In the middle of the small Columbine Nature Reserve along the West Coast of South Africa, stands the strikingly rugged Cape Columbine Lighthouse.
The stretch of coastline which the lighthouse, usually the first lighthouse sighted by shipping coming from South America and Europe, now protects claimed a number of victims over the years, including the Columbine (1829), the Heleric (1932), the Haddon Hall (1913), the Lisboa (1910), the SS Saint Lawrence (1876) and the SS Columbine (1944 – death by torpedo in this instance though) – however, the lighthouse only saw the light of day in 1936, when it was finally commissioned and given to the famed, Scottish-trained, lighthouse architect Harry Claude Cooper as one of his last projects (in total, Cooper was involved in the building of more than 30 South African lighthouses).
To reach the lighthouse, you need to head out to the small fishing hamlet of Paternoster, and once there, drive out a further 5 km along a dirt road to reach the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve (which also houses Tietiesbaai, a popular fishing spot for the locals).
In the middle of the nature reserve stands the lighthouse, perched on top of a boulder-strewn outcrop called Castle Rock.
The lighthouse towers above a small complex of houses, some of which are now available for rent by the public as overnight accommodation. The Cape Columbine Lighthouse holds the honour of being the last manned lighthouse built on the South African coast (hence the houses).
Note, all lighthouses are automated. “Manned” implies that the ports authority have a presence at the lighthouse, either to accommodate visitors or to optimise maintenance and travelling.
The lighthouse was the first South African lighthouse to be installed with three simultaneous navigational aids, namely optics (light), a fog signal, as well as a radio beacon.
It was also the first South African lighthouse lens system designed for use with a 4 kW incandescent electric lamp.
The lighthouse is open to the public from Monday to Friday, and tours of the facility are on offer. The large grounds and picturesque surrounding also make it a popular picnic spot and wedding photo backdrop.