Explore the St. Augustine Lighthouse

Nearly any postcard-worthy photograph of Anastasia Island of St. Augustine will almost certainly include the famous and breathtaking St. Augustine Lighthouse. This cherished local icon has stood for hundreds of years, encouraging and leading boaters to the city’s port. But in this time, it has garnered a fascinating reputation, filled with spooky haunts, evolving ownership, and well-trafficked and attended parties. Book your stay in a St. Augustine vacation rental and go see this incredible site for yourself!

The History of the Lighthouse 

The Anastasia Island Lighthouse dates all the way back to 1589 (and now you can see how St. Augustine earned the nickname, “the ancient city.” In the late 50’s, mapmaker Giovanni Battista Boazio noted a wooden watchtower on the site of the current lighthouse in an attempt to detail Sir Francis Drake’s raid of the area. This was the first archived document detailing any kind of construction here- and it would stand as an important spot to control and maintain.

The watchtower was used infrequently during the Seven Years War, largely to maintain control of the area known as Fort Mose. It was in 1763 where the British heightened the watchtower on Anastasia Island with an additional 30 feet of wooden construction. 

This is considered the official point where the tower became a lighthouse, further accentuated by British maritime reports and official documentation from 1780.

Turmoil, often large vessel crashes, storms, and more, eventually caused the tower to fall into the ocean. In 1871, as part of the larger Florida Reconstruction Period, locals rebuilt the tower, solidified its foundation, and ushered in a new area of the lighthouse- now with its own innkeeper and oil lamp.

There’s so much more enthralling history to unpack- and we didn’t even get to the ghost stories! This includes the lighthouses’ role in World War II as a calming icon of hope, an area fire, and the creation of the maritime museum- one of St. Augustine’s top museums. 

the stairwell to the top of the st augustine lighthouse

Things To Do 

So what is the lighthouse when you visit? With just a short drive from many St. Augustine condo rentals, the lighthouse packs a lot for a single afternoon. Instead of just one lighthouse to climb, the area is home to a number of different things to do and see.

  • The St. Augustine Lighthouse: The lighthouse itself is a 165-foot tower with 219 steps required to get to the top. Once at the top, you can see everything from the Atlantic ocean to the historic downtown area and the epic Bridge of Lions carrying traffic from the island to the city proper. In between you’ll discover thick untapped marshes, with wading birds, soaring hawks, and more.
  • Keeper’s House: The Keeper’s House is a key component of the lighthouse. The home gives you a clear glimpse into the life of an innkeeper, including artifacts, photographs, living spaces, and job duties related to maintain the lighthouse and its grounds. The house is also a fantastic look at the Coast Guard life circa 1940.
  • The Grounds: The lighthouse sits on one of the best historic sites St. Augustine. The gardens are gorgeous, giving you a first-rate look at protected butterflies in the Butterfly Garden and the development of boats and other water vessels in the sailing shipyard. Visitors can see how boats were made then- and even how they are made today, in the heritage boatworks exhibit, outside by the gardens. There’s a sailing shipyard and playground as well as some maritime nature trails. 
  • Gift Shop: you can find awesome souvenirs at the gift shop. This includes lighthouse themed knickknacks, jewelry, t-shirts, mugs, and more, often made by locals.

Plan Your Vacation

The St. Augustine Lighthouse on Anastasia Island is truly majestic and will send your family home with incredible memories. Contact us today to book your vacation rental home and enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

Hours & Directions

The lighthouse is located right off of US-1, address 81 Lighthouse Avenue. It is on your left when you cross Bridge of Lions from downtown or on your right if you are coming from the southern St. Augustine beachfront rentals. It is open every day of the week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. we recommend the dedicated tours. These “behind the scenes” tours are offered on the hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

Where to Stay 

When visiting St. Augustine, stay at one of our top-rated beach rentals. Admire the water, enjoy on-site amenities like a washer and dryer, parking, and more, and experience what it really feels like to live in the nation’s first city.