Updated 10/5/2020 The Outer Banks is a beautiful chain of islands that everyone needs to experience at least once in their life. The sheer size of the area (the beachfront is over 100 miles long) can make finding Outer Banks vacation rentals overwhelming. Whether traveling to the OBX (the common abbreviation of Outer Banks) as a couple or a family, this guide will point you in the right direction to finding the perfect Outer Banks VRBO rental.
Because of the massive length of the Outer Banks islands, we will break this guide down into sections. We will begin at the Northern end of the OBX at Corolla and end at the Southern tip of Hatteras. For each highlighted area of the OBX we will provide information on the highest rated and reviewed VRBO rentals for that specific area. If you’ve never used VRBO to rent a house or condo for a vacation, the Outer Banks is a great first place to try it out! Be warned though, the best Outer Banks vacation rentals and condo rentals fill up extremely quick.
Bordering both the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound, Corolla is the Northernmost village on the Outer Banks. Corolla is famous for its wild horses that roam the vast 15 miles of undeveloped beaches here. There are several tours available to see them throughout the year.
The beach here is quiet, perfect for couples or families who want to feel like they have their own private beach. In our opinion the beaches of Corolla are the best in the Outer Banks, the sand is the soft white sugar sand that is less common as you go South. Corolla is spread out over so many miles that a rental car is probably a necessity. Corolla is still a relatively under the radar Outer Banks vacation area, which is a big part of the draw. You won’t find a quieter stretch of beach in the Outer banks. Here are the highest rated Corolla VRBO rentals:
This house is perfectly set up for hosting a large family or group of friends. The location is perfect, directly on the beachfront, and only a mile from a grocery store and multiple restaurants. The pool here is awesome, and the kiddie pool is a lifesaver when entertaining little ones.
There is so much entertaining space in Lynn’s house, from the poolside bar to the ground floor inside game room and bar. There is no shortage of space either, even with large groups. This house will comfortably sleep 18 people. Many of the bedrooms have amazing ocean views, and the beach view from the kitchen looks like it could be out of a painting. This house is truly remarkable, and the stellar reviews tell the story. VRBO Review Score: 4.9/5 (80 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
It can be difficult to find a Corolla house rental that isn’t massive like the one above. This beachfront house is an absolute gem in the land of giant properties. We absolutely love the location, and you can’t beat the views. The outdoor showers let you wash off the sand on your way in from the beach, then lounge in the sun on the hammock and dry off. The issue we have with this rental is it can be next to impossible to find openings in availability. We haven’t stayed here yet but the awesome reviews keep coming in and it stays full, so that should tell you how great this house is. Good luck finding an opening! VRBO Review Score: 4.9/5 (33 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
The upscale town of Duck sits just South of Corolla in the Northern part of the Outer Banks. While you won’t find any wild horses on the beaches here, you will find beautiful quiet beaches. There is actually less public beach access in Duck than Corolla, which is great if your rental is on the beach (not so great if it isn’t). The lack of public beach access means the beach is usually only used by locals and vacationers who are renting a house or condo.
In our opinion, there’s more recreation opportunities in Duck than Corolla. The boardwalk here is full of shops and restaurants within walking distance to many of the rentals, since Duck is much smaller than Corolla. From the boardwalk there are kayak and paddleboard rentals, boat rentals, fishing areas, and surfing opportunities. Active kids (or adults) will have plenty to do in this cool, trendy town. Here’s the best reviewed Duck, NC VRBO rentals we found:
The Seaquester is by far our favorite house rental in the northern towns of the Outer Banks. It was recently renovated and is stunning. Waking up and watching the sun rise over the ocean sipping coffee from the kitchen is something I will never forget, and memories like this are what make vacations special.
A private boardwalk from the house leads you right to the sand. The pool is large and perfect for keeping kids entertained. Speaking of kids, Leslie goes out of her way to make it easy for traveling with little ones. Included in the rental are cribs, a pack and play, highchair, and baby gates. This is typically something you have to hassle with renting or lug in on your own. Leslie has thought of the little things that make a stay at her house easy and unforgettable. VRBO Review Score: 4.7/5 (52 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
It’s no secret that staying in Duck can be expensive. It is one of the more expensive towns in the Outer Banks. Mike’s condo makes staying in Duck affordable, even on a budget. While technically just a 1 BR condo, there is a comfy queen pull out couch in the living room as well as 2 bunk beds tucked into the hallway.
