Even if you've never set foot on an ocean-going vessel, lighthouses hold a certain appeal. Standing, shining beacons in the night, their rays pierce the darkness giving hope to all who see them in times both good and bad.
Their worthy purpose means they're often found in remote, incredible locations, and subject to all kinds of weather. Check seven of our favorite lighthouses in the world, pictured below.
The frozen tower
Set on a pier outside of a small town on the eastern side of Lake Michigan, this short but stout St Joseph lighthouse bears the brunt of harsh winter storms. The result? It's covered in wind-blasted ice almost once every year, as you can see below. In that kind of weather, we're hoping no one was on the lake, anyways.
An island light (sometimes)
The famous La Corbiere lighthouse is in the southwest corner of Jersey, where it sits on an island – sometimes. It's built on a tidal rock, connected to the land via a causeway that becomes submerged during high tide. For olden-day sailors traveling from England to France, it marked the completion of the most difficult part of the journey.
Post-card picture perfect in Canada
Canada's Maritime state of Nova Scotia has over 3,800 individual islands and many, many lighthouses – but few are as well-documented as Peggy's Point, a 100 year old lighthouse. Sitting atop granite rock, it's one of the most photographed locations on the Atlantic seaboard. Why the name 'Peggy'? Legend has it the name of the village (Peggy's Cove) came from the sole survivor of a shipwreck in the 1800s. Guess that meant it was a good place for a lighthouse.
Keeper of treacherous waters
You may have to do a half-mile hike to get to the Ponta Bonita lighthouse in the Marin Headlands, but at least you won't have to drive far beforehand – the fact that it's just an hour outside of San Francisco, makes it a pretty easy place to visit. The lighthouse itself is 40m above the sea, and a map inside details the 300 shipwrecks that have taken place in the treacherous waters nearby.
Battling against the waves
This is the Mouro Island Light, Santander, Spain. It's one of the most famous lighthouses in the world, with good reason – it's situated to bear the brunt of the Atlantic's fiercest storms. Images of waves crashing over the stone bluffs make their way into media every winter, and still, the 'Faro de Mouro' stands strong at the entrance to Santander Bay. It's not open to the public, but it's still an active aid to navigation.
Landing pad and a lighthouse
It's not very easy to see the Eddystone lighthouse in person – it's 12nm offshore of England, and the only real access is via a helicopter flight onto the roof-top landing pad. Why have a lighthouse 12 nautical miles offshore? The reef it marks often pops above the water at low tide, rendering it incredibly dangerous to passing ships in this heavily trafficked area. How important is it? It's been rebuilt four times already and you can see the structure of a previous lighthouse sitting on a rock a hundred metres away.
A building ready for battle
Brest is famous for its high winds and stormy seas – and the Petit Minou lighthouse is famous for keeping sailors safe. It's over 150 years old, and its light reaches 35km out to sea as it guides sailors into the 'Roadstead of Brest', which is actually a bay of historic military importance. Photographer Erwan Le Roux has more incredible lighthouse images on his Flickr page.