Oak Island Know Before You Go


Rip currents form when there is a stream of water moving out to sea, away from and perpendicular to the shore.

• ALWAYS check the rip current status prior to swimming
•DO NOT fight the current
• Swim out of the current and then to shore
• Float or tread water if you can’t get out of the current
• Wave or yell of help
• Never Swim Alone


Sand dunes are geologic features located between the ocean / beach and any man-made development (homes, businesses, etc.). 
Dunes protect nature, development, and people.

Walking, running, playing, climbing, or any other traffic of any kind on, or across the sand dunes and berms, except in designated access areas is PROHIBITED.

Oak Island Parking Rules

  • DO NOT block beach emergency access, in the event of an emergency situation, recuse vehicles need to be able to get on the beach.
  • THE PAID PARKING PROGRAM: Will be enforced from April 1 – September 30, between the hours of 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (all other dates and times will not be charged)
  • Paid Parking can be bought in increments of:
    $5 per Hour, $20 a Day or $80 Week,
    which become active immediately upon purchase
  • Ways to Pay for Parking Permit:
    1. ON SITE: Scan the QR code on the “Pay To Park” signs or visit surfcast.ottoconnect.us/pay
    2. MOBILE: Download the SurfCAST mobile app, and follow the prompts provided
    3. BY PHONE: Call the Otto Connect team at 
  • The Town of Oak Island currently provides more than 1,250 parking spaces across 65 public Beach Access Locations, more than any other island community in the Carolinas!


Road Driving Regulations: The operation of Golf Carts/LSVs within the Town of Oak Island are governed by the State of North Carolina and Town ordinances, which include: 

  • CANNOT Drive on the sidewalks 
  • MUST be electric
  • MUST be operated by a licensed driver
    (impaired driving laws also apply)
  • CANNOT be driven on streets with a posted limit higher than 35 miles per hour
  • CAN cross a road or street at an intersection where the road has a 45 mph speed limit
  • MUST obey all seat belt and children’s car seat laws
  • CANNOT have more people than seat belts
  • CANNOT be used to tow a trailer or wagon, unless also registered

Using side streets vs driving the length of Oak Island Drive is a safe alternative and will keep traffic on the main road flowing.

PLEASE NOTE: Even if you have a handicap plate or registration, an Application for Permit to Operate a Mobility Device is still required for on-beach use!


Help ensure successful nesting and hatching by:

• Do Not disturb a turtle that is crawling to or from the ocean.
• Beach House occupants turn OFF exterior lights facing the beach during hatching season.
• Do not crowd turtles.
• Do not shine lights, or snap flash photographs.
• Sit quietly in the dark, at a distance.  
• Do not disturb turtle nests.  
• NEVER touch or handle hatchlings. Only one of every 1,000 hatchlings make it to adulthood.
• If you witness an emerging nest, follow the volunteer’s instructions ask the and volunteer questions. 
• Fill in any holes dug in the sand during the day.  Turtles become trapped in the holes and have died.
• Please pick up trash and remove your trash from the beaches. Turtles may mistake plastic bags, balloons and other trash as food which when they ingest block their intestine, causing death. 
• Beach equipment or personal property is not allowed within  ten (10′) feet of marked sea turtle nests.

Beach Wheelchairs

The OKI Recreation Department offers the use of beach wheelchairs to residents and visitors.  These specially constructed chairs feature corrosion-resistant construction, and large, inflated tires specifically designed to tread on the top of the sand.  Some chairs float, and can even be used in the water!

To reserve a chair, please call the Recreation Center at 
910-278-5518.  Please call as soon as you know you will need a chair (reservations fill up fast, often weeks or even months in advance).

When picking up a chair, please be prepared to provide the following:

  • Drivers License
  • Local Address (physical address of where the chair will be staying while in your care)
  • Completed Rental Agreement
  • License Plate Number


Properly leashed dogs are allowed on the beach at any time, and are allowed off their leashes on the beach seasonally from October 15 – March 15, and under certain conditions. Owners must pick up after their dogs, and properly dispose of all droppings. 

NOTICE: During seasonal periods where leashes are required, dogs MUST remain on their leash in ALL public beach areas. They may not be taken off-leash to enter the surf / water.


Oak Island offers more than 65 Beach Access Locations, that can accommodate anyone from the casual pedestrian or bicyclist, to full ADA Wheelchairs & Accessibility.

  • 65 Public Beach Access Locations
  • 146 Direct Beach Access Pathways
  • 40 Nature Viewing or ICW Fishing locations  
  • 6 Boat and / or Kayak Launch areas
  • 4 Fishing Tees / Crab Dock


  • Stay off DUNES
  • GLASS CONTAINERS are not allowed on the beach or in the beach accesses.
  • Alcohol – There are no town ordinances against smoking or drinking alcohol on the Oak Island beaches, however, visitors are advised not to litter, and to clean up any cigarette butts and any trash before they leave.
  • EMERGENCY VEHICLE ACCESSES must remain clear and open! Beach equipment or personal property is not allowed within fifteen (15′) feet of emergency vehicle accesses
  • BEACH EQUIPMENT including chairs, canopy frames, blankets, towels, and other personal items must be removed by the end of each day (NOTE: all items left unattended on the beach between 8:30 PM – 7:00 AM may be removed, and can be recovered after paying a $50 fine).
  • ACCESS on the beach is only available through the designated walkovers, pathways, and Access Locations provided.
  • Pick up TRASH and dispose of in the containers  provided at all public Beach Access Locations (please leave the beach better than you found it!).
  • Fill in HOLES and level prior to leaving the beach for the day, to ensure the safety of others, as well as nesting sea turtles.


  • From March 16 – October 15: electric assisted or motorized bicycles and similar vehicles are not allowed on the beach strand (exceptions: Town-approved mobility-assistance devices or other official vehicles in the performance of their official duties. 


  • Beach Bonfires are allowed from November 16 – April 30 with a submitted permit.
  • Applications are only accepted within 72 hours of the planned bonfire date & time.
  • PEAK windspeeds cannot exceed 15 MPH.
  • If windspeeds exceed 15 MPH during the bonfire, it must be extinguished and all debris removed.
  • IMPORTANT: All bonfires, bonfire materials, and participants must remain OFF of the sand dunes / berms at all times.