The Cape Fear area – from Wilmington to Southport – is brimming with accommodation options. With a far-reaching range of campgrounds, motels and hotels, and resorts, visitors will find no shortage of places to stay, regardless of whether their geographical interests are close to the beach, the historic downtowns, or the idyllic middle of nowhere.

With that being said, visitors who are planning to come to the Cape Fear region for a long weekend or more – or who are arriving with a large party – will want to consider staying at a vacation home. Especially popular all along the regional beach towns, and scattered throughout the area, a vacation home or vacation rental can provide visitors with all the amenities they need, (and then some), to enjoy a fabulous stay and an exploration of everything that the Cape Fear area has to offer.

Ready to learn more? Then read on to discover why and how a vacation rental may be the best fit for your upcoming Cape Fear area getaway.

What is a Cape Fear vacation rental?

A Cape Fear vacation rental is a privately owned condo, duplex, townhome, or stand-alone residence that is rented out by the individual owner to vacationing guests. While some vacation rentals, or vacation homes, are rented out directly by the owner to visitors via community websites like VRBO.com, the majority of area vacation rentals are managed by a property management company which serves as the go between owner and guest, and which assists both parties with reservations, maintenance, and overall enjoyment of the home.

Vacation rentals come in all sizes and styles in the Cape Fear area – from studio apartments in Downtown Wilmington, NC to 8 or more bedroom oceanfront homes along the beaches -which makes it easy for visitors to find the best accommodations for their party size, desired locale, and overall taste.

Why rent a Cape Fear vacation rental?

Right off the bat, a Cape Fear area vacation rental has a few perks and benefits that separate it from traditional hotel and motel accommodations.

Price – A vacation rental can be a budget-friendly option for vacationing families in a myriad of ways. For example, larger parties who would otherwise have to rent larger hotel rooms to accommodate everybody can stay in a single home, and enjoy private bedrooms, communal kitchens and living areas, and plenty of amenities in the process. In addition, a vacation rental can cut down the cost of necessities – like meals, entertainment, and laundry – simply by having everything a vacationer needs right at home.

Location – Many area beach towns, like Kure Beach, Carolina Beach, and Wrightsville Beach, are primarily comprised of vacation rentals that are perched along the oceanfront. As a result, visitors who stay at a vacation home or condo will have access to great beaches, exceptional views, and a host of community amenities and attractions.

Amenities – One of the biggest draws of a vacation rental is the sheer amount of amenities. While a hotel or motel room may offer the most desirable attributes – like a TV, a mini-fridge and microwave, and internet – a vacation rental house or condo is stocked with all the comforts of home and more. Expect fully equipped kitchens, separate dining areas, living spaces, and cool little extras like book and movie libraries when you stay at these more spacious and accommodating options.

How to Rent a Cape Fear Area Vacation Rental

Some vacation rentals may be directly booked and reserved through the individual homeowner, but for the most part – (and especially in coastal communities like Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport and Wrightsville Beach), visitors will want to go through a vacation rental or property management company to make their reservation.

The great news is that, like a hotel / motel room, the booking process can be completed online, with little effort required to find and reserve that perfect vacation home.

Visitors will want to head to the local vacation rental companies’ websites first, (there are roughly a dozen to choose from), to browse individual properties that are available in their preferred area. The local property management companies can represent anywhere from a few dozen properties to hundreds of vacation rentals, so a little searching goes a long way to finding that perfect vacation home.

Luckily, virtually all property management websites have detailed search filters that allow guests to look for properties based on number of bedrooms, amenities, location, etc., and to narrow down their search results with just a few clicks. In addition, these websites have extensive detail pages for each property that includes photos and / or virtual tours, descriptions, and a bullet point list of features to ensure visitors know all about their accommodations before they arrive.

Once a visitor has pinpointed their desired property, they can book online and / or make an initial payment as needed. While the process is very similar to renting a motel / hotel room in terms of online reservations, visitors should note that they will likely need to sign a vacation rental agreement per North Carolina state law in the process.

