Lighthouses of Cape Verde

The Cape Verde Islands are a group of volcanic islands located in the Atlantic roughly 700 km (430 mi) west northwest of Cape Verde, the westernmost point of the African continent. There are eight major islands and a number of smaller ones, all featuring rugged scenery. These islands were uninhabited until they were discovered and settled by Portuguese explorers in the 1400s. After 500 years as a Portuguese colony, the islands became independent as the Republic of Cape Verde in 1975.

The islands are arranged in two lines converging toward the east. The southern group is the Ilhas de Sotavento (Leeward Islands), and the northern group is the Ilhas de Barlavento (Windward Islands). The languages spoken include Portuguese and a local creole language. The Portuguese word for a lighthouse is farol (plural faroís).

Aids to navigation in Cape Verde are operated by the Directorate of Marine and Ports (Direcção Geral de Marinha e Portos or DGMP). Vladimiro Pires, the DGMP Director General, reported in May 2005 that 2/3 of the country's 67 navigational aids were out of service due to deferred maintenance and the theft of solar panels and other equipment. Since then there has been an effort to put the lights back in service, and conditions are probably better now.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. PT numbers are from the DGMP list; these are probably the original Portuguese light list numbers. 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
Faróis de Cabo Verde
Articles on the Portuguese edition of Wikipedia, most with photos.
Online List of Lights - Cape Verde
Photos by various photographers posted by Alex Trabas.
Lighthouses in Cape Verde
Photos available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Cape Verde
Photos available from Lightphotos.net.
Afrikanische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Postcards from the collection of Klaus Huelse.

Farol do Praia
Praia Light, Santiago, April 2010
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Gagum

Ilhas Sotavento Lighthouses

Ilha Brava and Ilhéu de Cima Lighthouses
Note: Brava is at the southwestern corner of Cape Verde; it is the smallest of the inhabited islands. It has no airport, so the only access is by interisland ferry from Praia.
[Ponta Nhô Martinho]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 29 m (95 ft); four white flashes every 15 s. 4 m (13 ft) square white concrete post light. No photo available, and Google's satellite view of the point does not reveal the lighthouse. Located on a sharp promontory on the southwestern side of Ilha Brava. Site status unknown. PT-2184; Admiralty D2910; NGA 24240.
Ponta Jalunga
1891. Active; focal plane 23 m (76 ft); three white flashes in a 2+1 pattern every 12 s. 8 m (26 ft) white masonry column with external masonry stairway, attached to a 1-story keeper's house. No photo available, but a postage stamp (second from left) has a closeup view of the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the entrance to the harbor of Furna, at the northeastern corner of Ilha Brava. Site status unknown. ARLHS CAP-013; PT-2180; Admiralty D2908; NGA 24236.
Ilhéu de Cima
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 80 m (262 ft); three white flashes every 12 s. 4 m (13 ft) square tower, painted white, with a white lantern. A small keeper's cottage is nearby. A distant view from the sea is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a small island about 20 km (13 mi) northwest of São Filipe, Ilha do Fogo, and 15 km (9 mi) northeast of Vila Nova Sintra, Ilha Brava. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. PT-2190; Admiralty D2904; NGA 24260.

Ilha do Fogo Lighthouse
Note: Fogo (the word means "fire") has the only volcano in the islands that has been active in historic times; the last eruption was in 1995. The sides of the volcano rise steeply from the sea, and its conical peak rises to an elevation of 2829 m (9281 ft). Despite the difficult topography, the island has a population of about 55,000.
Ponta do Alcatraz
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 135 m (443 ft); white flash every 4 s. 3 m (10 ft) cylindrical white concrete tower with lantern. Lantern painted red. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view of the station. Located on the southeastern side of the island. Site status unknown. PT-2164; Admiralty D2898; NGA 24256.

Ilha de Santiago Lighthouses
Note: Santiago is the largest of the Cape Verde Islands and by far the most populous. Nearly 250,000 people live on the island. Praia, at the southern end of Santiago, is the capital of the country and its largest city.
Ponta do Lobo
1887. Reactivated (inactive as of 2004; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); four white flashes every 15 s. 9 m (30 ft) trapezoidal tower attached to a 1-story keeper's house. The lighthouse was abandoned when Simon Gadaleta operated his amateur radio station there in 2004. His photo is at right, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the southeastern point of Santiago. Site status unknown. ARLHS CAP-006; PT-2125; Admiralty D2882; NGA 24220.

