Lighthouses of Argentina: Tierra del Fuego

Argentina has a lengthy coastline, extending from the warm waters of the Río de la Plata to the edge of the icy Antarctic ocean. This page includes lighthouses of the southernmost part of the country, Tierra del Fuego. Separated from the mainland by the Strait of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego is divided between Argentina and Chile in such a way that the entire Strait, including its eastern entrance, is in Chile; this leaves a small gap in the Argentine coastline at the Strait entrance. Most visitors to Argentine Tierra del Fuego arrive by air or cruise ship, but it is possible to drive to the territory, crossing the Strait by ferry at Punta Delgada, Chile.

Active lighthouses in Argentina are owned by the Argentine Navy and managed by the Navy's Servicio de Hidrografía Naval (SHN). The Spanish word for a lighthouse is faro; smaller lighthouses are often called balizas (beacons).

Interest in lighthouses seems to be fairly high in Argentina. In the past, there hasn't been much concern about preservation, since the great majority of the lighthouses are being maintained by the Navy. However, in recent years there has been increasing concern about the preservation of several of the country's most historic lighthouses, especially those in the far south.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume G of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 110, except for lights of the Beagle Channel, which are from Publication 111. The official Argentine light list, Faros y Señales Marítimas, is not available online.

General Sources
Lista de Faros Argentinos
Official SHN lighthouse site, with data and small photos. Unfortunately, it is not possible to link directly to the pages for individual lighthouses.
Faros de Argentina
Index to lighthouse articles and photos in the Spanish Wikipedia.
Faros del Mar - Faros Argentinos
Photos and brief historical accounts for Argentine lighthouses.
Lighthouses in Argentina
The ARLHS listing of Argentine lights; the society has photos for most of them.
Faros Argentina
Photos posted on Flickr.com by Carlos María Silvano.
Online List of Lights - Argentina
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
World of Lighthouses - Argentina
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Lighthouses in Argentina
Photos available from Wikimedia.

Faro San Sebastián
San Sebastián Light, Tierra del Fuego
unattributed photo from farosdelmundo.com.ar
(no longer online)

Atlantic Coast Tierra del Fuego Lighthouses
Magallanes
1976. Active; focal plane 53 m (174 ft); three white flashes every 50 s. 13.5 m (44 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted black. The upper portion of the tower is partially enclosed by a slatted daymark. Faros del Mar has a page for the lighthouse, ARLHS has a photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located 800 m (1/2 mi) southeast of the border between Chile and Argentina south of the Strait of Magellan. Accessible by road (4WD recommended). Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ARG-043; Admiralty G1260.5; NGA 20156.
Punta Páramo (2?)
1924. Active; focal plane 22.5 m (74 ft); white flash every 7.5 s. 17.5 m (57 ft) square pyramidal steel skeletal tower with lantern and gallery, painted black. Faros del Mar has a page for the lighthouse, amateur radio operator LU2XPK has a 2008 photo, a 2011 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located near the end of the Península El Páramo, a long sand spit partially enclosing the Bahía de San Sebastián. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ARG-057; Admiralty G1261; NGA 20160.
* San Sebastián
1949. Active; focal plane 60 m (197 ft); three white flashes, separated by 5 s, every 40 s. 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted with blue and yellow spiral bands; lantern painted black. A photo is at the top of this page, Faros del Mar has a page for the lighthouse, amateur radio operator LU9XT has a closeup photo, Wikimedia has a 2014 sunrise photo, a distant view is available, and Google has a good satellite view. Located off national route 3 about 25 km (16 mi) east of the town of San Sebastián, marking the southern entrance to the Bahía de San Sebastián. Accessible by road (4WD recommended). Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ARG-013; Admiralty G1262; NGA 20192.
* Río Grande Second Range Front
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); green flash every 2 s. 16 m (52 ft) square skeletal tower, pianted black and carrying a slatted daymark showing a black diamond on a white background. Google has a street view and a satellite view. The rear light is mounted on a 5-story building 400 m (1/4 mi) west. Río Grande is a city of about 70,000 residents on the east coast of Tierra del Fuego. Located on Comodoro Luis Py street in downtown Río Grande. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty G1269; NGA 20216.
* Cabo Peñas
1916. Active; focal plane 42 m (138 ft); two white flashes, separated by 5 s, every 20 s. 13 m (42 ft) square pyramidal steel skeletal tower with lantern and gallery, painted black. A photo is at right, Faros del Mar has a page for the lighthouse, amateur radio operator LU2XPK has a 2008 photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a headland about 10 km (6 mi) southeast of Río Grande. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ARG-028; Admiralty G1274; NGA 20256.
Cabo San Pablo (1)
1945. Inactive since 1949. 6 m (20 ft) square cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery. After being in service only four years, the lighthouse was heavily damaged by the earthquake of 17 December 1949. The quake left the tower leaning at an angle of about 30°. Juan Fosati has a photo, a 2012 photo is available, Braian Mellor has a street view, and Google has a satellite view. The active light (focal plane 136.5 m (448 ft); two white flashes every 20 s), built in 1966, is on a 6 m (20 ft) square pyramidal steel skeletal tower with a slatted rectangular black and yellow daymark. Located at the end of provincial route A off national route 3 about 80 km (50 mi) southeast of Río Grande. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ARG-031 (old) and ARG-074 (new); Admiralty G1275; NGA 20260.
Cabo San Diego
1934. Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); three white flashes, separated by 3 s, every 32 s. 14 m (43 ft) square cylindrical concrete skeletal tower with lantern. Tower unpainted, lantern painted black. Faros del Mar has a page for the lighthouse, Pierrette DeLobelle has a photo, a 2013 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. In the photos, the lighthouse appears dilapidated and in need of repairs. This lighthouse marks the extreme southeast corner of Tierra del Fuego and the western entrance to the Strait of Le Maire. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS ARG-030; Admiralty G1276; NGA 20264.
Cabo Peñas Light
Cabo Peñas Light, Tierra del Fuego, June 2011
Panoramio photo copyright Lengnick; permission requested

