Its distinctive "Cape Cod" features were the inspiration for many of the early lighthouses built on the Pacific Coast. The two-story red brick structure is painted white and topped by a bright red roof and lantern.
Finns Point Rear Range Light
Originally manufactured in Buffalo, New York and transported here by train and mule-wagon to be constructed on site, this unusual wrought-iron, open-frame lighthouse was built at a cost of $1,200 in 1876. Standing 115 feet tall, it emitted 150,000 candlepower. Close by is Fort Mott State Park, a sprawling waterfront park with historic buildings and gun batteries.
Hereford Inlet Lighthouse
If not for the light standing tall above its Victorian architecture, you might mistake the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse for a prime vacation home. Built in 1874, this lighthouse was one of the more well-appointed along the Jersey coast, featuring five fireplaces and beautiful living quarters for the keeper and his family. Outside, you can see the lovely garden of flowers and plants that invites passersby. Hereford Inlet Lighthouse now offers a small museum and is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse
The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse in the United States. It is located at the northern end of the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. Amazingly well-preserved, this unique octagonal tower dates back to the 18th century and has been in service since 1764. The National Park Service owns the tower, which sits on the grounds of Fort Hancock and is just one of the unparalleled attractions at Sandy Hook. The peninsula also boasts the largest holly forest in the Northeast, excellent surf fishing, hiking, birding, beaches, trails, salt marshes and more.
Sea Girt Lighthouse
The Sea Girt Lighthouse, nestled within an L-shaped Victorian building, first shone in 1896. Like most lighthouses of the day, its fourth-order Fresnel lens can be seen for 15 miles. Originally built to bridge the 38.5-mile gap between Barnegat Light and the Twin Lights of Navesink, this square red brick tower attached to a keeper's dwelling was decommissioned in 1945. The interior of the lighthouse has been meticulously restored by a local citizens' committee and furnished in keeping with its historical period.
Tinicum Rear Range Lighthouse
First lit on New Year's Eve in 1880, this light pairs with the Tinicum Front Range Light to serve as a key guide for ships heading north along the Delaware River toward the ports of Philadelphia and Camden. Its fixed red light and 1,000-watt lamp produces 500,000 candlepower from atop an 85-foot-high tower.
Tucker's Island Lighthouse
Tucker's Island Lighthouse is a replica of a circa-1868 lighthouse that fell into the Atlantic Ocean in 1927 after decades of pounding surf and beach erosion. Today’s version stands as the proud centerpiece in the Tuckerton Seaport, which serves as a maritime interpretive center. The lighthouse features exhibits sharing the history of the U.S. Lifesaving Service, lighthouse keepers and shipwrecks. Tuckerton Seaport is a wonderfully recreated working maritime village, celebrating the legacy of coastal New Jersey on a 40-acre site adjacent to Tuckerton Creek.
Twin Lights of Navesink
With its unique twin tower design, the lighthouse towers 250 feet above Sandy Hook Bay, on one of the highest points along the coast. The original structure is where the United States' first Fresnel lens was installed in 1841. The present day brownstone double lighthouses were built in 1862 on the same site, and later began generating their own electricity in 1898, a first in the nation. Officially decommissioned in 1949, the twin lighthouses are still illuminated as a navigational aid for private vessels. Today, the building houses a museum of lighthouse and lifesaving station artifacts. Spectacular views are available from atop the towers.