Lighthouses worldwide have continued to be beautiful landmarks for tourists to visit and be dazzled by their outstanding scenic views. They offer a unique 360 view of the surrounding areas that most other monuments would not. The island of Bermuda has two still operational lighthouses, Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse and St. David’s Lighthouse both dating back to the 1800s. The South Shore’s Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse offers the chance to climb to the top of its 185-step spiral staircase and marvel at the 360 panoramic view of the island; whereas in the east visitors will have the opportunity of visiting the St. David’s Lighthouse located on the highest point on the eastern tip. It is the smaller of two, standing at 55 feet from base to lantern with 85 steps to the top and two galleries.
The St. David’s Lighthouse can be found on the island of the same name, within the St. George’s Parish. The island was named St. David’s by an early Welsh colonist after the patron saint of Wales. The island consists of 650 acres and is the eastern most part of Bermuda. It was a base for the British Military and in 1877, the British Royal Engineers built the Causeway which connected the two areas and is still in use today. Prior to the creation of the St. David’s Lighthouse, the islanders specifically in St. David’s were known for preying on sunken ships. They would lure passing vessels with various lights to the underwater reefs and upon their crash would loot their cargoes. The lighthouse was built to stop this practice, and since the people have become fisherman and expert sailors.
The construction of the lighthouse began in 1876 and took three years to be built. It was activated on November 3, 1879 and is still in use today. Made of Bermudian limestone, it was specifically constructed on a hill as a way to ensure the furthest visibility. Due to the hill, it stands 208 feet above sea level and its beam shines 20 miles over the ocean at 30,000 candle power. It was originally lit with a kerosene lamp and an ordinary wick but was replaced in 1922 with a petroleum burner. Its beam is used by sailors to cross bearings with the beacon emitted by Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse and gives them a full idea of the treacherous coral reefs and potential danger ahead.
Due to its height, the St. David’s Lighthouse is the best place to go for the chance to see humpback whales as the make their annual journey through Bermuda’s waters, usually seen in April and May. The lighthouse not only offers jaw-dropping views of the beautiful countryside, Atlantic Ocean and the town of St. George’s but it was also the central role of Peter Benchley’s adventure novel The Deep, which focuses on The Constellation wreck found along the Bermudian reefs. For the big-budget 1976 film adaptation, a full sized replica on the lighthouse was built on Coney Island as the production team decided they needed a little more room to film than the original would offer. St. David’s Lighthouse is also used as the finish line for major yacht races like the Newport Bermuda.
The St. David’s Lighthouse is free to visit and is open 7:30 am to 4:00 pm between May and September. You can reach St. David’s Lighthouse by bus #6 from St. George’s.
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