The Mystique of Figure Eight Island

Escape to a hidden beauty

There’s a certain mystique surrounding Figure Eight Island. Some attribute this aura to the exclusive nature of this privately owned isle; after all, not just anyone may glide across its bridge on a whim. Others say simply peering across Masons Inlet from the north end of Wrightsville Beach gives viewers a sense of serenity and curiosity mixed with mystery. What is it about this particular barrier island that makes it so special? So intriguing?

Those who were there at the birth of its private community status, and those who now reside there full-time, know its history, and the stories they have to tell shed some light on what’s been called “North Carolina’s best kept secret for years.”

“What makes the island truly unique is the fact that it has a private bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway,” architect Ligon Flynn says. “There’s probably not more than one other situation like that on the entire Eastern Seaboard.”

Over the years, Figure Eight’s placid, low-key nature has attracted a great number of exciting and noteworthy celebrities. When Dino De Laurentiis first started his Wilmington studio in 1983, Hollywood stars were drawn to the solitude and privacy of the island. George C. Scott walked his two huge mastiffs on the beach every day while filming Firestarter. Robert Wagner and Jill St. John even dined at the Yacht Club one Saturday night. Other famous visitors included Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman, Debra Winger, Nick Nolte, Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin, to name a few. Even Vice President Al Gore vacationed there with wife Tipper and two of their children in 1997.


Eloquence and Privacy

Before you approach the only bridge leading to Figure Eight Island, a guard checks your name against a list of that day’s visitors. If you’re on the ledger, he hands you a pink pass — your one-day ticket to the densest concentration of personal wealth in the region. While several other areas feature high-value homes, including Lumina Avenue on Wrightsville Beach and Bald Head Island in Brunswick County, none can match Figure Eight Island for its percentage of high-value homes.

If there is a center of wealth in Southeastern North Carolina, Figure Eight Island is it.

Only the Best

Featuring not only the second-most-valuable home in the three-county area, the exclusive 1,300-acre island in northeastern New Hanover County has 494 properties, factoring in combined land and building assessments, valued at $1 million or more, according to New Hanover County Tax Department records. Just eight are valued at less than $1 million.

The island accounts for nearly one-third of New Hanover County homes valued at $1 million or more. It has more $1 million-plus homes than all of Brunswick and Pender counties put together.

The lowest assessed value is a landlocked parcel on Beach Road valued at $890,700, according to records. The island’s land, with its access to water for nearly every parcel, is often more valuable than the gorgeous home sitting on it. One empty oceanfront tract is assessed at nearly $2 million.

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