How To See Oak Island Lighthouse (Facts And Tour Info)

Last Updated on March 24, 2022

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Oak Island Lighthouse towers over its surroundings in Caswell Beach on Oak Island. It is one of seven active lighthouses in North Carolina and among the most unique of them all.

A visit to this wonderful place is easily one of the coolest things to do in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Oak Island Lighthouse views

Our guide will share exactly how to see Oak Island Lighthouse (including how you can climb it), but we’re also sharing its history, some fun facts about it, and everything else you need to know before visiting.

Here’s how we’ve organized this guide, in case you’re searching for something specific:

  • Oak Island Lighthouse Facts and History
  • How to See Oak Island Lighthouse (Parking Info)
  • Tour Info
  • More Things to Do on Oak Island (Food and Our Favorite Beach Access)

Read More: Eastern North Carolina (and 100+ Awesome Places to Visit)

Oak Island Lighthouse Facts and History

Oak Island Lighthouse

The 153-foot tall Oak Island Lighthouse was constructed in 1958 out of concrete rather than brick, which is what you’ll typically find on North Carolina’s other lighthouses.

The 128 feet of reinforced concrete was mixed on-site and continuously poured for seven days while jacks were raised one foot per hour.

The lighthouse colors were mixed within the concrete, so it will never need to be repainted! 

Another exciting feature of this lighthouse is its beacon. When the lights were in use, Oak Island Lighthouse had the brightest light in the US and the second brightest in the world!

Read More: Interesting Facts About North Carolina

How to See Oak Island Lighthouse (Parking Info)

Close up of Oak Island Lighthouse

The Oak Island Lighthouse is located in the Town of Caswell Beach and is open to visitors between sunrise and sunset. If you’re driving to Oak Island Lighthouse, you’ll notice there is limited parking to the left of it.

With only five spaces available, please try to be considerate of others who want to visit, too.

boardwalk at OKI Lighthouse

After arriving, cross the road to the boardwalk, where you can learn more about the lighthouse from several informational boards. You can also get great views of the lighthouse from the boardwalk and the beach!

Read More: 50+ Easy Day Trips from Fayetteville (Great Getaways!)

Climbing Oak Island Lighthouse (Tour Info)

Tours offering climbs up the lighthouse are available, but they are rather limited. All climbers are required to wear sneakers and safely stow any cameras or equipment away. 

If you would like to climb to the very top of Oak Island Lighthouse, advanced reservations are required. During the peak months of July and August, a four-week notice is required, while the rest of the year, it’s two weeks’ notice.

Oak Island Lighthouse from a distance

Those who climb to the top must be at least 9 years of age and must wear sneakers for safety. 

Tours are free, but remember that the lighthouse is run entirely by volunteers. Consider donating to the Friends of Oak Island Lighthouse, the non-profit organization created by the town to fund repairs and maintenance.

Oak Island Lighthouse continues to set itself apart from other lighthouses in that it doesn’t have traditional spiral staircases. Instead, this lighthouse has ship ladders (they are actually stairs and not straight ladders). 

Oak Island Lighthouse Carl

You will climb up 131 steps to the top, a total of 128 feet! If climbing to the top seems too scary, don’t worry: tours are available to just the second level (12 steps up), which still offers some fantastic views!

To climb to the second level, you must visit during the summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day). These tours are only offered Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, and all climbers must be at least 7 years old. 

Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do in North Carolina

Ready to Explore Oak Island Lighthouse?

Charlotte at Oak Island Lighthouse

Oak Island Lighthouse may not be the most famous one in North Carolina, but it sure is rich with history and intrigue. Even if you aren’t able to climb the ladders to the top, you can at least enjoy views of it from the boardwalk and Caswell Beach.

Oak Island Lighthouse turtles

If you’ve been lucky enough to visit, we’d love to know what you thought of Oak Island Lighthouse! In case you haven’t had the chance yet, please feel free to share your first experience with us after you go.

You can let us know here in the comments section, by email, or our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group! Before you do that, here are some more things to do near the Oak Island Lighthouse.

More Things to Do in Oak Island

Shagger Jacks things to do near Oak Island Lighthouse

There is plenty of rest, relaxation, and fun that awaits on Oak Island! It sits between Holden Beach and Southport and is the perfect place to stay or visit for the day from elsewhere in Brunswick County.

  • Beaches: There are 65 public beach accesses and 79 shared access pathways on Oak Island, with parking spots available at many of them. If we’re not staying on the water, the SE 46th Street Beach access is a great way to enjoy some sun! We suggest this access because of the convenience but also for Middleton Park, which sits across from the access. It’s complete with a free splash pad and brand new pirate-themed playground, before (or after) hitting the beach.
  • Catch a Sunset or Sunrise: Oak Island Lighthouse and its surroundings are a great spot to watch a sunrise. For the sunset, head to the Point. It’s just across the water from Holden Beach and one of our favorite sunset watching spots in North Carolina.
  • Fishing Piers: Whether you brought your reel or not, Oak Island’s piers offer excellent views of the water and back toward the shore. Oak Island Pier (705 Ocean Dr) is North Carolina’s highest pier, at 27 feet high and 880 feet long. While Ocean Crest Fishing Pier (1409 E Beach Dr) is just a bit shorter, it’s the longer of Oak Island’s two piers, at 893 feet.
  • Great Food: If you are like us, nothing pairs better with a lighthouse than some delicious local food and beach time! Head to Shagger Jacks for some incredible and fresh island-inspired fare. Make sure to get the shrimp tacos with a cocktail and enjoy the vibes!

Read More: 20+ Things to Do in Oak Island (for Great Beach Vacations!)

Beyond Oak Island Lighthouse (Brunswick County NC Travel Guides)

1 thought on “How To See Oak Island Lighthouse (Facts And Tour Info)”

  1. Having just done this tour this summer (I’ve been going to OKI my whole life I don’t know why we never have before) there are more than 5 spots, you pass the lighthouse on your left and there’s a parking lot on your right and they require you to take the boardwalk down the beach and across the street rather than walking down the street to the lighthouse. But parking is still fairly limited. I’m glad you mentioned the first level tour because probably 2/3rds of our group quit there due to the steepness of the ladders. I was terrified climbing up and down but the guides were very kind and the view from the top was worth it. Note, this was my 3rd or 4th lighthouse tour, I did not expect to be so scared but I wasn’t prepared for the ladders versus stairs. Of course my husband, a firefighter, flew up and down like it was nothing! They also have a small store with hats, tshirts, magnets, etc. that guests can shop at in the base of the lighthouse which I don’t believe was mentioned. Just food for thought, love your page!

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