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Nobska Point Lighthouse

Nobska lighthouse

Falmouth, Massachusetts
Built in 1828



The lighthouse overlooks Falmouth Harbor and Woods Hole Harbor. The lighthouse grounds are open year round to the public, and frequent tours are offered inside the lighthouse tower by the Friends of Nobska Light during the summer months.

Latitude: 41° 30' 57" N
Longitude: 70° 39' 18" W


Historic Stories:

Nobska comes from the early Wampanoag Native Americans, meaning "rocky place" for its terrain and dangerous ledges nearby.

Nobska Point Lighthouse was established in 1828 to guide mariners away from the nearby dangerous shoals when entering into Woods Hole Harbor.

vintage image Nobska Point light 1829

Nobska Light, 1828 Construction
Courtesy US Coast Guard

The current structure was built in 1876. The light has the distinction of appearing red from the east, due to a red section on the east side of the lantern house facing the dangerous shoals, while those approaching the western side will see a distinct white light where the more safe waters are.

As part of their duties, keepers were required to track maritime traffic and submit monthly in a “Journal of Vessels”. The volume of traffic going by Nobska was quite significant compared to other lights in the area. In 1829, over 10,000 vessels were recorded passing Nobska Point, and in the month of November in 1864, there were 833 vessels logged in, and on one day alone in 1864, 188 vessels were counted.

Although the light has saved many vessels, sometimes shipwrecks would still occur. In August of 1911, the steamer Bunker Hill headed for Boston carrying over 300 passengers, ran aground on a clear, calm night, luckily resulting in no significant injuries.

Joseph Hindley was the last Keeper of the lighthouse from 1968 to 1972, after 44 total years of total service. It is believed that he was the last civilian lighthouse keeper in New England.

Nobska Light was automated in 1985, and the fourth-order lens is still being used today, using a 1000-watt lamp. The Keeper's house now serves as the quarters for the Commander of the Coast Guard Group of Woods Hole.

sunset by Nobska Point light



Places to Visit Nearby:

The lighthouse grounds are open year round to the public.

beach by Nobska lighthouse This is one of those scenic lighthouses where the best sunset photos can be taken.

The Friends of Nobska Light offer frequent tours inside Nobska lighthouse; the grounds are open year round. Occasionally there are also tours offered by the Woods Hole Historical Society, the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce, and the local Coast Guard.

It is also home of the Woods Hole Oceanic Institution for extensive marine research for all academic levels. At the institution, you will learn about the its ships, underwater robotic vehicles, marine instruments, and oceanographic discoveries such as the RMS Titanic.

Falmouth nearby offers plenty of recreational activities from relaxing on its clean beaches, sailing, to horseback riding. You will also find plenty of artist's galleries, antique shops, and local museums nearby to suite your tastes. The Cahoon Museum of American Art showcases in a colonial farmhouse, collections of the folk paintings of the Cahoons, as well as a choice collections of early and contemporary American art. The Cape Cod Children's Museum has fun exhibits that include a 30 foot pirate ship climbing structure, medieval castle, and inflatable planetarium.

If you get tired of walking , take the"Whoosh" trolley. If you like to bike, or hike, use the Shining Sea Bikeway that takes you around Falmouth and Woods Hole areas with some terrific scenic vistas.

The Schooner Liberté is a magnificent three-masted sailing schooner that departs 3 times a day from Falmouth Harbor and may sail around Wood's Hole, the Elizabeth Islands, or out to Martha's Vineyard, depending on sailing conditions.

The Heritage Museums and Gardens include antique and classic cars, a carousel, a military and art museum, and garden trails.

The Coonamessett Farm provides activities like visiting with the animals, picking your own produce, eating homemade foods at the cafe, renting a canoe, or rowing Coonamessett Pond.

Nearby, Woods Hole is a small village that comes alive in the summer with many great eating places, unique shops, galleries, museums, educational institutions and attractions, beautiful gardens and scenic vistas.

The Woods Hole Historical Museum contains all kinds of marine artifacts to explore. The Woods Hole Science Aquarium is the oldest research aquarium in the country, allows self-guided tours of the main exhibits, with a behind-the-scenes look at aquarium operations. Enjoy tours and wine tasting at The Cape Cod Winery.

The lighthouse is clearly visible from the Woods Hole — Martha’s Vineyard ferries and from the ferry that goes from New Bedford to Martha’s Vineyard.


Directions to Nobska Lighthouse:

From Falmouth:

You can return to Route 28 another way by taking Church Street from the lighthouse to Woods Hole Road, which leads to Route 28.


From Woods Hole:

The light can also be reached by turning left on Church Street as you near the Steamship Authority terminal.


Contact Info:
Friends of Nobska Light
PO Box 183
Falmouth, MA 02541
Phone: (774)-763-6453


Local Boat Tours and Ferries

Sailing cruises and the ferry mentioned below pass by the lighthouse out of Woods Hole Harbor as part of specific sailing charters or ferrying passengers.

Steamship Authority
Ferry to and from Wood’s Hole and Hyannis to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island
(508) 495-FAST (3278)
Woods Hole: (508) 548-3788
Vineyard Haven: (508) 693-0367
Oak Bluffs: (508) 693-0125
Hyannis: (508) 771-4000
Nantucket: (508) 228-0262
General Offices (508) 548-5011


Liberté, The Schooner
Three-masted sailing schooner departs 3 times a day from Falmouth Harbor, sailing conditions depend on route. Sailing may include around Woods Hole, Elizabeth Islands, or out to Martha's Vineyard, around Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven.
227 Clinton Avenue
Falmouth , MA 02540
Phone: (508) 524-9121
Fax: 508-548-1569


Books to Explore

book of the rise and demise of the largest sailing ships

To order a signed paperback copy:

Available also from bookstores in paperback, hardcover, and as an eBook for all devices.

my ebook on apple books

The Rise and Demise of the Largest Sailing Ships:
Stories of the Six and Seven-Masted Coal Schooners of New England

In the early 1900s, amid positive social and political changes, New England shipbuilders constructed the world’s largest sailing ships. They were the ten original six-masted coal schooners and one colossal seven-masted vessel, built to carry massive quantities of coal and building supplies.

This book, with plenty of black and white and color images, provides historical accounts of each of these mighty sailing marvels. In fact, the revenue cutter Acushnet was stationed out of Woods Hole and participated in many rescues that involved these giant vessels on the dangerous shoals between the islands.




Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides lots of special human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of additional indoor and outdoor coastal attractions and tours in the area, with contact info to plan your trip.

For more info visit my Lighthouse Books page.

book about lighthouses and local coastal atttractions in southern New England






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