You can rent this awesome Duck VRBO rental for between $100-200 a night depending on demand, and its usually closer to $100. That is an unbelievable value for this area. A beachfront condo for around $100 a night is unheard of. VRBO Review Score: 4.7/5 (95 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
Located between Duck and Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores is the definition of seclusion. There are no public beach accesses, no restaurants, and no stores. A car rental is a necessity here. While Southern Shores is secluded, it is still just a short drive to everything you need in Kitty Hawk. If you truly want to disconnect and unwind, this is the place to do it.
We recommend choosing a rental on or very near to the beach in this area, since public access is so limited. It’s worth mentioning that although the seclusion of Southern Shores may seem like a drawback, that feeling goes away when you are relaxing on the gorgeous beaches here with no crowds. Here are the highest reviewed Southern Shores vacation rentals we found:
Located on the south end of Southern Shores, this Outer Banks VRBO house rental is hard to beat if you have a large group. I haven’t seen a bigger deck on the entire OBX, and the views from it are unbelievable. The panoramic windows I’m the main living room give you an amazing view of the Atlantic. There are a wide variety of beds in this house, but there are 4 bedrooms with Queens or larger. The other two are set up for kids with twins and bunks. They will heat the pool during the colder months if requested, which can extend the swimming season for your vacation if needed. VRBO Review Score: 4.8/5 (35 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
It’s not very often you find a rental that is only a few years old, especially not in this area. Carol’s 4 bedroom Southern Shores VRBO house rental isn’t directly on the beach, but is a 5 minute walk from it. The tradeoff is you can stay here for an absolute bargain. If you don’t mind a short walk to the beach, this rental might be the best value in the Outer Banks. We recommend renting bikes and using them to get to the beach in under a minute. You can actually rent them down the street and have them delivered to the house. Not surprisingly, the reviews on this new house are currently perfect. VRBO Review Score: 5/5 (22 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
Located between Southern Shores and Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk has a ton to offer. Most house or condo rentals in Kitty Hawk are more affordable and family friendly than the more secluded towns to the North. Since there are more rentals available in Kitty Hawk than most of the other towns in the Outer Banks, it can be easier to find a last minute reservations here.
There is so much to do in Kitty Hawk, we won’t be able to cover nearly everything. From waterparks to kayaking to mini golf, kids will find plenty to do. The beaches on Kitty Hawk are busier than the towns to the North. The trade off is there is way more to do, and many more restaurants. Our favorite is a hole in the wall local’s restaurant called “I Got Your Crabs” I Got Your Crabs- Yelp Reviews You have to try the Blue Crab Nachos there.
Like we mentioned earlier, there are a ton of VRBO rentals in Kitty Hawk, NC. If this area sounds like it would be the best fit for your family and the rentals we list below are full, feel free to check for other rentals on the Outer Banks VRBO. It can be easier to use the sort and filter options to make the list less overwhelming. If you are only looking for a Kitty Hawk house rental, for example, use the “filter” button and select “house” as the property type to filter. You can do the same thing for condos. Here’s the best rentals in our opinion:
The “Castle in the Sand” is the biggest and probably most luxurious house you can rent in Kitty Hawk. This place isn’t for everyone though, it’s pretty expensive and it’s probably far too big; but it’s still pretty darn cool to check out. This massive 7BR home sleeps 20 people comfortably, and it has a somewhat excessive 7 bathrooms to go with it. You have to look at the pictures of this thing even if you have no intention of renting it, words can’t really describe how awesome of a house this is. VRBO Review Score: 4.6/5 (15 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
Dave and Cindy’s 2 bedroom Kitty Hawk rental house might not look like much on the outside, but inside is one of the most elegant and beautiful renovations I’ve ever seen. You have to look at the pictures to really appreciate this house. In an awesome location right on the beach, this house is a lot more practical for most people than the last house. It is really affordable most times of the year, but can be a challenge to find availability because it is so popular. VRBO Review Score: 4.7/5 (65 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
Kill Devil Hills
Continuing South down the Outer Banks, Kill Devil Hills sits between Kitty Hawk and Nags Head. The Wright Brothers National Monument and Museum is located here, and is definitely worth checking out. You can even walk the exact path down the hill that the Wright Brothers used as their runway in 1903.
