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- The Outer Banks is a 130-mile-long string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina.
- There are quaint beach towns, sleepy fishing villages, and 75 miles of protected coastline.
- We found top-rated Outer Banks vacation rentals, ranging from $97 to $441 per night to start.
I've vacationed every year in the Outer Banks – often shortened to OBX – since I was a teenager. This once low-key destination has since boomed in popularity thanks to wide white-sand beaches, affordable vacation rentals, proximity to large East Coast cities, and a popular Netflix show bearing the same name.
In recent years, ramshackle single-story beach cottages have given way to multi-level houses, fancy restaurants, gourmet stores, and kitschy shops.
Yet even with this explosive growth, the Outer Banks manages to retain its natural beauty and charm. From cozy vintage cottages to massive new-builds, and at price points to fit every budget, these are some of the best vacation rentals that make it easy to appreciate this special place.
Browse all the best Outer Banks vacation rentals below, or jump directly to a specific area here:
- The best vacation rentals in Outer Banks
- FAQ: Outer Banks vacation rentals
- Find more beach houses on Airbnb
These are the best vacation rentals in the Outer Banks, sorted by price from low to high.
Located in the center of Hatteras Island and bordered on both sides by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Avon is known for its laidback vibe and rural feel. It’s a popular spot for surfing and kiteboarding, and the nearly 700-foot-long Avon Pier has some of the area’s best fishing.
Just a block and a half from the beach, this cozy studio apartment is perfect for a couple’s getaway. It features a Queen-sized bed, a bistro table and chairs, and a kitchenette with a mini-fridge, coffeepot, and toaster oven. The private patio has a small dining table, grill, and a porch swing, all surrounded by a well-manicured lawn.
What keeps this property so affordable is the detached bathroom and outdoor shower, which may not be to everyone’s comfort level.
Beach retreat in Kitty Hawk
The town of Kitty Hawk is one of the Outer Banks’ most popular year-round destinations, teeming with local bars and restaurants and attractions like the bustling Kitty Hawk Pier. In the heart of the action and just across the street from the beach sits this home with superb ocean views.
Thoroughly updated, the home features a sprawling, open-plan living/dining room and gourmet kitchen on the third level, affording ocean vistas from nearly every window. A large covered deck (one of two) offers even better water views. Tasteful, contemporary furnishings in the living areas give way to brighter, beachier decor in the three bedrooms. Two are ensuites, featuring King-sized beds, and one bathroom boasts a Jacuzzi tub. A fully fenced yard makes this home ideal for dog owners and/or those with small children.
Cozy island cottage in Ocracoke
Yes, Ocracoke Island is far — a long drive, plus a ferry ride (or about three hours’ travel time from Kitty Hawk) to reach this southern tip of the Outer Banks. But once you’re here, it feels world’s away from the bustling beaches of the central Outer Banks. Most of the island is National Seashore, which means miles of protected, undeveloped coastline and pristine, uncrowded stretches of sand.
This quaint, quiet one-bedroom cottage, dubbed Charlotte’s Daughter, is within walking distance of the island’s only village, a charming hub of local restaurants, bars, and shops. The split-level home features hardwood floors throughout, with an open-plan living/dining room and kitchen downstairs, and the bedroom (with a King-sized bed) and bathroom upstairs. Skylights keep things bright, while a screened-in front porch is great for relaxing. It’s a short drive or bike ride to the beach.
Beach retreat in Kitty Hawk
In the heart of Kitty Hawk, and just across the street from the beach, this recently updated three-bedroom home boasts superb ocean views.
Catch the sunrise and ocean breezes from the front patio, while the large back deck — complete with hot tub and grill — has plenty of space to entertain. The modern 1,150-square-foot home features large windows with views of the ocean from nearly every room and can sleep up to nine people, with a third bedroom equipped with two bunk beds that are ideal for kids. However, towels and linens are not provided, so you’ll need to bring your own.
A secluded stay in Kitty Hawk
Much of the Kitty Hawk rental market is focused on beach access, which means houses are often packed closely together, on small lots, and with little privacy. For a more serene stay, head to the opposite side and the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve. This 1,890-acre maritime forest comes with great opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and bird-watching.
Nestled among tall trees, with a sprawling deck overlooking the reserve, this two-bedroom Franklin’s Tower cottage feels more like a nature retreat than a beach house. It’s 2 miles to the closest beach, but walking and biking paths are just outside the door and the host offers free use of bikes and kayaks.
The recently-built, townhouse-style cottage features 12-foot ceilings, a 700-square foot living room, wood floors, and custom tile work. Multiple guests praised the home’s decor, the spacious deck, and the cozy outdoor fire pit.
Vintage beach bungalow in Nags Head
Nags Head is a bustling spot best known for the towering sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park where you can hike, fly kites, catch incredible sunsets, and even learn how to hang glide. Nags Head also has the longest stretch of oceanfront, spanning 11 miles, making it an extremely popular destination for beachgoers.
