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Cape Henry Lighthouse at Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story


A boardwalk provides access to the Cape Henry Beach overlook 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.

Anything from diving ducks to dolphins could be seen along Cape Henry Beach. Photo Credit: Lisa Mease

Anything from diving ducks to dolphins could be seen along Cape Henry Beach. Photo Credit: Lisa Mease/DWR

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.


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:

  • Valid government-issued ID 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

Following the security check guests will be transported to the lighthouse via shuttle. The first shuttle of the day arrives at Gate 8 at 9:55 a.m. and the last shuttle picks up at 4:15 p.m.

Please comply with the policies put in place by JEBFS as they are there to protect national security.

Location & Directions

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Site Information

  • Site Contact: 757-422-9421,
  • Website
  • Access: Admission Fee, Open Daily, Jan. 3-March 15: 10am-4pm; March 16-Oct 31: 10am-5pm; Nov 1-Dec 30: 10am-5pm (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day and New Years Eve and Day and Jan. 2)

Birds Recently Seen at Cape Henry Lighthouse at Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story (as reported to eBird)

  • Red-breasted Merganser
  • Killdeer
  • Royal Tern
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • American Crow
  • Fish Crow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Eastern Bluebird

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Fee
  • Information
  • Interpretive Trail
  • Lookout Tower
  • Parking
  • Picnic
  • Restrooms
  • Observation Platform
  • Historical Site