The New Jersey Lighthouse challenge is a 2 day event with 14 stops consisting of 11 lighthouses , 2 life savings stations , and 1 museum. I had come across this when I was looking up NJ fall events, and thought it was a really unique way to see the Jersey Shore while also getting a workout climbing all those lighthouse stairs!
|The Lighthouse Challenge Map|
Most visitors either start at Sandy Hook, Cape May, or Tinicium, and then work their way up or down the coast. Since we live a mere 20 minutes from Sandy Hook, starting there was the obvious choice. We arrived around 8:30 and met up with Larissa from The Traveling Mortician to find a massive line, as most central/north jersey residents seemed to have the same idea.
|The Lighthouse Challenge official game|
We waited in line to buy our lighthouse challenge souvenir, which was a board game and a card with 4 cardboard lighthouse tokens. Then we got in the second line to climb the actual lighthouse, which is the oldest in New Jersey, and therefore can only accommodate about 8 people inside at once. This turned out to be the longest stop of the day as we were here for about an hour, immediately getting off schedule. Luckily things picked up after that and we made up a lot of time at the subsequent stops, but I recommend arriving before 8am to avoid the lines.
|Sandy Hook Lighthouse and view of Fort Hancock - 95 Steps|
The Navesink Lighthouse had two towers. We climbed the south Tower which had 65 steps.
|Sea Girt Lighthouse - 41 steps|
|Getting the game pieces at Sea Girt Lighthouse|
|Barnegat Lighthouse and view - 217 steps|
After we climbed Barnegat lighthouse, we stopped at the museum, finishing this around 1pm, and we decided to stop for lunch. Most of the restaurants were closed for the season, but we managed to find a decent pizzeria on the main road.
|Tuckers Island, the view, and some goofing off - 59 steps|
Absecon - 228 steps This is the tallest lighthouse in NJ and 3rd tallest in the USA. (The tallest lighthouse in the USA is in North Carolina in case you were wondering)
In route to the Tatum lifesaving station, we noticed a special guest, which warranted a quick stop. Lucy the elephant! One of New Jersey’s weirder attractions, she’s the largest free standing Elephant in the USA. Of course we couldn’t pass her by without doing an obligatory jump shot!
|The ever so important jumping shot at Lucy the Elephant!|
If you haven’t already seen her I would plan on a 10 minute stop for this, it’s right on the way so you can’t miss it!
|US Lifesaving station 30|
US 30 lifesaving station - We couldn’t go inside here as it’s currently closed, so we just got our game piece and were quickly on our way.
|Tatum Lifesaving station - 39 steps|
|Hereford Lighthouse - 45 steps|
|View from Hereford Lighthouse|
We arrived in Cape May around 5pm, and we could have went directly to the lighthouse at this time, but Cape May lighthouse was offering night climbs until 8pm, so we detoured to Cape May winery to reward ourselves for all our hard work.
We arrived here around 6:30, right after sunset, and got some great pictures. By the way, it was insanely windy at the top!
|Cape May Lighthouse - 199 Steps|
Cape May is a great stopping point for the night as the other 3 lighthouses are more west towards the Philly side of south jersey.
Now, we could have gotten an early start and went directly to East point lighthouse in the AM, but we wanted to take advance of being in Cape May and hit the rest of their wine trail first. There was even a 5k at once of them, and I couldn’t resist signing up. That deserves another post in itself, so I won’t go into the details now.
We ended up starting the lighthouse challenge after lunch, arriving at East Point a little after 2pm.
|East Point Lighthouse - 41 steps|
|Finns Point Lighthouse - 130 steps|
These lighthouse are a little more spread out, and after a couple of GPS fails, and a Dunkin Donuts detour, we made it to Finns Point.
|Fall Foliage at Finns Point Lighthouse|
|Tinicum Lighthouse - 112 Steps|
We officially finished around 4:30, but hung around a bit to take another obligatory jump shot in front of our last lighthouse!
We climbed a grand Total 1,271 steps, which is the unofficial total. (It all depends on if you count landings, front steps to get inside, rung ladders etc, but this just gives you an idea of the workout ahead of you!)
I will admit that after climbing all these stairs and running a trail 5k that weekend, I am quite sore. Time to up my game!
To sum it up, we visited 14 different lighthouse stops, 5 wineries, and ran a 5k. Can you say busy weekend? I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I would definitely sign up for the NJ lighthouse challenge again!