Kill Devil Hills shares a lot of the same characteristics as Kitty Hawk. It has lots of shops, restaurants and activities like bike and paddleboard rentals within a 5 minute drive. One cool difference about Kill Devil Hills is that the beach is narrower here the northern areas of the Outer Banks. There are many house rentals here located mere feet from the water (literally on the beach). These “stilt houses” make for an unforgettable Outer Banks vacation experience. Here are our favorites:
This house is stunning, with beautiful views of the beach, especially from the fireplace. I love that it has a fireplace, staying here in the winter can be a fun family getaway for an extremely reasonable price. The elevator makes it easy for guests who can’t do stairs. With a game room, private pool and hot tub, and beautiful kitchen; Kim’s house is perfect for hosting a large family. There is a private beach access path, and the beach in this area of Kill Devil Hills is rarely busy. This house is walking distance down the beach to Avalon Pier, where there is a cool little Shrimp Shack on the water with great seafood. This is one of the rare Outer Banks VRBO rentals with a perfect 5/5 review score with 100 or more reviews. VRBO Score: Perfect 5/5 (100 reviews) Link: Check Availability and Rates
Anne’s condo is the closest condo to the beach on the entire Outer Banks, but that isn’t the only reason we selected it. This condo is in the absolute perfect location in Kill Devil Hills. It is a short walk to several great restaurants, shops, and the Wright Brothers Monument and Museum. There aren’t many places on the Outer Banks where you don’t have to have a rental car, but this is one of them. If you check the reviews on Anne’s condo, you will see that many of them are return visits. That is a really easy way to judge how great a rental unit on VRBO really is. VRBO Review Score: 4.8/5 (98 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
One of the oldest and most well known towns on the Outer Banks, Nags Head has two parts which are very different. South Nags Head is (not suprisingly) South of the town of Nags Head, and is very isolated. If it is your first time visiting Outer Banks, I’d recommend making sure you are staying in Nags Head, not Nags Head South. The roads have been known to wash out in the southern town and it can be a hassle getting around.
Nags Head has numerous things to do much like it’s neighbors to the North. There are loads of beach access points, so even if you aren’t staying on the beach you are just a quick walk from the sand. Nags Head house rentals off the beach sometimes even have a beach view, without the beachfront price. This can be a great area to experience the Outer Banks on a budget, and still not feel like you are missing anything.
I’d also recommend Nags Head house rentals for families who are making their first trip to the OBX. Nags Head is what most people picture in their mind when they think of the Outer Banks, and it doesn’t disappoint. We can’t forget to mention the food here, it’s a seafood lover’s paradise. From fancy upscale fish houses to old school oyster bars, Nags Head has it all. One of our favorite spots is Fish Heads Bar and Grill, located directly on the Nags Head Fishing Pier. Sitting on the deck here, watching the waves come in while peeling shrimp with a cold beverage is one of the ways we wouldn’t mind going out. Here’s our favorite Nags Head VRBO rentals:
This Nags Head house rental sits in a prime location, away from the crowds and close to awesome shops and restaurants. Michael’s house is one of the most popular on Nags Head, and this can make it challenging to find availability during busy seasons. This rental is perfect for families, the bedrooms are perfectly set up for accomodating kids. This is a pretty affordable rental as well, with off peak rates around $200 a night, which is an absolute steal. There’s a reason this house has 139 fantastic VRBO reviews. VRBO Review Score: 4.8/5 (139 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
This is our favorite condo in Nags Head. Newly renovated, in a perfect location, and surprisingly affordable. This unit checks all the boxes. We love that you can walk down the beach to the pier and eat (or drink) at Fish Heads Bar and Grill. The unit is beautiful, the condo complex is extremely well kept, and the view is unbeatable. Like the last house, this is one of the most popular condos on Nags Head, but if you can find availability don’t hesitate to book it. VRBO Review Score: 4.9/5 (119 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo
We have to drive about 30 miles South from Nags Head to find our next town, Rodanthe. Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo are all connected in a short 5 mile stretch of beach. Other than a different address you really can’t tell one from the other. You might be familiar with Rodanthe from the movie “Nights in Rodanthe”. The ocean here can be quite wild during the stormy months, but absolutely stunning in the calm times.
With high dunes and a small number of public beach accesses, when selecting a Rodanthe house rental it should be either close to a beach access or on the beachfront. This goes for Waves and Salvo as well. Of all the Outer Banks VRBO rental locations we have outlined, this area is the best suited for a couples vacation. I wouldn’t recommend it for a family vacation with kids. There aren’t many places geared towards kids in these towns.
