Finding Your Best Beach Rental in the OBX

By Kip Tabb | August 26th, 2019

Out the door and toes in the sand

Nags Head, NC Outer Banks

As much as we may want the right beach home to rise from the Outer Banks sands and call out to us, it probably won’t happen. It may be easier to think of an ideal or best-of-all-choices when it comes to finding that perfect beachfront house.

There are a number of questions that help you decide. Budget is important. How many people? Location? The Outer Banks extends from the Virginia border to Ocracoke, and there are significant differences among the many towns and villages.

Finally, how close to the ocean?

Outer Banks, NC


In thinking about beachfront or other options, it’s a good idea to know the terms as used on the Outer Banks.

  • Ocean or beachfront: Walk out the door and your feet are in the sand, and the Atlantic Ocean stretches to an endless horizon.
  • Semi-ocean front: Generally across the street from the oceanfront homes.
  • Between the Highways: This term applies only to the towns of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. In those towns, there are two highways – NC 12 (aka Virginia Dare Trail or the Beach Road) and US 158 (aka Croatan Highway or the Bypass). Between those roads are three to five blocks. Homes that are not on the Beach Road but are on the east side of the Bypass are listed as “between the highways.”
  • Soundside: Homes that are on the west or sound side of the dividing highway. For Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head, that’s US 158. All other locations, that’s NC 12.
  • Soundfront: A home that borders any Outer Banks sound.

Generally, the closer to the ocean the more expensive the home. Think about how important being right on the beach is to you. If walking across one road or being a block from the sand is OK, it may be possible to find a very good value in a rental property.

The biggest homes are oceanfront and semi-oceanfront, and we’re talking really big. Eight, 12, 16 or more bedrooms. For a family reunion or a wedding, they’re ideal. For a quiet weekend for two or with friends, useless.

Outer Banks, NC

There are still classic beach bungalows around. Look in Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills on the northern Outer Banks. On Hatteras Island, Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo have the best selection.


Time of the year influences price. The peak season is approximately June 15 through August. The lowest rates are January through mid-March, when prices may be one-fourth of peak season.

A good option may be early fall or late spring, when the weather is beautiful and all the Outer Banks businesses are open.


Not so long ago, finding that ideal home was a simple matter of flipping through some brochures and calling property management companies. No longer.

With Airbnb and VRBO now part of the rental market, there are many more choices. Airbnb is especially strong on the Outer Banks. Airbnb homes are typically owned by the person listing them. Interactions with the owners can enhance the experience.

However, there are advantages to working with a property management company.

The selection will certainly be greater. The choices of oceanfront homes in particular will be much larger through property management companies.

Jodie Herman, marketing manager for Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates, raises an additional point about knowledgeable, professional staff. “We have been a part of the Outer Banks vacation rental industry for 51 years,” Herman says. “We want to share our love for the community with our guests so they enjoy … it, too. Our staff’s knowledge of the home is priceless.”

One more piece of advice. Waiting to book that beachfront home may get the best price, but to get the ideal location, it’s best to confirm as early as possible.


Rather than leaving your pets at home, let them stay at a resort near you. Or take them for a day-stay or by-the-hour care, or board them overnight and pick them up by day to play. Ocean Sands K-9 Resort offers these services for dogs and cats, all ages, sizes and breeds, and pets with special needs. Other services include V.I.P. Pet Taxi service, crate rental and self-serve dog wash. Outdoor time, clean accommodations, hugs, butt scratching and belly rubs come standard.

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