Lighthouses of Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a country of Central America, located between
Nicaragua and Panama. The country has a lengthy coastline on the Pacific
Ocean and a much shorter one on the Caribbean Sea. The principal ports
are Puntarenas and Caldera on the Pacific and Limón on the Caribbean.
Very little is known about lighthouses in Costa Rica, so additional
information from visitors would be very welcome.
Aids to navigation in Costa Rica are regulated by the División
Marítimo Portuaria, an agency of MOPT (Ministerio de Obras
Públicas y Tranportes), the public works and transportation ministry.
On the Pacific coast, the lighthouses are operated by INCOP (Instituto
Costaricense de Puertos del Pacífico), a relatively new agency
managing all the Pacific ports. Atlantic coast lights are presumably
maintained by JAPDEVA, the port
and development authority for Limón.
The Spanish word for a lighthouse is faro. In Spanish-speaking America, this word is used generally for all navigational lights, large and small, although smaller lights are also called balizas (beacons).
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS
World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume J of
the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals for Caribbean
lights and from volume G for Pacific lights. Light List numbers are
from NGA Publication 110 for Caribbean lights and from Publication 111
for Pacific lights.
- General Sources
- Online List of
Lights - Costa Rica Pacific
- Photos by various photographers posted by Alex Trabas.
Mittelamerikas auf historischen Postkarten
- Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Punta Quepos Light, Puerto Quepos, 2010
Puntarenas Province (Pacific
- Golfito Canton Lighthouses
- Punta Curupacha (Golfito)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 91 m (299 ft); white flash every 4 s. Steel skeletal tower, painted yellow. No photo available, and Bing's satellite view of the point shows only dense forest; Google's satellite view is similar. This light shines southward over the length of the Golfo Dulce. Located on a remote headland about 15 km (9 mi) west of Golfito. Site status unknown. Admiralty G3284; NGA 111-15472.
- Cabo Matapalo
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 10 s. No information
is available on this station; Bing's satellite
view probably shows a skeletal tower that carries the light. Located high on the
cape at the southeastern tip of the Osa Peninsula and the west side of the
the entrance to the Golfo Dulce. Site status unknown. Admiralty G3282; NGA 111-15469.
Osa Canton Lighthouse
- * Isla del Caño
- Date unknown (station established 1940). Active (?); focal plane
63 m (207 ft); white flash every 4 s. 22 m (72 ft) steel skeletal
tower with a red lantern. No photo available, but Google's satellite
view shows only dense forest with no sign of the tower. The lighthouse
was built and originally operated by the United Fruit Company. It
was deactivated in 1961, and we don't know if the present light is
on the original tower or a new one. The Isla
del Caño is a 300 ha (740 acre) island located about 20
km (13 mi) west of the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica. It is
now a national park and is a popular destination for day trips. The
lighthouse is located at the western end of the island and is accessible
by a hiking trail. Site open, and visitors can climb to the gallery.
Site manager: Reserva
Biológica Isla del Caño. ARLHS COS-003; Admiralty
G3306; NGA 111-15468.
Aguirre Canton Lighthouse
- Punta Quepos (2)
- 2010 (station establishment date unknown). Active; focal plane 156
m (512 ft); white flash every 3 s. 12 m (39 ft) skeletal tower with
gallery. Lighthouse painted with horizontal bands, white, red, white
and gray. An MOPT photo is at the top of this page, Susan Forshner has a distant view, and the tower barely pokes above
dense forest in Google's satellite
view. The new tower replaced an older skeletal tower of the same
height. This location is in the Manuel Antonio National Park; there
is a large resort, the Hotel Parador, nearby. Located on a very prominent
cape about 8 km (5 mi) south of Puerto Quepos on the central west
coast of Costa Rica. Site status unknown, very possibly open. Admiralty
G3310; NGA 111-15464.
Puntarenas Canton (Gulf of Nicoya Area)
- Isla Herradura (2?)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 99 m (325 ft); white flash every
10 s. 18 m (59 ft) skeletal tower adjacent to a 1-story equipment building. Lighthouse painted with red and white horizontal bands. A photo is an right, and Trabas has a very distant view by Capt. Theo Hinrichs, but Google's satellite
view has no detail on the island. There is a reference (halfway down the page) to an "old lighthouse" on the crest
of Isla Herradura; this may refer to an older lighthouse. The island, a popular site for surfing, is just
off the coast at the southern entrance to the Gulf of Nicoya. Located
on the crest of the island, near the west end, about 5 km (3 mi) southwest
of Los Sueños. Site status unknown. ARLHS COS-004; Admiralty
G3316; NGA 111-15460.
