An Important and Beautiful Landmark Worth the Visit
There are many reasons to visit Hawaii, and as the Hawaii Kilauea Lighthouse may not be first among them, it is a beautiful landmark that should not be missed! This 52 foot tall beacon marks both the northern most point of the island of Kauai and the northern most point of Hawaii’s main islands.
Construction began in 1912 and on May 1, 1913, the lamp if the Hawaii Kilauea Lighthouse was lit during a dedication ceremony that included a shark shoot. A more challenging hunting party, this activity is achieved by a cow carcass being lowered into the ocean to attract sharks to shallow waters.
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In 1907 it was determined that a lighthouse was needed on the northern most islands to serve as a marker for ships coming from the Orient. The site for the lighthouse itself was purchased from a sugar plantation company for one US dollar. During excavation, however, it was determined that the foundation rock was not as solid as thought during the original survey. As a result, the foundation reaches 11 feet down and has a very unique feature – a basement. The lens used is a second-order (which refers to size) Fresnel and is said to be one of only seven of that size still in lighthouses in the country.
In 1974, the Coast Guard added the lighthouse to its Lighthouse Automation and Modernization Program. When problems arose with the transition to automated lights, a new, smaller tower was constructed and the existing tower was sealed. In 2009, a campaign to restore the lighthouse and repair the damage from years of ocean exposure began.
While all lighthouses are intended to be markers and used for safety for ships and cargo, this particular lighthouse has the added distinction of saving the lives of the crew of The Bird of Paradise. Five weeks after Charles Lindbergh made his transatlantic flight, Lester J. Maitland and Albert F. Hegenberger made the first transpacific flight from Oakland, California to the island of Oahu. During the trip, they determined that they were off course. They spotted the lighthouse by chance and circled it for two hours until daybreak when they successfully navigated to their destination. Had they not spotted the lighthouse, they would have drifted further off course and out into open waters, and undoubtedly run out of fuel.
After ownership of the area was transferred from the US Coast Guard, a wildlife refuge was established on the island in 1985. The lighthouse itself is located within the refuge so visitors to the refuge can also see an important piece of Kauai’s history. Birds such as the Hawaiian Goose (Hawaii’s state bird,) Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbird, and Black footed Albatross can be seen at the refuge. Humpback whales, Hawaiian monk seals, and Hawaiian spinner dolphins can also be seen.
With so much history along the chance to see so many endangered species, it is absolutely worth it to visit the Hawaii Kilauea Lighthouse when next you find yourself in beautiful Hawaii!