Explore the Sanibel Island Lighthouse

Sanibel Island is full of wonderful attractions that draw visitors from not only around the area but from all around the United States. Perhaps no attraction in all of Sanibel Island draws people as much as the aptly named Sanibel Island Lighthouse. With its origin stretching back over a century, this storied centerpiece of Sanibel Island holds a tale all its own. From being a guiding beacon for weary travelers to a tourist attraction near Sanibel Island rentals, this lighthouse has seen its fair share of history.



The idea for a lighthouse on Sanibel originated around 1833 with various settlers proposing the idea. Despite their wishes, no construction ever came to fruition. A few decades later in 1856, it was recommended by the Lighthouse Board that a lighthouse be constructed but, again, no construction ever came to fruition. Again, in 1878, a request was made with the justification that an increase in both traffic and trade warranted a lighthouse between Key West and Egmont Key. Finally, after a rather begrudging process, Congress granted funding for the project in 1883.

Construction commenced quickly and was completed on August 20, 1884. Throughout its years, as it had to be lit manually, the lighthouse had various caretakers including Dudley Richardson, Henry Shanahan, and Bob England among others. By the mid 1940s, a hurricane had caused significant erosion to the lighthouse. As it posed a significant risk to its caretaker, Bob England, it was decided that the lighthouse should become automated with that being officially upgraded by 1949.

By 1972, the United States Coast Guard proposed decommissioning the lighthouse to the opposition to both locals and sailors in the area. Eventually, these individuals convinced the Coast Guard not to move forward with the idea. After a few decades of being watched after by locals, the lighthouse was given to the City of Sanibel by the Coast Guard in 2004.

Wanting to restore it to its former glory, the city fundraised for close to a decade in order to begin the restoration project. Finally, in 2013, the lighthouse was restored to its rightful condition. A few years later, in 2016, the lighthouse and surrounding dwellings became a part of the City of Sanibel’s Register of Historic Sites and Structures.

Fun Facts

Despite the initial cost of the lighthouse’s construction in 1884 costing $50,000, when adjusted for inflation, that number balloons to $1.19 million in 2013. For perspective, the renovations performed in 2013 only cost $269,563.

The Sanibel Island Lighthouse stands 98 feet tall. With its current height, the stairway requires 127 steps to reach the top.

Originally, there were 670 acres reserved for the construction of the lighthouse. This, of course, includes the aptly named Lighthouse Beach in Sanibel Island.

Despite its storied history of keepers, its history could have had a very different route. Henry Shanahan, the second keeper of the lighthouse, and the longest-serving keeper, almost did not get the job! Due to his illiteracy, he was originally denied the promotion as he was the assistant keeper at the time. However, he was later awarded the promotion, and rightfully so.

Plan Your Next Trip

Sanibel Island lighthouse has a long and storied history rooted in the community. Be sure to stop by and visit this historic lighthouse! If you have yet to make travel arrangements, why not stay in one of our Sanibel Island condo rentals on your next journey?

Directions & Parking

The lighthouse is located on the eastern tip of the island. If you’re coming from the mainland, you’ll need to take Sanibel Causeway south to Sanibel Island and then get on Periwinkle Way heading east till you reach the lighthouse. Once there, parking is available nearby providing easy access to both the beach and the lighthouse. Parking in the area runs at a rate of $5 per hour.

Here at Sandalfoot Beachfront Condominium, we are dedicated to helping you. Our top-notch staff is ready to assist in booking your dream Sanibel Island beachfront rental today! Give us a call, or visit us online, to get started and book any one of our Sanibel Island condo rentals.



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