I first stayed at the Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo in May 2007, not all that long after they opened as a B&B (see my original review dated May 7, 2007 “Go to the Lighthouse--it’s a keeper”). My most recent stay of 2 nights this past week was very nearly as enjoyable an experience as the initial one. This time we shared the Inn with a few more guests than previously and that did detract a bit from the very selfish but exuberant feeling of having the property as a private retreat. During the day, of course, the State Historic Park is open to the general public. There were certainly visitors but not that many during our stay. Even with classes of school children present during certain periods, the property is so large that it's easy to avoid being in a group, if you wish. During special events and high season weekends, that would become more difficult.
This visit we stayed in the Lighthouse Room which has the only direct view of the Lighthouse itself. The unique vantage point was delightful as we observed the iconic structure and its surroundings in a whole array of different light and weather. At night the window shades did a decent job of blocking out the strong beam that swept over the grounds every 10 seconds. One could still see light at the sides of the long shades, but this didn’t keep me from a very restful and deep sleep. Thermostat-controlled heat kept us quite comfortable and we never needed to change the settings. I really liked having a small entry area in the room rather than walking directly from the hall into our sleeping area. This area also had a bureau chest for clothes (the rooms don’t have closets) and even had a small window, so all parts of our room had natural light. It was a real treat to have windows that fully opened and were without the screens that normally obscure views. In my original review I mentioned a “temperamental toilet” which needed to be flushed a couple of times. Well, on this stay I discovered the correct technique of holding down the chain of the overhead tank--and success!
Having taken the full, fabulous tour of the property given by Jim Kimbrell, the Innkeeper, the last time we visited, we opted for a shortened version given by Dan, a most knowledgeable and personable member of the Lightkeepers Association. The property’s history, geology, wildlife, and the technical aspects of the light station are so rich and complex that each tour reveals new and fascinating pieces of information, so even if you are a repeat guest, I recommend taking a tour during each stay. The special tour of the property for guests of the Inn used to be given in the evening, but are now begun at 10:30 a.m., perfect timing following the superbly delicious and incredibly filling multi-course breakfast. Breakfast is served rather late (for many people) at 9 a.m., but it is definitely worth waiting for. Coffee is available in the dining room by 7:30 a.m. Plan for very leisurely beginnings to your days. This is a place to stay and relax, not to rush off to pursue a packed agenda!
Some side notes regarding refreshments at the Inn: The hors d'oeuvres served each day in the late afternoon (4:30 p.m.) are ample enough that at least a couple of other guests were way too full to go out to dinner! We had to restrict ourselves to only nibbling a bit since we had dinner planned on both nights (the Mendo Bistro in Fort Bragg and Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino--both excellent restaurants). The Inn is restricted by State law to serving only one glass of wine per guest per evening, so bring or buy a bottle of your own; the congenial and attentive staff will provide glasses.
I had two interesting experiences during my stay which may or may not have been encounters with a resident ghost. My husband had gone out at dawn to photograph while I was still sleeping and had locked our door (the rooms now have locks and keys which was a change from my first stay). After I got up I was in our room standing several feet from the door... when it slowly opened. No one else was around. When my husband came back he confirmed that he had locked the door. The first night of our stay, while lying in bed, I heard in the distance, the very distinctive sound of footsteps that a small child would make running back and forth in short bursts. There were no children at the Inn. In the early 1900’s the lightkeepers did have families and children were ever present in the house that became the Inn. Who knows? When I mentioned these occurrences the next morning at breakfast, another guest nodded, saying “oh yes, they ARE here”.
Since our visit was in the midst of the gray whale migration season, our expectations were quite high---and they were fulfilled in a most spectacular way. I had read that one should allow an hour or more of scanning the ocean and to be very patient in the search. We literally walked up to the edge of the ocean bluff, gazed out to sea... and immediately saw whale spouts! In fact within several minutes we saw MANY spouts as well as numerous bodies break the surface of the water. The most thrilling moment came soon afterwards when I had the great fortune of seeing a fluke completely emerge from the water--I just happened to have my binoc’s positioned exactly in the right spot. WOW! Later we walked one of the trails thru the expansive nature preserve and came eventually to 2 waterfalls which spilled down the cliff and entered the ocean. There were also steps (steep but negotiable) that ventured down to the beach. We admired clusters of bright daffodils and wild iris amongst the grasses, saw deer roaming and grazing, and were escorted on our walks around the lighthouse by “Gilbert the Goose” who had been in residence there for about 6 months, apparently forsaking his former flock at Van Damme State Park (south of Mendocino) and resettling where he had “more space”. He chose well! One guest took an early morning walk and saw both of the coyotes that live somewhere in the preserve. Sunset brought a beautiful display of crimsons and purples washing across the sky as the clouds and light merged over the expanse of dark ocean. These are the kinds of moments that are all there awaiting guests of the Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo! It remains an incomparable and magical place.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.