The prime reason why vacationers have been traveling to the Outer Banks for decades is the simple allure of the beach, and oceanfront vacation rentals provide visitors with a front row seat to all the Atlantic action.
Because the Outer Banks consists of roughly 150 miles of ocean facing barrier islands from Carova to Ocracoke Island, this means that there are nearly 150 miles of oceanfront properties to choose from. From secluded cottages on the 4WD accessible only regions of Carova and Swan Beach to the towering estates along the southern borders of Hatteras Island, vacationers will have their pick when it comes to some of the most scenic, convenient, and desirable vacation rental homes on the beach.
Plan an Outer Banks vacation with style, views, and a picturesque setting that takes advantage of the region's most beloved features with an oceanfront vacation rental. After an early morning sunrise over the ocean or a full week of quick trips to and from the beach, you'll be glad you chose one of the Outer Banks' prime locales for your quintessentially beach vacation.
The Basics of Oceanfront Vacation Rentals
The official definition of "oceanfront" is straightforward, but it can vary by region. An oceanfront home is classified as a home with no properties or buildable lots between the home and the beach, however, depending on regional building regulations and dune systems, this means that a home can be either just 10 yards from the ocean, or 100 yards away, completely depending on area.
For example, in the tri-villages region of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo, where the area of shoreline that stretches between the buildable property lines and the actual ocean itself is managed by the National Park Service as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the distance to the beach can vary greatly. In Rodanthe, where coastal erosion has been a prevalent issue, an oceanfront vacation home may be just a few yards from the high tide line, with step-outside-the-door access to the bordering sandy beaches. Meanwhile, the small town of Salvo located just a few miles south, has been more or less spared by ocean erosion thanks to a double dune system that is cluttered with gorgeous sea oats, and as a result, these oceanfront homes are a good two minute walk away from the actual ocean wash.
Regardless of proximity, however, an oceanfront home offers an unobstructed wide open view of the Atlantic, with no other buildings or developments to spoil the vistas. One of the great aspects of the Outer Banks is the simple fact that while it has a small cluster of oceanfront hotels and motels, especially in the busy central locales of Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, and Kitty Hawk, the remainder of the islands remain developed solely by vacation homes, so visitors can find a quiet and picturesque locale to enjoy a beach vacation that is private, serene, and feels like there's nothing between the vacationing party and the wide open ocean views.
Many oceanfront vacation rental homes also have private or shared walkways leading directly from the home or community to the beach. These pathways can consist of simple sandy paths or easy-to-traverse boardwalks, with benches or decking areas along the way to take a breather and enjoy the scenic dune views. Your vacation rental company of choice will be able to tell you where the local beach boardwalks or paths are located, and what the overall terrain is like.
As stated, the views are exceptional from virtually every level of the home, although the top level is certainly the most panoramic, with ocean views that can span the coastline. With this in mid, local builders and developers have constructed beach houses where the main living level is located on the top floor, also known as the "reverse floor plan," and the majority of oceanfront vacation rentals on the Outer Banks share this feature. This means that the main level of the home where families retreat to hang out - the living area, dining area, and kitchen - is strategically located to take advantage of the best views from the home, so everyone can relax with those ocean vistas in the background.
Virtually every region of the Outer Banks has rental homes available, although the very northern regions of the 4WD accessible beaches of Currituck do not have many oceanfront properties, and the town of Ocracoke has absolutely none, due to its location along the soundside next to Silver Lake Harbor. That said, visitors will find premier oceanfront accommodations everywhere else, from Corolla to the southern borders of Hatteras village next to ferry, and these homes run the spectrum from simple beach cottages to world class resort-quality estates.
Types of Oceanfront Vacation Rentals
There are a handful of 3-4 bedroom cottages and beach boxes available adjacent to the oceanfront, however the majority of oceanfront vacation homes are among the Outer Banks' very best. These homes are essentially luxury properties with all the amenities required to turn a typical vacation into a resort-quality experience. Amenities can include private pools, ocean facing hot tubs, game rooms, theater rooms, and expansive living rooms and sun decks that take advantage of the ocean's proximity and showcase those Atlantic vistas in style.
The grander of these homes can be 8, 10, or even 12 bedroom estates, depending on area, and can accommodate parties of 20 or more. With multiple master bedrooms, ample kitchens with dual appliances, and plenty of dens, siting areas, lofts, and other "retreats" for a little time away from the crowd, these homes are more reminiscent of a hotel, except you know and like all the other patrons staying by the sea.
Naturally, vacationers who are craving a simpler oceanfront retreat will find a handful of small oceanfront vacation homes as well, in the 3-4 bedroom range. There are also a number of oceanfront condos, especially on Hatteras Island, that are adept at catering to couples and parties of 4 people or less. Unlike other resort destinations, these condos complexes are small, peaceful, and provide access to relatively unpopulated beaches, ensuring that their guests feel like they are always vacationing in their own private retreat.
From 1-2 bedroom quiet condos to sprawling private estates, the vacation rental homes and accommodations along the Outer Banks vary greatly, and for good reason. With over 150 miles of shoreline, it's easy to find accommodations for parties of all sizes and styles, so visitors will have no trouble finding an oceanfront vacation rental that is seemingly tailor made just for them.
