Erected in the 1850s to prevent merchant ships from disappearing in the Bermuda Triangle, the 152-foot tall Great Isaac Lighthouse has become more of a participant in the area’s mysteries than a protector.
The cay itself is one giant coral head - a colony of genetically identical coral polyps - rising a few feet out of the area’s shallow, dangerous reefs. Razor sharp terrain makes the land inhospitable, and difficult to traverse.
Until 1969, the barren island was occupied by lighthouse keepers, but on August 4, 1969 it was discovered that they had gone missing. Their bodies were never found, and while it’s anyone’s guess as to what may have happened, a hurricane that passed through a few days prior is thought to be the likeliest culprit. After their disappearance, the Great Isaac Light was automated, shining a white beam every 15 seconds to sailors up to 23 nautical miles away. The rest of the compound’s buildings have been left to crumble.
Adding to the island’s macabre history, Nineteenth century lore has it that a ship wrecked on Great Isaac Cay, killing everyone aboard except one young infant. Locals claim that the infant’s mother (known as the Grey Lady) can still be seen roaming the island, and her wails of sorrow can be heard on full moons.
Though the cay’s grounds are open to the public, the bottom few stairs in the tower are missing and the storage bunkers and buildings are locked. Exploring is expected and part of the fun, though falling on the rocks or cutting yourself while shimmying up the lighthouse’s rusty staircase are both real possibilities, and may earn you a fresh tetanus shot. Moderate agility and seafaring skill is required to make landfall.
Know Before You Go
Located 20 nautical miles North of the Bimini Islands. You'll need a boat and a map to get there on your own. Commercial tours can be arranged from Bimini.