These Outer Banks vacation rental tips will help you find the perfect OBX vacation house or condo for your next North Carolina beach getaway. As veteran expert OBX vacationers with more than a dozen Outer Banks vacation rentals, we offer the following tips to help you plan the perfect NC beach vacation.
The Outer Banks is the most popular North Carolina beach vacation destination. OBX is particularly popular for residents of Northern Virginia, Washington DC, and Ohio. An important thing for first-time OBX visitors to know is that vacation rental houses dominate the landscape and far outweigh hotel options.
Below is one example of how to find the best Outer Banks vacation rental house for your next vacation. I break the process into five steps. All five steps can be combined into fewer searches (or even one search) but are broken into the simplest units to demonstrate.
Twiddy is my favorite Outer Banks vacation rental source and I use them in the examples below. There are other OBX vacation rental firms and they likely have similar website search processes. Twiddy provided us with a complimentary week in the beach condo listed below but these thoughts are based on more than a dozen other Outer Banks vacation rentals that we have purchased.
Outer Banks Vacation Rental Tips For Your North Carolina Beach Getaway
These tips will help you find that perfect Outer Banks vacation rental—whether you seek a beach condo for one or two persons, smaller vacation home for a family, or giant OBX vacation house for a dozen persons or more.
1. Proximity to OBX Beaches
Your idea of a perfect vacation might be an oceanfront setting, being as close to the ocean as possible. Sit on your deck and hear the waves and smell the salt air. Oceanfront places are plentiful and are most convenient for beach activities.
On the other hand, perhaps you prefer a place on the soundfront with sunset views.
OBX vacation home rates drop as you move away from the water and you might want the best bargain possible. In that case, are you prepared to walk to the beach and back to the house several times a day? Consider renting a beach cart or even a golf cart. Or perhaps your desired vacation home has one or the other (check the amenities list).
>>> First step for our OBX vacation rental home search will be to identify only oceanfront places. From the Twiddy home page, select Oceanfront from the Vacation Rentals pop-down menu.
McCool Travel note: An oceanfront designation does not always mean that a place has a view of water. The above (sunrise photo) and below properties are both oceanfront.
Twiddy property listings provide excellent photos which show views from decks, patios, and rooms. If not, ask! Also pay attention to distance and proximity to the beach, sound, and road. Places closer to the main road should be more convenient to town (restaurants and stores) but will likely have more traffic noise.
2. When to go?
Mid-June rates are less expensive than later in June, much lower than peak rates in July and August, but it is a fantastic time to visit with gorgeous OBX summer weather. Also find fantastic value in shoulder seasons—before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. See an example below.
After getting stuck in monumental Saturday traffic jams, we learned to avoid traveling to, from, or around OBX as much as possible that day. McCool Travel tip: Try to check in on Sunday or Friday because Saturday is the busiest day, traffic is often backed up, and grocery stores and restaurants are super crowded.
>>> Second step is to select a check-in date of Sunday. Deselect the flexible option to NOT include houses with checkins on Friday and Saturday of same weekend.
3. Outer Banks Vacation Rental House size
One paradigm of OBX beach houses is that many are humongous. The largest OBX vacation house in the Twiddy system has 28 bedrooms. Yes, 28!
An advantage of larger houses is that you can create cost-effective family gatherings, weddings or events, or split costs with friends or neighbors. If your group is small—like a couple or family—be sure to search only for smaller houses.
Note that you can also filter on number of master bedroom suites. That is important depending on how many adults and older teenagers are in your group.
>>> For the third step, I selected 6 bedrooms maximum.
4. OBX Vacation House Features
Out of nearly 1,200 Twiddy, vacation rental properties, 926 have keyless entry, 336 have elevators, 173 come with 4 bedrooms or less, and 347 are pet friendly.
>>> For the fourth step, I included search amenities of private pool, hot tub, and no smoking. Note that in addition to the above-mentioned amenities, you can also include theater, heated pool, kid’s pool, and many more.
5. OBX Vacation Rental Home Location
After I entered the above four search criteria, only 31 houses remain. To narrow the results list further, I will select my desired town. Note that houses in the 4×4 area require appropriate vehicles. The wild horses of Corolla will likely stroll across your 4X4 property several times during the week.
>>> My fifth search criteria is to find houses only in the town of Duck.
Tips for Outer Banks Vacation Rental House Listings
After the above five searches, my list of available vacation rental houses went from over 1,100 to only 5. Searching through only five listings is much more manageable and fun.
In your fun and manageable list, you can do several things.
- Click house name to read reviews and see photos.
- Click the color button/icon on the map to see actual locations. Compare to Google Maps if desired.
- Catchy names or profile photos catch my attention. In the above results list, I love the names Just Ducky and Ohana Cabana
When comparing potential Outer Banks vacation rental houses, pay attention to floor plans, map locations, lists of amenities, and anything else that would be pertinent to your family or group. If there are people with mobility issues, look for houses with bedroom and living/kitchen areas on the lower level—or for homes with elevators.
Most OBX rental homes provide beach items, like chairs, toys, umbrellas. Some will have loaner bicycles, fishing gear, a beach cart or wagon, perhaps even a motorized golf cart. Many OBX visitors rent equipment (bicycles, kayaks, beach gear, baby items) for the week and most companies will deliver to the rental house.
Read the reviews. Perhaps your best information will be learned from reading what previous guests said about their stays.
Click the heart icon to save properties for future reference or comparison.
McCool Travel tip: Look at other dates for your favorite places. For Just Ducky, the week of April is 80% less than the mid-June rate.
You may have noticed that you can also directly type in a house name or number. Perhaps you saw a recommendation from a friend or a mention online or in a magazine. Also enter a keyword into that text box (even though it says “search home name/number”)—for example, volleyball or tiki bar or shuffleboard.
Some Outer Banks Vacation Rental Properties
Here are some recommended, unique, or iconic Outer Banks vacation rental properties to check out.
- Perfect for adventurous honeymooners or any couple. In the 4×4 zone The Boat House
- An oceanfront condo: Octopus’s Garden
- The largest property, with 28 bedrooms and 33 bathrooms: Constellation
- The classic octagon house: Dolphin’s Leap
Here is hoping that these Outer Banks vacation rental tips help you to find the perfect OBX vacation house or condo for your next North Carolina beach getaway. Let us know!
For more information, see The Outer Banks official tourism website.