Florida has 32 once operating lighthouses along its thousand miles of shoreline and they are popular tourist attractions. There are also dozens of lighthouses that have become popular landmarks even if they never saved a ship at sea.
Faux or fake lighthouses have never been working United States lighthouses. Many, however, are so realistic they fool visitors and have even become popular nautical markers for experienced sailors despite being mainly restaurants or bed and breakfasts.
Boca Chica Light
One of the most popular faux lighthouses is the 65-foot tall Boca Chica Lighthouse, built by technology tycoon Mark Honeywell for his private yacht center. The Bureau of Lighthouses forced Honeywell to turn off the light for it confused navigators. Still, it is used today as a major landmark for divers at Biscayne National Underwater Park.
Many faux lighthouses are centerpieces for restaurants and shops and marinas like the lighthouse at St. Johns Pass Village on Madeira Beach or the Whale Harbor Lighthouse in Islamorada at MM 83.5 on the Overseas Highway.
Perhaps the most attractive faux lighthouse in a resort is Faro Blanco Light (1952), a 50-foot beauty in Marathon at the Faro Blanco Resort.
Faro Blanco Lighthouse
There are private lighthouses located miles from the ocean such as the 35-foot tall Mount Dora Lighthouse (1988), a navigational marker on Lake Dora, or the lighthouses at The Villages. The Tierra Verde Lighthouse (2005) is a replica of the popular Boca Grande Lighthouse, but is a privately operated light protecting the marine environment of the Tampa Bay estuary.
You can stay in a faux lighthouse, many on the beach. The largest collection are found along Fletcher Avenue in Fernandina Beach. Our favorite is Katie’s Light, even though as a Chesapeake-style lighthouse it may seem 400 miles too south.
On your next drive along the Florida coast, be on the lookout for Florida’s faux lighthouses. They are worth a look even if they don’t have a nautical purpose.