Texas is not well known for its lighthouses for a very simple reason: the coast of Texas simply doesn’t require them in many spots. However, there are still some beautiful, historic lighthouses in Texas and each one tells a rich history and story of the land that surrounds them.
Texas has a large amount of coastline, but with much of the coast smooth and easy to navigate, lighthouses were not used everywhere.
In a handful of special places along the Gulf Coast, though, you can still visit these beautiful and historic Texas lighthouses.
Each of these lighthouses in Texas is well worth visiting, and in several, you can still find the artifacts, lights, keepers journals, and more in local museums that are absolutely worth a stop.
Here are the best coastal lighthouses in Texas to visit!
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A Brief History of Lighthouses in Texas
As you drive down the Texas coast, you will see some lighthouses that served the distinct purpose of guiding mariners into ports or harbors that were hard to find as well as navigate.
Lighthouses served a distinct purpose for years and were created to warn boaters of rocky coasts as well as direct them into harbors safely.
With the rise of technology, many states have switched to using more electronic-based devices to help guide and direct them.
Although lighthouses may not be used as frequently as they used to, they still hold incredible history within their walls.
Beautiful Gulf Coast Texas Lighthouses to Visit
Lydia Ann Lighthouse
Located in Aransas Pass, the Lydia Ann Lighthouse is the only lighthouse in Texas that runs 24 hours a day and can be seen from shore.
Because the Lydia Ann Lighthouse is privately owned, you cannot technically go into the lighthouse, but you can get a great view of it from the banks.
The Lydia Ann Lighthouse was built to help guide mariners to the Port of Corpus Christi safely and without any issues.
This lighthouse is one that is made of bricks and required caretakers to go up more than 60 stairs to light the lighthouse each night.
The owner of HEB, Charles Butt, actually bought the lighthouse and paid for restoration as well as hired a writer to document the history of the Lydia Ann Lighthouse.
Half Moon Reef Lighthouse
Port Lavaca boasts the unique and one-of-a-kind Half Moon Reef Lighthouse.
This lighthouse differs from the surrounding TX lighthouses because of the red beam it uses to emit to distinguish it from others.
Halfmoon Reef Lighthouse was once situated in Halfmoon Reef to direct and guide mariners.
The lighthouse was positioned on stilts and surrounded by water, and at one time the couple operating the lighthouse simply lived in it all the time.
The Half Moon Reef Lighthouse was moved off of the coast and is now placed in Port Lavaca to remind everyone of the rich history it once had.
You can easily drive by the lighthouse and even take a few minutes to stop and learn about how the Half Moon Reef lighthouse was used and built.
Half Moon Reef Lighthouse is part of the National Register of Historic Places and doubles as a museum for guests to step back into time and get a glimpse into the use of this amazing structure.
Point Bolivar Lighthouse
Located near Galveston, TX on Bolivar Peninsula is the 65-foot Point Bolivar Lighthouse.
This lighthouse was used for many years as a beacon to guide hundreds of mariners to the port safely and effectively.
The Point Bolivar Lighthouse survived many intense storms and even provided a safe harbor for island visitors to escape a hurricane, allowing them to all pile on the lighthouse staircase.
After many years of service, the Point Bolivar Lighthouse in Texas was retired and many of its pieces (lights, reflectors) were sent to the Smithsonian Museum to remind everyone of the significance and importance of the Gulf Coast lighthouses.
There is an entire group of people that are working to restore the Point Bolivar Lighthouse to its former glory and you can still see it standing tall while you visit Bolivar Peninsula.
Matagorda Island Lighthouse
For years, the area around Matagorda Island was incredibly popular and busy.
The Matagorda Island Lighthouse was created after many people saw a need for a market to distinguish the entrance to Pass Cavello.
During the Civil War, the lighthouse was ordered to be dismantled and taken apart, thankfully only part of it was destroyed so it could be easily fixed.
The Matagorda Island Lighthouse was restored in 1999 and continues to be improved upon.
The lens inside the lighthouse as well as the keepers’ journal can be found at the Calhoun Historical Museum in Port Lavaca, Texas.
Port Isabel Lighthouse
Probably the best-known of these lighthouses in Texas, partially because it stands just over the bridge from popular South Padre Island, the Port Isabel Lighthouse was built to help ships travel safely through the Brazos Santiago Pass.
Dating to 1852, the Port Isabel Lighthouse was used by both the Union and the Confederates at various points during the Civil War to serve as a lookout post.
After the war ended, it was briefly used as a lighthouse again before falling into disrepair.
Today, the Port Isabel Lighthouse is a National Historic Site, and unlike most of these Texas lighthouses, you can actually climb it when you visit!
Sabine Bank Lighthouse
Located in Port Arthur, the Sabine Bank Lighthouse warned deep barges coming from the Gulf of Mexico of the shallow banks of the Sabine River.
Sabine Bank Lighthouse was surrounded completely by water and those running the lighthouse typically had to stay there for weeks at a time
Sabine Bank Lighthouse made it through multiple hurricanes and as the years went on it slowly began to fall apart.
The people who used to keep the light on were replaced with solar panels and eventually, the decision was made to move the lighthouse to shore.
Because the lighthouse was in such bad shape, it was refurbished when it got to shore and can still be seen to this day.
You can also stop by the Museum of the Gulf Coast to see multiple parts of the lighthouse that were used for many years to warn boaters of potential dangers.
The Sabine Bank lighthouse is definitely worth a visit and is stocked full of stories and history.