Ponta do Lobo Light, Santiago, 2004
photo copyright Simon Gadaleta (IZ7ATN); used by permission
* Praia (Dona Maria Pia, Ponta Temerosa)
1881. Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); two white flashes every 6 s. 21 m (69 ft) octagonal masonry tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story keeper's house. Entire structure painted white; lantern roof is gray. A photo is at the top of this page, Wikimedia has many photos, Ulf Ståhle has a photo, the lighthouse has appeared on a postage stamp, and Google has a satellite view. The photos show the lighthouse to be much in need of restoration and painting. Located on Ponta Temerosa on the west side of the entrance to Praia harbor, about 3.5 km (2 mi) southwest of the town. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS CAP-003; PT-2136; Admiralty D2876; NGA 24204.
Ponta Preta (Tarrafal)
Date unknown (station established 1889). Active; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); three white flashes every 12 s. 6 m (20 ft) white post light on a pyramidal base, standing on the wall in front of a 1-story keeper's house. Wikimedia has the photo at right and several other views, a view from the sea is available, a postage stamp (far right of the four pictured) has a closeup view of the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view. Tarrafal is a fishing port near the northwestern tip of Santiago. Located at the northeastern entrance to the Baia de Tarrafal, north of town. Site status unknown. PT-2148; Admiralty D2890; NGA 24228.
Ponta Moreia
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 96 m (315 ft); five white flashes every 20 s. 8 m (26 ft) square concrete tower, painted white. A distant view is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the northernmost point of Santiago. Accessible by a hiking trail. Site status unknown. PT-2150; Admiralty D2888; NGA 24224.

Ilha de Maio Lighthouses
Note: The Ilha de Maio occupies the southeastern corner of the Cape Verde Islands, south of Boa Vista and east of Santiago.
Forte de São José (Vila do Maio)
1887. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); three red flashes every 12 s. Approx. 18 m (59 ft) square stone tower of the Forte de São José. Tower painted white. The tower appears in two of the photos on a page of photos of the town, and the light is probably centered in a Google satellite view. Located on the waterfront in Vila do Maio, on the southwestern side of the Ilha do Maio. Site open, tower status unknown. ARLHS CAP-009; PT-2115; Admiralty D2872; NGA 24200.
Ponta Preta Light
Ponta Preta Light, Santiago, February 2012
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Ji-Elle
Ponta Cais
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); white flash every 7 s. 7 m (23 ft) metal tower with lantern, according to NGA. No photo available, and the light is not seen in Google's satellite view. Located on the northernmost point of Ilha de Maio. Site status unknown. ARLHS CAP-011; PT-2118; Admiralty D2874; NGA 24202.

Ilhas Barlavento Lighthouses

Ilha da Boa Vista (Boavista) Lighthouses
Note: Known for its fine beaches, Boa Vista is a roughly round island about 40 km (25 mi) south of Sal.
Morro Negro
Around 1930. Active; focal plane 163 m (535 ft); white flash every 20 s. 12 m (39 ft) square cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white, lantern red. A photo by Jan Madaras is at right, another closeup photo, a second closeup, a 2011 closeup, and a 2008 photo are available, the lighthouse is featured on a postage stamp, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse was repainted in 2007, but it appears deteriorated in the photo at left. Located on a steep bluff on the east side of the island. Site status unknown. ARLHS CAP-005; PT-2102; Admiralty D2914; NGA 24196.
[Ponta Varandinha]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); two white flashes every 6 s. 7 m (23 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower. Florian Dürmer has a photo, and Gogle has a satellite view. Located on the southwesternmost point of Ilha da Boa Vista; accessible by a hiking trail. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS CAP-014; PT-2100; Admiralty D2916; NGA 24197.
Sal Rei (Ponta da Escuma) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1888). Inactive. 5 m (17 ft) concrete tower with a staircase that winds up to the light. The active light (focal plane 28 m (92 ft); five flashes every 20 s, white or red depending on direction) is on an 8 m (26 ft) steel post. The light stands next to a small keeper's cottage, now in ruins. A closeup photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the northeastern side of the Ilha da Sal Rei, marking the entrance to the harbor of Sal Rei, a town on the northwestern coast of Boa Vista. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. PT-2106; Admiralty D2918; NGA 24192.
Farol Morro Negro
Morro Negro Light, Boa Vista, August 2011
Panoramio photo by Jan Madaras; used by permission


