In the Hamptons, there are plenty of old lighthouses to visit. A great way to teach the little ones about Long Island’s history in fishing, whaling, and other maritime ways of life, visiting at least one lighthouse a summer is a wonderful “daycation”.
Montauk Point Lighthouse
The most famous and oldest lighthouse in New York State, the Montauk Point Lighthouse was first build in 1792 after President George Washington authorized its construction with the 2nd Congress. Opening in 1796, it is one of the only active lighthouses left on Long Island. Its beacon flashes every five seconds for ships up to 19 nautical miles away to see and be guided back to the mainland. A classic visit for the family, guided tours include the tower, oil room, lookout points, lighthouse keeper’s dwelling, and more.
Standalone and Offshore Lighthouses
Many lighthouses are offshore, not connected to any main strip of land. The Little Gull Island Lighthouse is one of these that is also still active. First lit off Fisher’s Island in 1869, its 81 foot tower can be seen for miles still. Two Victorian house-esque lighthouses are the Race Rock Lighthouse and Long Beach Bar (Bug Light). Most of the offshore lighthouses are fairly small in stature, like the 49-foot tall Latimer Reef Light and the Orient Point (Coffee Pot) Lighthouse at 45 feet tall.
Easthampton and Southampton
In Easthampton, Cedar Island Lighthouse is tucked into county parkland, having been constructed in 1860. Now inactive, its charming 40 foot tall tower is homage to past times, with its unpainted granite and quaint appearance. Unfortunately, as more commercial spaces were hungered for, the oldest lighthouses were torn down to make room despite efforts to preserve them. The Shinnecock Bay Lighthouse suffered damage from the 1938 hurricane to its 150 foot tower, which was later demolished ten years later by the Coast Guard. The Gardiner’s Island Lighthouse is only a memory now, having been lit in 1855 but abruptly closing in 1898.
Southold has more lighthouses than any other town in the United States. The Horton Point Lighthouse houses the Southold Historical Society’s Nautical Museum. The lighthouse has been active since 1857, though between 1933-1990 it was inactive. The Plum Island Lighthouse has a very modest 55-foot tower and sits right near where the battle of Plum Gut occurred in 1775, just prior to the American Revolution. The North Dumping Lighthouse is one of the numerous inactive lighthouses, nestled on Fisher’s Island Sound. A simple brick tower cresting 21 feet, it was deactivated in 1959, not even 90 years after its opening.