Isla de los Estados Lighthouses
Note: The Isla de los Estados (Staten Island) is a mountainous island off the southeastern tip of Tierra del Fuego. The island is about 65 km (40 mi) long and roughly 15 km (9 mi) wide, with a rugged and deeply indented coastline. It is separated from Tierra del Fuego by the 30 km (19 mi) wide Strait of Le Maire. The entire island is set aside as a provincial ecological preserve, and the only settlement is a small naval station staffed by rotating crews. Adventure tours to the island are available from Ushuaia.
Le Maire (2)
1993 (station established 1926). Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); three white flashes every 32 s. 4 m (13 ft) round hourglass-shaped fiberglass tower; upper half yellow and lower half black. Faros del Mar has a page for the lighthouse, SHN has a photo, and Bing has a distant satellite view. Located on a promontory at the west end of the Isla los Estados. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ARG-042; Admiralty G1280; NGA 20272.
Año Nuevo (Isla Observatorio)
1902 (Barbier & Bernard). Active; focal plane 65.5 m (215 ft); three white flashes, separated by 8 s, every 32 s. 23.5 m (77 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and double gallery, in two sections, the upper half narrower than the lower. Abel Sberna's photo is at right, Faros del Mar has a page for the lighthouse, a distant view and a view from the sea are available, and Bing has a satellite view. Sibling of Faro Isla Pengüino (see Southern Argentina). Built with British support in connection with Antarctic expeditions, this light station has been declared a national historic monument. The abandoned 1-story building adjacent to the tower formerly housed a meteorological and geophysical observatory. The observatory was staffed continuously from 1902 to 1919, contributing greatly to scientific knowledge of the southern oceans. Endangered: the lighthouse is in poor condition and the other buildings are crumbling. Studies are in progress to determine how best to restore the site. Located on the Isla Observatorio, a small island off the north coast of the Isla de los Estados. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS ARG-003; Admiralty G1279; NGA 20268.
San Juan de Salvamento (replica 2)
1998 replica of 1884 lighthouse. Active; focal plane 72.5 m (238 ft); two white flashes, separated by 3 s, every 15 s. 6.5 m (21 ft) octagonal frame keeper's quarters, the light shown through a square window. The building is crowned by a gray metal globe. Faros del Mar has a page for the lighthouse, Ricardo Pacheco has a photo, ARLHS has a photo, and Google has a good satellite view. Wikipedia has a 2008 photo of the present lighthouse and an 1898 photo of the original lighthouse. Argentina's oldest lighthouse was replaced by the Faro Año Nuevo in 1902, but not before it played the starring role in the Jules Verne novel Le Phare du Bout du Monde (The Lighthouse at the End of the World). In 1998 a society of French Jules Verne fans worked with the Argentine Navy to rebuild the historic building. However, the new structure is octagonal; the original was 12-sided, and there are other noticeable differences. The same society built another copy (also octagonal) off the Pointe des Minimes at La Rochelle on France's Charente coast. Remains and artifacts of the original lighthouse are on display at the Museo Maritimo de Ushuaia, along with another (and somewhat more faithful) replica. Located high on a cliff near the northeastern end of the Isla de los Estados, marking the entrance to a sheltered cove that is one of few safe anchorages at the island. Accessible only by boat in famously tumultuous seas. Site and tower closed. ARLHS ARG-002; Admiralty G1283; NGA 20269.
Faro Año Nuevo
Año Nuevo Light, Isla de los Estados, January 2009
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Abel Sberna

