STAY AT A LIGHTHOUSE
Our greatest travel bargain this summer was the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel. Just 25 miles south of San Francisco, this historic hostel is both an idyllic retreat and a convenient base for exploring nearby Half Moon Bay. I have always wanted to stay in a lighthouse, and this one cost us less than $30 per person at high season!
Originally established in 1875 as a fog signal station after several ships ran ashore in the late 1860’s, this pretty lighthouse is still an operating aid-to-navigation, maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
We rented it online at Montara Hostel and shared our stay with a choir from San Francisco, a monk, and another family. An eclectic mix! We brought in our own food and cooked breakfast and lunch in a shared communal kitchen, significantly saving on “vacation food.” While we didn’t get to actually stay inside the lighthouse, we were less than 30 feet away, and our lovely room looked right out over the ocean.
- Bring lots of warm clothes. It gets quite cold at night (even in the middle of summer), and you’re at the water’s edge.
- Bathrooms are shared, so dress accordingly. You don’t want to be streaking down the corridor at midnight shielding your modesty with a face cloth.
- You will be cooking and storing food in shared spaces too, so make sure all your items are clearly labeled.
- Book early, particularly if you want to stay on the West Coast. I searched online and found a bunch of lighthouses to rent, but most of them were on the East Coast. So, plan months ahead, trust me – I’m not the only one that thinks this is a great deal.
We booked online with Montara Hostel and our room cost $30 per person per night. On the East Coast, New England Light Houses weekly rates come to around $1200, while overnights range from $150. This just made our visit to the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel seem all the more a bargain.
Rent or own? Lighthouses don’t come onto the house property market too often, and when they do they’re expensive (the Poplar Point Lighthouse in Rhode Island went onto the market last year for just under $5m), but why buy when you can visit so cheaply?