Lighthouses hold a unique charm–especially now that most of them are now unused relics of a seafaring time that’s long past. The Cape San Blas Lighthouse is a diversion from the expected; a skeleton framework surrounding a metal core renders it resilient enough to withstand incredibly tough conditions. Guests can climb the winding spiral staircase to the top of the tower, which stretches 98 feet over the surrounding park and the waters just offshore.
The Cape San Blas Lighthouse in its current form was opened to the public in 2014. Incorporating some new parts and some that were salvaged after being sunk at sea on their journey from their manufacturing grounds in the North, this lighthouse is the last of several lighthouses on the Cape that were destroyed by hurricanes or erosion over the years.
Cape San Blas itself is a 750-acre piece of land jutting out into a particularly hurricane-prone section of the Gulf of Mexico, and multiple lighthouses on the Cape were destroyed by either hurricanes or erosion during the years since the first one was erected in the mid-1800s. The park surrounding the lighthouse in Port St. Joe today is small but picture-perfect; the vantage from the top allows panoramic views of the verdant fields and woodland below, the pond near the lighthouse base, and the sparkling waters of the Gulf.
The park itself is very family-friendly, but keep in mind that because of the height of the handrail, only visitors over 44″ tall are allowed up the stairs, so some younger visitors might have to wait at the bottom with an adult. The stairs are built into the enclosed central core, which grows narrower at the top before opening to the outlook area, so it might not be a great choice for claustrophobic visitors.
As a National Historic Site today, the grounds themselves are beautifully-maintained. Expect a peaceful, removed-from-town feel while you’re visiting, even if you don’t climb the steps to the top. A gift shop and visitor’s center is well-equipped with friendly, knowledgeable employees, and the historic keepers’ quarters are located on the park grounds as well. It costs a few dollars to climb to the top, but you’ll find the view well worth the donation.
The Cape San Blas Lighthouse has been moved from the Cape itself to safer waters, where it can enjoy a bit of shelter from the storms that have destroyed it again and again throughout the years. It is now located in Port Joe, Florida, just a block from Memorial Drive (Hwy 98), convenient to all the shops and restaurants of Port Joe, to St. Vincent, and to the Cape itself.
– Check with the gift shop/office for a schedule of Full Moon Climbs; climbing the Cape San Blas Lighthouse in the light of a full moon is a magical experience.