Rhode Island Lighthouse Tours
The only tour in Rhode Island to include a stop at a lighthouse
Enjoy the rich, historical sights of the lower part of Narragansett Bay. With breathtaking views of the Newport Pell Bridge, Prudence Island, and historic Fort Adams, you'll view close to a dozen active and inactive lighthouse sites.
Starting in Newport, this tour includes a stop at Rose Island and a tour of the Rose Island Lighthouse and grounds. You're permitted to climb up the tower to view the new Fresnel lens up close!
2017 Tour Dates
- $50 for Save The Bay members
- $55 for non-members
Southern Bay Lighthouse Site List
Beavertail Lighthouse was established in 1749 at Beavertail Point, located at the southern tip of Conanicut Island. The light was the granddaddy of all Rhode Island lighthouses and only the third one—after Boston Harbor and Nantucket’s Brant Point—in the American colonies.
Castle Hill Light is a granite structure established in 1890 and was automated in 1957. Located at the westernmost point of Newport and at the entrance to East Passage of Narraganset Bay, it is reachable by strolling the grounds of the Castle Hill Inn and Resort.
Located at the northern tip of Conanicut Island, this light was established in 1886. It is a wood-framed Gothic Revival. Its best views are by boat. The lighthouse appears in scenes from the 2012 movie Moonrise Kingdom.
|Dutch Island Light
Sitting on a former Civil War military base called Ft. Greble, the present light built in 1857 was abandoned and vandalized after it was discontinued in 1979. Replaced by a buoy, the Dutch Island Lighthouse Society refurbished the light through fund raising. Relit in 2007, it is continuously powered by a solar powered battery.
At the entrance to Newport Harbor, the Gull Rocks Light was originally a wooden A-Framed design. The signals were two lanterns placed on rails that glided by windows on the East and West peaks of the building. Established in 1887, it no longer exists. It was replaced by a skeleton tower in 1928, and then demolished in 1970 for construction of the Newport Bridge.
|Lime Rock Light
Established in 1854, discontinued in 1927 and then relight for Private Aide, Lime Rock Light is now called the Ida Lewis Yacht Club. Idawalley Zaradia Lewis was one of America’s most famous lighthouse keepers. It had been recorded that she single handedly saved 18 lives, but that number could have been as high as 35. Ida was very modest and did not keep records of her lifesaving accomplishments.
|Newport Harbor Light
In 1824, a light at the entrance to Newport Harbor at Goat Island was established. As ships continued to run aground, the present light was constructed further out on a breakwater. The original structure was later moved to Prudence Island in 1852. Years passed and Goat Island’s usage alternated from a fort, torpedo station, barracks, condos and now the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Automated in 1963, it continues to be an aide in navigation and is managed by the American Lighthouse Foundation.
|Plum Beach Light
Situated in the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, the Plum Beach Lighthouse has survived despite many obstacles. Another example of “Spark Plug” Design, it was established in 1899. Nearly succumbing numerous times over the years; during its building by a loose construction barge, a tidal wave in one of Rhode Island’s worst hurricanes, a legal battle over ownership and finally exposure to years of guano and the elements, Plum Beach Light was saved by the Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse. Decommissioned in 1941, the light proudly stands just near the Jamestown Verrazano Bridge. Earlier in the 20th century, popularity of swimming across the bay to the lighthouse encouraged the Keepers to sponsor an annual swim not unlike our own Save The Bay annual swim from Newport to Jamestown.
Poplar Point Light was established in 1831 to light the entrance of Wickford Harbor, an active port for 19th century trade. Poplar Point Light lived out its usefulness in 1882, when a better location for a beacon was moved 200 yards offshore to assist ferries and schooners. Its design was an octagonal wooden lighthouse tower, topped by a deck and covered in copper. It also included an octagonal iron lantern. It remains Rhode Island’s oldest, unaltered lighthouse in its original location. The tower is the “oldest freestanding wooden” lighthouse in the nation. Privately owned since 1894, a good view is captured from a breakwater across Wickford Harbor at Sauga Point.
|Rose Island Light
Rose Island was purposed for the military as Fort Hamilton in 1798. Though never utilized, it was used for weapons storage through 20th century. Established in 1870, the Rose Island Lighthouse sits south of the base of the Newport Pell Bridge in Newport Harbor. The design is very similar to the Pomham Rocks Light; a wooden structure with mansard roof and a hexagonal shaped light tower. The Newport Bridge was completed in 1969 and the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1971. Vandalism was rampant on the island afterwards. By 1985, the Rose Island Foundation took possession and restored it to its 1915 splendor. It was opened to the public in 1992 and relit as a private aid to navigation a year later. Accessible by boat, Rose Island Lighthouse has accommodations to stay overnight or longer if you choose to be a lighthouse keeper.
Wickford Harbor Light was established on Old Gay Rock in 1882 to replace the Poplar Point Light 200 yards nearer to the shoreline. A Gothic Revival House and Square Tower design were replicated again for the Conanicut Island Light a few years later. After the retirement of its last keeper in 1930, the lighthouse was destroyed. It was replaced with a small automatic tower and a skeleton tower now stands on a pile of rocks. As a footnote, in 1939 the Lighthouse Service was taken over by the Coast Guard which was the case for many other Rhode Island Lights and lighthouse across the nation.
What to expect on a lighthouse tour
You’ll discover the lighthouses that played an important role in the history of the Bay and those that are actively assisting in marine navigation. All tours offer participants a view of historic lighthouses against a backdrop of wild and beautiful seasonal colors!
Save The Bay educators provide expert narration on all tours.
Proceeds of lighthouse tours are used to support the restoration and preservation of Pomham Rocks Lighthouse and Rose Island Lighthouse.
Departure location and parking
Alofsin Piers at Fort AdamsNewport, RI 02840 (map/directions). Plenty of free parking is available.
What to bring
Come prepared for a few hours on the water -- hats, sunscreen, light outerwear for the afternoon sea breeze, and snacks. Non-alcoholic beverages, water, and binoculars are provided. Bring your camera!
More lighthouse tours by Save The Bay:
For more information
Contact Dan Blount at (401) 439-0670