California Lighthouses


Point Montara Lighthouse, California

Point Montara Ligthhouse Highway 1, Montara, CA

Some call Point Montara Lighthouse the "missing lighthouse". It first served as a lighthouse in Main before coming to California in the early 1900s. In 2001 the lighthouse hostel was used in the film Bandits starring Bruce Willis, Cate Blanchett and Billy Bob Thornton.

Located near the city of Montara in San Mateo County at the southern approach to San Francisco Bay, the Montara Lighthouse was established in 1875, thought it was first lit in 1928. The First Order Fresnel lens was transferred to the San Mateo Historical Society when the station was automated in 1970, and has appeared on display at the College of Notre Dame, San Mateo.

Just 25 miles south of San Francisco on California Highway 1 between Montara and Moss Beach, look for hostel signs.

Explore the coastline and watch the annual migration of gray whales between November and April. There are several great beaches for swimming, surfing, jogging, horseback riding, and windsurfing nearby. Hostel (

Point Montara Lighthouse offers splendid views above rocky cliffs that tower above the Pacific Ocean, looking down to the coast below. The lighthouse has Keepers Quarters constructed in 1875 and buildings now used as a Hostel where you can pay to sleep for the night. The lighthouse keepers quarters has two stories and was built in the architectural style of Victorian Gothic with a duplex. Construction materials include wood frame. Other structures include a storage building, tank house and 1960s dwellings.

The lighthouse, itself, is made of concrete foundation and includes steel. It is conical in shape. It was first erected in Wellfleet, Massachusetts in 18881 and was known as Mayo Beach Lighthouse until 1925. The cast iron structure was disassembled and moved to Yerba Buena, then to nearby Point Montara where it stands today.

The lighthouse is separate from other structures and its tower height in feet measures 30. The original optic was a Fourth Order Fresnel lens installed in 1912. The present optic is an FA 251, installed in 1970. The height of the focal plane is 70.

There is an existing sound signal building. The original fog signal building was constructed in 1902 and materials include wood frame in this rectangular-shaped building. The fog signal is inactive.

The lighthouse is open to the public.

It's listed on the National Register as Reference #91001094
Name of Listing: Point Montara Light Station (Light Stations of Califoria MPS)

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