The 12 miles of sand known as Oak Island lie 40 minutes from North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The Intracoastal Waterway separates it from the mainland, providing a special refuge for avid fishermen and those who prefer undiscovered gems to popular tourist destinations.
Anyone visiting OKI, as locals call the island, should not overlook the Oak Island Lighthouse. Although this 169-foot-tall concrete building is open to the public at all times, you’ll need a reservation to climb the stairs to the top to take in the breathtaking 360-degree ocean view.
Despite its small size in terms of square miles, Oak Island has plenty to offer adventure seekers. At Caswell Beach, golfers can plan an outing to the Oak Island Golf Club. The club offers access to the 6,720-yard, 18-hole George Cobb-designed golf course, as well as day passes, for family activities.
A visit to OKI is not complete without trying your luck at fishing. The Ocean Crest Fishing Pier, one of the busiest and longest on the East Coast, is the main attraction for both professionals and amateurs. Sea bass, fluke, tautog, cod, weakfish, bluefish, striped bass and other fish can be caught here.
You do not need to make reservations in advance, but there is a $2 entrance fee regardless of whether you want to fish. There are three bait-and-tackle stores where you can rent all the equipment you need. Reserve a table at Island Way, the restaurant attached to the pier, for a more upscale experience.
Want to take a walk on a pier but aren’t interested in fishing? Visit the Oak Island Pier, which is the tallest pier in North Carolina at 27 feet high. It’s open every day of the year from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., free of charge. There are fishermen here, too, but it’s not as busy as Ocean Crest.
When to visit?
Depending on your travel preference, Oak Island is worth a trip any time of year. To experience the best weather in North Carolina, go there in early or late summer when temperatures are more tolerable. The best months are June, July and August, when you do not mind the muggy, sticky heat and weather forecasts of 90 to 100 degrees.
There are not as many people here as in other nearby beach communities, but your alternatives for lodging in Oak Island itself may be limited. Bookings for late September and early October should be avoided, as this region of North Carolina is prone to hurricanes.