Once a vacation rental has been reserved through a property management company, visitors will pick up their keys from a central check-in office on the date of their arrival, (or enter the home through a keyless code if applicable.) Upon departure, guests may need to do a few tasks before leaving -like emptying the garbage or throwing sheets into the laundry – to ensure that the home will be easy to clean for the next wave of vacationers’ arrival.

Note that check-in / check-out times are similar to a hotels at a vacation rental, with check-in times starting at around 4:00 p.m., and check-out times generally at 10:00 a.m. or so on the date of departure. Early check-in or late check-out options may be available, depending on the individual property management company or property.

Amenities at a Cape Fear Area Vacation Rental (and what to Bring)

Every vacation rental is different, and can offer a unique suite of amenities to ensure guests’ comfort and enjoyment. With that being said, guests will want to keep an eye out for these extras that can make a stay even more enjoyable, and which are popular requested amenities for a fantastic Cape Fear area vacation.

Pet Friendly – A number of vacation rentals are open for furry vacationers as well! Check individual property descriptions to see if a home or condo is “pet friendly.” An additional cleaning fee, security deposit, and / or charge may apply, and there may be a limit to the number (and type of) pets that are allowed at the home.

Handicapped Accessible – A handicapped accessible home or rental generally has an elevator and / or one-level living areas, handicapped friendly bathrooms, and other amenities to make a residence accessible for all visitors. Generally, a property description will note if a home is handicapped accessible, and vacationers with potential mobility issues can also call the property management company before booking to find out what options are available.

Private pool – Several larger homes, (generally 3-4 bedrooms or more), may offer private pools for their guests which are typically open during the warm weather months. Pool heat may be available for an extra fee, which may be needed in the shoulder season fall and spring months.

Linens / Towels Provided – Unless otherwise stated, guests will need to bring along their own sheets, pillowcases, and / or towels and washcloths. Comforters, pillows, and other bulky bedding are generally available and waiting at all homes.

Wireless Internet Access – Virtually every vacation rental now offers wireless internet access, which is considered an essential amenity for modern guests. Note that, for the most part, visitors will want to bring along their own laptops, tablets, etc., as on-site desktops and computers can pose a security risk for owners and guests alike.

Hot Tubs – A number of vacation rentals offer hot tubs, which are available year-round, and which are often found at scenic and / or private sections of the home, like under covered porches or on oceanfront decks. Look for rules regarding the use of hot tubs and follow accordingly.

Fireplaces – Fireplaces are often available to off-season winter guests only for obvious reasons. Consult the individual property description / property management company to determine when a fireplace is available for guests’ use.

Kitchens -Virtually every vacation rental has an on-site kitchen which is stocked with pots and pans, cooking utensils, silverware, glassware, and dishes for guests’ use. Vacationers will likely need to pick up the essentials for meals and cleaning – like garbage bags, paper towels, dishwashing detergent, etc. – during their trip

Cape Fear Area Vacation Rentals as an Investment Opportunity

Visitors who adore the Cape Fear area and who want to own a second home in the region may find that it’s a prudent move to look into vacation rentals as an investment opportunity.

All vacation rentals are privately owned by individual homeowners, and are rented on a short-term basis, which means that owners can access the property whenever they would like and / or whenever it is available. In addition, owners heading to their Cape Fear vacation rental house may enjoy tax benefits for needed repairs and / or maintenance stays. Best of all, with the help of an experienced vacation rental company, owners can ensure that their home is properly being cared for while enjoying an extra boost of income.

Many vacation rental companies in the Cape Fear area have a sister real estate sales department, and the local Realtors in the region are experts at pairing buyers with vacation rental homes that meet their specific needs. Schedule an appointment with a local real estate agent on your next vacation to peruse properties that could easily work as long term investments, or search the local Cape Fear MLS for a complete listing of properties on the market that are currently for sale.