Southeast Coast Tierra del Fuego Lighthouses
[San Gonzalo (3)]
2003 (station established 1928). Active; focal plane 38 m (125 ft); white flash every 10 s. 4 m (13 ft) fiberglass post colored green with one white horizontal band. Bing has a satellite view. The original light was a cylindrical round tower, probably brick. Severely deteriorated, it was replaced in 1970 by a 7 m (23 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower. That tower also deteriorated in the severe weather of the area, so it was replaced by the present light in 2003. Located on Punta Kinnaird, marking the west side of the entrance to the Bahía Aguirre. Site status unknown. ARLHS ARG-061; Admiralty G1288; NGA 110-20300.
Cabo San Pío
1919. Active; focal plane 55 m (180 ft); two white flashes, separated by 4.5 s, every 16 s. 8 m (26 ft) round brick tower with lantern and gallery, the lower part cylindrical and the upper part conical, painted with red and white horizontal bands. A closeup photo is at right, Faros del Mar has a page for the lighthouse, Irene Lucia Sanabria Ramirez has a closeup photo, a 2012 photo is available, a page for the lighthouse has several photos, and Bing has a satellite view. An unusual design; the lighthouse looks like a giant bowling pin. Access to the gallery and lantern is by an exterior ladder. This lighthouse marks the southernmost point of Argentina and the entrance to the Beagle Channel (Canal de Beagle). Islands on the south side of the channel are in Chile. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ARG-065; Admiralty G1292; NGA 110-20304.

Beagle Channel Lighthouses
Note: The Beagle Channel (Canal Beagle) is the narrow strait separating the mainland (Isla Grande) of Tierra del Fuego from an archipelago of smaller islands to the south. The channel is named for HMS Beagle, the survey ship that carried Charles Darwin on its round the world expedition in the late 1820s. The strait is about 240 km (150 mi) long and as little as 5 km (3 mi) wide. The eastern half of the channel is the border between Argentina (on the mainland side) and Chile (on the south side); the western half is entirely in Chile. The only town is Ushuaia on the Argentine side, the southernmost town in the world. Adventure cruise ships often visit Ushuaia, making this remote passage familiar to many tourists.
Davison
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft); two white flashes (separated by 4 s) every 16 s. 7 m (23 ft) square pyramidal concrete skeletal tower enclosing a square equipment shed. Luis Maderuelo has a closeup photo, Fabián Lippolis has a photo, and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. Located on the norths side of the Channel opposite Isla Picton. Accessible by route J, an unpaved road that follows the shore. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty G1300; NGA 111-2710.07.
Isla Martillo
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 7.5 m (25 ft); white flash every 7 s. 7.5 m (25 ft) square pyramidal concrete skeletal tower mounted on a square 1-story concrete equipment shelter. Lighthouse painted red with a white horizontal band. Trabas has a photo by Thomas Philipp, and Google has a distant satellite view. Located at the southeast end of Isla Martillo, a tadpole-shaped island east of the larger Isla Gable. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty G1308; NGA 111-2700.