That being said, there are some amazing restaurants in this area. Watermen’s Bar and Grill in Waves has some of the best food and oceanfront views in the OBX. Windsurfing is a popular activity in this area, and the rental shop next door to the restaurant makes this an awesome location to watch the surfers flying through the air, while eating great seafood with cold drinks. Here are our favorite Rodanthe VRBO rentals:
This Outer Banks VRBO rental can be extremely difficult to book during the busy season, so you definitely need to check early. It can also be booked during the off peak seasons for extremely reasonable rates. Frank’s house is beautifully decorated with perfect views of the beach and Rodanthe Pier, which is just a short walk away. We love the location of this house, there are several great restaurants nearby. If you can manage to find a time when this Rodanthe VRBO rental is available, it is our favorite in Rodanthe. VRBO Review Score: 4.8/5 (83 reviews Link: Check Availability and Rates
There aren’t a ton of condos in Rodanthe, but Brad’s 2BR at the Dacotah Hill’s complex is without a doubt the best. The views are unparalleled, and it often rents for a little cheaper than a house with similar amenities. The reviews on Brad’s condo speak for themselves, check them out in the link following. VRBO Review Score: 4.8/5 (78 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
Located 15 miles south of Rodanthe, Buxton is home to the famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest brick lighthouse in the country. Built in 1870, the lighthouse was constructed to warn boaters of the treacherous shallow sand shoals off the Hatteras Point. This area is a water sports enthusiast’s paradise. Surfing, kiteboarding, and the best fishing in the Outer Banks bring thousands of people to Buxton each year.
Its important to note that when you are getting this far South down the Outer Banks, its takes about an hour and a half to get to Buxton once you cross the bridge from the mainland. Some people are surprised at the time it takes to get to this area, so it’s just something to be aware of.
Since Buxton is this far South, it doesn’t get nearly the same amount of tourists that the Northern OBX towns get. This translates to cheaper rental prices. You can get a great value on a Buxton beach house rental here compared to somewhere like Duck. Here are some of our favorite Buxton beach house rentals:
This cottage is one of the best values in Buxton. During the less busy seasons you can actually rent it for around $100 a night. This is an incredible value for the area. You are steps from the beach and have panoramic views of the sand from the wrap around decks on both floors. This location on Buxton is a short beach walk down to the lighthouse as well. VRBO Review Score: 5/5 (37 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
Where do you even start with this one? If you have a large group, I’m not sure you could find a better house in the Outer Banks. This would be a perfect house for a family reunion. With 8 master bedroom suites, a huge kitchen, large entertaining areas (and an awesome tiki bar), and a private sandy beach; this Buxton VRBO rental has it all. You have to see the pictures to do this place justice. VRBO Review Score: 4.9/5 (20 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
And finally, we have made it to the Southernmost town along the Outer Banks. I think we saved the best for last. Hatteras is truly a one of a kind place. Located almost a two hour drive down the OBX, Hatteras is light on crowds most of the year. If you are looking for a place to really relax, far removed from any hustle and bustle, Hatteras is your town.
There are several large marinas on the Pamlico sound side of Hatteras, and deep sea fishing is a popular activity. You will see many huge yachts cruising these marinas. There are several fish markets right off the water, and you can literally buy fresh caught seafood as it comes off the boat. It doesn’t get any more local or organic than that. The restaurant “The Hatteras Sol” is my favorite in the Outer Banks, and has crab cakes with fresh off the boat North Carolina blue crab that will blow your mind.
There are some really nice houses and condos available for rent in Hatteras. You can even rent large beachfront houses with 6 or more bedrooms. Multi family vacations with friends or family can make for a unique and unforgettable vacation experience. While some of these large houses may seem expensive, if you split the cost between families it can actually be the most affordable way to stay in Hatteras. There is tons of beautiful one, two and three bedroom houses and condos in Hatteras perfect for smaller groups as well. If you want the absolute best Outer Banks VRBO house rental location, we recommend Hatteras. It might not be the most popular, but you will see why it is our favorite. Here are our favorite Hatteras VRBO rentals:
I consider this house to be the crown jewel of Hatteras, and for a 6BR Outer banks house rental on the beach, you can usually rent it for less than getting multiple hotel rooms. With an elevator to every floor, you don’t even need to climb stairs (unless you want to). From the private pool with a waterfall to the theater room, this house has it all. It is one of the few houses on Hatteras to be both beachfront and on the calm sound side of the island. If the ocean is too cold or rough you can walk out the back door and play on the warmer and calmer sound side of the island. This house is incredible. VRBO review score: 4.8/5 (28 reviews) Link: Check Rates and Availability
This 4BR Hatteras house rental is in a prime location on the beach. With a pool, hot tub and game room; there is no lack of amenities here to keep kids entertained. Located right of Highway 12, it’s a quick 5 minute drive to everything on Hatteras. Review score on VRBO: Perfect 5/5 (11 reviews) Link: Check Availability and Rates
If you’ve read this far, it’s been a journey, but this marks the end of our trip down the Outer Banks. I hope this massive guide has explained the differences in Outer Banks towns and which Outer Banks town might be best for you. We put countless hours in researching and creating this guide, if you found it helpful please leave a comment or share it with someone that might enjoy it. We would love to hear from anyone who stays at the VRBO rentals we reviewed as well. Thank you so much for reading and happy islanding!