Pigeon Point: Lighthouse restoration will cost $10 million

By Kevin Smith, Staff Writer

The lighthouse still dominates the landscape at Pigeon Point, but it’s in need of repair. A worker at the hostel said the upper brickwork eventually began bulging under the weight of the heavy Fresnel lens that had long served as its beacon.

So the one-ton lens — standing 16 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter — was carefully disassembled and brought down via a zip line. It’s currently on display in the Fog Signal Building, where it’s been housed since 2011.

Pigeon Point is still an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation, but it now operates with a 24-inch aero beacon.

The restoration project will cost an estimated $10 million, and I’m told they’ve already raised about half of that. So hopefully the lighthouse will be fully operational and open for tours in the not-so-distant future.

So I’ve told you about the accommodations, the grounds and the restoration project.

But I didn’t talk about the intangibles — the feeling you get when you’re out on the point with the waves crashing against the rocks. Or the night stars that are so clear and bright it feels like you could pull them right out of the sky. Or the way all of this makes you feel so small … and yet so connected to everything.

No, I’ll leave that part up to you. And yes, there is something mystical about lighthouses.

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Pigeon Point: Rooms are simple but affordable and clean

By Kevin Smith, Staff Writer

The rooms at Pigeon Point hostel are simply furnished but clean and affordable starting at around $76 a night for a private room with a double bed and single bunk above.

That was perfect for the three of us. Each of the four buildings also has a full kitchen and a common room stocked with an assortment of books, games and sometimes even a piano. Ours had an aquarium and a miniature pool table.

But you wouldn’t want to hang out there too long because there’s plenty of other stuff to do outside, like that great hiking path that circles the grounds and eventually drops you down on the beach.

They also have an oceanfront boardwalk and a private Jacuzzi. Their website says you can rent the Jacuzzi for $8 a half hour, but our host let us use it for free.

Perched on the coast above soaring brown pelicans, Pacific harbor seals and migrating gray whales, it offers a soothing escape from your troubles. And if you’re heading south toward those gas prices, you’ll meet trouble soon enough.

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Pigeon Point: Staying at the tallest lighthouse on West Coast

By Kevin Smith, Staff Writer

There’s something mystical about lighthouses — something otherworldly in the way they rise up from the ground and cast off their surroundings.

That’s the feeling I got when I stayed at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast. Perched on a cliff 50 miles south of San Francisco, the 115-foot-tall structure has been guiding mariners since 1872.

Now I need to clarify something up front. I didn’t actually stay in the lighthouse. But my wife and daughter and I did stay in the hostel that’s part of Pigeon Point.

And before you run screaming from the room, I want to add yet another clarification: Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel bears no resemblance whatsoever to the bleak and blood-soaked torture chamber depicted in the horror movie “Hostel.”

I saw nary a torture session during our stay at Pigeon Point. But abuse of a different kind was underway a little farther south where travelers were forking over nearly $6 a gallon for gas in Big Sur. Ouch!

Pigeon Point has four cheery dorm rooms, four family rooms and four private rooms, with a total of 60 beds.

We had stayed at a couple of other hostels before and we’ll only do it if we can get a private room. I mean, who wants to bunk with Walt, the chatty used car salesman from Cleveland, or Felicia, the overzealous life coach who wants to sell you healing vitamin waters?

Not me, and probably not you, either.

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