Where to stay in Southern Shores

Vacation rental homes are the most popular way to stay in the Outer Banks. Rental homes are available in Southern Shores from:

Southern Shores, despite being one of the closest towns to the Wright Memorial Bridge - the entry point to the Outer Banks for the majority of vacationers, is a small beach town with a lot of charm to offer its visitors. With miles of relatively uncrowded beaches, and rental homes that can range from quiet soundside cottages to oceanfront ranch homes that would look equally at home in a southwestern desert, Southern Shores is a unique Outer Banks beach retreat.

Visitors who stay in this town's vacation rentals will enjoy easy driving access to the northern Outer Banks' shops and restaurants, the central Outer Banks' sites and attractions, and still be in their own quiet residential world where the beach is the star attraction. With maritime forest and wooded landscapes throughout the shoreline, giving the illusion of an altogether private retreat for every renter, Southern Shores is the perfect beach town for any vacationer who wants a primer on the quiet, non-commercial beaches the OBX region is known for. For a relaxing vacation close to the beach, but with ample opportunities to venture to nearby attractions, Southern Shores has everything a potential vacationer could need in spades.

The Southern Shores Beach Scene

The town of Southern Shores is comprised mainly of single-family residential homes, primarily vacation rentals, making it a quiet community with limited commercial development. The town is essentially strict in some aspects when it comes to the beach, but this attention to detail is what has made Southern Shores one of the most popular central, (and almost northern), Outer Banks communities. For example, dogs on leashes are only allowed on the beaches in the prime summer season from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 a.m., and owners must pick up after their pets, as well as make sure to pick up their own litter and keep the beach clean to avoid a fine. The good news is that lifeguards are stationed throughout the beaches from early May until Mid-October, and the beaches remain unpopulated throughout the year, with little foot traffic except for visitors and residents staying in the Southern Shores neighborhoods.

The town also has a soundside bike path that borders NC Highway 12, the main two-lane highway that runs through the northern Outer Banks, to provide an easy trail to and from the neighboring communities.

The overall feel of Southern Shores is a combination of elite neighborhoods and wild scenery, with many vacation rental homes tucked behind healthy dune lines, or shaded by towering cedar trees, live oaks, pines, and soundside water bushes. There are several major shopping plazas nearby, specifically near the Wright Memorial Bridge's entrance in Kitty Hawk, but Southern Shores only has a small shopping plaza within the town limits, located at the northern border of town, and featuring a gourmet bakery, a donut shop, and a boutique or two.

To the north of Southern Shores, visitors can easily head via a bike or car to Duck, where they'll find fantastic restaurants, some of the Outer Banks' most quirky and acclaimed shopping plazas, and a number of other essential amenities. Meanwhile, Southern Shores remains undeveloped, and while close to all the action of both the northern and southern beaches, is still a refuge all its own. The town itself borders both the Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, with just the two-lane NC Highway 12 cutting through to provide transport to vacationers heading to southern or northern villages. On either side of the road are rarely-traveled side streets, quiet neighborhoods, and collections of vacation rental homes that are picturesque places to stay.

Essentially, Southern Shores is an ideal location for visitors who want to be close to the major southern and northern beach attractions, but be secluded in an upscale community that prides itself on its clean beaches, quiet residential neighborhoods, and pristine vacation rental homes.

Types of Rentals Available

The first thing that visitors travelling north along NC Highway 12 along the northern Outer Banks notice is the interesting collection of 1-level ranch houses in Southern Shores that border the oceanfront. These properties were built during the late 1960s through the 1980s when ranch-style living was all the rage, and are historic Outer Banks treasures, with phenomenal views, ample living spaces, and front row access to the uncrowded Southern Shores beaches. Bear in mind that this small town has had minimal effects from the last few decades of hurricanes, and as a result, the ranch-style homes with no pilings or protection from encroaching surf have been able to stand tall, (or relatively tall), and remain unique properties among the OBX beaches.

While many of these original Southern Shores estates are being bought and replaced with the more modern multiple-story beach home, these classic oceanfront and oceanside properties are still available for visitors who want to stay in a unique Outer Banks lodging that honors Southern Shores' history as a small but elite beach town.

Along the soundside, Southern Shores visitors will discover another distinct and uncommon aspect of the Outer Banks, the famed wooded terrain that comprises the borders of Kitty Hawk Woods. Vacation rentals in these communities often offer fantastic wild terrain with shaded screened porches and plenty of natural privacy, in addition to some exceptional community amenities. Communities in this region feature access to local tennis courts, community pools, and even golf courses, which are a popular destination for locals and visitors alike in both Southern Shores and Kitty Hawk.

Of course, visitors will always have the option of an oceanfront, soundfront, or anywhere-in-between rental in Southern Shores, and these homes come in a variety of sizes and amenities. There are a handful of small cottages in the 3-4 bedroom range, but the majority of properties in Southern Shores, especially along the oceanfront, range from 5-8 bedrooms, and include a host of modern and luxury amenities including multiple master bedrooms, gourmet kitchens, shaded private pools, hot tubs, and more.

