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Sanibel-Captiva & Fort Myers Beach Area Features

Sanibel Island Light


The Sanibel Island Light, or Point Ybel Light, is the first lighthouse on Florida’s Gulf Coast north of Key West and the Dry Tortugas. It is located on the eastern tip of Sanibel Island, and was built to mark the entrance to San Carlos Bay for ships calling at the port of Punta Rassa, across San Carlos Bay from Sanibel Island. The grounds are open to the public, but the lighthouse itself is not.

Residents of Sanibel Island first petitioned for a lighthouse in 1833, but no action was taken. In 1856 the Lighthouse Board recommended a lighthouse on Sanibel Island, but Congress took no action. In 1877 government workers surveyed the eastern end of the island and reserved it for a lighthouse. Congress finally appropriated funds for a lighthouse in 1883. The foundation for the new lighthouse was completed in early 1884, but the ship bringing ironwork for the tower sank two miles (3 km) from Sanibel Island. A crew of hard-hat divers from Key West recovered all but two of the pieces for the tower.

Punta Rassa became an important port in the 1830s and remained so until the Spanish-American War. It was primarily used to ship cattle from Florida to Cuba. Until the railroads reached the area in the 1880s, ranchers drove their cattle from open ranges in central Florida to Punta Rassa for shipment to Cuba.

The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The Coast Guard leases the light station site to the city of Sanibel, Florida.

Lighthouse Facts:

  • $50,000 was needed from Congress to build the lighthouse in 1883, and $269,563 was needed to restore the lighthouse in 2013.
  • The lighthouse has 127 steps and stands at a height of 98 feet (102 feet above sea level).
  • There had been 8 head lighthouse keepers from 1884 to 1949 when employees of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge took over the dwellings.
  • In 1923, the dwellings were modernized, receiving indoor plumbing and bathrooms, and enclosed porches.
  • Originally gas powered, the lighthouse was electrified by the Coast Guard in 1962 when the causeway was completed and electric conduit pipes were run alongside it.
  • The City of Sanibel is committed to preserving the lighthouse property. In 2016, the lighthouse and dwellings were added to the City of Sanibel’s Regsiter of Historic Sites and Structures.


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