Rhode Island is called the ocean state for a reason. While we’re a very small state we have a lot of water around. Where there’s water there are lighthouses! We have twenty one lighthouses in the state. I’ve gone to all twenty one and gotten images of them. As someone who spends a lot of time on the water AND a landscape photographer I really appreciate them as both a navigation aide as well as something to photography. Here’s a list of the twenty one. Make sure you make it to the bottom for a gallery of some of my favorite images.
Beavertail Light is located at the south end of Jamestown, where it marks the southern end of Conanicut Island as you enter Narragansett Bay. Although it’s one of the oldest lights in the country, it’s still an active light with an extremely loud fog horn! Beavertail is also the closest lighthouse to my house with access by land so I tend to shoot here anytime I see an amazing sunset, but don’t have the time to get anywhere else.
Bristol Ferry Lighthouse
Bristol Ferry light sits in the shadows of the Mount Hope Bridge. It marks the Bristol end of the former ferry route running from Bristol to Portsmouth on Aquidneck Island. Access is pretty tricky as the bridge is marked with homeland security signs requiring you to stay 25 yards away, and the road is marked private. You can shoot the lighthouse from the end of the road as you drive in, or if you’re more adventurous (and it’s low tide) you can walk around to the south side and get the shot you see above.
Castle Hill Lighthouse
Castle Hill in Newport Rhode Island protects the eastern side of the east passage approaching Narragansett Bay. It’s technically on private property, the Inn at Castle Hill owns all the access, but if you’re there during the day just stop in the bar for a drink and they won’t mind you wandering out to the light. They will come and kick you out if they find you there in the middle of the night, or so I’ve heard.
Conanicut Light, also known as North Light, is on the north end of Conanicut Island where Jamestown is located. The lighthouse is now a private residence and the light has been removed. For that reason access is restricted to looking over their fence from the road or shooting from Quonset point with a really long lens. The best view of this lighthouse is undoubtedly from the water.
Conimicut Lighthouse is in Warwick Rhode Island and marks the entrance to the shipping channel into Providence Harbor. It’s a “sparkplug” style lighthouse on the end of a long sand spit. There’s decent access across the sand spit at low tide and parking in Conimicut Park. However, because the tide can come in very quickly here, you must be extremely careful about walking out onto the spit when the tide is low. There are warning signs to this effect for good reason!
Dutch Island Lighthouse
Dutch Island Light sits on….. you guessed it, DUTCH ISLAND! Dutch Island sits in the middle of the west passage between Jamestown and Saunderstown. It’s uninhabited and has former military fortifications that are dangerous so access is currently restricted. This is another lighthouse that’s “in my back yard” living in Jamestown so I tend to shoot here often. Shooting from the URI bay campus also gives you a great perspective and if you work for it you can line the Newport Bridge up in the background.
Goat Island Lighthouse
Goat Island light is on the north end of Goat Island in Newport Rhode Island. The Causeway out to the island has ~10 parking spaces on the right hand side you can use to park in, otherwise pay attention to the parking signs around the neighborhood. Newport allows you to park during the day, but there are meters around and you need a permit at night. You can also go out to Goat Island as well but the lighthouse is on the hotel’s property, so you’re going to want to stop by the bar for a drink on the way to keep yourself out of trouble. The Newport Bridge offers the perfect backdrop.
Hog Island Shoal Light
Hog Island Shoal light sits on the south east side of Hog Island. The best place to shoot it from is the western shore of Portsmouth, or by boat. You can also shoot from the same area you shoot Bristol Ferry light from, but it’s further from you from that location and it’s a harder place to get to to shoot from so I’d only recomend that if you’re already there for Bristol Ferry Light.
Ida Lewis Lighthouse
Ida Lewis Light marked the entrance to Newport Harbor. It’s now one of the premier yacht clubs in Rhode Island. It can be a bit of a challenge to get a good shot of Ida in the summer due to all the moored boats in the harbor! Either hop in a boat or try shooting from either Wellington Ave or Fort Adams.
Nyatt Point Lighthouse
Nyatt Point Lighthouse is now a private residence in Barrington Rhode Island. Access is pretty limited. You need to use the public access to the beach east of the house and stay on the rocks below their sea wall as you approach. Another option is to use your longest lens and shoot it from Conimicut point.
North Light, Block Island
There are two “North Lights” in Rhodes Island. This is the light on the north end of Block Island. The other is Conanicut light, on the north end of Jamestown/Conanicut Island. North Light BI is one of the more prominent lighthouses in RI. It’s massive. It takes a bit of effort to get here, you have to take a ferry out, then it’s a few miles north from the landing on roads and then another mile hike along a very rocky beach. But it’s well worth the effort. If you go in the water here, or even wad out along the spit on the north end, BE CAREFUL, the current here is amazing as the entire Long Island Sound dumps out across here. The fishing is also pretty amazing here.
