How to See the Best Rhode Island Lighthouses by Keith R Wahl, Made From RI Gallery

November 04, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

SoutheastLightOnTheBluffs_20200926_850_4187Southeast Light On The BluffsMohegan Bluffs and Rhode Island Sound with the beacon of Southeast Lighthouse looking over it all like a guardian of Block Island, Rhode Island

Rhode Island may be our nation's smallest state, but that doesn't mean it's not chock full of greatness. This New England state is home to beautiful beaches, incredible architecture, friendly folks, and some of the most beautiful and historic lighthouses that our country has to offer. 

MorningGlowOnNarragansettBay_20191127_D56_0107Morning Glow On Narragansett BayMorning Glow On Narragansett Bay... a layer of patchy fog clings along the water at dawn as buoys, the Dutch Island Lighthouse, and the Pell Newport Bridge are all simultaneously lit

Despite the small size of Rhode Island, it has over four hundred miles of coastline. As you probably already know, Rhode Island is not really an island; the biggest part of it is firmly attached to the mainland United States, but it does include thirty small islands within its borders.

Waves Rushing To ShoreWaves Rushing To ShoreWaves rushing to shore at Whale Rock Preserve in Narragansett, Rhode Island

BeavertailLighthouseFromSea_20200724_850_2410Beavertail Lighthouse From SeaBeavertail Lighthouse as seen from below and to the south. I am fond of these views of lighthouses from below. There is a feeling of what a lighthouse would look like if a vessel approached from below. It gives the idea of what a "maritime adventure" in peril would be. The creation of lighthouses prevent this view from occurring.

The stone structure in the foreground is the original lighthouse base. This structure dates back to 1749. The construction of the lighthouse pictured dates to a 1753 building committee decision.

Long ago and even today, navigating these islands could be quite treacherous in darkness or in inclement weather. As boats and ships made their way to the ports of Providence, Newport, and Bristol, they had to pass through shallow, rocky waters - often in foggy weather. Because of this, lighthouses became common in Rhode Island to help sea captains sail their ships to safety, and many of them still stand today.

ConimicutLighthouseLateAfternoonLight_D56_0738Conimicut Lighthouse Late Afternoon LightPassing Conimicut Lighthouse in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay in the late afternoon sunlight

If you're interested in Rhode Island lighthouses, you are not alone. These beautiful structures are a big part of American history, and they are visited by droves of people every year. It's possible to visit many of them in a single trip. You'll go home with great photographs and incredible memories. Read on to learn more about visiting them. 

Castle Hill Light From SouthCastle Hill Light From SouthCastle Hill Lighthouse, Newport, RI. This photo is one of my more personal images. Castle Hill has always been "home" for me when returning from sea. Despite the rocks present, it's a point of safety combined with a little trepidation. At this point, you are well inside the line of demarcation for Narragansett Bay (the #1 buoy off Beavertail) but there are still swells pushing you along as short chop starts appearing as well. However, Newport and the rest of the east passage of Narragansett Bay are before you and you have good water beneath your keel.

Where to Find Rhode Island Lighthouses

Although the whole idea of lighthouses is to increase the visibility of land from boats, that doesn't mean you have to be on a boat to access them. Although some Rhode Island lighthouses are situated on islands like Block Island, Prudence Island, and Rose Island, many of them are located on the mainland as well.

AnnaCDeparting_20200830_850_8342Anna C DepartingThe M/V Anna C departing the Port of Galilee for Block Island in the light of sunset. The moon is ascending in the east with the soft fire of the remaining sunlight.

Passing Plum Beach LighthousePassing Plum Beach LighthouseA view of the hundred (plus) year old lighthouse on the west passage of Narragansett Bay by the Verrazano Jamestown Bridge on the North Kingstown, Rhode Island side. For many years, the "Spark Plug" style lighthouse lay fallow and rusting, deemed unnecessary by the original Jamestown Bridge. The joke for many years (in my excursion boat days) was that the lighthouse could be purchased for a dollar, but it had to be moved. In 1999, the lighthouse was purchased by the Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse, restored, reactivated and made an Aid to Navigation by the US Coast Guard once again (having been deactivated in 1941).


It's easy to drive from one to another and thanks to Rhode Island's great appreciation of New England history, most are well marked. If you get lost, locals will always be happy to point you in the right direction, but be aware that the directions can sound confusing. The roads go every-which-way in New England, so you may be best off using GPS.

DutchIslandLightInMorningFog_20191127_D56_0221Dutch Island Light In Morning FogMorning fog creeps between Conanicut and Dutch Island (in Dutch Harbor) highlighted by the dawning light showing Dutch Island Lighthouse in the West Passage of Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay

© Keith R Wahl, Made From RI/Made From RI Gallery, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Keith R Wahl and Made From RI/Made From RI Gallery with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.