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Oak Island, North Carolina
Ocean View United Methodist and the Oak Island Water Tower
Ocean View United Methodist and the Oak Island Water Tower
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Brunswick
 • Total 19.9 sq mi (51.6 km2)
 • Land 18.5 sq mi (48.0 km2)
 • Water 1.4 sq mi (3.6 km2)
14 ft (4 m)
 • Total 6,783
 • Density 366/sq mi (141.4/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
28461, 28465
Area code(s) 910
FIPS code 37-48345
GNIS feature ID 1848160

Oak Island is a seaside town located mostly on the barrier island of Oak Island (which also contains the town of Caswell Beach), in Brunswick County, North Carolina, United States. The town extends onto the mainland north of the island's bridge. The population was 6,783 at the 2010 census. It was founded in 1999 by the consolidation of the towns of Long Beach and Yaupon Beach. Its main industry is tourism; the town has an average summer population of 30-50,000.

Oak Island is part of the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area.


The island has been inhabited since the early 19th century; Fort Caswell was built on its eastern end in 1838. The remainder of the island was developed beginning in the late 1930s, attracting people from nearby Southport. Fox hunting was popular in the northern area near the Intracoastal Waterway. The island was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Hazel in 1954; only five buildings were left standing on Long Beach in the hurricane's wake. The island quickly recovered, and the towns of Long Beach and Yaupon Beach were incorporated in 1955. Other hurricanes, such as Diana in 1984, Bertha and Fran in 1996 and Floyd in 1999, have caused damage to the island, nearly as catastrophic as that of Hazel.

Construction began on a $64 million 980-foot (300 m) bridge project in November 2007, with a December 2009 completion date. Two lanes of traffic opened in November 2010, and a formal dedication took place January 27, 2011. Four lanes of traffic began using the bridge that same month. The new bridge will likely result in increased development of the town.

In June 2015, two separate shark attacks occurred two miles and two hours apart from each other on the beachfront south side of the town. Both victims lost an arm and were in critical condition, but were quickly stabilized due to fast civilian and rescue responses. The beach was promptly closed for the remainder of the day but reopened the following morning.


Oak Island is located in southeastern Brunswick County at 33°54′59″N 78°7′50″W / 33.91639°N 78.13056°W / 33.91639; -78.13056 (33.916262, -78.130468). It is bordered to the south by the Atlantic Ocean, to the east by Caswell Beach, to the north in part by the town of St. James, and to the west by the town of Holden Beach across Lockwoods Folly Inlet. A significant addition to the town's area has been made since the 2000 census on the North Carolina mainland, west of St. James and extending north to border the city of Boiling Spring Lakes.

Via North Carolina Highway 133, Oak Island is 30 miles (48 km) south of downtown Wilmington.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 19.9 square miles (51.6 km2). 18.5 square miles (48.0 km2) of it is land and 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2) of it (7.02%) is water. Oak Island has approximately 12 miles (19 km) of coastline.

Major highways

  • NC 133
  • NC 906
  • NC 211
  • Oak Island Drive


Historical population
Census Pop.
2000 6,571
2010 6,783 3.2%
Est. 2015 7,507 10.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 6,571 people, 3,076 households, and 2,100 families residing in the town. The population density was 824.8 people per square mile (318.3/km²). There were 6,651 housing units at an average density of 834.8/sq mi (322.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.01% White, 0.43% African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.18% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.75% of the population.

There were 3,076 households out of which 18.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.4% were married couples living together, 6.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.7% were non-families. 25.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.51.

According to the 2000 Census, the town's population is well diversified by age with the majority of residents (36.4%) between the ages of 45 and 64 (see chart below). The median age in 2000 was 49 years. For every 100 females there were 95.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.5 males.

Age Group Percent of Population By Age
< 18 15.0%
18 to 24 5.3%
25 to 44 22.3%
45 to 64 36.4%
> 65 21.0%

The median income for a household in the town was $40,496, and the median income for a family was $48,775. Males had a median income of $30,656 versus $24,759 for females. The per capita income for the town was $23,964. About 4.8% of families and 8.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.7% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.

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