Lighthouses of The Gambia

Gambia, or more properly the Republic of The Gambia, is a small nation of West Africa straddling the River Gambia. Banjul, at the mouth of the river, is the capital and the only major port. A former British colony independent since 1965, The Gambia is surrounded by the larger nation of Senegal.

British slave merchants had outposts on the Gambia River as early as 1588, and the country was the point of departure for perhaps a million slaves before the trade was ended. The British do not seem to have built any traditional lighthouses in the colony.

Navigational lights in The Gambia are maintained by the Gambia Ports Authority.

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
World of Lighthouses - Gambia
Photos by various photographers available from
Admiralty Notices to Mariners - 06 March 2008
This edition includes listings for the three active lights of The Gambia.


Barra Point Light
Barra Point Light, Fort Bullen
The Gambia National Centre for Arts and Culture photo

* Cape St. Mary
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 43 m (141 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 13 m (43 ft) square skeletal mast centered on a concrete platform supported by four robust concrete piles. Reto Müller's photo is at right, and the light is probably centered in Google's satellite view. The Admiralty says the light is on a water tower, but instead it seems to have replaced a water tower that was formerly on this platform. Cape St. Mary is the south side of the entrance to the River Gambia. Lights were displayed at the cape as early as 1863. The present light is located facing the Atlantic Ocean in the Fajara neighborhood, about 4 km (2.5 mi) southwest of the cape. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D3021; NGA 24452.
* Banjul Point
Date unknown (probably recent). Active; focal plane 27 m (89 ft); white light, 4 s on, 4 s off. 27 m (89 ft) skeletal tower. A photo of the point shows a communications tower that probably carries the light as well. The tower appears to be in a government complex that includes the police headquarters and customs house. The tower is not seen in Google's satellite view. Banjul is built on a peninsula forming the south side of the River Gambia entrance, with the harbor sheltered on the south side. Located at the east end of the peninsula. Site probably open, tower closed. Admiralty D3027.5; NGA 24465.
* [Fort James Island, Kunta Kinteh Island]
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 5 m (17 ft) square skeletal tower, painted white. NGA lists this light as active, but a closeup photo (a little over halfway down the page) shows that the lamp has been removed from the tower. Part of the tower is seen in Karen Brodie's photo, and Google has a satellite view of the island and fort. Fort James is a slave traders' fort, first built by German merchants in 1651 and captured by the British in 1661. Abandoned with the end of the slave trade in 1779, the ruined fort is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2011 the island was renamed for Kunta Kinteh, a Gambian portrayed in the popular U.S. television series Roots as an ancestor of the author Alex Haley. Erosion is eating away at the island and the ruins. Located on a small island in the River Gambia about 30 km (19 mi) from the sea and 3 km (2 mi) southeast of Albreda. Accessible only by boat; tours are available from Banjul. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS GAM-002; ex-Admiralty D3030; NGA 24468.
* Barra Point (Fort Bullen) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1863). Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); three quick red flashes every 15 s. Approx. 14 m (46 ft) square skeletal tower mounted on the northwestern rampart of Fort Bullen. A photo appears above, a closer view and another closeup are available, Klaas and Wenda Bos have a closeup, Liz MacKenzie-Barrett has a view from the river, and Google has a satellite view. Built by Britain in 1826, Fort Bullen is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A light was displayed from a flagpole of the port beginning in 1863, but it is not known how long this light was maintained. The present light appears to be of modern origin. Located on Barra Point, the north side of the entrance to the River Gambia, opposite Banjul. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS GAM-001; Admiralty D3027; NGA 24464.
Cape St. Mary Light
Cape St. Mary Light, Fajara, February 2013
contributed photo copyright Reto Müller; used by permission

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining page: Senegal

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Posted October 10, 2008. Checked and revised November 23, 2015. Lighthouses: 3. Site copyright 2015 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.