Lighthouses were created to safely signal to incoming boats and once were found throughout the Southeast. Few remain today because of erosion and hurricanes, but South Carolina is blessed with ten that travelers can visit.
We’ve left out the ones that are in open water and not easily accessible. Most are clustered around Charleston and Hilton Head Island.
Bloody Point Range Lights, Daufuskie Island
Set off the coast of Hilton Head Island, the Bloody Point Range Lights on Daufuskie Island was placed on the southern tip of the island. It was built in 1883 and was made up of a front-range lighthouse and a rear range light tower.
The structure was designed by John Doyle, who also served as the light’s first keeper. The keeper’s house is based on the design of the Tybee Island Lighthouse. It continued to be used until 1922.
The land was the site of a winery in the 1950s. Pat Conroy mentioned Silver Dew Winery in one of his books. It became a private home in 1981 before becoming a museum. Visitors must take the ferry to see the lighthouse.
Cape Romain Lighthouses, Cape Romain
There are two lighthouses within the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, located near McClellanville. The first was built in 1827 but a second was added in 1853 alongside it.
Earthquakes and storms impacted the lighthouses but both are still standing. The land became a refuge in 1932. Today you can join one of the tours during the year operated by Coastal Expeditions.
Charleston Light, Charleston
Located on Sullivan’s Island, the Charleston Light guides ships into the Charleston Harbor. The oddly designed structure was built in 1962 as a replacement for the crumbling Morris Island Light.
Originally painted orange and white, it was repainted black and white. It stands 140 feet tall and can withstand hurricane-force winds.
The light is operated by the Coast Guard and is the interior is not open to the public but visitors can admire the exterior from the beach.
Georgetown Light, Georgetown
Built on the site of an 1806 wooden lighthouse, the Georgetown Light in Georgetown continues to operate in the Winyah Bay. It continues to be operated by the Coast Guard.
The lighthouse is located within the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center Heritage Preserve and is best viewed by boat. But visitors can see it up-close by booking a tour with Lowcountry Boat Tours.
Haig Point Range Lights, Daufuskie Island
Made up of front and rear range lights, the Haig Point Range lights on Daufuskie Island were built in 1872. The dual lights were used until 1924 on the northern side of the island.
One of the buildings fell into disrepair but became a guest house for the Haig Point Club. It was re-lit in 1986 and is one of the accommodation options on the island.
Harbour Town Light, Hilton Head Island
The Harbour Town Lighthouse is one of the most recognized landmarks on Hilton Head Island. The red and white octagonal lighthouse was built in 1969 and stands at 90 feet tall.
It was constructed for the use of Harbour Town Marina and Sea Pines Plantation, a private membership club. Visitors can purchase a day pass to enter the club and climb to the top of the lighthouse.
Hilton Head Rear Rear Light, Hilton Head Island
Harbour Town isn’t the island‘s only navigational aid. The Hilton Head Rear Light, or Leamington Lighthouse, was built in 1879 of cast iron and was deactivated in 1932.
It stands 92 feet tall and has a brick oil house and water cistern. Some of the island’s oldest trees are also located alongside it. The lighthouse is set within Palmetto Dunes Resort and is free to visit.
Hunting Island Lighthouse, Beaufort
Hunting Island, outside of Beaufort, is home to the Hunting Island Lighthouse. The initial structure was damaged during the Civil War but it was completed in 1875.
The lighthouse was deactivated in 1933 and is now part of Hunting Island State Park. Visitors can climb the 167 steps to the top. It was also featured in season 1 of Outer Banks.
Morris Island Lighthouse, Charleston
The Morris Island Lighthouse is set on an inaccessible island off the coast of Folly Beach. The lighthouse is located on the site of one built in 1767.
The current brick version was automated in 1938 but decommissioned in 1962 because of the new Sullivan’s Island lighthouse. It’s not open to the public, even those that can reach it by boat, but you can see it from the eastern end of the island.
Have you visited any of these historic lighthouses?
Looking to learn more about the South’s lighthouses? Pick up a copy of Southern Lighthouses: Outer Banks to Cape Florida.
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