With a little assistance from an experienced Realtor, as well as a bit of ambition, many potential buyers in the Cape Fear area will find that their dreams of having a coastal NC vacation home are not that far out of reach.

Tips and Tricks for renting a Cape Fear Area Vacation Rental

  • Most vacation rentals are available on a weekly basis, with Friday, Saturday, or Sunday check-in dates. Partial week stays or discounts may be available close to the time of arrival, aka, two to six weeks before a vacation.
  • Vacation rental rates are typically seasonal, and tend to be at their highest during the popular summer vacation months, and at their lowest during the quiet off-season winter months. For a bargain, look for vacation rentals during the shoulder season weeks before Memorial Day and just after Labor Day.
  • Don’t forget the trip insurance! Trip insurance will cover a guest for unforeseen natural disasters, like a hurricane, as well as personal emergencies that may lead to the cancellation of a vacation.
  • The Cape Fear area is popular, and many vacation rentals book up months in advance. As such, visitors should book as early as possible to ensure the best selection. Most vacation homes are open for the following year up to 51 weeks before an arrival date, and many vacationers may be able to acquire “first dibbs” for their vacation home for their exact property and week the following year. Check with your individual property management company during your stay if you want to secure your spot as a repeat vacationer.

Cape Fear vacation rentals are exceptional in a myriad of ways. Offering fantastic locations, amenities, and a host of extras to make a vacation truly shine, for many visitors, a vacation rental is the only way to go to ensure the best time possible.

Check out the variety of high quality vacation rental / property management companies available, and conduct a few well-tuned searchers before an upcoming vacation to ensure that your accommodations match your idea of a dream vacation. With so many options, and a bevy of exquisite properties, the world is truly your oyster when you are a vacation rental guest in the Cape Fear area.

Battleship USS North Carolina

Battleship USS North Carolina

The USS Battleship North Carolina is an unmistakable site in Downtown Wilmington. Taking up a large portion of the waterfront docks, this historic World War II moveable landmark is a must-see for Cape Fear vacationers.

May Moore Park

May Moore Park

Take a break from the beach and enjoy the winding canals and creeks that border the Elizabeth and Cape Fear Rivers with a visit to the May Moore Park. This small destination, located on the northeastern side of Oak Island, is within walking distance of a number of vacation rentals, and provides plenty of peace and quiet for beach lovers who want to try a different natural excursion off the salty Atlantic shoreline.

Bald Head Island Lighthouse - Old Baldy

Bald Head Island Lighthouse - Old Baldy

It's hard to confuse the Old Baldy Lighthouse with the other Carolina lighthouses that guard the Eastern Seaboard. The unique structure has undergone some interesting natural and manmade changes during its nearly 200 year lifespan, but many visitors believe that the unique structure, the aging exterior, and the long history only adds to the overall charm. A must-see local attraction for day trippers and weeklong vacationers alike, the Old Baldy Lighthouse is easily one of the most interesting and admired sites throughout all of Bald Head Island.

Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island

Located on the southern tip of the Cape Fear coastline, and jetting out into the ocean like a jewel of green land in a sea of blue, Bald Head Island is a beach vacation destination that is truly unique for its geography, history, and distinctive character. Isolated from the rest of the world, but wonderfully accommodating with plenty of vacation homes and attractions, this tiny island is a paradise for nature fans, mariners, and beach lovers of all varieties.

Cape Fear Boating Guide

Cape Fear Boating Guide

One of the most popular pastimes in the Cape Fear region is boating, and for very good reason. Surrounded by water that can range from the Cape Fear River itself to a network of salty canals and inlets that connect with the Atlantic Ocean, there are literally hundreds of miles to explore in this divinely coastal region. Enjoy a long and scenic trek down the Intracoastal Waterway, or just enjoy a cruise or tour of the downtown Wilmington waterfront. No matter how you prefer to explore, the Cape Fear boating scene is always beautiful, diverse, and ideal for an open water ride.