Lighthouses of the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern 2/3 of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. A former Spanish colony, the country was conquered twice by Haiti in the early 1800s but has been independent since 1844. Santo Domingo, the capital and major port of the republic, is also the oldest European settlement in the Western Hemisphere, founded in 1496.

Very little is known about the lighthouses of the Dominican Republic, so any information anyone can provide about them would be most welcome. I'm indebted to Michel Forand for most of the historical information presented on this page. The first lighthouse in the country was at Santo Domingo in 1853, and this was the only lighthouse until the Puerto Plata lighthouse was installed in 1879. Most of the light stations date from the early 1900s, but their histories remain poorly known. Many stations are described as established in 1915, but this may simply be the date when they became known to the international light lists.

The Spanish word for a lighthouse is faro. Aids to navigation in the republic are maintained by the Dominican Navy.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from Volume J of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA numbers are from Publication 110.

General Sources
Online List of Lights - Dominican Republic
Photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
World of Lighthouses - Dominican Republic
Photos by various photographers posted by Lightphotos.net.
Leuchttürme Mittelamerikas und der Karibik auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard views posted by Klaus Huelse.
Lighthouses of the Bahamas and the West Indies
Historic postcard views posted by Michel Forand.

Faro de Punta Torrecilla
Punta Torrecilla Light, Santo Domingo, September 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Olivier Royer

