A guide to booking Gulf Shores rentals

A recipe for a great Gulf Shores vacay usually comes with a pinch of whizzing down waterslides, a dash of sunbathing on sun-bleached sands, and generous amounts of jet skiing, scuba diving, and dolphin watching. As a garnish, awesome Gulf Shores rentals means there's R&R to be had even when you're back at the pad. To get the place that suits you perfectly, read on for a handy booking guide…

Gulf Shores rentals – the range that's available

Not all Gulf Shores rentals are created the same. Some are small and compact, for budget seekers or loved-up couples on an Alabama honeymoon. Others pack in several bedrooms and big living spaces, aiming at families and spring break groups.

The condominium rules supreme

From the Florida Keys to the barrier islands of Texas, most of the resort towns on the Gulf of Mexico will offer condos as their number one rental option. It's no different in Gulf Shores, where you can find deluxe condos with shared swimming pools, oceanfront duplexes with salt-washed balconies, and even oversized condominiums that can host the whole family.

Gulf Shores rental homes for families

Looking to treat the crew to a bout of Southern sun and sloshing sea? That shouldn't be a problem, on account of the wide range of Gulf Shores vacation rentals that have enough space for four, five, or six guests. Some will even be pet friendly, so you don't have to think about leaving Fido behind.

Your stay on the oceanfront

There's no question that the most covered properties of all in Gulf Shores are the ones that have front-row positions overlooking the sands. For the most part, these are self-contained flats and apartments in complexes of condominiums, which means there's a chance you'll have a swimming pool or a communal garden right by the shore. The majority of them will also boast balconies where you can sip cocktails as the sun sets.

An area guide to booking Gulf Shores rental homes

As Gulf Shores fringes the oceanfront along from the Florida state line, it covers a hodgepodge of different town centers, resort areas, and communities. Each has its own vibe and character, so it's worth getting a feel for them before booking any home away from home.

The Gulf Shores boardwalk – where the action's at

Awash with waffle kitchens, surf shops, and hangout cafés, the boardwalk at Gulf Shores is surely where you're going to want to be if you're eager to feel the buzz of the resort. There are condos by the bucket load, along with water sports outfitters, dolphin tour guides, and beach-gear shops.

Orange Beach is an alternative

Moving closer to the Sunshine State by heading Orange Beach way means turning up the azure gauge for the ocean – the waters seem to gleam just a little bluer as you move further east. That said, the two towns are strikingly similar, with a rickety boardwalk lacing the coast, and sun-soaked bodies all over the place.

Cheaper options down by Surf Side Shores

Moving west along the Alabama coast is a sure way to extricate yourself from the energy of the town center and glimpse a more pristine and wild side of the Gulf of Mexico. Another attractive aspect about going in that direction is the cost of rentals in places like Surf Side Shores, where you can get multi-bedroom homes for families that sit right on the beachfront for surprisingly great rates.

Wallet-friendly deals on Gulf Shores rentals by owner

There are some tried-and-tested ways to cut the cost of escapes to Gulf Shores, whether that means booking long before you touch down in Alabama or venturing to the bayous and bayside a little from the waves.

Book well in advance

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach combine to create the most popular stretch of shoreline in all of Alabama. That's important because it means there's often high demand for places to stay, so you'll want to be the early bird and get your letting sorted long before other people come in search of low-cost bargains.

Move back from the beaches

The most sought-after Gulf Shores rental homes are always going to be straddling the salty boardwalk or peppering the dunes right by the ocean. If you're okay with a short stroll before laying your towel in the sands, you can often save a bunch just by skipping across to the bays to the north, where rentals come regularly in at a fraction of the cost.