Outer Banks Accommodations

First Colony InnOuter Banks accommodations offer visitors everything from the basic bed and a shower to grand mansions. Over 8,000 of these accommodations are provided via rental houses, also known as "cottages." The term "cottage" refers to anything from a quaint little shack to the largest of homes. If you're looking for an Outer Banks vacation rental house, click here. These houses/cottages are individually owned and furnished (except for bed linens, towels and cleaning supplies) and are handled by property management firms. Some of these firms have websites with virtual tours of their cottages, giving the guest a view of what is available.

Standard rental for a house is one week, from Saturday to Saturday or Sunday to Sunday, although longer and shorter term rentals may be available. These popular Outer Banks accommodations provide the visitor with a myriad of choices in size, price and location. An oceanfront house sits right on the beach with no other houses between it and the ocean, providing convenience and often spectacular views.

A semi-oceanfront house is the next best Outer Banks accommodation. These houses sit back at least one lot from the beach, but are still convenient and can offer great views, too. One that is “between the highways” is located between the Beach Road (NC 12) and US 158 and the beach is a 5 to 10 minute walk.

Westside houses are located west of US 158 in Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. “Soundside” properties are those located on the sound, with no other houses between them and the water.

Rental houses, like many other Outer Banks accommodations, require some part of the payment in advance. Normally, 50 percent of the total reservation cost is paid upon booking and the remainder 30 days prior to arrival. Personal checks are allowed if the reservation is booked with enough time for the check to clear. Credit cards are accepted too, but the guest may be charged a credit card handling fee. If the rental agency allows payment upon arrival, a certified check is usually required.

Rental agencies also require a security deposit to ward against damage. It’s important for the guest to do a walk-through of the house upon arrival to determine if anything is in disrepair. Properties that allow pets require an extra fee, and can restrict the size of the pet.

Refund policies vary among the management firms, even in the event of hurricanes. Some firms will refund the unused portion of the rental if ferries aren’t running, or there’s a mandatory evacuation. Cancellation and refund policies should be explained at the time of reservation. If not, ask. Concerned travelers may want to purchase travel insurance as a backup.

Hotels and motels on the Outer Banks range from major hotel chains to family-owned motels on the beach. Though these Outer Banks accommodations are more spur-of-the moment than rental cottages, some still sell out quickly, and can require deposits. On holidays and during high season (mid-June to mid-August), many require a minimum two-night stay.

Hotel and motel prices range from $50 to over $300 a night depending on location and season. Many hotels and motels require a deposit (particularly in the summer) of 25 to 30 percent of the total reservation and full payment upon arrival. Few accept personal checks, so guests should be prepared to pay by cash, traveler’s check or credit card. Click here for more Outer Banks hotel motel information.

Similar to rental cottages, hotel, motel and bed and breakfast rooms are classified by location. (Click here for Outer Banks bed and breakfast information.) Oceanfront rooms have no other buildings between them and the ocean. Ocean view rooms don’t necessarily face the ocean, but afford a view of the water, and so on. Amenities in hotels run the gamut, ranging from the sophisticated hotels with “big city” amenities on the northern end of the Outer Banks, to the more modest inns and non-chain hotels on the southern end. Check in and check-out times vary, but usually range from 2:00 pm and later for check-in and 10:00 am and noon for check-out. All Outer Banks accommodations provide free parking for at least one vehicle per unit.

Campgrounds are located on Colington, Bodie, Roanoke, Hatteras, and Ocracoke Islands. The National Park Service has campgrounds in four locations.

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