If your everyday stress is making you feel like you’re lost at sea, take a vacation like a sailor and find a lighthouse. Many historic towers and their keeper’s cottages are being reimagined as Airbnb properties from Cape Cod to the Chesapeake Bay to the Pacific coast of Mexico. Meanwhile, other homeowners are creating brand-new lighthouse-inspired properties to cash in on the nautical trend. In either case, they are sure signs of a laid-back time to come, with breathtaking vistas, fun things to do along the coast for the whole family, and sometimes a dash of nautical history. The most-wishlisted properties in each category have been compiled by Airbnb, which is a terrific navigational tool to help you find safe and amiable waters ahead. These 12 Airbnbs may make you fantasize of selling everything you own and starting a lighthouse keeper.

Historic white lighthouse at the base of Cape Cod

When you book this fresh-linen-white keeper’s cottage (pictured above) at the base of Cape Cod, you might find yourself Googling, “Did Edward Hopper ever paint Wings Neck Lighthouse?” It’s just that iconically New England. Guests of the three-bedroom house can access the hexagonal wooden tower—built in 1889 after the original was lost in a fire—via a breezeway and then climb its mahogany spiral staircase for views out over Buzzards Bay. The two-acre property also includes a private beach, and because Pocasset is one of the few westward-facing villages in the pre-elbow portion of the Cape, you’ll have a rare chance to enjoy overwater sunsets.

Tall white lighthouse with red accents on the shore in Prince Edward Island


Lighthouse keeper’s inn in Prince Edward Island


Canada’s Maritime Provinces are dotted with hundreds of lighthouses, but the 1901 Annandale Lighthouse is among the most special. At 70 feet high, it’s the tallest on Prince Edward Island, and in 2020, it was moved 100 feet away from the eroding shoreline and given fresh interiors. The new digs feel cabin-like, with lots of exposed beams, many of which have been signed by decades of visitors, and if you look up from the living quarters, you can see almost all the way up into the open bones of the tower. As of last year, the property is also home to the Platinum Garden, which honors Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign. Canada is still part of the Commonwealth, after all.

Red and white lighthouse surrounded by trees on a rocky shoreline in Alaska


Private lighthouse in Sitka, Alaska


Back in the early ‘80s, a local veterinarian spent 18 months handcrafting this petite, red-and-white stunner, and it was later registered with the Coast Guard to become a navigational beacon. To get to the one-acre private island on which it’s located, you’ll have to take a five-minute water taxi ride from Sitka, an Alaska Panhandle town with centuries of Russian history. Up top, above the second-floor main bedroom and a third-floor bunk room, you’ll find an all-glass room that looks out over the Easter Channel. The hosts also provide kayaks, paddleboards, and a small aluminum boat so you can explore the surrounding bays and commune with residents like humpback whales, sea otters, and sea lions.

Two-story white house with lighthouse tower at night under a starry sky



1850s Lake Superior lighthouse in Michigan


Just a few minutes away from the northernmost point of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the 1855 redstone Eagle River Lighthouse occupies a rugged stretch of coastline in Keweenaw County, where bald eagles soar overhead and nearby ATV/snowmobile trails crisscross through the forest. Before it was decommissioned in 1909, the lighthouse used to be a workhorse, guiding ships along this stretch of Lake Superior; now during its “retirement,” it’s been transformed into a comfortable, three-bedroom rental property with a four-seasons sunroom, a well-stocked kitchen, a fire pit, and all the requisite beach essentials, including towels, umbrellas, blankets, and snorkeling gear.

Historic stone building covered in ivy, with a red lighthouse, a picnic table, and trees



1830s lighthouse with unique design in Upstate New York


Built in 1838, the Selkirk Lighthouse is one of only four American lighthouses that still retain their original bird-cage lantern design—though the whale-oil lamps are luckily long gone! When the hosts started renovating the property about a decade ago, they found a badly neglected landmark in need of some love, and they’ve kept original elements (like wide plank flooring) wherever possible. Today, the beacon still comes in handy for the chartered fishing vessels that leave from the marina just out front and bring anglers out into Lake Ontario for abundant trout and salmon. Note that, depending on the size of your group, you can rent either the first floor, the second floor, or the entire house.

