At the northernmost point of the island out past Wauwinet, within the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Reserve, you’ll find the most powerful light in New England! Officially named the Nantucket Light, it was first erected in 1784 as a wooden tower. A fire destroyed the little wooden lighthouse in 1816, and so a second tower – this time made of stone – was built in 1818. The stone tower fell over in 1984, but the third time was the charm. The existing lighthouse, a 60-foot replica of the original 1816 tower, was constructed in 1986.
With its extreme location, the light at Great Point still aids mariners’ navigation as it flashes every five seconds. Today, this sweet young light may well feel like the black sheep in the Nantucket lighthouse family; it’s the only one of the three that is not in The National Register of Historic Places. Its status was rescinded when it was rebuilt for the second time due to a policy. The National Register of Historic Places requires that each entity on its list be at least 50 years old. Despite not having that official significance, it remains one of Nantucket’s must-see places.
The grounds can be accessed by foot (if you’re feeling up for a seven-mile walk in the sand), or by four-wheel-drive vehicle bearing a beach permit sticker. (Beware that driving in soft sand can be tricky, and your day can turn very un-fun if you don’t let the air out of your tires properly.) A hassle-free option is to take an oversand vehicle tour with a knowledgeable guide from The Trustees of Reservations.