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The lighthouse is a buildable structure, near the far side dock, which allows for a safe return to the island it's built on without the boat being destroyed. In order to build it, the Monarch must send troops to destroy the dock portal, and pay 6 coins while at the very end of the dock.
The purposes of the lighthouse upgrades are unconfirmed, for the speculations, see: Lighthouse tiers.
The structure is built and upgraded instantly and without the need of builders.
When arriving at an island with a lighthouse, the boat will arrive, intact, at the far side dock. The accompanying builders will push the boat to the central dock, closer to the Town Center.