This small enclave, just 17 lots large and known as Lighthouse, is located on a ruggedly beautiful stretch of Pacific Northwest coastline that stands on the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island. At 290 miles (460 kilometres) in length and 50 miles (80 kilometres) in width at its widest point, Vancouver Island (population 750,000) is the largest island on the west coast of North America. Therefore, residents of Lighthouse enjoy the benefit of having an international airport just an hour’s drive away while simultaneously leading a simple, secluded life in their own 173-acre seaside nature preserve.
Locals know the tract of land as Sheringham Point. It was first mapped in 1790 by Manuel Quimper, a Peruvian-born navigator sent by Spain to explore the coast of Vancouver Island. He named it Punta de San Eusivio but that name didn’t last for long. During his 1846 survey aboard the H.M.S. Herald, British Captain Henry Kellet changed the name to Sheringham Point in honour of Commander William Louis Sheringham of the Royal Navy.
Sheringham is also the name of a small seaside town in Norfolk, England. The motto of the town is Mare Ditat Pinusque Decorat – “The Sea Enriches And The Pine Adorns,” a maxim that equally applies to Lighthouse, a place where the crystal clear, azure blue waters are home to an amazing array of marine life, from pods of six-ton killer whales to playful sea otters.
The neighbours will tell you that the point has its own microclimate, because of its unique geography. It’s warmer, because it’s south facing. It’s also relatively dry only 60 inches of rainfall per year – 80% of which falls from October through April – because Lighthouse stands in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, which are part of the Pacific Coast Ranges that stretch from Alaska to the Baja. Lighthouse enjoys plenty of sun, although the site is also eerily beautiful in the early morning mist. It’s sheltered – the wind doesn’t blow along the coastline the way it does even a mile from Lighthouse. Thanks to a warm Japanese current, temperatures rarely dip below freezing and measurable snowfall is rare. In fact, winter temperatures are usually only a few degrees cooler than those of northern California. The sea air is so fresh it’s energizing. There’s also almost zero pollution and as a consequence the red and white lighthouse located on the western boundary of the property can readily be seen from satellites orbiting 8,000 miles above Vancouver Island without having to resort to image enhancement technologies. Similarly, the nighttime skies are so clear that star watching is one of the favourite pastimes here and a home telescope is almost always one of the first purchases newcomers to Lighthouse make.
For many, life on the water’s edge addresses an almost universal desire. Here is the drama of the West Coast and the experience of the ocean – all of the time. Here life moves at a more leisurely pace – a morning walk along a sand and pebble beach, a lazy lunch on the porch, fishing in the afternoon. Occasionally, residents drive to the nearby town of Sooke for dinner at Sooke Harbour House, unpretentious but world renowned for its freshly picked, freshly caught local fare. In fact, the inn has been recognized by Condé Nast Traveler magazine as one of the world’s best small inns and the world’s best eco-resort.
Coastal living is a fixed point in a transient universe. It is the kind of life where families – parents, grandparents and children – quickly and easily settle into familiar much-loved routines and the ebb and flow of ocean life. Coastal living like this has a long and distinguished pedigree, from Britons trooping through the centuries to Brighton, the French to Trouville, New Englanders to Nantucket and Australians to The Great Barrier Reef. The Pacific Northwest has similar appeals to all of these coastlines and more – principally because of its wilderness setting and its monumental scale. Which explains why eco-travelers, adventurers and explorers from around the world are attracted here. Along this coastline, nature speaks to them in a way like no other place on Earth.
Lighthouse is backed by rolling, forested seahills. The diversity of flora and fauna on the point makes the site a microcosm of the Pacific Northwest in all its grandeur.
The bluffs are swathed in stands of 150-foot high giant firs and cedars. Bald eagles nest in the treetops.Whitetail deer come down from the forests to graze in the coastal meadows. The views are hypnotic. From their vantage points, residents of Lighthouse can look across a deep-blue body of water – the Straits of Juan de Fuca – to the Olympic Mountains. Even getting to Lighthouse is a sensory adventure – a drive along a scenic coastal road passing magical places with names like Whiffen Spit, Tugwell Creek, Otter Point and Gordon’s Beach. It is this totality of experiences that makes the place so supernaturally beautiful – a convergence of land and sea and sky providing uncompromised access.
But it is the red and white lighthouse that every visitor finds the most attractive feature of this site. Like all lighthouses, this sentinel appeals to our sense of wonder and romance. It is a powerful connection with the majesty and mystery of the sea and the allure of far away places.This lighthouse has saved lives and provided direction for 100 years and continues to welcome seafarers to safe harbour. If you’re ready for a significant change from city life – to let time slow down and to explore new frontiers – this may be the place to do it.