North Coast Lighthouses
Puerto Libertador (Pepillo Salcedo) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1948). Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); one long white flash every 6 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) square skeletal tower, painted white. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. The Admiralty reported the light destroyed in 1992, but obviously it has been replaced. Located at the end of the pier at Pepillo Salcedo, a town close to the Haitian border. Site status unknown. Admiralty J5424; NGA 14244.
Cayo Arenas
Date unknown (station established late 1940s(?)). Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); white light, 2 s on, 4 s off. "Red tower, black lantern," according to NGA. No photo available, and the tower is not visible in Bing's satellite view. Forand found this light listed as early as 1952. Located on a cay about 10 km (6 mi) off Punta Rusia, the northwestern corner of the Dominican Republic. Accessible only by boat; transportation is available from Punta Rusia. Site status unknown. Admiralty J5422; NGA 14240.
Cayo Pablillo (Isla Cabrita, Isla Cabra) (1)
Date unknown (1800s). Inactive for many years. Approx. 23 m (75 ft) square masonry tower, now collapsing into ruins. A closeup photo is available, and Bing has a satellite view. According to NGA, there is an active light (focal plane 34 m (111 ft); white light, 3 s on, 9 s off) on a 15 m (50 ft) steel skeletal tower. However, this skeletal tower does not appear in Martha Reyes's aerial photo of the island, and there is no reason to think it actually exists. The island is just northwest of Monte Cristi at the northwestern corner of the country. Located atop a steep bluff on the northwest side of the island. Site status unknown. Site manager: Parque National Monte Cristi. ARLHS DOM-004; Admiralty J5426; NGA 14248.
El Morro de Monte Cristi
Date unknown (1970s?). Active (?); focal plane 262 m (860 ft); white light, 2 s on, 8 s off. 34 m (111 ft) "white metal" tower on a square base. No photo available, and the tower is not visible in Bing's satellite view. Monte Cristi is a steep mountain ridge on a peninsula at the northwestern corner of the Dominican Republic. The lighthouse is on the summit ridge of Monte Cristi. Site manager: Parque National Monte Cristi. ARLHS DOM-002; Admiralty J5427; NGA 14252.
* Puerto Plata
1879. Reactivated in 2002; focal plane 42 m (138 ft); white light, 2 s on, 4 s off. 24 m (80 ft) cast iron skeletal tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted gold. Access to the lantern is by an exposed spiral stairway. Mike Bash's photo appears at right, Bruce Edwards has an excellent closeup, a more distant view is available, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse was prefabricated in New York. Gravely endangered by rust and decay, the lighthouse was placed on the World Monuments Fund's 100-most-endangered list in 2000. In 2001, the fund granted $65,000 for restoration of the tower. Additional grants were made by American Express, Metaldom, and the Dominican government. The lighthouse was reactivated on 13 September 2002. Located on the east side of the entrance to the harbor of Puerto Plata on the north coast of the country. Site open, tower closed. Owner/site manager: Ayuntamiento de Puerto Plata. ARLHS DOM-003; Admiralty J5430; NGA List 14260.
Faro de Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata Light, February 2008
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Mike Bash
Cabo Francés Viejo (1)
1915. Inactive at least since 1946, probably since the 1930s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) square concrete tower. A closeup photo and a second closeup are available, Felix Corona has a distant view (click on the photo for an enlargement), and Google has a satellite view. According to Forand, early 20th century light lists have this as a skeletal tower; this might be an error, or the skeletal tower might have been encased in concrete. The cape is a prominent headland at Cabrera, north of Nagua on the north coast of the country. Site open, tower condition unknown. Site manager: Parque National Cabo Francés Viejo.
Cabo Francés Viejo (2)
1930s(?). Inactive, perhaps since 1946. Ruined 24 m (79 ft) white pyramidal concrete tower. José Nazario Hernandez Mesa's photo of lighthouses two and three is at right, and Nadia de la Rosa has a photo showing the first two lighthouses. This lighthouse was built during the administration of the dictator Rafael Trujillo, who was in power from 1930 until 1961. The Samaná earthquake of 4 August 1946 probably caused the heavy damage to the first two lighthouses, although Forand found that this tower was listed as late as 1952. It was replaced by a 26 m (85 ft) concrete tower which was apparently demolished when the modern tower was built. Site open, tower condition unknown. Site manager: Parque National Cabo Francés Viejo.
Cabo Francés Viejo (4)
Early 2000s. Reported inactive; focal plane 50 m (164 ft); white light, 2 s on, 8 s off. 26 m (85 ft) square cylindrical skeletal tower, painted white. No lantern. José Nazario Hernandez Mesa's photo of lighthouses two and three is at right. The lighthouse was built during the administration of President Hipólito Mejía Domínguez (2000-2004). Located near the ruined historic towers. Site open, tower closed. Site manager: Parque National Cabo Francés Viejo. ARLHS DOM-001; Admiralty J5434; NGA 14272.
Cabo Samaná (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1915). Active; focal plane 141 m (463 ft); white flash every 5 s. 19 m (62 ft) square skeletal tower, painted white. A distant view from the sea is available, and Google has a satellite view. Cabo Samaná is the tip of the thumb-shaped Samaná Peninsula, which projects eastward parallel to the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. The area has been quite remote, but a new highway, completed in 2008, has opened it to tourism for the first time. Located atop a very steep bluff at the northeastern tip of the cape; a rugged track reaches the site. Site status unknown. Admiralty J5438; NGA 14280.
Faros de Cabo Frances Viejo
Cabo Frances Viejo Light, January 2010
Picasaweb Creative Commons photo
by José Nazario Hernandez Mesa
#Cabo Engaño (3?)
1990s (?) (station established 1915). Collapsed. 20 m (66 ft) square steel skeletal tower with gallery. The original tower was painted with red and white horizontal bands, but the present tower appears unpainted. Guillermo Rolandi has a photo, J.C. Martinez has a closeup, and Google has a satellite view. NGA lists a 20 m (66 ft) tower with a focal plane of 43 m (141 ft). Jeff Climie visited the cape in June 2012 and reports that the tower has collapsed. The original light was on a 46 m (150 ft) skeletal tower. There is a postcard view showing an earlier skeletal tower collapsed and replaced by the second light, a 38 m (125 ft) slender concrete tower. The lighthouse marked the easternmost point of the island, overlooking the Mona Passage. Note: In the Philippines, the northeastern tip of Luzon is also called Cabo Engaño. Located on the beach about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) north of the cape. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS DOM-005; Admiralty J5444; NGA 14296.

