Florida Lighthouse Association, Inc.

Preserving, Restoring, Protecting & Defending Florida's Lighthouse Towers
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  • SPECIAL EVENT: Sapelo Island Lighthouse

SPECIAL EVENT: Sapelo Island Lighthouse

  • 14 Oct 2022
  • 7:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Sapelo Island










October 14, 2022

Registration Closes September 30, 2022


Prior to its fall membership meeting, the Florida Lighthouse Association invites you to join us on a guided tour of Sapelo Island, Georgia, a natural treasure trove of tall marsh grass, pristine beaches, and gnarled coastal forests, and climb its beautifully restored, 80-step Lighthouse, which offers some terrific views. 


Did you know that….

  1. The first Sapelo Island Lighthouse was completed in 1820 and is one of the few surviving Winslow Lewis lighthouses.
  2. The Light Station originally served primarily to guide ships to Darien, a thriving lumber port in the 19th century.
  3. An iron front range light was added to the Station in 1877. It still stands today, one of the very few such structures still surviving anywhere in the country.
  4. The Lighthouse’s Lewis lamps were replaced by a fourth-order Fresnel lens in 1855. The Lighthouse’s distinctive daymark of red and white horizontal stripes was added in the 1870s.
  5. Around the turn of the century, the site was seriously threatened by erosion. A replacement iron lighthouse and elevated keeper dwellings, nearly identical to those on Sanibel Island, were completed in 1905 a little farther inland.
  6. The second lighthouse was discontinued in 1933. It was dismantled and rebuilt on South Fox Island in Lake Michigan, where it stands today. The lighthouse’s rotating third-order Fresnel lens was sent to Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, where it is still in use today.
  7. James Cromley was head keeper of Sapelo from 1873 until his death on New Year’s Eve 1889. All three head keepers after him (until the Lighthouse was discontinued) were his sons. The Cromley sons also served as Sapelo’s assistant keepers from 1873 until the 1920s.
  8. In 1998, the brick Tower, brick cistern, and 1890 brick oil house were restored. A small observation platform stands nearby on the footers of the 1905 iron lighthouse.
  9. Today, the State of Georgia owns 97% of Sapelo Island. The northern half of the island was purchased in 1969 from the R.J. Reynolds tobacco family. A mansion owned by the family still exists on the Island.
  10.  Sapelo Island still has about 50 full-time residents, members of the Hog Hammock community. They are mostly Gullah-Geechee, descendants of Africans enslaved on barrier island plantations.



    FLA members who have registered for and been notified that they are part of the 36-person-limit tour group will begin their day at the Sapelo Island Visitor Center, 1766 Landing Road, Darien, Georgia.  Here, they can learn about Sapelo's cultural history, coastal wildlife, and complex beach and dunes systems. After a short walk to the nearby dock, members will board a Georgia state-run passenger ferry operated by the GA Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  The Island is accessible only by ferry.

    After a 30-minute ferry ride, members arrive at this 12-mile-long island.  Their tour guide will greet and invite them to board an air-conditioned bus for a trip first to the Lighthouse and then for a tour of the Island.  At the Lighthouse, the bus will have to park a short distance away—about 300’—and members will then follow a gravel trail to the entrance.  The DNR only permits 5 people at a time to climb the stairs, then a ladder to enter the light room. No one is permitted to step outside of the light room at the top of the Lighthouse. Once those 5 people return to the bottom, the next 5 can begin their climb.  It's an easy climb. Instead of the typical wrought iron steps, this Lighthouse has a wooden set.

    During the tour of the Island, some of the landmarks that may be seen include the Hog Hammock community, the environmental research center, Reynolds Mansion, Nanny Goat Beach, and the University of Georgia Marine Institute. 

    Note:  The Georgia DNR limits the tour to 36 to ensure that there is space on its bus to accommodate a wheelchair (4 seats fold up to allow for the wheelchair safety straps.)

    Tickets, Pricing, and Schedule

    This event is limited to the first 36 members who have registered and paid for the St. Simons Lighthouse meeting, based on the date they sign up for the Sapelo Island event, and kept their paid FLA membership current .  Please sign up here.  FLA will notify you by e-mail if you have been included in the tour group.

    The cost for this special event is $15 for each adult and $10 for each child (ages 6 - 12), which includes the round-trip ferry ride, guided island tour, and Lighthouse climb.