The Cost of Oceanfront Vacation Rentals
Because oceanfront vacation rentals have the best access and views on the beach, they are also generally in the highest price range. However, a weekly cost of a vacation rental, even a large one, typically evens out to a nightly rental of an oceanfront hotel and motel or even less, depending on the location, amenities, and number of bedrooms involved.
Outer Banks visitors who have more flexibility in their schedule can also look into vacation rentals in the shoulder and off seasons. Many vacation rentals on the Outer Banks have rates that fluctuate with the popularity of the various seasons, meaning that the summer rates from late June to early August are the highest, and rates drop the further you go from these prime summer weeks. An off-season week in October can potentially be half the price of a week that encompasses the 4th of July, and yet the amenities and features of the home itself are still the same for visitors.
In essence, if your idea of a great Outer Banks vacation revolves around multiple beach trips, then an oceanfront vacation rental is your best bet to enjoy the scenic and secluded coastline at its fullest.
The Benefits of Oceanfront Vacation Rentals
Clearly, one of the best benefits of an oceanfront vacation rental is proximity to the beach. Most all oceanfront homes have boardwalks that lead directly to the ocean, which are either private or shared with other neighbors in a community. This means that a trip to the beach can be easily interrupted with a food or drink run, a bathroom run, or any other trip back to the house that can be completed within minutes. This locale also helps with hauling gear to and from the shoreline, and for family members who may have difficulty traveling long distances to access the beach.
The other benefit, naturally, is those off-the-beach views, as with nothing between the home and the ocean except healthy congregations of sea oats, an oceanfront vacation rental can produce some of the best vistas on the Outer Banks. Remember that the majority of oceanfront vacation rentals on the Outer Banks consist of a reverse floor plan, meaning that those top living, dining and kitchen areas where everyone in the family tends to congregates have the best views of the Atlantic.
In addition, the majority of the oceanfront homes have equally spacious decks that take advantage of the ocean proximity and feature incredible views and sea breezes that are easily enjoyed by anyone staying on site. Generally spanning the entire level of a floor, and found on multiple levels, an oceanfront vacation rental's deck is an ideal spot to curl up with a morning cup of coffee and watch the sunrise over the Atlantic waves. An annual tradition for most frequent oceanfront vacation rental visitors, this little routine often hallmarks a great beginning to a fun-filled day on the Outer Banks.
Tips and Tricks for Renting an Oceanfront Vacation Rental
- For vacationers with mobility problems, an oceanfront vacation rental may be the best way to access the beach. Ask your property management company about approximate distance to the shoreline and wooden boardwalks and ramps that are accessible nearby. Many small condo complexes also feature handicap accessible ramps, making a trip to the beach an easy affair for everyone in the party.
- An off-season oceanfront vacation rental stay isn't just budget friendly, it can also be one of the best seasons to view some of the Outer Banks' most beloved wildlife. Dolphins and porpoises make regular runs along the shoreline in the months of November through February, and oceanfront vacation renters have front row tickets to the show. Keep your eyes peeled on the ocean regions past the breakers, especially in the winter months, and look out for the telltale signs of dark fins bobbing sporadically out of the ocean to enjoy the annual dolphin migration.
- While the access to the beach may be private, the beach itself is community property, so oceanfront vacation renters should be aware that they are sharing the shoreline with any number of neighboring families. The good news is that on the Outer Banks, ample space is generally not a problem as there is plenty of sand to go around, however, visitors who treasure their privacy should be aware of this beforehand, and should ask their property management company of any large hotels or communities that may also flock towards the same beach.
- Keep a calculator handy when comparing oceanfront accommodations. On the Outer Banks, a multiple bedroom oceanfront vacation rental which is rented weekly often evens out to a nightly stay at an oceanfront hotel. In addition, guests will enjoy the conveniences of a kitchen, dining area, bonus rooms such as game rooms, theaters and lofts, and any number of fun amenities. Do your research beforehand, and you'll surely feel satisfied after booking that you received the best bang for your Outer Banks dollar.
- Make sure to explore your options. On the Outer Banks, every beach is just a shade different from the next in terms of population, ocean temperature, and overall environment. Enjoy the beach in front of your home, but for a completely different point of view, scope out a public beach just a little north or south of where your oceanfront vacation rental is located to see how much the Outer Banks environment can change within just a few miles.
- Just as every beach is different, every neighborhood is different as well. In Nags Head, visitors can head to Millionaire's Row, a scenic collection of cedar shaked cottages with wrap around porches that harken the old days of the Outer Banks, while in Hatteras Village, ocean lovers can stay in the Hatteras Estate beach mansions which have sprawling views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound. Every community is different, and newcomers are advised to talk with the guest service specialists at their local property management companies to determine what accommodations fit with their expectations.
An oceanfront vacation rental is prime real estate for a reason. On the Outer Banks, renting an oceanfront home or condo means there are no obstructions whatsoever between you and the beach, and you'll enjoy your own private respite that's miles away from the rest of the world.
Visitors who love the ocean and want to spend their mornings watching the sunrise and their afternoons playing on the beach should look into an oceanfront vacation rental. Available in all sizes, and easily accommodating all tastes, budgets and specifications, an oceanfront vacation rental is the best way to enjoy the heart and soul of the Outer Banks - the brilliant beaches, and the miles of Atlantic, that keep visitors coming back for more.