While there are no condo developments or hotels located within Southern Shores, many vacationers find that the selection of rental homes, ranging from 3 bedrooms to 8 bedrooms, and featuring exceptional access to both the ocean and community amenities, more than fit the bill for Outer Banks accommodations that are perfectly tailored to their specifications and party size.

Benefits of Southern Shores Vacation Rentals

The most noticeable benefit of a Southern Shores vacation rental is sheer privacy. The beaches in Southern Shores are generally only used by the folks who stay within the town limits, and considering the town is comprised mainly of vacation rental homes, this means that only a handful of families share the gorgeous miles of shoreline. Even in the height of summer, the beaches here are uncrowded, nice and wide, and are revered as being exceptional locales for both skimboarding and surfing, with waves breaking slightly offshore, and a gradual slope making it easy for newcomers to wade out to deeper waters.

The residential communities of vacation rentals are also noticeably pristine and elite. The homes are well-maintained, and the soundside home have ample yards and natural landscaping that make them feel private and secluded. The neighborhoods are very family friendly, with a town-spanning bike path and plenty of quiet residential streets with little traffic, and the communities often offer their own amenities to visitors and residents alike, including golf course access, tennis access, and expansive community pools for a refreshing freshwater dip outside the ocean waters.

In addition, the larger attractions of the central Outer Banks and the unique selection of shopping and restaurants in neighboring Duck are just a quick drive or bike ride away, so even though Southern Shores vacationers aren't in the heart of the action, they're close enough to enjoy the neighboring town's attractions within minutes.

Considerations of Southern Shores Vacation Rentals

Visitors who only require a 1 bedroom retreat or condo will have trouble finding accommodations in Southern Shores, as the majority of homes are in the 3-8 bedroom range, and there are no condo communities or hotels within the town's limits.

It should also be noted that there are few commercial businesses in Southern Shores, and while the majority of vacationers consider this a plus, families who want easy walking-distance access to the big name Outer Banks restaurants, shops or attractions may be deterred by the fact that Southern Shores is primarily a residential community.

Also, visitors staying on the soundside of NC Highway 12 should note that they do have to cross the highway in order to access the beach. Generally, this is not an issue, and there are crosswalks located throughout the northern Outer Banks to accommodate soundside visitors, however, on a busy summer Saturday or Sunday, a trip to the beach may take a few extra minutes of waiting for a break in traffic heading on or off the Currituck Banks.

Southern Shores is basically an ideal vacation destination for any family who loves an undeveloped and unpopulated beach, a quiet residential community, and easy drive-to access to area shops and restaurants, that aren't necessarily located right in their backyard. For seclusion, amenities and convenience, Southern Shores is a great fit for nature lovers who still enjoy being relatively close to all the Outer Banks action.

Tips and Tricks for Southern Shores Vacation Rentals

  • One of the best benefits of Southern Shores is its convenience to US 158 and the Wright Memorial Bridge. Vacationers who hate a long drive to or from their destination, and are travelling to the Outer Banks from the northern half of the country, should look into a Southern Shores vacation rental. Once you cross the Wright Memorial Bridge, you are literally just a few minutes from your beach home away from home.
  • Visitors staying on the soundside of Southern Shores will want to check their property's online maps, or call the local vacation rental company, to determine the location of the nearest public beach access. While beach accesses are located at regular intervals for all communities in Southern Shores, it always helps to have a general idea of where your home is located in relation to the closest path ocean.
  • Southern Shores has a secretive reputation as being a good shelling destination. Though the shelling conditions are at their best after a major hurricane or summer storm, virtually any visitor who takes a beachside stroll after a low tide has a good chance of picking up smaller finds, including augers, oyster drillers, tiny whelks, and other miniature treasures that float up with the ocean wash. Keep your eyes peeled, and don't be afraid to wade in the shallow ocean wash - often, this is the best place to catch great shells before they wash ashore.
  • While the oceanfront beaches are clearly the biggest attraction along Southern Shores, visitors are encouraged to explore the soundside. With a long biking trail that borders NC Highway 12, and plenty of scenic side streets that lead all the way out to the Kitty Hawk Woods Wildlife Refuge, or local scenic golf courses and club houses, Southern Shores is an ideal community to explore on foot. Take your time and pick a cool evening, and enjoy a family walk amidst the natural wooded Outer Banks landscape.

Southern Shores is a fantastic location for visitors who want to be close to the action, activities and sites of the Outer Banks, but still enjoy a peaceful vacation. The vacation rentals in this community are scenic and illustrious estates with plenty of amenities, and just enough privacy to be a breath of fresh air for weary travelers.

With gorgeous oceanfront beaches that are well-maintained and unpopulated, and plenty of soundside communities that offer family-friendly benefits including community pools, tennis courts, walking trails, and even golf courses, Southern Shores is a dream destination for families who appreciate the finer things, but hold natural landscapes and premier vacation destinations in equal esteem. Enjoy an easy ride to big name attractions, but spend your nights in a quiet community with little traffic and plenty of stars in inviting Southern Shores. With easy access to all of the Outer Banks amenities, but a quiet residential feel all its own, Southern Shores is sure to be your favorite, private Outer Banks getaway.


Atlantic Realty of the Outer Banks
Salt Coast Outfitters