The Emerald Coast region of Florida is the stuff of travel brochures. Glowing white sands meet azure seas, dolphin pods skim over light surf, there are dunes blanketed in sea oats, and towns set to the clink of margarita cocktails and the bounce of spring break parties. What's not to love? This guide runs through all the amazing Emerald Coast vacation rentals out there, hopping from Okaloosa Island rentals to cottages in the forget-me-not towns of South Walton.
The types of Emerald Coast rentals on offer
The Emerald Coast packs in energetic college-break resorts, chilled family escapes, and luxurious getaways for forever-young 60-somethings. That means it's also got a whole kaleidoscope of various vacation lettings up its sleeve. Some examples are listed below.
Southern cottages by Southern oceans
Charm infuses the Florida Panhandle beach rentals that are quaint cottages. Away from the beating rhythms of boardwalks and downtowns, these cute escapes are built from painted timbers and ringed by porches. Some have a distinct Caribbean feel to them, while others hide grand kitchens and modern living spaces within.
Pet-friendly Panhandle rentals
Bringing the pooch? Vacation homes won't be an issue – you can discover everything from five-star villas to compact condos that are willing to welcome the barker. It might be worth zeroing in on areas where there are designated doggy beaches or fewer restrictions on canines roaming the sands, though. Pensacola, Seaside, and Okaloosa all stand out on that count.
Condominiums are a perennial favorite
There are loads of reasons why condos remain one of the top-rated types of Emerald Coast vacation rental. For starters, they come in all shapes and sizes, with some touting enough space for a whole family and others offering romantic pads for couples. They are also fine for those chasing a beachfront location, with balconies that often open to panoramas of the long shoreline and the wavy Gulf.
Hot destinations to find Florida Panhandle beach rentals
The Panhandle region of Florida rolls from the mangrove swamps of Apalachee Bay all the way to the state line with Alabama. That's one hefty chunk of the Sunshine State to go looking for a vacation rental in, which is where the destination tips below come in…
Okaloosa Island rentals for R&R aplenty
Situated on a thin barrier isle across from Destin and Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island vacation rentals are a good ticket to get away from it all. Even the liveliest part of the town is inundated with deluxe resort complexes with come-splash-in-me pools and winding promenades topped by palms. Further out, there are lonely cottages tucked between undulating sand hills.
Get the vacay vibes going in Destin
If there's one resort that really sums up the vacation vibe down on the Florida Panhandle, it's surely Destin. From the bouncing boardwalk bars to the pontoon-filled marina, the town itself is a lively mix of Tex-Mex, seafood buffets, and spring break clubs. Henderson Beach stretches to the east of that, while waters teeming with fish are great for divers and sailors to explore just off the coast.
The loveable beach communities of South Walton
The county of Walton includes some of the most alluring beach towns in the region – nay, in the country. Start with Seaside, where pretty lanes wiggle past cabbage palm blooms and down to Victorian-style pavilions by the ocean. Then hit affluent Seacrest, which has plush villas mingling with artisan coffee shops and boardwalk trails by the dunes.
Panhandle rentals in Panama City Beach
A mega 27 miles of coastline means that Panama City Beach has something for all. The Miracle Strip of Front Beach Avenue gets things rolling, touting strip malls, water parks, and pier attractions. Then there's Thomas Drive to the south-east, where low-key condos have pools right next to stunning state parks filled with lagoons and wading birds.
How to get cheap deals on Emerald Coast vacation rentals
Everyone loves a bargain. Everyone doubly loves a bargain when it's about cheap Gulf-view villas or condos right by sugar-soft sands. Cue the handy hints below, which could see you strutting up Okaloosa Island or the marinas of PCB for way less than expected…
Don't join the biggest crowds on the Panhandle
The Panhandle region and the Emerald Coast sees huge spikes in visitor numbers during the college spring break – PCB, we're looking at you – and around Christmas and the midsummer. That means budget seekers might want to limit themselves to bookings in late spring or fall, when rates are bound to be far lower across the board.
Monthly rentals are a possibility
A good way to slash the cost of beachfront condos and cottages is to enquire about long-term stays. Owners will often be open to these, particularly in less-popular seasons, to simplify their rental commitments. And for you? Well…welcome to a new home away from home just meters from the bath-warm Gulf of Mexico.