While you’ll find newly-built mega-mansions in the northern areas of the Outer Banks, Nags Head is mainly populated with small, funky bungalows, many of which date back to the 1940s and 50s. This cottage is a prime example, a vintage-style one-bedroom that is across from the beach and within walking distance of Nags Head Fishing Pier.
Ideal for adventurous couples, the bungalow comes equipped with surfboards, his and hers electric beach cruisers, a tandem bike, and everything you need for the beach such as chairs, an umbrella, and a cooler.
Cute apartment in historic Manteo
Most visitors come to the Outer Banks for the beach, but the charming bayfront village of Manteo offers great dining, shopping, and fishing, as well as access to all the historical attractions of 400-year-old Roanoke Island.
Located near the historic waterfront district, this newly-built cottage apartment is ideal for couples, with a light-filled den outfitted with contemporary furnishings, a full modern kitchen, and one bedroom overlooking the pretty neighboring gardens.
It’s a short walk to Manteo’s boardwalk, marina, and many restaurants, galleries, and antique shops. The beaches of Nags Head are about a 10-minute drive away.
Midcentury modern bungalow in Kill Devil Hills
The oldest town on the Outer Banks, Kill Devil Hills is the busiest and most populous area on this stretch of barrier islands. It’s here you’ll find a high concentration of hotels, restaurants, shopping, and family-friendly attractions like miniature golf and the multiplex. It’s also home to the Wright Brothers National Memorial, which commemorates the world’s first controlled flights in 1903.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the beach is this chic one-bedroom bungalow featuring a classic post-and-beam structure and soaring, wood-paneled ceilings. Unlike many OBX rentals that lean toward beachy vibes, this one is pure midcentury modern with sleek retro furnishings and eclectic touches like a vinyl library.
Sprawling oceanfront home in Rodanthe
This multi-level oceanfront Outer Banks vacation rental looks downright palatial with its multiple decks and living space spread over three floors. And with seven bedrooms, it’s an ideal spot for a large multi-gen family gathering or friend reunion. Plus, you can even bring your dog; it’s pet-friendly.
There’s an elevator, should anyone in your group be limited in mobility, and other features of the home include a rec room with foosball and billiards, a media room for movie nights, and a hot tub. There’s also a large living room, fully stocked kitchen, and multiple bed configurations.
However, it’s the views that are the true stunner. On the top third floor, enjoy panoramic water views of both the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy a seat on the oceanfront deck, or grab a spot on the covered front porch for a sunset over the sound.
Sound-front apartment in the heart of Duck
Duck is known for its quaint village feel, local shops, restaurants, and bars clustered along the mile-long boardwalk on the Currituck Sound. On the Atlantic side, grassy dunes protect the wide, white-sand beaches, where you’ll find fewer beachgoers since street parking is only available by permit.
Situated on the Duck boardwalk, this bright, two-story apartment is beautifully decorated with a mix of traditional antiques and modern furnishings. The living room features a Sound-facing balcony — the perfect spot to catch the Outer Banks’ renowned sunsets — and the three spacious bedrooms (all with Queen-sized beds) also overlook the water. One bedroom is on the second level and ideal for a bit more privacy. Note that while the eat-in kitchen features a dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, and electric hotplate, it does not have a stovetop or oven.
The beach is a 15-minute walk or five minutes by bike, and guests are supplied with a beach parking pass.
Oceanside home with a pool in Corolla
Corolla is home to wide stretches of white sand, plenty of waves for surfing and body boarding, and fewer crowds since parking is restricted to those staying in the area. Rentals here tend to be big and expensive, but you’ll find gentler prices on the Sound side.
If you want to splurge on an oceanside home, this huge contemporary home comes with a host of family-friendly amenities, including an outdoor pool, hot tub, and landscaped, fenced yard, plus a lower-level game room with billiards, foosball, and shuffleboard tables, and a wet bar.
On the second floor is the expansive, open-plan living/dining room outfitted with modern furnishings and a big flat-screen TV, and a gourmet kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances and island seating. Large porches on both levels offer lots of space to relax and several of the seven bedrooms have private balconies. The home is about a 10-minute walk to the beach.
Stylish beach house in Rodanthe
If you’ve read Nicholas Spark’s best-selling novel, “Nights in Rodanthe,” or seen the movie starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane, you know all about this small, romantic coastal town. Surrounded by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, quiet Rodanthe feels wonderfully removed from the busier, more easily reachable Outer Banks destinations to the north.
The narrowness of Hatteras Island means it’s easy to venture from the beach to the sound, and experience both spectacular sunrises and sunsets. That’s true of this three-bedroom semi-oceanfront home, which features a spacious crow’s nest with panoramic vistas.
Recently renovated, the home has a modern kitchen with custom counters and a farm sink, and wide-plank wood floors, contemporary furnishings, and tasteful beach-inspired artwork throughout.
Canal-front pool home in Kitty Hawk
Set along the Currituck Sound, Southern Shores in Kitty Hawk is a quiet residential community laced with shaded canals that make for a tranquil paddling experience. It’s also the closest neighborhood to the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge, connecting the Outer Banks to the mainland, which means you can avoid the traffic headaches and get a jump start on your vacation.
