North Carolina beach rentals – a destination guide

From the famous Outer Banks through the colonial relics of Mateo and down to the isles around historic Wilmington, there's a mega 300 miles of coastline to conquer in the Tar Heel State. So, don't go expecting to do it all in one trip. Instead, you can use this guide to start checking off some of the region's most amazing places, finding unforgettable North Carolina beach rentals as you go.

There are loads of reasons to pick Atlantic Beach rentals

The jewel of the Crystal Coast is a place steeped in tales of marauding Caribbean pirates – Blackbeard included – and blessed with beautiful dune habitats that you'll love exploring with the pooch in tow. It all centers on a rickety fishing pier that juts more than 1,000 feet into the frothing Atlantic swells. That's hugged by coffee-tinted sand runs to the east and west, where seafood grills, surf shacks, and elegant coast homes that have decks right on the ocean coalesce.

The draws of North Topsail Beach rentals

Between the Jolly Roger Pier, the enthralling military history collections of the Missiles and More Museum, the turtle sanctuaries, and day trips to nearby Wilmington, there's plenty to keep all ages busy in North Topsail Beach. Once an infamous pirate hideout, the island resort now looks straight to its beaches whenever the sun shines – they are tinged with white and backed by bristling sea oat fields.

Carova Beach rentals – real escapes

Just about as far north as it's possible to go on the NC coast before hopping over into Virginia, Carova Beach caps the OBX with its wild horse herds and windblown sand banks. It's glorious stuff, even if you do need a 4X4 or access to your own boat to reach many of the remote vacation homes.

The kaleidoscope of Wilmington beach rentals

When you finally tire of the overhanging live oaks and mosses of Airlie Gardens and the grand Antebellum faces of the Bellamy Mansion, you can scoot down the Cape Fear River to find all sorts of amazing Wilmington, NC, beach rentals. They pepper little islets on the shore, each of which has its own set of attractions. There's lively Kure Beach, poked by a pier and home to the curious Adventure Reef aquarium experience. There are plush Figure Eight Island rentals, offering boat moorings in beautiful wetland reserves.

Romance will flow in Rodanthe vacation rentals

A string of three pretty coast villages joins together to form the alluring town of Rodanthe, which has become the focal point of its own romantic novella, and draws crowds of honeymooners and couples with its range of classy shoreline retreats. It's easy to get away from it all here, that's for sure. Spend your days wandering the wiggling boardwalk trails of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, see the vintage Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station from 1881, or just enjoy serene strolls on the beachfront come sunset.

See the untamed NC shore with Cape Hatteras rentals

The protected reserves of Cape Hatteras really are something to write home about. Perhaps the closest you can get to the national seashore portion of the islands are Frisco, NC, vacation rentals, which are tucked around sloshing water channels, grassy salt marshes, and by pristine beaches a whisker to the west. From them, you can easily pull on the hiking boots and break out to the wonderland of shifting dunes and giant sea turtles that extends down the cape.

The northern reaches of the Outer Banks

There's really nowhere quite as captivating as the long, thin chain of barrier islands that makes up the northern Outer Banks. Some areas here are like NC's answer to the Hamptons. Just take a glimpse at those opulent Southern Shores vacation rentals – think sprawling mansions with ocean-side pools and tennis courts – and you'll see what we mean. But there are more down-to-earth regions, too. You can get South Nags Head vacation rentals, for example. They pepper the coast or fringe the Roanoke Sound, by steakhouses, BBQ grills, historic fishing piers, and golf courses.