South Coast Lighthouses
* La Romana (4?)
Date unknown (late 1960s (?); station established 1913). Active; focal plane 27 m (89 ft); white flash every 6 s. 21 m (69 ft) square steel skeletal tower with gallery. A photo is at right, and Trabas has a photo by Arno Siering, but a lack of shadows makes the tower hard to see in Google's satellite view. La Romana, in the southeast corner of the republic, is well known for its beach resorts. The modern tower is the tallest of a series of skeletal towers installed at this location. Located on a prominent cape on the east side of the city of La Romana. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS DOM-011; Admiralty J5448; NGA 14312.
* San Pedro de Macoris (Punta Pescadero) (3?)
Date unknown (station established 1894). Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white light, 3 s on, 7 s off. Approx. 11 m (36 ft) square pyramidal concrete tower. NGA lists the lighthouse as having red and white horizontal bands, but it is all white in Nicanor Rosario's 2012 photo. Google has a satellite view. Forand found a 1904 listing for the original lighthouse, which was on the west side of the harbor entrance. The light on the east side was established in 1915 and had a height of 7.5 m (25 ft). Located on a promontory on the east side of the entrance to San Pedro de Macoris. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty J5450; NGA 14316.
* Punta Torrecilla (Santo Domingo, San Souci, Sans Souci) (3)
Date unknown (1960s?) (station established 1853). Active; focal plane 41 m (135 ft); white light, 2 s on, 2 s off, 2 s on, 4 s off. 38 m (125 ft) square pyramidal concrete tower painted in a blue and yellow spiral pattern. The lighthouse was originally painted with orange and black spirals; the USCG photo, taken about 2000, shows black and white spirals; and a 2003 photo by German lighthouse fan Bernd Claußen shows the current yellow and black. Olivier Royer's photo is at the top of this page, Elena Sinalias has a 2009 photo, Lightphotos.net has a photo, an aerial photo is available, Trabas has a photo by Capt. Theo Hinrichs, and Google has a fine satellite view. Forand has posted an engraving and a postcard view of the original lighthouse, a skeletal tower with lantern and gallery that was of great architectural interest at the time it was built. Huelse also has a postcard view of the first lighthouse. The second light was a 26 m (85 ft) skeletal tower built in 1926. The present tower was listed at least as early as 1975. Located on a promontory east of the entrance to the harbor of Santo Domingo, on the south coast of the country. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS DOM-006; Admiralty J5457; NGA 14336.
Punta Palenque
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); white flash every 7 s. 9 m (30 ft) white concrete tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on a prominent cape about 8 km (5 mi) east of Nizao. Site status unknown. Admiralty J5466; NGA 14360.
Faro de La Romana
La Romana Light, November 2011
Panoramio Creative Commons photo by cb_aus_re
Puerto Viejo de Azua (3?)
Date unknown (around 1990(?); station established 1915). Inactive, although still listed by NGA. Approx. 15 m (49 ft) square skeletal tower, painted black. The Admiralty listed this light as "destroyed" in 1997, but Forand located a 2005 photo. Google has a satellite view that probably shows the light. The original skeletal tower had a height of 11 m (36 ft), and in the 1970s and 1980s a shorter concrete tower was listed. The modern Port of Azua, built in 1959, is located on the Bahía de las Calderas, about 100 km (60 mi) west of Santo Domingo. Located at the east end of a barrier island that protects the harbor entrance. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ex-Admiralty J5475; NGA 14376.
Isla Alto Velo
Date unknown (station established 1915). Inactive, apparently since the late 1980s. 20 m (66 ft) square cylindrical white concrete tower with gallery. A distant photo is available, and Bing has a satellite view. NGA notes the light was reported extinguished in 1992, and a page on the Jaragua National Park states that the lighthouse is "disused and in ruins.". The lighthouse crowns a small island about 30 km (20 mi) southwest of Cabo Beata; this is the southernmost point of the country and of Hispaniola. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Site manager: Parque Nacional Jaragua. ARLHS DOM-007; Admiralty J5482; NGA 14388.

Also a famous faux lighthouse:

[Faro a Colón (Columbus Lighthouse)]
1992 (begun in the 1930s). Active. A monumental 203.5 m (668 ft) pharos built as a memorial to Columbus (Cristoforo Colón in Spanish). The huge building, designed by the British architect J.L. Gleave, is shaped like a cross, its wings stepped back with increasing height like a pyramid. Another photo is available, and some information on the history of the building. There is no navigational beacon in the usual sense; the building has 149 searchlights that project a giant cross in the sky overhead. Located in downtown Santo Domingo. Site and tower open.

Another faux lighthouse:

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: East: Puerto Rico | West: Haiti

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Created March 2005. Checked and revised October 31, 2013. Lighthouses: 15. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.