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Lighthouses of South Carolina

Kerry Egan Kerry Egan
Discover writers share all of the places, activities and adventure that South Carolina has to offer. Read more from some of South Carolina’s locals and discover what’s happening in the Palmetto State.
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Man, woman, sea grass, sand, trees, lighthouse, blue skies
The Hunting Island lighthouse is a fixture at the state park where it stands.

The South Carolina coast is home to several noteworthy lighthouses, each distinguished by color, height, shape, function and history. Only two of them, run by the US Coast Guard, are still in operation. They remain stunning nonetheless, looming in stately testament to a time when maritime pilots heavily relied upon such beacons for safe navigation. These beauties are all worth viewing, even if you can only do so from afar.

Morris Island Lighthouse

woman, children, beach, dunes, sea grass, sand, lighthouse
Morris Island Lighthouse can be best seen from the northeastern end of Folly Island.

The Morris Island Lighthouse, off the coast of Folly Beach, was once on shore. Rising from the water, the light is now surrounded by the sea thanks to decades of erosion. This left it in a remarkably striking, but precarious position. Because it is now so fragile, no visitors are allowed though several area boat tours offer up-close excursions.  

Hunting Island Lighthouse

lighthouse, trees, blue sky
Due to beach erosion, the Hunting Island lighthouse was moved 1.3 miles inland in 1889.

A treat for lighthouse lovers, Hunting Island Lighthouse is more than 130-feet-tall with 167 steps leading to the top. The circa 1859 structure was rebuilt in 1875 after being destroyed in the Civil War. Erosion necessitated a move inland, and it now is a defining feature of Hunting Island State Park. Though normally open to the public, this lighthouse is currently closed for renovations though visitors can view it from the outside. 

Georgetown Lighthouse

lighthouse, trees, sky
The Georgetown Lighthouse was built in 1811 and restored in 1867.

The Georgetown Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in South Carolina having guarded the mouth of Winyah Bay since 1811. Also known as the North Island Light, this still-functioning, federally operated lighthouse is closed to the public though you can get a good look at it via a boat tour.  

Charleston Light

man, woman, beach, house, sand, trees, lighthouse
The Charleston Light on Sullivan’s Island has been a fixture there since 1962.

On Sullivan's Island just north of Charleston, you will find the Charleston Light, another still-operating lighthouse maintained by the National Park Service. Visitors are welcome to view it from the outside on the surrounding beach. Known as one of the most modern lighthouses in the nation, it is notable for its unusual triangular shape.

Haig Point Lighthouse and Bloody Point Lighthouse

Lighthouse, flag, chimney, trees, sky
Daufuskie Island's Haig Point Lighthouse once guided vessels across Calibogue Sound.

Both Haig Point and Bloody Point lighthouses are located on Daufuskie Island. Bloody Point is incredibly unique in that it doesn't look like a lighthouse at all! But its range lights were essential in the early days to ensure safe passage into and out of the busy port of Savannah.

Leamington Lighthouse

lighthouse, tower, trees
The Hilton Head Rear Range Lighthouse stands on ground that was once part of Leamington Plantation.

Located on Hilton Head Island, the Leamington Lighthouse is a rare example of a rear lighthouse. It's in the middle of the Palmetto Dunes private community, overlooking a golf course, and not on the ocean. It's an unusual lighthouse that had an unusual purpose, and is worth seeking out for lighthouse enthusiasts.

Harbour Town Lighthouse

lighthouse, trees, houses, sidewalk, foliage, trees, sky, clouds
Completed in 1970, the Harbour Town Lighthouse is now a Hilton Head symbol.

Though built as a tourist attraction, this cheery lighthouse is listed on navigational charts and has a white flash that can be seen 15 miles away. Visitors can climb the tower, reading information panels on each of the nine landings, then enjoy panoramic views of the Calibogue Sound.

Cape Romain Lighthouses

The Cape Romain Lighthouses are a pair of brick lighthouses on Lighthouse Island southeast of McClellanville. Four times a year, the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge offers tours to the historic lighthouses, which are 6-miles off the coast and only accessible via boat.

Kerry Egan
Discover writers share all of the places, activities and adventure that South Carolina has to offer. Read more from some of South Carolina’s locals and discover what’s happening in the Palmetto State.