7 Must-See Lighthouses in Maine
To say that Maine is picturesque is an understatement, and what sets its rugged coastline apart is the dotted view of what can feel like a thousand lighthouses. And when you’re vacationing at Samoset Resort, you’re only a quick ⅞-mile walk away from one of the most well-known lighthouses off the coast of Maine, the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. Built in the late 1800s to protect both ships and the coastline from harsh nor’easters, its mile-ish walk across the breakwater leads to perfect views of not only the water, but the coastline.
More than 65 lighthouses dot the rugged Maine coastline, from Nubble Lighthouse in the south to the picturesque West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in the north, each with its own unique architecture and storied history. We’ve curated a list of seven must-see lighthouses in the state, all within a short drive – or cruise – from the resort.
A TOUR OF MAINE’S BEST LIGHTHOUSES
1. Isle au Haut Lighthouse | Isle au Haut
One of the top-reviewed lighthouses in Central Maine, the Isle au Haut Lighthouse was the last lighthouse station built in Maine and at one point featured a 42-inch fog bell. The lighthouse, which sits in a remote area of Acadia National Park, is best seen by boat via the Isle au Haut mailboat, which makes daily summer trips and passes within 100 feet of the shoreline. By land, the lighthouse offers guided tours and the surrounding village (with a year-round population of 65) also has shops, a working one-room schoolhouse, an inn and seasonal summer activities like hiking and biking.
2. Fort Point Lighthouse | Stockton Springs
About an hour’s drive north up the coast, this uniquely square lighthouse, which also houses a fog bell, makes for a lovely trip. Look for the eye-catching red roof of the keeper’s quarters off the beaten path at Fort Point State Park, which is also the summer home to a tidal sandbar, fishing, hiking, the remains of Fort Pownall and a 7-mile bike trail that begins at the lighthouse and circles Cape Jellison. While the lighthouse is now private property, the grounds are still open to the public.
3. Goose Rocks Lighthouse | North Haven
Often described as a “spark plug,” this solitary lighthouse was built entirely within the waters off coastal Maine, near the northeast end of Vinalhaven Island. It consists of five self-contained levels, including keeper’s quarters so small that the lighthouse was designated a “stag” station until it was automated in the 60s. Goose Rocks Lighthouse can be seen via water or air, or you can step into the lighthouse itself during one of several free open houses each summer. For a more private experience, the lighthouse can house up to six guests for an all-day or overnight “Keeper Stays.”
4. Marshall Point Lighthouse | Port Clyde
If this lighthouse looks familiar, imagine Forrest Gump traversing its long walkway as part of his cross-country run. Built in the 1800s, the tower and keeper’s quarters are now home to a museum showcasing the history of the lighthouse and its surrounding peninsula, as well as movie memorabilia and a gift shop. A private charter is available to see Marshall Point and other nearby lighthouses from the water, and the grounds are accessible via land on Marshall Point Road during summer.
5. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse | Bristol
Dream of getting married with a lighthouse as your backdrop? The Pemaquid Point Lighthouse might be the perfect location with its white tower, beautifully kept grounds and sweeping views from high atop its clifftop perch. Located south of Samoset Resort in the town of Bristol, the lighthouse grounds are situated within Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park and include The Fisherman’s Museum, which occupies the old keeper’s quarters. To see this stunning lighthouse from the water, book a tour with Cap’n Fish’s Cruises (it also includes seal watching and a lobster-trap haul.)
6. Owl’s Head Lighthouse | Owl’s Head
Lighthouses are synonymous with ghost stories, and this one is considered by many to be the most haunted. Mystery abounds here, from a couple frozen in ice who were brought back to life on its grounds to a dog named Spot who rang the fog bell and saved his friend from disaster. Even the name Owl’s Head seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Watch out for the ghost of Little Lady, who is seen in the kitchen or looking out a window, and listen for slamming doors or rattling silverware. You may also encounter the spirit of a keeper who still calls the lighthouse home, or see mysterious boot prints appear after a rain of snowfall.
7. Burnt Island Light Station | Boothbay Harbor
Depart from Boothbay Harbor for one of the most comprehensive guided lighthouse experiences in Midcoast Maine. The Living History Lighthouse Tour, operated by Balmy Days Cruises, includes access to Burnt Island, a tour of the still-working lighthouse (including the spiral staircase up to the lantern room, surrounding buildings and a covered-walkway museum), and – perhaps the best part – the chance to speak with current keepers who are happy to answer questions and share their stories.