Cape Henry Lighthouse at Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story
Boardwalks provide overlooks to Cape Henry Beach, where northern gannet and loons can be seen November – April. In summer, osprey and a diversity of terns may be observed. Brown pelican and a changing variety of gulls can be observed year-round. A historic interpretive trail highlights the significance of military installations along the cape.
The Cape Henry Lighthouse was the first public building funded by the newly formed US government in 1789. It was authorized by George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton. The Lighthouse is situated near the “First Landing” site where English settlers first set foot on their way to settle in Jamestown. Built with the same Aquia sandstone as much of Washington, D.C, the lighthouse guided sea travelers to safety for almost 100 years. The distinctive black and white striped “New” Cape Henry Lighthouse was built in 1881 but remains closed to the public.
Preservation Virginia members placed a tablet on the tower in 1896 to mark the site of the “First Landing.”
Please Note: Cape Henry Lighthouse is surrounded by the Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story (JEBFS). Please review the guidelines provided by JEBFS (in the directions below) for entering the military base before your visit. There is no access to any other parts of the installation as they are designated military training areas.
Physical Address: 583 Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA 23459
Please Note: Cape Henry Lighthouse is located on Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story. All visitors to the lighthouse must pass through the security check at Gate 8 at 89th Street and Atlantic Avenue. This check requires:
- Identification compliant with the Real ID Act* for every guest over the age of 16
- Proof of vehicle registration or rental agreement
- Proof of insurance
- No firearms, weapons or illegal substances are allowed on base
Upon arrival at the gate, please indicate that you’re visiting Cape Henry Lighthouse. You will be directed to the Vehicle Inspection Station. All visitors must consent to a vehicle inspection and required to declare any contraband (i.e. weapons or illegal drugs). Failure to consent to a vehicle inspection or possession of contraband will result in denial of access to the base.
While your vehicle is being inspected, you will be asked to exit the vehicle and the rules for accessing Cape Henry Lighthouse and Cape Henry Memorial Park will be explained. Upon completion of the inspection, you will be issued a visitor pass and the identification of the driver remain in possession of Security while you’re on base.
When you have completed your visit, please return to the Vehicle Inspection Station to return the visitor pass and retrieve your identification.
Please comply with the policies put in place by JEBFS as they are there to protect national security.
From the Previous Site on the Seashore to Cypress Loop of the VBWT:
From First Landing State Park return to US 60 East/Shore Drive. Travel 2.0 miles and turn left onto Atlantic Avenue and follow the signs to the Fort Story lighthouse. See above for access requirements.