Lighthouses of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Côte d'Ivoire, often called Ivory Coast in English, is a former French colony on the south shore of West Africa between Liberia and Ghana. Independent since 1960, the country was one of the most prosperous in West Africa until it began to be troubled by political turmoil in 1999. Abidjan, the major port and economic center of the country, is a large city with a population of more than two million.

The coast is mostly quite low; much of it consists of barrier islands backed by large lagoons. Only in the west, in the Bas-Sassandra region, are there hills close to the coast. The country has few natural harbors; Abidjan became a deepwater port only after extensive harbor improvements following World War II.

Lighthouses in the Abidjan area are presumably maintained by the Port Autonome d'Abidjan. It is not known how lights elsewhere in the country are managed. Travel outside Abidjan has been dangerous in recent years, so there is a lack of current photos and visitor reports.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume D of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 113.

General Sources
Online List of Lights - Ivory Coast
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
World of Lighthouses - Ivory Coast
Photos available from Lightphotos.net.
Afrikanische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.

Phare de Port Bouët
Petit Bassam Light, Port Bouët, July 2007
Panoramio photo copyright allblacks; permission requested

Lagunes Region Lighthouses
* Grand-Bassam
1915. Inactive for many years, though still listed. Approx. 24 m (79 ft) masonry tower with lantern and gallery, centered on a 1-story masonry keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white, at least originally; most of the paint is missing in the photo at right. A 2007 photo is at right, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and the lighthouse is centered in a Google satellite view. The history of this substantial lighthouse is obscure. The light is missing from most post-World War II light lists, and apparently it was deactivated in 1951. Grand-Bassam, a town about 40 km (25 mi) east of Port Bouët at the eastern end of the Lagune d'Ébrié, was briefly the French colonial capital (1893-96). The lighthouse marked a lagoon entrance which has since silted up, so there is no modern harbor. Located in Ancien Bassam, the original French settlement, on the barrier island separating the ocean from the Lagune Ouladine at Grand Bassam. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ICO-013; Admiralty D3137.5; NGA 24843.
* Port Bouët (Petit-Bassam) (2)
Early 1930s (station established around 1906). Active; focal plane 34 m (112 ft); three white flashes every 14 s. 30 m (98 ft) five-stage square tower with galleries atop each stage and a small lantern. Lighthouse painted white, lantern black. A photo is above, a 2009 photo and a small photo are available, and Google has a satellite view. Klaus Huelse has a postcard view of the original lighthouse, a two-stage octagonal tower on a square base, and a second postcard view showing an earlier appearance of the present tower. The upper stage of the tower was rebuilt sometime after that photo was taken. Port Bouët is the original port in the Abidjan area. Located about 5 km (3 mi) east of the Vridi Canal in Port Bouët. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ICO-002; Admiralty D3127; NGA 24840.
Canal de Vridi (Abidjan) Jetée Nord
Early 1950s. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); green light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 12 m (39 ft) gray masonry tower with a small lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story equipment shelter. Lighthouse unpainted, lantern painted green. Trabas has a photo, a 2009 photo and another photo are available, and Google has a satellite view. The Vridi Canal cuts through the barrier beach, providing large ships access to the Lagune Ébrié and the port of Abidjan. The canal was completed in 1951 and helped make Abidjan one of the largest cities of West Africa. Located at the end of the short north jetty. ARLHS ICO-009; Admiralty D3129; NGA 24812.
Canal de Vridi (Abidjan) Jetée Sud (?)
Early 1950s. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); red light occulting twice every 6 s. 13 m (43 ft) gray masonry tower with a small lantern and gallery. Lighthouse unpainted, lantern painted red. Trabas has a photo, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the south jetty, which also serves as a breakwater protecting the entrance. Site status unknown. ARLHS ICO-010; Admiralty D3128; NGA 24804.
Phare de Grand Bassam
Grand-Bassam Light, August 2007
Panoramio photo copyright allblacks; permission requested
Adjué
Date unknown. Active; focal plane not listed; white flash every 4 s. 15 m (49 ft) white tower. No photo available, and Google's distant satellite view shows no detail in this area. Located at Adjué, about 65 km (40 mi) west of Abidjan. Site status unknown. ARLHS ICO-011; Admiralty D3126; NGA 24798.
* Grand Lahou (3)
Date unknown (station established 1901?). Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); three white flashes in a 2+1 pattern every 15 s. 17 m (56 ft) cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery. Previously painted white with a black lantern, the lighthouse is now listed as "white and red." No current photo available, and Google's distant satellite view shows no detail in this area. The original Grand Lahou was a European outpost built on a barrier island; the French developed it as a base beginning in 1890. The modern town has relocated to the mainland across the lagoon, leaving the old town in ruins. The history of the lighthouse is not clear; it appears that the original light, a tall masonry tower similar to the 1915 Grand Bassam light (see above), was replaced in the late 1930s by the lighthouse shown in the postcard view posted by Huelse. Ruins of the first lighthouse are visible in the surf, according to a BBC article. The present light was built sometime after World War II. Located near the entrance to the lagoon, about 100 km (60 mi) west of Abidjan. Site presumably open, tower closed. ARLHS ICO-001; Admiralty D3125; NGA 24796.

Bas-Sassandra Region Lighthouses
Sassandra
1908. Active; focal plane 60 m (197 ft); white light occulting once every 4 s. 7 m (23 ft) tower. The lighthouse was originally painted white and had a black lantern; we don't know if this tower survives. No photo available, but the station is probably seen in a Google satellite view. Located on a promontory on the south side of Sassandra, about 1.6 km (1 mi) southwest of the harbor entrance. Site status unknown. ARLHS ICO-004; Admiralty D3122; NGA 24788.
San Pédro
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 106 m (348 ft); white flash every 4 s. Square cylindrical skeletal tower, height unknown but probably at least 30 m (98 ft), painted with red and white horizontal bands. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. San Pédro is the second largest port of Côte d'Ivoire. Located on a steep headland about 2 km (1.25 mi) northeast of the harbor entrance. Site status unknown. ARLHS ICO-014; Admiralty D3120; NGA 24768.
Tabou (Pointe Tafou)
1908. Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 14 m (46 ft) round cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white with a narrow black horizontal band and a black lantern. Chris Anderson's photo is at right, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a promontory near Tabou in southwestern Côte d'Ivoire. Site status unknown. ARLHS ICO-006; Admiralty D3118; NGA 24764.
Phare de Tabou
Phare de Tabou, October 2011
photo copyright Chris Anderson; used by permission

Information available on lost lighthouses:

  • Assinié (1908-?), near the Ghanaian border.

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: East: Ghana | West: Liberia

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Posted September 13, 2005. Checked and revised September 4, 2013. Lighthouses: 9. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.