Long Island's first lighthouses were simple bonfires, which helped sailors navigate to safe harbors. That all changed when President George Washington ordered the construction of a permanent facility in Montauk in 1792. Here is a look at some of the best on Long Island and when you should go.
Eaton's Neck Lighthouse, end of Lighthouse Road, Eaton's
Neck: This 50-foot tower on the Coast Guard Station is the second-oldest lighthouse on Long Island (after Montauk) and was built in 1799. The station is closed to the public, but private
tours can be arranged. For more details, call 631-261-6959.
Fire Island Lighthouse, near Robert Moses State Park,
Parking Field 5, Fire Island. Long Island's tallest lighthouse, it
has 182 winding steps, which explains why flat shoes are suggested
for climbing. On a clear day, it's possible to view the Manhattan
skyline from the light. Part of the Fire Island National Seashore,
its museum covers the history of the lighthouse and the U.S.
Lifesaving Service, pre Coast Guard. The lighthouse is open
year-round, but a visit during summer makes for a great day at the
beach. After-hours sunset tours of the lighthouse can be arranged.
Horton Point Lighthouse, end of Lighthouse Road,
Southold: This structure was authorized by Washington in 1790 but
not built until 1857. There is a nautical museum on site with
historic log books and artifacts. It is only open on weekends from
Memorial Day through Columbus Day. Best bet is after Labor Day and
be sure to stop at some of the nearby wineries. Suggested donation
Huntington Harbor Lighthouse: Located at the entrance to
Huntington Harbor and Lloyd Harbor in Long Island Sound, the
original light was constructed on the tip of Lloyd's Neck in 1857.
The present light was built in 1912. Tours, including a 10-minute
boatride out to the lighthouse, are available.
Montauk Point Lighthouse, Montauk: They don't call it
"The End" for nothing. It's best to go on a clear day, to take
advantage of the spectacular views. The museum and gift shop in its
base, run by the Montauk Historical Society, feature early
lighthouse photos and displays, with guides on hand. Hours vary
according to the season.