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Florida Lighthouses

30 Lighthouses to Explore: You may not have to travel far to visit one of Florida’s remaining 30 lighthouses. Explore the map below and find a lighthouse that is close to you, or plan a trip to visit some of Florida’s treasures. You’ll find links to each of the lighthouse websites (where available) and historical context from our friends at

Passport Program: The U.S. Lighthouse Society’s Passport Program provides enthusiasts the opportunity to help preserve lighthouses as well as a wonderful way to keep a pictorial history of their lighthouse adventures. By joining the free Passport Club you become part of a large group seeking unique Passport Stamps as a fun and educational activity. For more information visit

Faux Lighthouses: “Faux Lighthouse” is a broad term referring to any non-historic lighthouse. This includes structures intentionally built to resemble lighthouses, privately-built aids to navigation which resemble a lighthouse; and large miniature versions of real lighthouses. Faux lighthouses are not eligible for Florida Lighthouse Association support. However, they are often of interest to those of us who love lighthouses.

Lighthouse History

Florida has been a maritime state from its beginning days. Even the Seminole Indians – the nation’s first cowboys – depended on sailing vessels to export their beef products to Cuba. Because of the important commerce they carried out it was imperative to protect the ships.

Florida’s coastline was extremely dangerous resulting in the wrecking of many ships and the loss of hundreds of lives. The Florida coast does not look treacherous, but there are coral reefs hidden under water just off shore. The low lying terrain devoid of cliffs or mountains can be seen only a short distance at sea.  Consequently the ships could crash upon the reefs before they could see the land. Also, the northward flowing Gulf Stream is just a few miles off shore. The southbound ships had to stay shoreward of the Stream in order to make headway, causing the ships to travel dangerously close to shore.

To give the ships a visual reference a series of lighthouses were constructed along the length of Florida’s coast and even on the reefs themselves. Other lighthouses, such as Boca Grande, were built in some of the harbors to guide the ships safely into port. At one time there were about 65 lighthouses off Florida, but the elements, time and neglect have resulted in the loss of many of them. As a result only 29 remain.  Today with GPS and other navigational aids the role of the lighthouse has been diminished, in fact some consider them to be obsolete. However, many of the small boats that can’t afford the electronics still depend on them. Also, those with electronic navigation realize that electronics can fail and it is assuring to see that dependable light. With the countless ships and lives that were saved by these lighthouses it is only right that we now protect and preserve them. It is imperative that they be preserved as a part of our maritime heritage.

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