Great Point Lighthouse: Here’s What the Hype is All About

The Great Point Lighthouse is a Nantucket institution. For more than 200 years, the residents of Nantucket island have fought to keep a lighthouse in this spot. Here’s why you should make it a priority to visit the Great Point Lighthouse during your trip to Nantucket.

Great Point Lighthouse History

In 1770, there are records of the residents of Nantucket calling for a lighthouse on Great Point for the first time. Over 150 ships were whaling off of Sandy Point, as it was known in the 1770’s; a lighthouse was needed to keep their crews safe.

The first lighthouse was built in 1885 and the first keeper was paid $166.66 per year to stay and run the lighthouse. Its history is filled with ups and downs— and more than one rebuild. A mere three decades after the first lighthouse was built, it was destroyed by a fire. A stone lighthouse was built to replace it, which was finished in 1818.

Great Point Lighthouse Nantucket

It was March of 1984 when that 60 foot stone lighthouse was bested by a severe storm. All that was left was a pile of rubble. Thankfully, Senator Edward Kennedy was able to secure $2 million to help rebuild a replica and protect it for generations to come. The current Great Point Lighthouse was finished in 1986.

The Land Surrounding the Great Point Lighthouse

The land around the Great Point Lighthouse consists of multiple protected wildlife lands. The Coskata- Coatue Wildlife Refuge is located next to the lighthouse. This wildlife refuge features miles of hiking trails and is a fantastic way to see some of the natural habitats of wildlife on the island. This protected land surrounding the lighthouse has pristine beaches and is a fantastic place to fish for striped bass and bluegills.

The Coatue Wildlife Refuge is 390 acres of untouched land. You can travel there by boat or you can walk there (though it is a long hike from parking areas) for free. If you want to take a 4X4 vehicle, you will need to purchase a permit to drive. The roads are soft sand, and only open from May to October.

This barrier beach is subject to harsh conditions, including winds, rains, and strong storms. However, the plants and wildlife that live here adapt to live in such conditions and are uniquely able to help naturally protect the island.

The Adventure of the Great Point Lighthouse

The lighthouse is located on the furthest tip of the east coast of North America in the Atlantic Ocean. To get there, you must drive slowly; you will need to deflate your tires and use the 4X4 vehicle we mentioned earlier. It is an exhilarating feeling and will leave you with a sense of being in touch with nature that you’ve never experienced before.

Great point lighthouse nantucket jeep

(Photo by: @ama.ccc)

The seals that call this beach home are so close and not one bit frightened of you! They will be lounging on the beach or swimming in the ocean near Great Point Lighthouse. The Piping Plovers, a small, federally protected bird, also use this place as a nesting ground. During certain times of the year, you’ll be required to park your car and walk to get to the lighthouse so you don’t disturb the nests.

One of the best ways to see Nantucket is to talk to a local who can tell you all the best places to go. At Congdon and Coleman, we have called Nantucket home since 1931. Our real estate brokers live on the island.

So whether you’re looking to buy a place, or rent one for your annual vacation, we know how you can make the most of Nantucket. Call our offices today to talk with one of our experienced real estate brokers about your Nantucket adventure.

Nantucket Congdon and Coleman Real Estate


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Stephen Maury

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