Isla Herradura Light, Los Sueños, 2010
- * Los Sueños
- Date unknown (recent). Active (privately maintained and unofficial); continuous
white light. Approx. 15 m (49 ft) conical concrete (?) tower with gallery
and a small lantern. Access to the gallery is by an external stairway that
winds around the tower. The lighthouse is painted a light brick red color.
Jennifer Hensley has a closeup photo, Sergio Quesada has a photo, a nighttime photo
shows the lighthouse in action, and Google has a satellite
view. According to visitors, the light operates during the evening hours
only and is extinguished after midnight. Located at a modern resort on the
east side of the entrance to the Golfo de Nicoya, about 65 km (40 mi) south
of Puntarenas. Site open, tower closed (the stairway is not accessible to
visitors). Site manager: Los
Sueños Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort. ARLHS COS-008.
- Puerto Caldera
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane and characteristics unknown. Approx. 40
m (131 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted with red and white
horizontal bands. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo, also seen at right, a distant view
is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite
view. Caldera is on the east side of the Gulf of Nicoya in northwestern
Costa Rica, about 30 km (19 mi) southeast of Puntarenas. Located on a steep
slope behind the harbor. Site and tower closed, but the tower can be seen
from anywhere in the area. Admiralty G3321.
- * [Puntarenas (Barrio
del Carmen) (4?)]
- Date unknown (station established 1856). Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft)
(?); red occulting four times every 10 s. 14 m (46 ft) (?) "silver iron
tower," according to NGA, "north of a small customs office."
Trabas has Capt. Peter Mosselberger's photo, which shows a simple post light at the end of the pier. Google has an indistinct satellite view. This is Costa Rica's oldest light station.
Michel Forand has a postcard
view of the 1914 light station, and Huelse has a larger image of the same postcard. Puntarenas is located on a long spit pointing
westward into the Gulf of Nicoya. Located on the long cruise ship pier on
the south side of the spit. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower
closed. ARLHS COS-007; Admiralty G3320; NGA 111-15456.
- Isla Negritos (2)
- 2011 (station establishment date unknown). Active; focal plane 48 m (157 ft); four white flashes every 20 s. Approx. 8 m (26 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. No photo available, and the light is not seen in Bing's satellite view.
The two Islas Negritos are part of a dangerous reef system extending
from the west side of the Gulf of Nicoya east of Paquera. Located
at the eastern end of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site status
unknown. ARLHS COS-005; Admiralty G3344; NGA 111-15452.
- Isla Cabo Blanco
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; two white flashes every
18 s. No information is available on this light. A 2008 distant view
shows a small tower and a possible keeper's house atop the giant rock. Bing's satellite
view is not very informative. Located on an island about 1.6
km (1 mi) south of a very prominent cape at the end of the Nicoya
Peninsula and the western entrance to the Gulf of Nicoya. Site and
tower closed (bird sanctuary). ARLHS COS-001; Admiralty G3346; NGA
Puerto Caldera Light, Caldera
photo copyright Capt. Peter Mosselberger
used by permission
Limón Province (Caribbean Coast)
- Limón Canton Lighthouses
- Isla Pájaros (Bahía Móin)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 2.5 s. Approx.
20 m (66 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower, painted with red and white
horizontal bands. Luís Alvarado has a distant view,
but Google's satellite view has only a very distant satellite
view of the island. Located on an island about 500 m (0.3 mi) offshore
and 5 km (3 mi) northwest of Limón. Accessible only by boat. Admiralty
J6067; NGA 110-16516.
- Limón (Isla Uvita, Isla Quiribri) (?)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 41 m (135 ft); white flash every 10 s.
25 m (82 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available. This is the
landfall light for Puerto Limón, Costa Rica's only major port on the
Caribbean Sea. Although photos
of the island do not show it, there are recent references to this lighthouse. An indistinct Google satellite view may show the lighthouse. Huelse has a historic (but very distant) postcard view. Located on an island about 3 km (2 mi) east
of Puerto Limón. Accessible only by boat. ARLHS COS-006; Admiralty
J6068; NGA 110-16504.
- [Puerto Limón (Container Pier)]
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); continuous red light. Approx.
14 m (46 ft) steel (?) post light with a small gallery. The light is seen
in an aerial photo, and
Google has an indistinct satellite
view of the location. Located at the south end of the breakwater
pier at Puerto Limón. Site status unknown. Admiralty J6069; NGA 110-16508.
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Adjoining pages: North: Nicaragua | South: Panama
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| Ratings key
Posted (Central America page) January 24, 2005. Checked and revised November 17, 2013. Lighthouses: 11. Site copyright
2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.