From the shores of San Francisco, you can just barely see the white walls of the lighthouse shine on the opposite bank across the bay. For years I looked at the Point Bonita Lighthouse tucked in the Marin Headlands and finally decided it was time to pay a visit.
Easier said than done, as this lighthouse has super odd times. Open only for a few hours each week, the parking lot gets full fast and the hike down can get a bit crowded. But, it’s so so so worth it, if anything to walk across that tiny suspension bridge hanging over the ocean waves for yourself.
I fell in love with the Point Bonita Lighthouse at the first visit. Maybe because we had to work at it? See, the first time we stopped by was on a weekday hiking around the Marin County trails and we just swung by. It wasn’t open, but we didn’t know that until we got ALMOST there.
- PS – Rodeo Lagoon to Point Bonita Lighthouse is a popular hike for visitors! Park at the Lagoon lot and hike up the Rodeo Lagoon trail through wildflowers & hills before ending at the lighthouse!
The Point Bonita Lighthouse hike is an easy one. The trail is paved and only about a mile long. (The walk down is easy, the walk back up the hill is a bit harder.) Towards the end, the trail turns into a tunnel and that tunnel door is closed whenever the Lighthouse isn’t open. So we walked all the way down just to end with me pounding at the door asking to get in (Seriously, this happened, I really wanted to visit!)
So, we checked the times once we had service and planned a return trip.
What Are The Point Bonita Lighthouse Hours?
- Sundays 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm
- Mondays 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm
Make sure to check the park service site BEFORE you visit because these hours do change! When we first visited a few years ago, the hours were Saturday and Sunday. ALSO, sometimes the lighthouse closes due to fog levels, so check to make sure.
When the weather is nice and the lighthouse is open, the stunning views of the bay make the hiking so worth the odd time table. Located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this is technically part of the National Park Service domain. Parking and visiting is free, though (unlike most State Parks!) which is really nice.
Because of the limited hours, you’ll always visit with crowds. BUT, Mondays probably will be a bit less crowded so I recommend doing a Point Bonita lighthouse hike on a Monday if you can. Do try to get at the tunnel door right at 12:30, though, so you’re at the front of the line.
When we went, there were about 20 other people there to start with. We all had to wait in line to walk over the suspension bridge one by one. Once over, we were free to roam the lighthouse, though it’s not very big so it doesn’t take too much time. There isn’t really a formal visitor center, but a staff member will be on-site for free tours, to answer questions, etc.
- The lighthouse is small and they only let 49 across at a time. This means if you aren’t one of the first people down when they open the doors, you have to wait.
I just remember walking over the suspension bridge, looking down into the ocean below & thinking: this thing better hold up! Not dying today! Also, the views from the point is just unbeatable. On one side, the endless sea. On the other, the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge.
If you’re looking for a fun and easy hike in the Marin Headlands, check out Point Bonita Lighthouse. This is the only lighthouse near San Francisco that you can visit, the others (that I know about) are at least an hour drive away. These are the other ones:
- Point Reyes Station Lighthouse
- Pigeon Point Lighthouse
- Point Arena Lighthouse
- Alcatraz Lighthouse (you have to do the whole tour to visit this one!)
Got any questions or tips to add? Leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to help ya out! Or, you can always DM me on Instagram @thewhimsysoul!