8 Interesting Facts About Bermuda's Historic Lighthouses

Each more than 150 years old, Bermuda's two historic lighthouses have more than a few tales to tell – not to mention sweeping views of the island, great whale watching and photo-worthy sunset scenes.

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Land view of St. David's Lighthouse

Bermuda is home to a pair of historic beacons: St. David’s Lighthouse on St. David’s Island and Gibbs Hill Lighthouse in Southampton Parish. Here are just a few reasons why these two iconic island structures are so celebrated.

1. 185 Steps

That’s how many you’ll have to climb to get to the very top of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. There’s no elevator, but the panoramic ocean view makes the work out worth it.

2. Whale Watching 

St. David’s Lighthouse offers great views, too – and it’s an ideal spot for watching humpback whales in the spring as they make their annual journey to northern feeding grounds. Climb the 85 steps to the top and watch for these magnificent mammals.

A whale tail is pocking out of the water off of Bermuda.

3. Keep on Shining 

Gibbs Hill Lighthouse first started shining on May 1, 1846 and has been flashing out its beam to seafarers ever since. St. David’s is the younger of the two lighthouses, having been completed in 1879.

4. Ironclad 

Gibbs Hill Lighthouse is one of the oldest cast iron lighthouses in the world. Why is cast iron a good material to use when building a lighthouse? Because it is watertight and weathers well, even in a salt-air environment. Maybe that’s why Gibbs Hill still looks so good after all these years.

5. Beacon of Light

The powerful beam of light from Gibbs Hill Lighthouse can be seen from up to 40 miles out at sea – and by airplanes at 10,000 feet and 120 miles away. The lighthouse’s lens is capable of shining a light equivalent to half a million candles. Standing 55 feet high (and 208 feet above sea level), St. David’s light has a range of 20 nautical miles.

Gibbs Hill Lighthouse at Sunset.

6. Major Wattage

Gibbs Hill Lighthouse was originally powered by kerosene, but it now features a 1,000-watt, 2.75-ton electric bulb. That’s a whole lot of watts.

7. Going Deep

St. David’s Lighthouse plays a central role in Jaws author Peter Benchley’s classic undersea horror novel, The Deep. For the big-budget 1976 movie adaptation of the book, the filmmakers decided they needed a little more room than the lighthouse could give them – so they built a full-scale replica on Bermuda’s remote Coney Island.

8. Royal Blessing

Shortly after her coronation in 1953, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit to Bermuda. One of the Queen’s stops was Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, where she took in views of the Great Sound. Today, at a spot appropriately named Queen’s View, you can enjoy those very same views.



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