Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse
Florida Lighthouse Trail // Along the Buccaneer Trail
Since 1907, after it was shipped 4,000 nautical miles from its assembly in Michigan to its permanent home in South Florida, the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse has stood as one of the world’s brightest beacons for seafarers.
Congress had approved the lighthouse’s construction a few years earlier to provide a continuous string of lights from Jupiter to the Dry Tortugas. Now fully automated, the lighthouse continues to be “a marvel. Technologically, it’s amazing,” says Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society historian Ralph Krugler.
The lighthouse is only accessible by boat, but the trip there is a feast for the eyes as you cruise past Millionaire’s Mile, some of South Florida’s most luxurious and pricey real estate with homes soaring to the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Once you arrive, you’ll climb 175 stairs to the top—closed-toed shoes only, please—and will take in views of Fort Lauderdale to the south and Boca Raton to the north. On a clear day, Krugler says, you can see sharks, rays, manatees and possibly even sea turtles from the tower. You may even catch a Goodyear Blimp launching from its base in nearby Pompano Beach.
The view makes for an ideal romantic venue. “We get tons of proposal requests,” Krugler says. At ground level, you can tour keepers’ cottages, a barn and storage building, and a generator and barn building.
Take time to walk along the beach and follow the steps of the letter carriers who used to traverse the oceanfront to deliver mail. Be sure to pay tribute to the Barefoot Mailman statue, erected in honor of James “Ed” Hamilton, who disappeared in 1887 while walking his route.
If nature is more your speed, take a trip to nearby Coconut Creek to visit Butterfly World, home to more than 20,000 butterflies and birds. And don’t miss Gumbo Limbo Coastal Stewards, where sea turtles are rehabilitated and released. Old Florida, whether in the form of nature or history, will greet you at every turn of your visit to Hillsboro Inlet. Savor every moment.
Turn your tour into a beach vacay at the Sands Harbor Resort & Marina, where you can immerse yourself in views of the marina and Intracoastal Waterway and partake in water sports and fine onsite dining | sandsharbor.com
Take a boat ride into local history by grabbing lunch or dinner at Cap’s Place. Broward County’s oldest restaurant and onetime speakeasy has earned its spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Eat like a local and enjoy a hearts of palm salad and crab cakes | capsplace.com
If you try to reach the lighthouse via the swank Hillsboro Club property, expect to be turned away. You must book a tour, available monthly, and travel by boat. Schedule your tour through Lighthouse Scenic Tours ($35 per adult; $25 per child) | lighthousescenictours.com