Much like the primary residence of A-list celebrities, the Roman Rock Lighthouse has an adjoining feature of distinction; a private helipad. The only lighthouse in South Africa to be erected on a single rock in the middle of the ocean; helicopters ferried supplies to this nautical guardian when it underwent extensive cosmetic surgery (yet another mark of fame) in 1992.
The new Cape Point light house was built in 1914. The old Cape Point light house that was built in 1850 was too high and was covered in clouds or mist for most of the time in stormy conditions and the light could not be seen. In 1911 a Portuguese ocean liner the Lusitania ran aground at Bellows Rock below the lighthouse. Today the “new” lighthouse is 87 meters above sea level and its bright light of 10 million candle power has the brightest light on the South African coast and can be seen for approx.. 60 kilometres.
More than 40 years before the Danger Point lighthouse was built, the HMS Birkenhead struck an unmapped rock at sea near this part of the coast. More than 440 people aboard perished, but all the women and children were brought to safety. The story of what happened at 2am on 26 February 1852 has become one of the most poignant tales in a sailor’s chest of naval accounts.
It is believed that the remains of seven sunken ships lie on the rocks at the foot of the Danger Point lighthouse. But think on this: as you take a meandering day drive from Gansbaai across the Agulhas Plain and beyond to Cape Infanta, with stops at Bredasdorp, L’ Agulhas, Arniston, De Hoop and Port Beaufort, you’re passing the hidden wrecks of more than 140 unfortunate vessels that sank along here. It was also here that the ghost ship The Flying Dutchman was spotted for the first time.