Once the haunt of fearsome pirates, Topsail Beach is now all about taking it easy. You can go in hunt of Blackbeard's fabled loot if you must, but that's only if you can peel yourself away from the sunny sands and the cooling surf, not to mention an Ocean Blvd that's peppered with tasty seafood grills and gorgeous Topsail Beach rentals that have come-get-me coastal views.

A guide to the range of Topsail Beach, NC, rentals

There's really only two main types of beach rentals on the menu up and down the length of Topsail Island. The first is smaller and more compact, but comes with more affordable price tags. The other is primed for larger groups and means a little extra luxury.

Scoring your own house on the beach

The largest Topsail rentals are complete coastal homes. They spread over multiple stories – the highest floor usually offers the best view of the cinnamon-tinged sands – and spill into large gardens for hosting those sunset BBQ parties. These are the option of choice if you're planning on bringing the whole family, because there are some that have upwards of seven bedrooms, and others with even more space.

Topsail Island vacation rentals in condo form

The condominium or private flat rental becomes a much more popular choice as you head into the energetic heart of Surf City. There, it's a good base for smaller families or couples who just want to grab an easy pad close to the sands. The big pull of these sorts of Topsail Island rentals, however, is that they regularly come with alluring communal facilities, most notably shoreline swimming pools.

An area guide to booking Topsail Beach rentals

Topsail Beach spreads out along its eponymous Topsail Island. It's got one side facing the Atlantic, and another dropping into coast wetlands and creeks just off the North Carolina mainland. This part of the guide travels the lot in search of the most enticing areas to book a home away from home in.

Topsail Beach – the southernmost part of the isle

The bottommost section of Topsail Island is given over to the town of Topsail Beach itself. Of course, the pristine sands are the piece de resistance, but the resort also has a few other curiosities up its sleeve – from the Missiles and More Museum military history museum to some salt-water fishing outfitters. The homes are generally large, and never more than three streets back from the waves

Surf City – midway up the barrier

This is where the buzz is at. If you're after a little hint of family fun and a touch of Atlantic City on your North Carolina escape, Surf City packs in the pier, the turtle sanctuaries, and the lively surf-turf kitchens. The Topsail Island beach rentals here are also more accessible, being closer to the Surf City Bridge that links to the Wilmington Highway beyond.

North Topsail Beach – for seclusion

The vibe gets noticeably quieter as you venture along the coast to North Topsail Beach. Wood-faced ocean homes with timber cladding, sand-blown decks, and gardens that merge with the dunes are the norm. There's not much in the way of gastronomy, but it is likely to be just you, the seabirds, and the swells.

How to ensure you get top bargains in Topsail Beach rentals

Vacation rentals in Topsail, NC, might promise to whisk you away to a land of buried treasure and old pirate tales, but short of finding Blackbeard's stash, you're probably going to have to stick to the money-saving tips below to come out of it with dollars in hand…

Book early if you're planning a summer in Topsail

Topsail Beach might be a relatively quiet alternative to some of North Carolina's other chart-topping coastal resorts, but there's still a big rush for accommodation between June and August. That's when you get the best weather and the highest temperatures, and when the most wallet-friendly deals will sell out ASAP.

Topsail Island rentals on the oceanfront can be pricy

As the Atlantic Ocean rolls in and the gulls call along the beaches, there's something truly serene and relaxing about settling down for a beer and a BBQ in your own place on the sands. But that's a luxury you will have to pay considerably more for, which means budget seekers are probably better off in the houses just a block or two back from the shore.

Expand your search to all of Topsail Island

Topsail Beach, NC, rentals aren't the only options on the long length of Topsail Island. There are also Surf City homes, and more even further north. To ensure you get the pick of the best bargains, check the whole lot when you come to book.