Best “High” in Jamaica
Wilson Johnson could walk the 103 steps up the winding iron staircase of the Negril lighthouse in his sleep.
A lighthouse keeper for over 29 years, he now watches over one of the most famous landmarks in Negril.
The job is a little easier these days: the lighthouse is solar powered, which means he doesn’t have to fill the kerosene lamps that used to power the beam. But he does have to climb the steps every day to check the light. Plus a few extra times to lead tourists up to the top. And believe us, the view is worth the climb.
On the way up, Wilson explains that the lighthouse sits on a 45,000-gallon manmade cistern that will stabilize the tower in an earthquake. The last major one was in 1907, he assures us.
He stops to show us the original gas lamps, and the weather logbook that dates back to 1902. “Computers capture all that information now,” he adds.
Up, up, up, then we duck through a tiny little half door, and we’re out on the edge drinking in a view 66-feet above the coastline this lighthouse has been watching over since 1894.
The beautiful crystal lens in the lighthouse tower was made in Paris by Barbier & Benard in 1888, says Wilson, pointing to their stamp on the brass work. They built things to last back then.
We can see Rick’s Café from here and ponder for a moment how much more spectacular the sunset would be from up here. But then we’d be going down 103 steps in the dark.
Before we leave the peak, Wilson lets us ring the big brass bell attached to the rail that used to call out the change of shift to the other lighthouse keepers below. Today, it just startles a few villagers. Then 103 steps later we’re back on terra firma, breathless and brighter for the experience.