Today is National Lighthouse Day, a day that honors the beacon of light that, for hundreds of years, has symbolized safety and security for ships and boats at sea.
On this day in 1789, U.S. President George Washington signed an act passed by the First Congress to protect explorers. Today, lighthouses not only mark the spot where land meets sea, they also make popular attractions. Every Holland America Line cruise offers an opportunity to take in the vast oceans and imagine the seafarers that explored them for centuries before us. And several of our shore excursions feature lighthouses around the world waiting to be discovered. Here are some of the favorites:
Peggy’s Cove is an authentic fishing village and its Peggy’s Point Lighthouse is thought to be the most photographed lighthouse in the whole world. It is certainly an iconic Canadian image. The classic red and white lighthouse was built in 1914 as a replacement to a wooden house built in 1868 at the entrance of St. Margaret’s Bay. You can reach Peggy’s Cove during a call at Halifax, Nova Scotia, with the Peggy’s Cove tour. In addition to a drive along the winding coastal highway of the Lighthouse Route, you’ll enjoy the village’s colorful houses and fishing shacks and see a lobster demonstration.
Oranjestad, Aruba: California Lighthouse
Aruba’s California Lighthouse stands on the island’s northwestern tip at an area known as Hudishibana. It was built in 1910 after the sinking of the S.S. California, from whom it gets its name. Today, it is one of Aruba’s most popular sites, offering a picture-perfect view of the island’s coastline and sandy beaches. The Aruba Town & Countryside tour explores Aruba via motor coach and begins with a stop at California Lighthouse. On this tour you’ll also see the bright yellow Alto Vista Chapel, the island’s first Catholic Church, and Casibari Rock Formations, where giant boulders lie heaped about the landscape.
Noumea, Caledonia: Amedee Lighthouse
Just a 45-minute ride by luxury ferry from Noumea, Caledonia, sits a slice of paradise — Amedee Lighthouse Island. Here, you can relax on the beach or climb up the 241 steps to the island’s namesake — Amedee Lighthouse. You’ll get a marvelous view over the lagoon and its pristine waters. The Day at Amedee Lighthouse Island tour also includes a ride on a glass-bottom boat, a trip to the barrier reef to see turtles, rays and sharks, a tropical-style buffet lunch and an island dance show.
This famous lighthouse was built by the Romans and today is one of Spain’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Standing at the entrance of A Coruña’s harbor and over 180 feet tall, the Tower of Hercules is the oldest lighthouse still operating today. According to an old myth, Hercules fought a giant known as “Geryon” at this sight for three days. After beating Geryon, he buried his head and declared a town be built on the spot, thus creating A Coruña. With the A Coruna & Betanzos tour, you can visit the lighthouse and visit the city of Betanzos — a relic of the Old Galician Kingdom. You’ll also enjoy tapas and wine at a local eatery.
Haines, Alaska: Eldred Rock Lighthouse
The Eldred Rock Lighthouse is a picturesque and historic octagonal lighthouse that was first lit in 1906. It is the oldest remaining lighthouse in Alaska and one of the most remote in North America. The lighthouse was built after a series of disastrous shipwrecks during the Klondike Gold Rush, including the famous Clara Nevada in February of 1898. The Haines Whales & Lighthouse Tales tour takes guests along the shorelines of the Chilkat Peninsula to see glaciers, waterfalls, bald eagles, harbor seals, and humpback and killer whales by catamaran. Then guests will head to the island 18 miles south of Haines where the Eldred Rock Lighthouse still stands strong.
Argentina’s Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, known more commonly as the Lighthouse at the End of the World, or faro del fin del mundo, is located in popular Tierra del Fuego National Park. Built in the 1920s, the remote-controlled, uninhabited light house guards the sea entrance to Ushuaia. It is named after the Les Eclaireurs islets, found in the Beagle Channel. Guests can visit the park, channel, lighthouse and more with the National Park & Beagle Channel tour at Ushuaia. In addition to a view of the beautiful lighthouse, guests will get to see seabirds and sea lions.
Mazatlan, Mexico: El Faro Lighthouse
Mazatlan’s El Faro claims to rest on the highest elevation of all the lighthouses in the world. Located on the peak of Cerro del Creston, the lighthouse stands where the water of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez meet. It was first lit in 1879 and is now one of the top tourist attractions in the city. You can see the lighthouse with the Nautical Heritage by Land & Sea tour that includes a boat ride along Mazatlán’s majestic offshore islands.
Acadia National Park is a gem in itself. This national treasure is the first U.S. spot to see the sunrise and one of the country’s most visited parks. Aside from popular Cadillac Mountain and Thunder Hole, here guests also find the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. This scenic lighthouse marks the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay and makes for a stunning photo. Snap your own during the intimate look at Acadia National Park tour.
If you’re thinking about a cruise before year-end, now is the time to book. Be sure to take advantage of savings up to $1,000 per stateroom with the Fall Finale promotion that highlights 2015 itineraries. At least 60 different sailings are eligible for this deal with a $60 deposit if booked by Sept. 10, 2015. If you’re looking to book a cruise for 2016 and beyond, the “Explore 4” promotion features four exceptional offers on select cruises: a free Signature Beverage Package valued at up to $1,400 per stateroom (value based on a 14-night cruise.), free Pinnacle Grill dinner for two, reduced cruise fares for third and fourth guests in the same stateroom and 50 percent reduced deposits. Bookings must be made by Oct. 31, 2015.
Have you been to any of these lighthouses? Which is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below.