White lighthouse and historic cottage on a rocky shoreline with mountains in the background

Tiny private island off Skye


Your journey to the Eilean Sionnach Lighthouse Cottage (Gaelic for “the island of the fox”) begins with a trip to a country pub on Isle Ornsay, off the eastern coast of the Isle of Skye. Once there, you’ll meet your host, who will ferry you over to an even tinier speck of land, dominated by the 1857 lighthouse. Dress warmly and prepare for slippery, seaweed-covered rocks, but know that a cozy cottage will be waiting for you on the other shore, complete with tasteful tartans, wood-burning stoves, and a roll top bath. From the viewpoint out back, you can often spot seals, seabirds, dolphins, and porpoises.

Striped lighthouse with staircase leading up to second floor with wrap around deck



Family-friendly lighthouse on the Texas Gulf Coast


Occupying 150 yards of private beachfront with no neighbors on either side, the best little lighthouse in Texas would make for a romantic honeymoon hideaway. But with so much space—up to 12 if you max out on sofa beds—you’ll want to share it. Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula feels worlds away from the high energy of nearby Galveston, and activities in these parts skew decidedly calmer: bird-watching, fishing, seashell hunting, and stargazing. To fully embrace the lighthouse experience, choose the compact queen-bed room, which sits up in the tower itself.

Beige lighthouse surrounded by palm trees in Mexico



Pacific Ocean lighthouse near Acapulco


You might not immediately think of Mexico’s Pacific coast as a place associated with lighthouses, but El Faro gets into the spirit with a thatched roof and characterful (if slightly tight) living quarters that call to mind an adobe dwelling. When you’re not up in your tower like some playa-side Rapunzel, you can spend your time back on sea level enjoying the sand, gardens, and shared swimming pool at the Villas San Vicente complex.

Lighthouse Airbnb on rocky coast of Isle of Man in the evening



Dramatic lighthouse keeper’s cottage on the Isle of Man


In terms of sheer natural beauty, it’s hard to match the 1857 Douglas Head Lighthouse, which is perched on a dramatic rocky outcropping on the Isle of Man that looks out over sheer cliffs and crashing waves. Decidedly calmer is the sunny interior of the former keeper’s cottage, with its sage-green ceiling beams, unfussy furnishings, and brick fireplace. The property is only accessible by foot, with plenty of steps involved, but if your family is fit and ready for the challenge, there are boundless amenities that make this a great spot for a sprawling clan: a bunk room with four beds, a high chair, a crib, a pack ‘n’ play, and even kid’s dinnerware.

Lighthouse with a full house and small shed nearby with green grass in the foreground



Cove Point Lighthouse in Maryland


Located at one of the narrowest spots on the Chesapeake Bay, the still-active Cove Point Lighthouse was established in 1828, making it the oldest Maryland lighthouse in continuous use. On the seven-acre point, you’ll encounter a 40-foot-high brick lighthouse and a lovely cottage that was expanded into a duplex in 1925 to allow for two different keepers to live on-site with their families. While this listing is for the entire house, parties of eight or fewer can opt to rent either side A or side B. Outside either half is a screened-in porch offering expansive bay views, and everyone has access to a beach where kids love hunting for shark teeth and seashells.

White lighthouse surrounded by a wraparound porch with a campfire at night.



Recently renovated property in Virginia


The lighthouse-inspired Beacon Bay Getaway is topped with an observation room and wraparound deck that looks out over three distinct waterways: the Little Oyster Creek, the Rappahannock River, and the Chesapeake Bay. If you feel like exploring them, the hosts have provided a wide assortment of aquatic toys, including kayaks, tubes, and a stand-up paddleboard; back on dry land, the yard includes a fire pit, a hammock, cornhole, and croquet. This area is a seafood lover’s paradise, so you’ll want to either bring a fishing rod to catch croakers or buy some local blue crabs to take advantage of the property’s crab pot. Don’t forget to pack the Old Bay.

Small white House with lighthouse tower coming out of its roof on a rocky shoreline with windswept grass



Private island lighthouse with sauna in Sweden

Part of the largest inland archipelago in Europe on Sweden’s Lake Vänern, rocky Gunnarsholmen island is home to a quaint 1878 lighthouse, a small flock of sheep, and not much else—and that’s the point! The country-cottage-style interiors pay homage to the maritime surroundings with sailboat-print sheets and curtains and the odd boat propeller thrown in for good measure, and when you’re not relaxing in the wood sauna or bathing in the sea, you can explore these waters on your own with the island’s motor boat or kayaks. Nearby, you’ll find Lüro island, where you might encounter moose; Spiken fishing harbor, where you can stop for the freshest seafood lunch; and Läckö Castle, which began construction more than 700 years ago.



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