Ilha do Sal Lighthouses
Note: Named for the salt mines of Pedra de Lume, the Ilha do Sal is the northeasternmost of the Cape Verde Islands. Relatively flat, it is the site of one of the country's international airports.
* Ponta de Vera Cruz (Santa Maria) (2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 9 m (30 ft); five green flashes every 20 s. 4 m (13 ft) round concrete tower rising from the seaward end of the Restaurante Farolim. Light tower painted white. A photo and a second, small photo are available, and Google has a satellite view. NGA describes a "white framework tower" at this station. Located on the beach at Santa Maria, on the south coast of the island. Site open, tower closed. PT-2080; Admiralty D2922.5 (ex-D2924); NGA 24168.
* Ponta do Sinó
1892. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); three white flashes in a 2+1 pattern every 15 s. 9 m (30 ft) square concrete tower with a staircase that winds up to the light. Lighthouse painted white. A photo by Miklos Kiss is at right, Teresa Schilder has a closeup photo, Ulf Ståhle has a good photo, Fabio Flowerside has a third photo, and Google has a satellite view. Ponta do Sinó is a popular location for windsurfing. Located at the southern tip of the island, about 6 km (4 mi) southwest of Santa Maria. Accessible by hiking over the sand from the Hotel Riu Funana. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS CAP-007; PT-2084(?); Admiralty D2922; NGA 24164.
* Ponta Norte (Reguinho Fiúra) (2)
Date unknown (around 1940?) (station established 1897). Inactive at least since the 1960s. Now in ruins, the lighthouse was originally an 11 m (36 ft) round cylindrical masonry tower, painted white. José Ramón has a photo, and another photo is available, but the ruin is not seen in Google's satellite view. The original lighthouse was a 13 m (43 ft) cast iron tower with keeper's house. DGMP lists a modern light nearby: a 5 m (17 ft) metal tower (focal plane 16 m (52 ft); three white flashes every 12s). Located at the northern tip of the island, near the village of Reguinho Fiúra. Site open, tower closed. PT-2070; Admiralty D2946.
Farol de Ponta Sinó
Ponta Sinó Light, Sal, April 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Miklos Kiss
* #[Pedra de Lume Second Range Rear]
Date unknown. Inactive. 8 m (26 ft) square pyramidal wood tower, adjacent to a 2-story chapel. Chapel painted white with an orange tile roof; a series of brown and white horizontal bands were painted in a strip up the side and roof as a daymark. A photo is available. In Erik Kristensen's October 2006 photo (no longer online) the tower had disappeared and the daymark survived only on the roof. The front light is mounted on a chimney. Wikimedia has several photos of the chapel. Pedra de Lume is a small fishing port on the east side of the island. Site open, building status unknown. Admiralty D2923.1; NGA 24180.

Ilha de São Nicolau Lighthouses

Note: Predominately rural, São Nicolau lies about 50 km (30 mi) east southeast of São Vicente. The island's three small lighthouses are all in areas difficult to visit.
Ponta Leste (Ponta Calheta)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 73 m (240 ft); four white flashes every 10 s. 4 m (14 ft) cylindrical white concrete tower with lantern. Lantern painted red. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located at the eastern end of the Ilha de São Nicolau. Site status unknown. PT-2050; Admiralty D2930; NGA 24144.
* [Preguiça (Porto Velho)]
Date unknown (station established 1890). Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); three red flashes in a 2+1 pattern every 15 s. 7 m (23 ft) "white hut," according to NGA; the hut appeared to be a square concrete column in DGMP's closeup of the lens (photo no longer online). Preguiça is a traditional fishing port on the southeastern shore of Ilha de São Nicolau. Site presumably open, tower status unknown. ARLHS CAP-015; PT-2054; Admiralty D2936; NGA 24136.
Ponta do Barril
1891. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); three white flashes every 12 s. 9 m (30 ft) square pyramidal masonry tower with a small lantern. Keeper's house nearby. Lightphotos.net has a photo, a postage stamp (first stamp on the left) has a closeup view of the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the western end of Ilha de São Nicolau. Site status unknown. ARLHS CAP-001; PT-2058; Admiralty D2934; NGA 24132.

