Visit These Lighthouses on Block Island (Visitor Info & More!)

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From the Author: Our family has been taking week-long vacations on Block Island for 5+ years. We love this island and know it well. If you have any questions, we respond quickly to comments!

Block Island is home to two historic lighthouses: Southeast Lighthouse and North Light.

One sits a top the Block Island Bluffs, and the other all alone, at the tip of Sandy’s Point.

Both are beautiful in-person, and worth visiting if you have the time.

But these lighthouses aren’t just for show – there have been so many ship wrecks off of the Block Island over the years that Block Island got the nickname of the “Stumbling Block of New England”!

Directions from Block Island Ferry to Southeast Lighthouse and North Lighthouse

NOTICE // We try our best to keep the information in this guide as up to date as possible. If you notice anything has changed, please leave us comment down below.


Southeast Lighthouse (“Beacon On the Bluff”)

The Southeast Lighthouse is by far the more popular of the two – my family and I visit it at least once a year.

It was built in 1874, making it one of the oldest lighthouses in New England.

Back then most of the lighthouses that were constructed were all about function – they never considered aesthetics at all.

So it was a bit of a marvel that the Southeast Lighthouse was built using a Gothic style.

Southeast Lighthouse Block Island up close

Southeast Light sits on top of the Block Island Bluffs – where so many ship wrecks have happened that Block Island earned the nickname “The Stumbling Block of New England”.

Its location on the Bluffs also makes it the highest lighthouse in all of New England.

Drone shot of Southeast lighthouse Block Island

While breathtaking, the Bluffs have had their share problems – due to steady erosion of the Bluffs, the entire lighthouse had to be moved back hundreds of feet in 1993.

It took nearly 10 years of campaigning, and 3 separate Acts of Congress to make it happen.

Over 400 tones of steel and masonry were rolled down temporary tracks at just 4 inches a minute.

The entire operation lasted about 3 weeks and cost 2 million dollars.

Speaking of millions of dollars – the original Southeast Light used something called a “first order fresnel lens“.

This lens rotated in an open bed of Mercury, and was deemed too big a risk – it was a hazard to the public and needed to be replaced.

But the lens was originally made in France, and that type of glass/lens is no longer made.

Fortunately the Coast Guard was able to track down another fresnel lens, identical to the one originally placed in Southeast Light.

They brought the lens over to Block Island by ship, but first they had it insured for 3.5 million dollars!

Southeast Lighthouse lens

In recent years Southeast light has undergone further restoration efforts, and a maritime history museum was added which opened to the public in 2021.

This beauty is only a mile from town/ferry, so make sure you check it out the next time you visit Block Island!

You can walk or bike – most of the journey is right along the coast.

Lighthouse Visitor Information

  • Address: Southeast Lighthouse, Spring St, New Shoreham, RI 02807
  • Walkability: MEDIUM – Southeast Light is about 2 miles from the Ferry (46 min walk or a 10 min bike ride).
  • Parking: YES – On-site.
  • Museum: YES – $10 for adults (Children under 9 are free). Open Summer (through Labor Day) daily 10am-4pm. Fall weekends (through Oct 8th) 10pm-4pm. Closed during Winter.
  • Tour: YES – $15 for adults (Children under 9 are free). Guided access only. Same hours of operation as the Museum.

Insider Tip:

Restoration efforts are underway to convert some of the interior space of the lighthouse into a residential rental unit.

So some day soon you’ll be able to stay here overnight!

The income it produces will be used to help pay for, and maintain the lighthouse.

Block Island North Lighthouse (“North Light”)

Originally built in 1829, North Light has been completely demolished on three separate occasions during its first 38 years of existence.

Given its location, completely exposed on the north most point of Block Island, these earlier lighthouses were swept out to sea during storms and bad weather.

North Light Block Island front of lighthouse

The lighthouse that stands today, the fourth lighthouse of its kind, was built further back from the point in 1867 with steel and Connecticut granite.

It’s stood there for over 150 years.

But even in recent times, the lighthouse has seen its ups and downs.

It was deactivated in 1973 and then eventually sold to the town of New Shoreham in 1984 for a dollar. The town renovated and then relit the lighthouse in 1989.

Further renovations took place in 2008 and it was relit once again in 2010.

You can access North Light by walking from the parking lot for about 15 – 20 minutes over unpacked sand.

Mackenzie and Maeve at North Light Block Island

It’s a fantastic walk, with beautiful sandy trails and gorgeous ocean views.

While there are no tours of the tower, a maritime museum occupies the first floor of the lighthouse and is open to the public during the summer.

Drone shot of North Light Block Island

Lighthouse Visitor Information

  • Address: North Light, Corn Neck Rd, New Shoreham, RI 02807
  • Walkability: LOW – North Light is about 4.7 miles from the Ferry (1 hr 42 min walk and a 24 min bike ride).
  • Parking: YES – On-site.
  • Museum: YES – 1st floor has been renovated and is open to the public as a maritime museum. Open full time in July and August. Weekends in September and October until Columbus Day.
  • Tour: NO – There is no tower access.

Insider Tip:

  1. Be on the look out for harbor seals during your walk out to North Light. They are everywhere! We spotted about a dozen when we went. Our son Declan loved them!
  2. If you’re into running or biking, North Light is the perfect place to visit. Corn Neck Rd. is one of the longest roads on the island and has runners and bikers going up and down it all day long.

Final Word

My family and I have been visiting Block Island every Summer for over 5 years now, and we still make time to visit a lighthouse or two while we’re here.

As I get older, I’ve come to really appreciate the history of these incredible structures and the many ships, and lives they’ve saved.

My kids are just interested in the harbor seals and the ice cream we get after, but that’s OK too.

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Michael Donovan
Hey. I’m Mike, Mackenzie's husband, and dad to Declan and Maeve. I'm also a co-founder and writer here at Stay New England. I've been traveling across the New England region for well over a decade now and I'm excited to share all that I've learned!
Photo of author
Michael Donovan
Hey. I’m Mike, Mackenzie's husband, and dad to Declan and Maeve. I'm also a co-founder and writer here at Stay New England. I've been traveling across the New England region for well over a decade now and I'm excited to share all that I've learned!

4 thoughts on “Visit These Lighthouses on Block Island (Visitor Info & More!)”

  1. I very much enjoyed your article!
    We visit Block Island each summer and find something
    more to love each time. Our four grandsons and and their
    parents- two of those being our
    son and daughter look forward
    to this time each summer- a time, I assume, for all of us to
    be together or alone. Our oldest
    grandson first visited as a baby-he in college and still comes.
    sit back and relax and be together or alone. Our oldest
    grandson has been coming since he was a baby

    • Thanks for sharing Darby, sounds like you and your family have a wonderful relationship with the island. My family and I started vacationing on BI 5 years ago, and it will be a tradition for the rest of our lives. BI has the effect on people!


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