    Tickets must be purchased at the Visitors Center, which opens at 7:30 a.m., on October 14.  Tickets must be paid for either by cash or check.  Credit and debit cards will not be accepted. 

    FLA tour participants must be at the Sapelo Visitor Center Ferry dock with ferry ticket in hand to check in by 8:00 a.m. The ferry departs at 8:30 a.m. and does not wait for anyone.  Participants arrive at Sapelo Island at 9:00 a.m.  The bus will bring the FLA tour participants back to the Sapelo Island ferry dock at 11:30 a.m. to catch the noon ferry back to the Sapelo Visitor Center.


    Please park in the overflow parking lot.  This is because of construction near the Visitor Center and close to the ferry.  Parking in the latter areas is limited.  Carpooling is encouraged. 

    We have attached, below, a screen grab map of the Visitor Center/parking/ferry locations. The yellow star is the overflow parking lot where participants should park.  The yellow line shows the short path from the overflow lot to the Visitor’s Center. The red line shows the path from the Visitor’s Center to the ferry (shown as the green star). 

    There are a very limited number of handicapped parking spaces available in front of the Visitor’s Center, past the overflow lot. Unfortunately, the overflow lot does not have any other reserved spaces.  Please note that the overflow lot is an unpaved, gravel lot.

    Driving Directions to Visitor Center

    From Florida and Georgia towns to the south:

    Take I-95 North to Exit 58—Eulonia, GA.

    After exiting, turn right onto GA Hwy 99 and drive approximately one mile to the Hwy 99 and 17 intersection and 4-way stop.

    Cross Hwy 17 through the four-way stop and continue on GA 99.

    Drive approximately 9.25 miles to Meridian, GA.

    You will see brown signs pointing to Sapelo Island placed along the route.

    The last brown Sapelo sign will point for you to turn left.

    There is also a large rectangular sign with blue lettering for the Sapelo Island

    National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR) next to Elm Grove Baptist Church.

    Turn left at the sign onto Landing Road.

    Landing Road will make a sharp right turn and take you over a small bridge.

    Park in the overflow lot, and walk either to the Visitors Center or directly down to

    the ferry for check-in and boarding.  (You may also drive down to the ferry to unload) and then return to the lot to park your car.)

    The Sapelo Island Visitors Center is 21 miles from the FLA meeting venue, Hilton Garden Inn, in Brunswick, Georgia.


    The Florida Lighthouse Association’s policy only allows service animals at its events, as required under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).  The Georgia DNR’s policy provides that only service animals are permitted on the ferry and bus and at the Visitors Center.  Emotional support animals are not protected by the ADA and will not be allowed entrance to FLA events.


    1. Are there public bathrooms on the Sapelo Island ferry? There are no restrooms on the ferry but there are some on the mainland before boarding (at the Visitor’s Center and a building near the dock) as well as once members arrive on the Island. Please be aware that there are no restrooms near the Lighthouse.
    2. Can snacks and beverages brought by FLA participants be eaten on or at the ferry, tour bus, or Visitors Center?  There’s a covered pavilion with tables near the Lighthouse that participants can use if they would like to sit and have snacks.  On the ferry, water is permitted, but other eating/drinking is discouraged.  On the bus, water is permitted, but other eating/drinking is discouraged.  At the Visitors Center, there are picnic tables and a good amount of outdoor space that would be better for snacks rather than near the exhibits in the Visitors Center.
    3. What happens in case of inclement weather?  The DNR typically offers its tours rain or shine.  The DNR has only had to cancel in extreme weather situations, such as very high winds or a hurricane, that would make the ferry transfer difficult.  If DNR needs to cancel, it will let FLA know so that it can communicate the cancellation to its participants.
    4. If a participant has additional questions or concerns, who should they contact?  Participants should call the Sapelo Island Visitors Center on (912) 437-3224, Tuesday - Saturday, 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.  They can also send an e-mail to sapelovc@darientel.net.  

    We look forward to seeing you on the Sapelo Island tour and lighthouse climb!

    Alan and Dora Lee


    Events and Meetings Committee

    Florida Lighthouse Association, Inc.

    100 Pine Arbor Circle

    St. Augustine, Florida 32084

    E-mail address: Info@FloridaLighthouses.org

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