This four-bedroom home sits right on a canal, surrounded by lovely landscaping, with a spacious dock and a large private pool. Guests have access to community amenities including basketball and tennis courts, and the owner provides a parking pass for Hillcrest beach access, less than a 10-minute drive away. It’s a short walk to the Sound, where you can enjoy fantastic sunsets. Kayak rentals are available upon request.
Inside, the decor may seem a bit dated and old-fashioned, but the home boasts plenty of space, with two living rooms, a big kitchen, dining area, home office, and upstairs bedrooms.
FAQ: Outer Banks vacation rentals
Where are the Outer Banks?
The Outer Banks is a 130-mile-long string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, reachable by car by crossing one of several bridges linking it to the mainland. If you’re flying here, the closest airport is in Norfolk, Virginia; from there it’s about an 80-mile drive.
With the ocean on one side and the Sound on the other, the narrow strip of land is dotted with quaint towns and villages, plus miles of pristine, protected National Seashore.
What towns and villages make up the Outer Banks?
The Outer Banks is made up of 10 major towns plus many smaller villages. Those in the area known as the Northern Beaches are the most popular given their central location: Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, and Kill Devil Hills, and a bit farther north are Duck and Corolla.
As you head south, there’s historic Manteo (located on Roanoke Island), then the more remote Hatteras Island, where you’ll find Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras Village.
At the southernmost tip (and reachable only by ferry) is Ocracoke Island and its namesake town of Ocracoke.
What is there to do in the Outer Banks?
A visit to OBX is all about the ocean, whether it’s swimming, surfing, or sunbathing on the wide, sandy beaches. It’s also a top fishing destination, with charters running year-round and several piers that are fun for anglers of all ages. Other attractions include climbing the sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park, seeing the islands’ many historic lighthouses, and spotting the wild horses of Corolla.
Where should I vacation in the Outer Banks?
The centrally located beach towns of Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, and Kill Devil Hills tend to be more crowded, but they also offer the most amenities, from miniature golf and movie theaters to major shopping and plentiful restaurant choices.
Southern Shores, on the Sound side, is more residential and home to year-round locals; farther north are the upscale towns of Duck and Corolla, which have less congested beaches, as parking is restricted to those with passes (which most rentals provide).
The charming town Manteo on Roanoke Island sits on the Sound side — not ideal for beach-goers but great for those seeking a tranquil waterfront stay with lots of history (it’s one of the first English settlements in the New World).
If you’re willing to drive farther south to Hatteras Island, you’ll be rewarded with miles of pristine beaches flanked by rugged dunes, and small, laidback towns and villages. Those really wanting to get away from it all can hop the ferry from Hatteras Village to remote Ocracoke Island.
How much does it cost to rent a vacation house in the Outer Banks?
Much of the housing stock in the Outer Banks is devoted to vacation rentals and there’s a huge variety in terms of price, location, size, amenities, and design. Rentals on or near the beach are generally more expensive than those on the Sound side, and properties near the swanky towns of Duck and Corolla tend to skew higher. Most importantly, prices fluctuate depending on the time of year; summer (from Memorial Day through Labor Day) is peak season, while fall, spring, and winter (except around the holidays) see far lower rates. Generally, it makes little difference in cost whether you book mid-week or weekends, especially in summer.
Smaller properties are more affordable and generally have greater availability, as the Outer Banks leans towards vacationers with families or larger groups.
For example, a studio apartment in the off-season runs $75 per night, doubling to $150 in summer. But a 5-bedroom home on the Sound side that goes for $340 nightly in the low season surges to nearly $1,000 per night in July. And that’s if the property is available — many homes currently listed are already fully booked for the summer.
Be sure to also budget extra fees for cleaning, service fees, and other additional costs imposed by vacation rentals such as Airbnb.
What should I look for in an Airbnb or Vrbo?
Consider criteria like the items we use to select homes to recommend to readers. This includes positive recent reviews (often with a minimum review score), Superhost status, homes that participate in the Enhanced Clean program, affordable price ranges, as well as proximity to the beach, and amenities such as pools, outdoor seating, and water views.
Be aware that many properties — especially larger homes — have minimum-stay requirements.
What is Airbnb’s cancellation policy?
Cancellation policies on Airbnb differ for each home and are set by each individual host. For a full breakdown of Airbnb’s cancellation policies, click here.
How do I book a home in the Outer Banks on Airbnb?
You may search for rentals in the Outer Banks based on location, price, date, the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, amenities, and more. Once you’ve found a home, check for cancellation policies, and review your price in full. For more information, click here.
Is it safe to stay in an Airbnb?
According to experts, yes. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can safely travel in the US.
And if you’re wondering if Airbnb is safe, private home rentals are thought to offer a higher level of safety compared to hotels. They minimize interactions with others, and Airbnb hosts are required to follow enhanced cleaning procedures.
Find more beach houses on Airbnb