Plum Beach Light
Plum Beach Light is one of Rhode Island’s iconic lights. Why? Well, because it’s on one of Rhode Island’s specialty license plates! I actually have them for both of our vehicles. It’s not really a necessary light anymore even though it’s restored and working, because it sits very close to the Jamestown Verrazano Bridge which has all the necessary navigational aides. The easiest place to shoot Plum Beach light from would be the bridge, but they don’t like cars stopping on the bridge (emergency only). So You can either drive into the Plum Beach neighborhood and look for parking (check signs, it’s pretty restricted) or you can drive up to Seal Point and enjoy a nice nature walk out to the beach and then south to Plum Beach. I prefer the second option even though it takes a lot longer, it’s more fun!
Point Judith Lighthouse
Point Judith is a Coast Guard Station at the south western entrance to Narragansett Bay. It’s in the town of Narragansett as well. It’s best viewed from Camp Cronin just to the west of the light as access is restricted before sunrise and after sunset at the lighthouse itself. From Camp Cronin (where this shot is taken) you can walk down the beach for better access.
Pomham light sits in the shipping lanes in Providence Rhode Island. It’s actually very similar to Rose Island Light in terms of it’s design. Access to shoot the light is pretty limited, you’re basically stuck shooting from the bike path (which is well worth the ride while you’re there). You can shoot from the west pretty easily which is the angle you see above. If you want to shoot from the north side (which you see below in the gallery) you’re stuck shooting through a chainlink fence for the fueling station.
Poplar Point Light
Poplar Point is a beautiful lighthouse turned residence in Wickford Rhode Island. It protects the south side of the entrance to Wickford harbor. The streets in the neighborhood are all marked for no parking during the day, so you’ll either have to go before 8am or after 6pm (which is fine for sunsets and rises) but the view from the beach there isn’t that spectacular anyway. The best view is to go to Blue Beach in Quonset, hike the trail down to the beach, then walk west along the beach to the breakwall and then hike as far south along that as you dare. It’s best to do any of that at low tide so there’s beach below the breakwater in front of the houses on Blue Beach.
Prudence Island Light
Prudence Island light sits on the east side of Prudence Island. It’s quite a long way out there if you try to shoot from Aquidneck Island. The shot above is taken from NEB in Portsmouth. You can take a ferry out from Bristol that costs ~$7 per person round trip. The ferry is only there for about 5 minutes while it shuffles passengers for the return trip, so you either have to shoot from the ferry dock or stay for an hour and a half until it returns.
Rose Island Lighthouse
Rose Island light sits on Rose Island in Narragansett Bay between Newport and Jamestown. You can actually stay here either for fun or as the lightkeeper (with chores)! Rose is a hard light to get great shots of due to it’s distance from shore. You either need a long lens or a boat!
Sakonnet light is off the coast of the south eastern entrance to the Sakonnet river. It’s best shot from land by hiking out Llyod’s beach in Little Compton RI. Parking on Rhode Island ave is very tight, there’s maybe 3 spots so be sure to check the signs. You can park at the boat launching ramp before you get to RI ave and walk to the beach.
Southeast light is the second light on Block Island. It’s another very prominent light. It sits high atop the bluff on the South East end of the island. They’ve had to move it back in recent years as the bluff is eroding. It’s also not an easy light to get to, you have to take the Block Island Ferry out, then it’s a few miles south from the landing. You can walk, bike or take a cab. Once there it’s just a short distance off the road. While there though I highly recommend the walk down to the water. It’s a LONG flight of stairs though, so pace yourself as you need to come back up at the end.
Warwick Light is another active Coast Guard Station. For this reason access is pretty limited as you can see above. Your best options for getting some good pictures of the light are to either shoot over the fence (which is about 7′ tall), shoot through the fence, or go by water. The road out to the light has parking for about 5 vehicles on the western shoulder (right side going out to the light).
Watch Hill is an active Coast Guard station on the south western tip of Rhode Island. You can actually see a lighthouse in Connecticut when you go to visit Watch Hill. Access here is a bit tricky as you have to walk down a private road to get to the light. There’s a sign that says it’s allowed. Once you get down to the light there’s a fence that keeps you out of the parking lot except during daylight house, then another gate closer to the house the keeps you off their lawn and from getting too close all the time. The light is on a peninsula, so you can also shoot it from the beaches both to the east and west depending on which way the light is better. The beach to the east is a much shorter walk, the western beach is about a 1.25 mile hike, but it’s a great walk.