Cabo San Pio Light, Tierra del Fuego, New Year's Day 2013
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Latitud 55 Sur - Pelicula
Punta Mackinlay
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 9.5 m (31 ft); red flash every 2 s. 7 m (23 ft) barbell-shaped fiberglass tower, colored in a red and white checkerboard pattern. Trabas has Thomas Philipp's photo, and Bing has a distant satellite view. This light marks the southern tip of Isla Gable, a large island that nearly blocks the Beagle Channel. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ARG-116; Admiralty G1310; NGA 111-2696.
Punta Espora
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white flash every 4 s. 8 m (26 ft) hourglass-shaped fiberglass tower, colored with red and white horizontal bands. Trabas has Thomas Philipp's photo, another photo is available, and Google has a distant satellite view. This light marks the southern tip of Isla Gable, a large island that nearly blocks the Beagle Channel. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty G1311; NGA 111-2684.
Isla Gable Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 72 m (236 ft); white flash every 4 s. 8 m (26 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower. Trabas has Thomas Philipp's photo, and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. This range guides vessels eastbound in the Beagle Channel, departing Ushuaia. The front light is on a similar, shorter tower. Isla Gable is a large island on the north side of the Channel. Located atop a steep bluff at the west end of the island. Site status unknown. Admiralty G1314.1; NGA 111-2672.

Ushuaia Area Lighthouses
Note: Ushuaia, the capital of Argentine Tierra del Fuego, is usually regarded as the southernmost city in the world. Founded in the 1880s, the city has a population today of nearly 60,000. Thousands of tourists visit the city every year as part of cruises to the Antarctic region.
Punta San Juan
Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); white flash every 8 s. 8 m (26 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted with red and white bands. No photo available, but the tower casts a long shadow downslope in Google's satellite view. Located on the north side of the Beagle Channel about 16 km (10 mi) east of Ushuaia. ARLHS ARG-086 (=082); Admiralty G1319.4; NGA 111-2624.
Islotes les Éclaireurs
1920. Active; focal plane 22.5 m (74 ft); white flash every 10 s. 11 m (36 ft) round brick tower with lantern and gallery, painted red with a broad white horizontal band; lantern is black. Wikimedia has numerous photos including Liam Quinn's photo at right, Neal Doan has photos, Faros del Mar has a page for the lighthouse, Antonio Diaz has a photo, a 2008 photo is available, and Bing has a satellite view. In fact, this is one of the most photographed of all Argentine lighthouses. Tour operators often call it the End of the World lighthouse (el faro del fin del mundo), although it is the Faro San Juan de Salvamento that earned that nickname (see above). The proper name Islotes les Éclaireurs is French for "Islets of the Scouts." Located in the Beagle Channel marking the approach to Ushuaia. Cruises and ecotours often pass or visit this site. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ARG-016; Admiralty G1320; NGA 111-2620.
* Escarpados (Playa Larga)
Active; focal plane 59 m (194 ft); white flash every 10 s. 10 m (33 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted black. The tower carries a slatted daymark painted with black and yellow bands. A closeup photo is available, also a second photo, Bastian von Jarzebowski has a street view, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on the east side of the entrance to the Bahía Ushuaia. Accessible by a road (provincial route 30) that ends at this site. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ARG-085; Admiralty G1323.6; NGA 111-2616.
Punta Observatorio
Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); white flash every 2 s. 8 m (26 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, covered with a slatted daymark painted with red and white bands. Trabas has Rainer Arndt's closeup photo, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on the south side of the entrance to Ushuaia harbor from the Beagle Channel. Visible easily from cruise ships entering Ushuaia. ARLHS ARG-080; Admiralty G1325; NGA 111-2580.
San Juan de Salvamento (replica 1)
1997 replica of 1884 lighthouse. Inactive. Reinhard Kerkeling has a photo, another photo is available, Wikimedia has Jorge Gobbi's photo, and Google has a satellite view. This replica was built after archeological research at the original site on the Isla de los Estados (see above). It is 12-sided like the original, differing from the 1998 replica built near that site. Located at the Museo Maritime de Ushuaia, on the east end of the town. Site and tower open (admission fee). Owner/site manager: Museo Maritimo de Ushuaia.
Les Éclaireurs Light
Les Éclaireurs Light, Ushuaia, January 2011
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo
by Liam Quinn
[Zeballos (2)]
Active; focal plane 13 m (42 ft); white flash every 4 s. 12 m (39 ft) round cylindrical fiberglass tower, painted red with white bands. Fernando Marcelo has a photo, and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. This light has replaced a similar tower 8 m (26 ft) tall previously listed by NGA and seen in a 2007 photo by Tony Galvez. Located on the north side of the Beagle Channel, marking the border between Argentina and Chile. ARLHS ARG-087; Admiralty G1329.5; NGA 111-2570.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Northern Argentina | South: Antarctica | West: Southern Chile

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Posted December 2003. Checked and revised May 13, 2017. Lighthouses: 21. Site copyright 2017 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.