The small seaside town of Puerto Morelos, located about halfway between the Riviera Maya hubs of Cancún and Playa del Carmen, has had a troubled history when it comes to its lighthouses.
The first lighthouse dates back to 1905, although it seems it was little more than a light atop a metal pole. The second, about 30 feet tall, was built out of cement in almost the same location, right on the beach, in 1946. Painted white with blue trim, this second light was hit by Hurricane Beulah in 1967. The strength of this storm degraded the tower’s foundation, causing its unmissable tilted appearance.
A few decades later, El Faro Inclinado (the Leaning Lighthouse) was still standing. A highway was built that reached Puerto Morelos, and local authorities brought a tractor to town to try and remove the tilted tower. But due to the way the foundation had degraded, and the structure’s location right along the sandy beach, the tractor was unable to move the lighthouse and it was decided to let it stand.
Because of the close proximity of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef to Puerto Morelos’s beach, a replacement lighthouse had to be built in 1968. This one, too, was hit by a hurricane, in this case Wilma in 2005. Its renovation and automatization were completed in 2016, and it continues to warn incoming boats of the coral reef’s presence. It’s the Leaning Lighthouse, however, with its distinctive white-and-blue coloring, that has become a symbol of resilience for local Puertomorelenses and visitors alike.
Know Before You Go
The leaning lighthouse is located along the beach of Puerto Morelos and can be seen at any time.