Ilha de São Vicente Lighthouses
Note: A relatively flat island by Cape Verde standards, São Vicente lies about 15 km (9 mi) southeast of Santo Antão across the São Vicente Channel. The island has a population of about 75,000 and has several resorts.
Ilhéu dos Pássaros (Farol Don Luís, Porto Grande) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1882). Active; focal plane 86 m (282 ft); three white flashes every 12 s. 5 m (16 ft) hexagonal equipment room with a small lantern. Tower painted white, lantern red. This lighthouse is perched atop a conical rock; the keepers house, which is also a signal station, is halfway down the slope, with a remarkable stairway connecting it to the light. A photo is at right, a distant view and another view are available, Trabas has a view from the sea by Capt. Theo Hinrichs, a postage stamp (third stamp in line) has a closeup view of the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view. Huelse has a historic postcard view of the original light, which was 12 m (39 ft) tall; it's not known whether the existing tower is the stump of the original or if it is a shorter replacement. Located in the entrance to Porto Grande, the harbor of Mindelo, on the northwest side of Ilha de São Vicente. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. ARLHS CAP-010; PT-2024; Admiralty D2942; NGA 24100.


Don Luís Light, Ilhéu dos Pássaros, August 2008
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Waldir

*** Ponta Machado (Dona Amélia, São Pedro)
1894. Active; focal plane 56 m (184 ft); white flash every 5 s. 14 m (46 ft) square cylindrical stucco-clad masonry tower rising from the front of a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white, although some of the paint has worn off in the photo at right. Another good photo and a more distant view are available, Trabas has a view by Capt. Theo Hinrichs, Wikimedia has another view, the lighthouse has also appeared on a postage stamp, and Google has a satellite view. Huelse has a historic postcard view showing the lighthouse with the original lantern. The lighthouse was repainted in 2006. Located at the western point of Ilha de São Vicente, marking the entrance to the channel between São Vicente and Santo Antão. Accessible from São Pedro by a hiking trail notched into the cliffs. Site open, and Fünfzig found the tower to be open during his 2004 visit. ARLHS CAP-002; PT-2020; Admiralty D2946; NGA 24096.

Ilha de Santo Antão Lighthouses
Note: Santo Antão is the northwesternmost island of the group. Much of the island is quite rugged. The principal towns are Ponta do Sol on the north coast, which has an airport, and Porto Novo on the south coast, which has a ferry terminal.
* [Ponta do Sol]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 4 s. 10 m (33 ft) metal post light with a large square gallery. Post painted with red and white horizontal bands. No photo available, but Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located on the waterfront at Ponta do Sol, at the northern tip of the island. Site open, tower closed. PT-2004; Admiralty D2952; NGA 24088.
Ponta de Tumbo (Fontes Pereira de Melo)
1886. Listed as active but inactive as of 2006; focal plane 162 m (531 ft); four white flashes every 20 s. 16 m (52 ft) octagonal stucco-clad masonry tower with lantern and gallery. Adjacent 1-story stucco-clad rubblestone keeper's house abandoned and in poor condition. Lighthouse painted white. A photo is available, Wikimedia has a very distant view, the lighthouse also appears on a postage stamp, and Google has a satellite view. Huelse has a historic postcard view (misidentified on the card as São Pedro Light on São Vicente). Located at the northeastern point of Santo Antão, about 10 km (6 mi) southeast of Pombas. Site status unknown. ARLHS CAP-004; PT-2008; Admiralty D2950; NGA 24080.
[Ponta de Mangrade (1 and 2)]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 112 m (367 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 3 m (10 ft) round cylindrical white concrete tower with lantern. Lantern painted red. The original light here was mounted on a keeper's house, and it appears from Google's satellite view that this house survives. No photo available. This is the westernmost light of the islands, and thus the westernmost of all African lighthouses; it stands in longitude 25°21.8' W. Located at the western point of Ilha de Santo Antão. Site status unknown; the area is quite remote. PT-2013; Admiralty D2954; NGA 24092.
Farol de Ponta Machado
Dona Amélia (Ponta Machado) Light, São Vicente, March 2011
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Mickaël T.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining page: East: Senegal

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Posted September 2, 2005. Checked and revised September 20, 2013. Lighthouses: 24. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.