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I spent the night in a lighthouse on a tiny California island. Here’s how you can too – Boulder Daily Camera

Christopher Reynolds | Los Angeles Times (TNS)

You might be reluctant to stay at a $475-a-night inn that warns of flashing lights and foghorns throughout the night, or bans one-night guests from bathing, or requires that you be ready to climb a ladder above roiling seas.

But then you hear those four words:

Lighthouse on an island.

The East Brother Light Station is a compound of three buildings on a three-quarter-acre island near the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay. The main building is a four-bedroom 1873 Victorian home, topped by a beacon you can see from up to 13 miles off. And all of those bedrooms are rentable by the night, with a fancy dinner and breakfast included.

In December, I booked a night and made my way to Point San Pablo Harbor in Richmond, 20 miles north of San Francisco.

The first surprise was the crocodile. When you follow the two-lane approach road, you pass a few miles of mostly idle post-industrial waterfront, climb a hill, then descend to the harbor, where you are greeted by a 40-foot-long steel-and-ceramic crocodile, jaws open wide.

Nearby stands a Victrola-style trumpet tall enough to serenade Godzilla. Also a hippo-sized cat, a possible altar and several other large, mysterious sculptural objects, neighbored by a few yurts, a pen full of goats and a few dozen houseboats in the marina — rustic, artsy houseboats, boldly painted, with a pirate vibe.

At the base of the dock, a rustic patio restaurant called the Sailing Goat was serving lunch. In fact, I was gulping some of the Sailing Goat’s excellent clam chowder when my innkeepers’ 22-foot boat puttered up to the dock.

The 10-minute ride to the lighthouse

Dre and Charity Elmore, both newcomers to California, started work in early 2023 as keepers of the East Brother Light Station Bed & Breakfast, a gig nearly as intriguing as the lighthouse itself.

Bundled in rain gear and eager to get back to their island before a downpour hit the launch, the two quickly embarked me and my overnight bag for the trip to the island.

Over the whine of the motor, Dre Elmore explained that many of the houseboat people seem to be live-aboard artists and musicians. As for the sculptures?

“From Burning Man,” he said.

On the quarter-mile ride to the island, the Elmores told me I’d be the only guest for the evening — others had canceled because of illness. Then they gave me the inn’s backstory.

From 1873 until the 1960s, East Brother Island was home to a manned lighthouse, using its beacon and horn to guide ships through the often-foggy strait that connects San Francisco Bay to San Pablo Bay.

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