The BeachComber Fall Guide

New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge Set for Oct. 15 and 16

Sep 23, 2016

Bucket lists can include a large number of challenges of varying degrees of difficulty. Some, such as watching every James Bond movie ever made or reading every Harry Potter book, are fairly simple if somewhat time consuming. Others, perhaps visiting all 50 states or checking out a game in every Major League ballpark, can take years. Then there are the physically challenging ones such as running the 10 top ranked marathons in the United States. Finally, there are the challenges that combine physicality, danger and expense, maybe climbing the tallest mountain on every continent or bagging the “Big Five” – lion, elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo and leopard – in Africa.

New Jersey hosts a reasonable challenge every autumn, the Lighthouse Challenge. You’re given two days – this year the dates are Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 15 and 16 – to visit 11 land-based Garden State beacons, two historic life-saving stations and a museum.

The lighthouses include Absecon, Cape May, East Point, Finn’s Point Rear Range, Hereford Inlet, Navesink Twin, Sandy Hook, Sea Girt, Tinicum Rear Range and, of course, LBI’s Ole Barney and Tuckerton’s re-created Tucker’s Island. The life-saving stations are located in Stone Harbor and Ocean City; the museum is the Barnegat Light Historical Museum, housed in what was the borough’s one-room school house from 1903 through 1954.

Participating in the Lighthouse Challenge is easy. Simply visit any of the sites, using a map and directions that can be found online at, pay a $2 registration fee (one of the goals of the LC is to raise money for the New Jersey Lighthouse Society to be used for the continued preservation and restoration of the state’s historic lighthouses) and receive a “passport book” that you will have stamped at each stop on your journey. When you’ve visited your last site, you can display your passport book and enter a drawing to win $1,000 in prizes.

Most of the sites will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, and three sites – Absecon, Cape May and Tuckerton – will stay open both days until 8 p.m. to accommodate night climbs.

Easy enough, right? Well, it is rather time consuming because you’re going to be traveling the length of New Jersey’s Atlantic shoreline and exploring Delaware Bay as well, so you’re likely to have to seek overnight accommodations. And the experience will certainly be better if the weather cooperates and you’re able to enjoy a sunny and brisk October weekend.

There also happens to be an element of danger. A love of lighthouses can become addictive.

There are other lighthouse challenges, including ones in Midcoast Maine, Lake Ontario and Maryland. There are festivals across the country. And there are trips, such as the one that the New Jersey Lighthouse Society sponsored last week, a seven-day affair on Prince Edward Island that visited 47 — yes, 47 – lighthouses as well as a number of other sites.

— Rick Mellerup

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