Things To Do in Simons TownRoman Rock Lighthouse
Where? 34 21 52.92 South, 18 27 38.94 East, Simon's Town, False Bay Harbour Basin.
When? Daily - best seen during daylight hours.
How much? Free
Much like the primary residence of A-list celebrities, the Roman Rock Lighthouse has an adjoining feature of distinction; a private helipad. The only lighthouse in South Africa to be erected on a single rock in the middle of the ocean; helicopters ferried supplies to this nautical guardian when it underwent extensive cosmetic surgery (yet another mark of fame) in 1992.
From the shore the size of the supply helicopter appeared to be the same size as this little lighthouse which hovers on the False Bay horizon.
Standing seventeen metres above the high water mark, this circular cast iron tower is painted white and set against an azure sky. South Africa's sole rock lighthouse exposes its natural stone foundation at low tide where it stands at the ocean entrance of Simon's Town Harbour.
South Africa's historic naval town owes the expensive erection of this lighthouse to Joseph Nourse Commodore of the Royal Navy. Hand penned letters from Commodore to the Secretary General of Admiralty in London, stressed the urgency of protecting Her Majesty's ships who dropped anchor in Simon's Town bay at night. After much deliberation over the lighthouse location the Roman Rock site declared victory. This lighthouse erection site was invisible, submerged at high tide and as a result took four years (1857 to 1861) to complete with gale-force winds and high sea-levels making construction impossible for three weeks of every month. The prefabricated tower was sent from England and shone it first light on the 16th of September 1861.
Originally lighthouse keepers and their assistant lived here in isolation surround by the rising water mark and inhospitable South Easter winds. Fully automated in 1919, acetylene gas flashes visible from thirteen nautical miles out to sea now brightens the Cape sky once every six seconds with a power of 5000 CD, to guide South African naval boats home. Watch the 'swimming' lighthouse shine from a safe spot on the shore.