Due to the maritime danger that Robben Island presents to shipping, Jan van Riebeeck, the first Dutch colonial administrator in Cape Town in the 1650s, ordered that huge bonfires were to be lit at night on top of Fire Hill, the highest point on the island (now Minto Hill). These were to warn VOC ships approaching the island.
In 1865 Robben Island lighthouse was completed on Minto Hill. The cylindrical masonry tower, which has an attached lightkeepers house at its base, is 18 metres high with a lantern gallery at the top. In 1938 the lamp was converted to electricity. The lighthouse utilises a flashing lantern instead of a revolving lamp; it shines for a duration of 5 seconds every seven seconds. The 46,000 candela beam flashes white light away from Table bay. It is visible up to 24 nautical miles. A secondary red light acts as a navigation aid for vessels sailing south southeast.