Once a swashbuckling pirate hideout, where smugglers and marauders would lie in wait for passing vessels, this corner of the North Carolina coast is now a picture-perfect example of what comes with a vacation to the Outer Banks – soft sands, breezy ocean, high dunes, and some seriously enchanting homes away from home. This guide is all about the latter. It's designed to help you pinpoint an unforgettable Nags Head rental between the promenade and oat-lined shore.

Some fun features of Nags Head rentals

As they fringe the sand hills and run along the sandy streets, Nags Head vacation rentals offer up all sorts of enticing little features and extras. The list below details just a few that might tip you over the edge and get you pressing "book," whether that's the prospect of your own pool or a pad that will welcome your tail-wagging compadre to the coast.

Invite the four-legged family member

Nags Head rentals by owner are often pet friendly. That means you really can bring the whole family – even the member that eats gravy bones and biscuits for dinner, and prefers catching tennis balls to sunbathing. The good news is that Nags Head's main beach allows canines all year round, so long as they are kept on a short leash and under control.

A swim in your vacation rental in Nags Head, NC

You might have the sloshing Atlantic Ocean sitting just over the front row of dunes, but that's not always the most pleasant place to go to cool off when the mercury gets high in the Outer Banks. Much better would be a Nags Head house rental with its own swimming facility. Some will be shared as part of a larger complex, but some are private and just for you. And there are even heated options to keep you from wincing whenever you dive in.

Tempting locations for Nags Head, NC, rentals

Nags Head is a thin sliver of a barrier island that runs between the Roanoke Sound and the roaring big blue of the Atlantic. Between its two shores, you can find pads peppering manicured links fairways and others bristling with the sea oats against the elements of the coast. Both have their allure…

Just meters from the first tee

The south side of Nags Head, just where the causeway comes in from the mainland, is dominated by a sprawling links golf club that's ringed by countless villas and condos. You can choose to bed down in one of those if you wish. They often come with walking access to the fairways and tees, not to mention views of the holes.

Nags Head oceanfront rentals

The most sought-after type of Nags Head home is surely the one that pops up by the salty waves and the shoreline path. It's a great place to be, no question, if only for access to the breezy multi-use track that links up the coast, through historic districts, and all the way to Kitty Hawk in the north. Of course, the main draw is in the view, though – think morning visions of crashing rollers and evenings of sunsets glowing pink and orange across the ocean.

On the South Virginia Dare Trail

The locals call it Beach Road, and the S Virginia Dare Trail does live up to the moniker. It runs the length of the OBX, connecting the main fishing towns and piers. And it's littered with beautiful mansions and historic buildings along Nags Head's Cottage Row, eventually coming to the rickety timber pier – the oldest in the region. And it's not just lettings, because you also find hearty seafood shacks, grills, and local taverns on the way to boot.

Hints for getting cheap Nags Head rentals

Sticking to a tight budget? That shouldn't be a worry. There are some tried-and-tested ways you can reduce the price of a rental in these parts of North Carolina, all without sacrificing that taste of traditional Outer Banks life, proximity of the ocean, and the promise of a trip you'll always remember.

Book before all the other folk

Nags Head is the stepping stone between old Manteo and its colonial sights, and the soft-sand beaches of NC's most iconic coastal escape. The upshot? 1000s of travelers point their compass this way every year, which means the best bargains usually go like hot cakes. To avoid having a limited set of options that are within your budget, try to book early.

Memorial Day to Labor Day – steer clear

Sun-splashed shores and promenades filled with beachcombers, bikers, and fishing folk – that's the story from May to August in Nags Head. That's also when homes – especially beachfront properties – are at their costliest. So, think about coming in mid spring or fall to enjoy a balance between weather and price.