The Oak Island Lighthouse, the last lighthouse to be built in NC, was completed in 1958. The lights are 169 feet above the water, as reported on nautical charts, and can be seen for 25 nautical miles. The actual structure is 153 feet tall, but it stands on a slight rise. There is no spiral staircase as found in most older lighthouses, but instead a series of ships ladders with a total of 131 steps to the gallery level.
The Oak Island Lighthouse is the only volunteer-managed lighthouse in the country. Guided tours to the top of the Lighthouse, up 131 steps to an outside balcony, are available all year by appointment for climbers 9 years of age or older. Top Tours must be made through the lighthouse website at least two weeks in advance (four weeks for June - August). From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the lighthouse is open for tours to the second level (up 12 steps only) on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. to anyone at least seven years old.