Nassau Harbour Lighthouse, Bahamas
This impressive 19-meter (62-foot) tall lighthouse with white brick body and a red lantern-top is located at the western tip of Paradise Island in a romantic setting. It is surrounded by the ocean and to the east you can see the rest of Paradise Island including the Atlantis resorts at a distance.
Hog Island Lighthouse
Photo: Ivan Curra, cc by-sa 3.0
Nassau Harbour Lighthouse was built in the year 1817. Back in those days, Paradise Island was known as Hog Island and the lighthouse as Hog Island Lighthouse. This was the first lighthouse made in the Bahamas by Imperial Lighthouse Service followed by the one at Abaco (Hole in the wall). It is the oldest lighthouse in the whole of Bahamas and believed to be the oldest in West Indies as well.
The lighthouse was operational for a long time and guided the cruise ships that approached the Nassau Port (i.e. Prince George Wharf) through the northwest entrance. The light at the lantern on top was later replaced with an electric light. It emitted white light when the conditions were normal, however sometimes it flashed a red light to alert the ships of dangerous entry conditions.
The erstwhile A&P Supermarket chain heir Huntington Hartford purchased Hog Island after his visit in 1959 and renamed it to Paradise Island. He developed this barren and uninhabited island with lavish infrastructure including the group of Atlantis resorts, but fortunately he did not destroy the lighthouse.
But unfortunately, the Hog Island Lighthouse has now fallen into disrepair... it is an abandoned lighthouse and there is hardly any maintenance done. The entryway and the door is usually open and you can go inside and climb the spiral stairway to the lantern room at the top.
However the old wooden flooring on the top can be very risky. While you can not go outside the lantern room to the circular projection around it, you can see the light from a hand shaking distance. You can still see the old pedestal which once supported the original lighting system.
The views from the lantern as well as through the windows on the way to the top are exceptional. You can see the blue ocean as well the Paradise Island.
The lighthouse offers a great photo opportunity. Since not many tourists bother to come to this remote edge of the island, the place remains pristine. You can find lots of conch shells. If you come late in the afternoon, a photo of the sunset with the lighthouse in the foreground would be simply terrific. You can also see from a close distance the cruise ships entering or leaving the Nassau port.
Getting to Nassau Harbour Lighthouse
While some snorkeling cruises and Jetski tours operating from Paradise Island and Nassau can get you here, you can also hike along the northern coastline of Paradise Island to get to the lighthouse, but this walk can be a little tricky, but quite doable. Go during the low tide.
From The Cove (Atlantis), it's about 1 hour walk to the lighthouse. From The Reef Atlantis, the walk will be shorter (about 35 minutes). But there is no earmarked walkway. For the first part, you will mostly walk on soft sand (Paradise beach). After that you will need to walk over eroded limestone rocks with sharp edges, so wear shoes with good soles in order to avoid cuts and bruises.
Paradise Beach, Bahamas
Photo: Vincent Lock, flickr, cc by 2.0
You will pass through the area of Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, and shortly thereafter, you will come to a walled property. The wall is about 6-foot high and goes all the way to the water line. During the low tide, you can find boulders near the water line and manage to go over the wall at that end. There is also a gate on the wall which is usually open and you can go through that as well, but that would mean trespassing into the private property... there is a 'No Trespassing' sign at the property.
You will again walk over a rocky area and then soon come to a second wall. But this wall doesn't extend too long into the water and you can go around this wall easily during the low tide.
Rocks and sands on the trail
Photo: Boris Kasimov, flickr, cc by 2.0
Shortly after the second wall, there is a lovely beach with soft sands (known as Colonial Beach) and full of shells. However note that the private property immediately after the second wall keeps dogs and some times these dogs could be straying free at the beach. So don't go near the property (rather walk along the water line), otherwise the dogs could bark and chase.
Once you cross the Colonial Beach, the rocky limestone bed resumes and you need to walk over them to finally reach the lighthouse. The lighthouse is unmanned. But once there used to be a keeper. The keeper's quarters are now in ruins and can still be seen on the rocky field.
Photo: C Watts, flickr
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