There’s something about a lighthouse that’s alluring, romantic even. Ever more so when it’s the oldest surviving light in the West Indies. Located on the western tip of Paradise Island, formerly known as Hog Island, the lighthouse was built in 1817; sixteen years before the British Imperial Lighthouse Service began building the first of 11 lights in The Bahamas, an enthusiastic undertaking that would span 55-years.
Crossing Nassau’s natural harbour, by boat, we navigate a labyrinth of vessels ranging in height. We pass the salty sea dog balancing a modest bow weighed heavily with fresh conch shells, mailboats busy unloading goods from neighbouring out-islands, and cruise liners nearing the height of Atlantis’ Royal East Tower, New Providence’s tallest sky-scraper.
Arriving to the northwest entrance to the harbour we trade our sea legs for sandaled feet that carefully find hold in sharp honeycomb rock. Up and down our bodies move, crossing an uneven terrain that eventually leads to a series of steps. Climbing the spiral staircase, we change altitude. Finally, at 69 feet above the aquatic horizon we stop. Our eyes sweep over a body of water snug between a bustling capital outpost and Paradise Island, once a private island, now a tourist-trodden trap. Looking out we consider how much the landscape has changed in the almost 200 years since the lonely pillar was erected. The boats having advanced from sail, to steam, to motor. The flashing light the only constant, flashing white every 5 seconds, red if the seas are kicking in tune with the tantrum of a small child.