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 Lighthouse Database » North America » USA » California

Point Bonita Light
Marin City, California

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Average Rating: 
Lighthouse Rating
 9.5 (2 reviews)

Recommended By: 100% of reviewers

General Information
Date Established: 1855
Date Present Tower Built: 1877
Date Automated: 1980
Height of Tower: 33 ft.
Height of Focal Plane: 140 ft.


Distance from You:
Zip Code:

Open to Public?: Yes

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*Photos on this page are the property of lighthousephoto, unless otherwise noted, and may not be downloaded or used without permission from the copyright owner.

Point Bonita Lighthouse is located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The original lighthouse was built in 1855 on the highest point, 260 feet above sea level and, unfortunately, was frequently shrouded in the thick fog that rolls in off the Pacific Ocean. The present tower was built in 1877 on the southwest point of the headlands and has a focal plane of 140 feet.

Point Bonita is open to visitors and is probably in one of the most spectacular locations on the west coast. The lighthouse reached by following a path down, through a tunnel, and finally by crossing a suspension bridge.

Submitted by: lighthousephoto Date of last review: Tue Mar 9, 2010 Views: 3226

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Joined: 29 Aug 2006
Posts: 573
Review Date: Wed Jan 21, 2009 Would you recommend the lighthouse? Yes | Rating: 10 

Pros: Located in an absolutely spectacular setting reached by crossing a suspension bridge
Cons: restricted hours when you can visit this remarkable light

If you went to San Francisco and could only visit one lighthouse, Point Bonita should be it hands down! The light stands atop a pinnacle of rock on the north side of the mouth of San Francisco Bay.

After you cross the Golden Gate Bridge you leave Hwy 101 and the road snakes its way up into the Marin Headlands affording you spectacular views of the north tower of the Bridge with San Francisco in the background. When you eventually reach the top, you can see the promontory where Point Bonita stands off in the distance. The road continues to wind and twist until you eventually get to the parking lot at the trailhead. At this point, you can't see the Point Bonita light.

From the parking lot, you can go up to the highest point for spectacular views looking down on the lighthouse. On days when there are big waves rolling in from the north Pacific, the view and photographic possibilities from up there are spectacular.

The lighthouse is open for visitors on weekends from 1230-1530 hrs. You walk down a paved path until you eventually come to a tunnel carved through the rock of the promontory. At times when the lighthouse is closed, this is as far as you can get! When the lighthouse is open, you follow the path through the short tunnel in the rock (~50 feet). From the far side of the tunnel, the trail narrows some and continues further downward until it opens and you begin to get views of Point Bonita. Finally, it's across an elevated walkway for a short distance to the end of the promontory. From here, you have to take the suspension bridge across an unpassable section where the trail has fallen away due to erosion to finally reach the lighthouse.

Point Bonita is absolutely spectacular. You get amazing views of the Golden Gate and San Francisco to the east. Under the southern arched end of the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge you can see the Fort Point light. Almost due south you can see what is left of the Mile Rocks lighthouse.

If you get the opportunity, by all means visit the Point Bonita lighthouse. It's a lighthouse visit that you'll NEVER forget!
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Joined: 6 Mar 2008
Posts: 16
Review Date: Tue Mar 9, 2010 Would you recommend the lighthouse? Yes | Rating: 9 

Pros: Beautiful location, easy to get to from Frisco
Cons: Restricted hours

Beautiful dramatic location, gorgeous structure, well worth a visit. Docents are on hand to answer questions and tell stories.

Unfortunately, it cannot be photographed or viewed outside the operating hours (Currently Sat, Sun, Mon from 12:30-3:30). This means: no sunset photos possible.
There is a long walk from the parking lot to the lighthouse, which takes you through a tunnel and over a suspension bridge. Also, the access bridge is only crossable by two people at a time, which means a long wait to get on. There is a new bridge scheduled to open, at which time more people will be able to cross.
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