Port Elizabeth

Bird Island Lighthouse

Lighthouses in or near Port Elizabeth, Sunshine Coast in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Things To Do in Port ElizabethBird Island Lighthouse

Lighthouses Port Elizabeth

Where? 7km off the coast of Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa

How much? Free

Overnight? Stay at accommodation in Port Elizabeth, in Eastern Cape

A lighthouse stands on the largest of a group of islands and rocky formations roughly 58 kilometres north-east of Port Elizabeth. It is known as Bird Island due to the largest population of Cape gannets in the world, and a fair number of penguins (seals live on the largest reef in the group of islands, known as Black Rock).

Drastic overexploitation of the incredible sea life around these islands, which used to see seals, whales, penguins and shellfish in huge numbers, led to a ruthless reduction in sea life. But today they are a declared bird sanctuary and a marine protected area. No-one, other than the lighthouse keeper, is allowed within 25 sq. miles of the Bird Islands without a permit.

Initially a wooden pyramid shaped lighthouse was erected in 1852 on the south side of the island. To give you an idea of how remote the lighthouse is, the original lighthouse keeper, W Newton, spent a number of years begging authorities to send him regular supplies, and a water tank he collected rain water at first and had to send his wife to the mainland as there wasn't enough for them to survive.

Communication improved a little after 1906, depending on whether or not the messenger felt like flying the distance over water, when carrier pigeons took messages to the Port Elizabeth lighthouse, called The Hill, on the Donkin Reserve.

Work on a stone lighthouse began in 1872. The lighthouse has now been fully automated, after a good many years of discomfort and inconvenience experienced by lightkeepers and their families on this remote island. The last permanent lightkeeper left Bird Island in 1968. A helicopter now visits the island every few weeks taking technical staff across for maintenance.

Why not overnight? Find Accommodation in Port Elizabeth

Thunzi Bush Lodge

Bed & Breakfast / Self Catering

Thunzi Bush Lodge

A tranquil sanctuary of coastal forest and bush, Thunzi Bush Lodge can be found in the malaria-free Eastern Cape Province ... more

Sunny Flatlet in Walmer

Self Catering

Sunny Flatlet in Walmer

Situated in a leafy neighbourhood, Sunny Flatlet in Walmer is a self catering unit found on the same property as the ... more

The Hub Boutique Hotel


The Hub Boutique Hotel

Experience a refreshing take on corporate and leisure accommodation with the ultra-modern, purpose-built Hub Boutique ... more

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