Visitor Information


Access: Visiting East Brother Island is an adventuresome outdoor experience. Accessing the island requires the physical stamina and strength to climb from a bobbing boat up a vertical ladder 4 to 12 feet in height, depending on tides.

Boat:  Travel to the island takes about 10 minutes.  The Coast Guard rated capacity of the boat is 6 passengers.  All required safety gear is maintained on board.  Infrequently, the weather may be too rough to allow safe crossing, requiring cancellations on very short notice.  If this occurs, you will receive a full refund.

Pick-up and Check-out time: For overnightguests, pickup time is 4:00 p.m PROMPTLY at Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor. Checkout and return to the mainland is by 11:00 a.m.

Activities: There is plenty of reading material, including an illustrated history of the restoration project. Guests may wish to bring a camera with a telephoto lens or binoculars to observe the wildlife in the surrounding waters and on West Brother Island. Guests who wish to fish should bring their own licenses, gear, and bait.

Dinner, Bed, and Breakfast: Dinner, Bed & Breakfast accommodations are available Thursday through Sunday nights. All meals are taken together by all guests. Dinner, with choice of wine, and breakfast are served in the dining room. Hors d’oeuvres and champagne are served upon arrival in the upstairs sitting room.  Bedrooms in the main house are furnished with queen-size beds and period furnishings.  “Walter’s Quarters room” is located in the Fog Signal Building, less than 100 feet from the lighthouse building, features a full-sized bed and a nautical motif. All rooms have bay views. The keepers provide a tour of the island, including history, restoration effort, and, when functioning, a demonstration of the old diaphone fog horns.

lighthouse-dockDay Use: Day use is available on Saturday, only during the summer months and depending on other scheduled events. This use includes boat transportation and a guided tour, for those who want to enjoy the Island’s pleasures. Visitors must make reservations in advance and should bring all required supplies for picnics, fishing, or other activities. Prearranged food/beverage service is possible for groups of 6 or more.  Luncheons & parties available (outside use only) for up to 12. Day use visitors have access to the lighthouse only during the tour.  For groups of 1-6 persons, the rate is $20 per person.  For groups of 7-12, a second boat is required at a flat rate of $120.  Visitors are picked up from the floating dock nearest the harbor office at approximately 11:15 am and returned to the Harbor at approximately 3:30 PM.  There is a waiting area on the deck between the white buildings with blue trim.  Please visit the Day Use page for details and to make reservations.

Lunches: Lunches are available for $20 each only to guests staying two or more nights or by prior arrangement.

Special Events: Special events, such as weddings and corporate retreats are available on inquiry.

Boats: It is not practical for guests to moor boats at the island’s dock. Those who wish to come in their own boat may arrange to leave their boat at nearby Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor, where they will be picked up and returned in East Brother’s boat.

Clothing: Even during the warm summer months, it is possible that wind-driven swells will spray water on the boat’s occupants, so it is advised that all passengers wear appropriate outdoor clothing. Sturdy shoes should be worn for climbing the ladder; sandals are not appropriate. Dress is casual, and luggage should be kept to a minimum.

Children: Children are welcome for day-use activities only and must be under the supervision of parents at all times. Parents with small children are encouraged to bring or plan activities for the 4-1/2 hour stay. Minimum age of overnight guests is 18 years unless special arrangements are made.

Pets: We’re sorry, but pets are not allowed.

cisternWater and Showers: Water is in extremely short supply; showers are available ONLY for guests staying more than one night.  There is always plenty of bottled drinking water available for all guests.

Why is water in short supply? The only fresh water available on the island is collected in a cistern. Officially a cistern is defined as: A receptacle for holding water or other liquid, especially a tank for catching and storing rainwater. The cistern itself is located underneath the concrete surface between the lighthouse and the fog signal building. What you will see of the cistern is a large white dome which actually covers the opening of the cistern.

The platform at the top contains an opening to the cistern allowing us to check the level of water. During the rainy season, rain is collected in the cistern which can hold 50,000 gallons. There is also a tank in to which additional water can be pumped. Once the rainy season ends, this is all of the fresh water that is available on the island. It must last until the next rainy season.

How is water collected in the cistern? Once you get on the island, you will notice that the cement area between the fog signal building and the lighthouse, officially called the Rainshed, slants slightly towards the cistern and that there is a depression ringing the bottom of the cistern.

Note the location of the cistern on the following diagram. The cistern is item D.

Large wooden pegs plug holes located at the base of the cistern. When the rainy season starts, the concrete is scrubbed clean and the pegs are removed so that water can begin flowing in to the cistern. Periodically water is pumped in to the tank to allow for additional water to be collected in the cistern.

What is the reason for such a large round dome? The cistern is part of the original structure from 1874, and is constructed of brick. Constructing a “level” cover over the cistern with brick would cost the cover to fall in on itself. Wood also would not be stable due to the continual moisture, hence the “dome” shaped covering over the cistern. Under the white dome that you see today on the island is the original brick dome that was built.

Fresh water from the cistern is used for showers, is available from all of the bathroom sinks and is used in food preparation. Federal regulations also require that EBLS maintain its own fire equipment. In the event of such an occurrence, water from the tank will be used. You will see the pumping equipment at the bottom of the fresh water tank.


Smoking, fireworks, candles: Smoking is not allowed inside any building at any time! For the safety of our restored historic buildings, candles and fireworks arestrictly prohibited.

Foghorns: The official Coast Guard Foghorn operates 24 hours a day between October 1 and April 1. Most guests do not find it objectionable, but for those disturbed by it, plenty of earplugs are available! Try out the Foghorn for yourself! EBLS Foghorn

Reservations:  Reservations for all events must be made in advance. Confirmation is upon receipt of payment only. Payment is required, either by credit card or check at the time the reservation is made. Visa and MasterCard are accepted.

Cancellations: Cancellations for overnight visits are subject to a $30 service charge. Overnight cancellations made with less than 30 days notice will be refunded, at 90% of the cost paid, less a $30 service charge, only if the reservation can be rebooked. If the reservation cannot be re-booked, the entire amount is non-refundable.  Rebooking -- Guests rescheduling their visits are subject to a $30 rebooking fee.  Rebooking with less than 30 days notice is subject to a $60 rebooking fee.  Day use payments are non-refundable unless the visit is canceled by East Brother Light Station, in which event, full refund will be made.

We apologize for any inconvenience, but prices and policies are subject to change without notice.

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In The News

“You can sit and watch big ships and little seals cruise by, or gaze at the reposing birds or the rushing tide below the dock. There’s a sense of intimacy here and a feeling of remoteness, even though it’s just a short distance to the mainland.”

- Doug McConnell, Bay Area Backroads