Oak Island Lighthouse
The Oak Island Lighthouse at Caswell Beach is the brightest lighthouse in the United States and has a modern Coast Guard Station close to the lighthouse. One side of the beach overlooks the Cape Fear River Shipping Channel as well as historic Southport. The Oak Island Lighthouse was completed in 1958 at a total cost of $110,000.00. The lights are 169 feet above the water.
A misconception is that the lighthouse itself is 169 feet tall. The actual structure is 148 feet tall, but it stands on a slight rise. Therefore, the height of the light above the water is 169 feet, and it is so reported on nautical charts. There is no spiral staircase as found in most older lighthouses, but instead a series of ships ladders to the lantern gallery level.
Tours to the top of the Oak Island Lighthouse are available year round for anyone 9 years of age and over at no charge with a reservation made at least two weeks prior, closed most major holidays (New Years, Easter, Memorial Day, Forth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving & Christmas). During the summer you may climb to the top on Tuesday and Thursdays and under special circumstances can climb on Sundays. There are no tours given if lightning is nearby for your safety. There are 131 ships steps to an outside balcony.
Weekly seasonal tours are free and available to the second level of the tower (not the observation balcony) and are conducted on Wednesday and Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day from 10:00am to 2:00pm. Visitors can climb just 1 level (12 steps) for anyone age 7 and older where a guide will give you information about the lighthouse and answer any questions you may have. There are no tours given if lightning is nearby for your safety.
Visitors are requested not to wear flip-flops, high heels, open-toed or hard leather heels and/or soles. Sneakers are preferred. Climbers should have both hands free for climbing due to the steepness of the steps. Please be aware that there are no restrooms on site. For more information please contact the Friends of the Oak Island Lighthouse.