Must See North Carolina Lighthouses

lighthouses in North Carolina

National Lighthouse Day was on August 7th! In the spirit of the “holiday,” we want to enlighten you on the must-see lighthouses on our North Carolina coast. If you’re looking for an exciting and educational adventure to round out the summer, you won’t want to miss any of these picturesque North Carolina lighthouses.

On the Northern Coast, we have multiple lighthouses such as the Ocracoke lighthouse, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, and the Currituck Beach lighthouse. The Ocracoke lighthouse, originally located on Shell Castle Island, was constructed in 1794 and completed in 1798. The lighthouse was placed there to assist mariners through the Ocracoke Inlet, it was a great help for twenty years, until multiple lightning strikes destroyed the lighthouse in 1818. A new Ocracoke lighthouse was built and finished in 1823 at the south end of Ocracoke Island, it still stands today along with a keeper’s house. The Ocracoke lighthouse is the second oldest operating lighthouse in the nation and, while it’s no longer open for climbing, the site can be visited daily.

On the Central Coast you’ll find Cape Lookout lighthouse. Located on Harker’s Island, the original Cape Lookout lighthouse was completed in 1812 at the cost of $20,678.54. The model was a wood-framed octagonal tower with a brick stairwell. After multiple complaints from seafarers that a taller and more stable lighthouse was needed, a new lighthouse was constructed in 1859. In July 2010, the lighthouse was opened to the public for regular climbs. The island can be reached by boat, or local ferry service, from Morehead City or Beaufort. Come take part in the horse watching, shelling, fishing, and camping!

The Southern Coast features the Oak Island lighthouse! This lighthouse, the last to be built in North Carolina, was completed in 1958. The light is located a whopping 169 feet above the water! Unlike most other lighthouses, the Oak Island lighthouse doesn’t have a spiral staircase, instead it features a series of ship ladders totaling 131 steps. Tours to the top of the lighthouse are available year around by appointment for anyone age nine and older. These tours must be booked two weeks in advance, so make sure you plan ahead!

From a historical perspective, these lighthouses have played integral roles in leading ships and their crew members home night after night. Whether you want to climb to the top or simply look up and soak in the beauty, you won’t want to miss out on a visit to one of the magnificent lighthouses that sprinkle the North Carolina coast. Start mapping your voyage to the coast today. 

     
   
 
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