The North Carolina Hotel Once Called The Most Dangerous In The World

Eight bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small generator, and 11,000 gallon holding tanks for plumbing are the primary features of Frying Pan Tower off the coast of North Carolina. The rugged little shack, despite its rudimentary attributes, is a popular destination for tourists and adventure seekers across the globe (via Condé Nest Traveler). Aside from a roof over one's head and simple accommodations, there's isn't much distinguishing it from any other barren-looking structure. Well, that and the fact that it's located right in the middle of the ocean 32 miles away from land (per Star News Online).

Frying Pan tower rests atop a large rusted, iron apparatus 136 feet above the shoals. Given its geographic location and desolate — yet aesthetically appealing — surroundings, it was once called the most dangerous hotel in the entire world (via Star News Online). Both the elements and the sheer solitude of the place are indeed harrowing, yet Frying Pan Tower's popularity and regular business remains unwavering. 

History of The Frying Pan Tower

Erected in 1964, Frying Pan Tower was originally a lighthouse designed to deter ships from venturing into the shallow waters known as the Frying Pan Shoals. The U.S. Coast Guard operated the tower until 1979 when the light structure became automated, but it was officially rendered obsolete in 1992 after Global Positioning Systems (GPS) became the ideal method of navigation for vessels at sea (per Frying Pan Tower). For 18 years the tower remained inoperable, but North Carolina resident Richard Neal bought the facility in 2010 for $85,000 with the intention of turning it into a bed and breakfast via restorative efforts — and that's exactly what he did (per Wilmington Biz). 

Today, visitors are able to enjoy a brief but delightful stay at Frying Pan Tower that includes scuba diving, fishing, sunbathing, and golfing (the balls are made of biodegradable fish food). The hotel is accessible via boat or helicopter (via Coné Nest Traveler).

What makes Frying Pan Tower dangerous?

While certainly enchanting, Frying Pan Tower's allure doesn't come without risk. Its unconventional location leaves it exposed to bad weather and frequent hurricanes that North Carolina is no stranger to. It's also undergoing constant maintenance to keep its rustic and outdated infrastructure safe for visitors, and anybody in need of immediate medical attention stands to wait longer to get to a hospital than one would like (per Anu Bernard). 

The Tower is constantly exposed to oceanic elements, which means that construction and restoration are ongoing in order to further prolong its initial 50-year life expectancy. Nonetheless, owner Richard Neal swears by its safety, recalling one particular instance when he and his family waited out a Category Two storm with 100 mph winds. Despite a few broken windows and dislodged solar frames, he claims that it otherwise felt like a "gentle rocking sensation." Neal further added, "It's an adventure, and it's safe as we can make it. It's definitely not a Disney ride" (via Condé Nest Traveler).