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9 Lighthouses in the Florida Keys to Visit

The Florida Keys are home to 9 of the 30 lighthouses in Florida! I have not had the opportunity to visit any of these lighthouses yet, but after doing some research for this blog post I hope I can visit one of them soon. Many of these lighthouses are surrounded by open water and may only be accessible by boat. Keep reading to learn all about the Florida Keys lighthouses.  

Key West Lighthouse
Key West Lighthouse: Photo by Linda Gillotti on Unsplash

Florida Keys Lighthouses 

There are 9 lighthouses along the Florida Keys which are listed below. 

  • Carysfort Reef
  • Alligator Reef 
  • Tennessee Reef Light 
  • Sombrero Key 
  • American Shoal 
  • Key West 
  • Sand Key 
  • Garden Key 
  • Loggerhead Key 

Which Florida Keys Lighthouses can be climbed? 

There is only one lighthouse in the keys that can be climbed which is the Key West lighthouse.

Which Florida Keys Lighthouses are only accessible by boat? 

Almost all of the Florida Keys lighthouses are only accessible by boat, making them a little more challenging to visit. Please note that most of these lighthouses are surrounded by open water and the towers are not open to the public. Accessing these lighthouses via boat will allow you to get near the lighthouse for a closer view. Distant views from land may be available for some of these lighthouses, continue reading below for more information on each lighthouse. 

  • Carysfort Reef 
  • Alligator Reef 
  • Tennessee Reef 
  • Sombrero Key 
  • American Shoal 
  • Sand Key 
  • Garden Key 
  • Loggerhead Key 
Loggerhead Key Lighthouse
Loggerhead Key Lighthouse: Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

Can you see the Florida Keys Lighthouses from a plane? 

Yes! Another unique way to see many of the Florida Keys lighthouses is from a seaplane. Key Seaplanes offers custom lighthouse flights from Key West or Miami. There are up to 10 lighthouses that can be included in the custom lighthouse flight. The lighthouses are listed below. 

  • Carysfort Reef 
  • Alligator Reef 
  • Sombrero Key 
  • American Shoal 
  • Key West 
  • Sand Key 
  • Garden Key 
  • Loggerhead Key 
  • Cape Florida Lighthouse 
  • Fowey Rocks Lighthouse 

See my East Coast Florida Lighthouse blog post for more details on the Cape Florida and Fowey Rocks Lighthouses. All the other lighthouses are included in this post.  

In addition to the custom lighthouse flight, additional scenic flights are offered and may include some of the lighthouses. More information on booking a tour with Key Seaplanes can be found here.  

1. Carysfort Reef 

This 120-feet tall lighthouse is only accessible by boat. The lighthouse is approximately 6-miles offshore of Key Largo. A distant view of the lighthouse may be seen from land. There are no regular ferries to this lighthouse, but if you book a snorkel, scuba dive, or boat trip with a local company you may be able to see the lighthouse. Not all trips will go to the lighthouse, so you will want to inquire with individual tour companies to see if they will go near Carysfort Reef. The lighthouse is owned by the coast guard and surrounded by open water. The lighthouse tower is not open for climbing. 

2. Alligator Reef 

Alligator Reef lighthouse is 135-feet tall and accessible via boat. Distant views of the lighthouse may be seen from land. The lighthouse is located approximately 5-miles offshore of Islamorada. There are no regular ferries that visit this lighthouse, but you may be able to get views of it from a snorkel, diving, or boat trip. Many of these trips can be customized so be sure to inquire with individual companies if they are able to take you near Alligator Reef Lighthouse. The lighthouse is surrounded by open water and owned by the coast guard. The tower is not open for climbing.  

3. Tennessee Reef Light 

This 49-feet tall lighthouse is located about 4-miles offshore from Indian Key. Limited information is available about this lighthouse online. It is only accessible by boat, surrounded by water, and the tower is not open to the public. This lighthouse was not included on the custom lighthouse flight offered by Key Seaplanes. 

4. Sombrero Key 

The Sombrero Key Lighthouse is located about 5-miles offshore from Marathon, Florida. The lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard and the tower is not open to the public. A view of the lighthouse from land can be found at Sombrero Beach or a more distant view can be seen from the eastern end of the 7-mile bridge near Marathon.  

Starfish Snorkeling offers tours to the Sombrero Reef National Marine Sanctuary and Lighthouse if you are hoping to get a view of the lighthouse from the water. More information can be found here.   

5. American Shoal 

This lighthouse is located 6.5 miles south of Sugarloaf Beach surrounded by open water. The lighthouse is 109-feet tall. The lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard and the tower is not open to the public. A distant view of the lighthouse may be seen from Sugarloaf Creek bridge on a clear day.  

6. Key West 

This is the only Florida Keys lighthouse that is accessible by land and open to the public! The Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. This lighthouse is 86-feet tall, and visitors can climb the 88 steps to the top when visiting. The cost to visit is $17 for adults with discounted rates available for senior citizens, college students, locals, and retired military personnel. Children aged 7-17 years cost $9 and children under 7 years old and active military can visit free of charge. In addition to climbing the tower, the Keeper’s Quarters Museum can be visited.  

A discounted rate for admission is available online. Tickets can be purchased here as well as more information to plan your visit.  

7. Sand Key 

Standing at 121-feet tall, Sand Key Lighthouse is located approximately 8-miles offshore from Key West. The lighthouse is owned by the Coast Guard and is surrounded by open water. The lighthouse tower is not open to the public. Snorkeling trips from Key West can be booked to the reefs around Sand Key for a closer view of this lighthouse.  

8. Garden Key 

Garden Key Lighthouse is located atop Fort Jefferson within Dry Tortugas National Park. The park is located 67 miles west of Key West and is only accessible via private boat, Yankee Freedom Ferry, or seaplane. Once you have reached Fort Jefferson you can walk around the grounds of the Fort surrounding the lighthouse, but the lighthouse tower is not open to the public. 

More information on Dry Tortugas National Park and the Yankee Freedom Ferry can be found here. If you plan to visit, a full day is needed to take the ferry and tickets must be booked in advance. 

9. Loggerhead Key  

Loggerhead Key Lighthouse, also known as Dry Tortugas Lighthouse, is located within Dry Tortugas National Park. This lighthouse is located on the westernmost key of the park which is only accessible via private boat. A distant view of this lighthouse may be seen from Garden Key where Fort Jefferson is located which is the most frequently visited area of the park. The lighthouse grounds are open, but the tower is closed to the public. The Loggerhead Key Pier is closed to the public and you must anchor offshore if visiting.  

Summary of Florida Keys Lighthouses  

The Florida Keys lighthouses are less accessible and more challenging to visit, but they are worth adding to your list if you are able. Most of these lighthouses are only accessible via boat or plane and the towers of many of these lighthouses are closed. Have you visited any of the Florida Keys lighthouses? Comment below and let me know which ones you have visited! 

Looking for other Florida Lighthouses to explore? 

Check out these posts: 

  1. Gulf Coast Florida Lighthouses 
  2. Florida Panhandle Lighthouses  

The information above was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. Information will be verified and updated periodically. If you are planning to visit any of the Florida Lighthouses, I recommend verifying the most current information with the Florida Lighthouse association or Friends of Florida Lighthouses websites.    

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