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26 Jul 2023
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Best of Oak Island

About North Carolina's Youngest Lighthouse: Oak Island's Pride & Joy

Completed in 1958, the Oak Island Lighthouse is located just 6 minutes away from Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc.,'s Oak Island office along Caswell Beach Road. If you're planning an Oak Island vacation, it is definitely worth putting on your agenda or list of things to do while in town along with these other great area attractions.

Ariel view of Oak Island Lighthouse at sunset

Why was the Oak Island Lighthouse Built?

Like most lighthouses, the Oak Island Lighthouse was built to help guide maritime pilots to safety. At the time, the Bald Head Island Lighthouse (nicknamed "Old Baldy") already existed to guard the Atlantic Ocean coastline and the Cape Fear River. Because this area is so large and close to the Frying Pan Shoals (an area that's dangerous to ships and has been nicknamed "The Graveyard of the Atlantic), the Oak Island Lighthouse was constructed to help the Bald Head Island Lighthouse ensure the safety of sailors and their ships.

Who Built Oak Island Lighthouse?

The Oak Island Lighthouse was built by Brinkley, W.F. & Son Construction Co. from Granite Quarry, NC. 

What is Oak Island Lighthouse Made Out of?

The Oak Island Lighthouse is surely a unique lighthouse to see, which is why it is so popular. The main tower is made out of monolithic reinforced concrete and was poured continuously while being raised by jacks at a moderate rate. The three different rings of color were created by mixing different Portland cement colors; the bottom ring is white Portland cement with white quartz aggregate, the middle is gray Portland cement with black coloring and the top is gray Portland cement with black coloring. 

Is Oak Island Lighthouse Still in Use?

The Oak Island Lighthouse was one of the last lighthouses built in the US. Lighthouse use has declined because they are expensive to maintain and electronic navigational systems can help provide guidance to maritime pilots and sailors now. The Oak Island Lighthouse was designated as Surplus in 2003 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. The Coast Guard still maintains the beacon but the Town of Caswell Beach gained ownership of the lighthouse from the Federal Government in 2004.

Oak Island Lighthouse Fun Facts
Oak Island Lighthouse on a sunny day with an American flag flying

  1. The construction of the Oak Island Lighthouse was completed in just one week's time! The tower itself was raised by the continuous pouring of concrete at a rate of one foot per hour.
  2. Known as the youngest North Carolina lighthouse, it is the last lighthouse built in the state.
  3. The lighthouse's beacon lights stand 169 feet above the water whereas the actual structure stands on a rise at 153 feet tall.
  4. As opposed to traditional spiral staircases found in most lighthouses across the country, the Oak Island Lighthouse contains a series of ship ladders.
  5. The first forty feet are the natural gray color of Portland cement, the next fifty feet are white Portland cement mixed with white quartz aggregate, and the top fifty feet is the gray Portland cement mixed with black coloring.
  6. The Oak Island light was the brightest in the United States and second brightest in the world when first activated in 1958.
  7. In 2004, the lighthouse and surrounding property were deeded to the Town of Caswell Beach. The Coast Guard maintains the upkeep of the lights while Caswell Beach maintains the lighthouse and surrounding grounds.
  8. According to Lighthouse volunteers and tour guides, during the summer months, the interior of the lighthouse can reach 110 degrees or more.
  9. The grounds of the Lighthouse are open year-round and now include an additional parking area, observation deck and boardwalk access to the beach.
  10. The Oak Island Lighthouse volunteer staff offers 2 different types of tours to the public. (Additional information on tours may be found below.)

Oak Island Lighthouse Tour Information

General, No Reservation Tours

  • Tours proceed to the second level (12 steps up)
  • No reservation required
  • Must be 7 years of age or older
  • Offered during summer months only (Memorial Day through Labor Day)
  • Available on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Top Tours

  • Tours proceed up 131 steps to the outside balcony
  • Reservations required
  • Must be 9 years of age or older
  • Offered year-round any day of the week (after Labor Day, before Memorial Day)
  • Offered year-round on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and possibly Sunday mornings, during the summer
  • No top tours on major holidays

For more information on the Oak Island Lighthouse or for tour availability/registration, visit the Oak Island Lighthouse website.

Reserve Your Oak Island Vacation Rental

Oak Island Lighthouse

Planning a vacation to Oak Island and want to be close to the Oak Island Lighthouse? Browse our selection of vacation rentals in Caswell Beach, some just steps away from this popular attraction. Once you've made your accommodations reservation, start planning what events you'll attend and what activities you'll enjoy with our Oak Island area guide.

Caswell Beach Vacation Accommodations Celebrate National Lighthouse Day