Imagine waking up in a beach house, breathing in salty air as you sip your morning coffee. There’s plenty of room for the whole family to stay together and no need to worry about how to cook your meals, find beach access, or enjoy some much-needed privacy.
It’s irresistible visions like this that have so many travelers choosing vacation rentals over hotels — and with the U.S. short-term rental market on track to hit a volume of over $20 billion by 2027, there’s growing appeal for vacation rental in oceanfront towns.
So whether you’re a seasoned player looking to grow your business or a first-timer ready to get in on the action, now is the time to make a beach house investment. From coast to coast, here are the best beach towns to buy in right now.
Our data is based on a combination of proprietary and public data, but the three key metrics we took into account are:
In addition to these metrics, we also evaluated a vacation property’s potential to outperform market expectations with an Evolve partnership. Below, you’ll see The Evolve Difference showcasing how we helped some of our top beach house owners maximize income and significantly beat the market’s projected revenue.
Please note: all data projections reflect ideal-state scenarios. Variables like owner-blocked calendars and extenuating circumstances (like natural disasters) are not factored into these calculations.
Set in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region, Hampton has a wide array of things to do and see. This coastal Virginia town is home to historical sites, peaceful beaches, and plenty of opportunities for fishing and water sports.
The median listing price in Hampton is a cool $264,093 — a substantial difference from the neighboring town of Virginia Beach, where the median home price hovers over $100,000 higher. And while the cost of purchasing a beach house in Hampton is relatively low, revenue remains strong. In fact, top-performing Evolve owners have made up to $55,000 annually, out-earning Virginia Beach competitors.
To do well in this area, you don’t necessarily need to be right on the sand. Look for homes with three to five bedrooms, plenty of backyard space, and close proximity to popular beaches like Buckroe. According to our real estate experts, the best performers in Hampton tend to offer beach amenities like chairs and umbrellas for guest convenience, and backyard adds like lawn games and a grill.
Known for its historic charm and laid-back vibes, Port Saint Lucie sits along Florida’s Treasure Coast less than an hour’s drive from West Palm Beach. Vacationers can explore 21 miles of coastline, but there’s also the Botanical Gardens, championship golf courses, the Riverwalk Boardwalk, and a fun downtown shopping scene to enjoy.
With a strong cap rate — your annual net operating income divided by a property’s market value — Port Saint Lucie takes a prominent spot in this list of best places to buy a beach house. Owners have earned over $40,000 in median annual revenue with the right rental opportunity.
Speaking of: because travelers come to Port Saint Lucie for more than just Caribbean blue waters, your rental investment doesn’t have to be beachfront. Riverfront options and homes near golf courses are also great options. And no matter where you end up, a pool can help earn top dollar.
That said, Port Saint Lucie is located in a county with a few additional permit requirements. Florida can be tricky with licensing, so our experts recommend contacting the city directly once you’ve zeroed in on an investment property to understand if county permits apply.
Newport is best known for its picturesque lighthouses, whale-watching spots, waterfront dining, and quirky attractions. But this moody beach town is one of the best places to buy a beach house because its median listing price is paired with a strong payoff opportunity for owners.
Over the last year, the market median revenue in Newport has increased more than listing prices have, upping the area’s cap rate and expected return on investment. Our experts say this is because vacation rental demand is rising faster in Newport than home value, making it a great time to get into the market.
Because beach houses with ocean views aren’t hard to come by in Newport, you can help your vacation rental stand out with luxurious outdoor amenities that can be enjoyed year-round — think hot tubs, furnished decks, and fire pits. These perks are part of why Evolve’s top Newport homes bring in over $100,000 more than the market’s median revenue. The best performers also tend to be larger estates that can accommodate big groups and charge higher daily rates on average.
Though not classically coastal, you wouldn’t know it when stepping foot in Grand Haven. Set on the shores of Lake Michigan, this idyllic town is famous for its pillowy-soft beaches, small-town charm, and endless supply of family-friendly activities. Vacationers can enjoy live music at a waterfront stadium, admire historic lighthouses, and boat or kayak before grabbing a bite on the boardwalk.
Grand Haven’s beach-forward identity makes it an ideal choice for investors seeking a unique beach house buy. For the best return on investment (ROI), our experts say investors should look for a vacation rental on the shoreline within striking distance of the bustling downtown area. But if you’re looking to expand your search, Muskegon is a quaint nearby town with comparable rental performance.
Warm waters, Southern-style seafood, and family-friendly attractions are just a few of the reasons why beachgoers flock to this Gulf Coast gem. Each year, the sugar-white beaches of Gulf Shores and neighboring Orange Beach bring in roughly eight million visitors — and that number is only going up. From sunset cruises and wildlife excursions to sky-high ferris wheel rides and pristine golf courses, this area is brimming with exciting things to do.
While demand for the Gulf Shores market continues to grow, listing prices in the area have started to come down — making now the time for investors to grab their piece of the pie. And finding the right property can pay off well; some Evolve owners more than double the median rental revenue in Gulf Shores.
Our experts say these top-performers are typically beachfront condos. Luckily, you can often find homes for sale right on the sand — sometimes even below the median listing price. Updated interior design, ocean-view balconies, and community perks like pool access are additional profit-drivers to look for.
Frequently cited as one of the top beaches in the U.S., Hilton Head earns its stripes as one of the best places to buy a beach house thanks to stunning landscapes, world-class golf courses, and a welcoming atmosphere. Nestled in South Carolina Lowcountry, this charming destination exists at the intersection of coastal elegance and Southern hospitality.
Designed to be harmonious with nature, Hilton Head’s vibe is all about relaxation and embracing the beauty around you — which continues to bring in 2.5 million annual visitors each year. Though the median listing price in this market is one of the highest on our list, the upfront investment can pay off; some Evolve owners earn significantly more than the average owner with the right properties and property management partnership.
To hit that mark, our experts recommend looking for condos in beachfront communities. Highly sought-after perks like oceanfront views, pool access, and resort-style amenities can help you go the extra mile with eager bookers.
Families, couples, and solo travelers alike head to the charming town of Ocean Shores when they need a break from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. With rugged coastline, mouthwatering seafood, and a slow-paced vibe, this hidden gem on the Washington coast brings a wide range of vacation rental options with high performance potential.
Case in point: Some Evolve owners take home upwards of $77,000 a year with properties of varying sizes across this small peninsula. Homes can be beachfront, canalfront, or walking distance to water — and range from studios to four-bedrooms. So, investors should stay clued in to the region’s most-booked amenities, incorporating them into the property to help win bookings and five-star reviews.
That said, if you can’t find your just-right property in Ocean Shores but have your heart set on the area, our experts suggest expanding your search to include the nearby towns of Port Angeles and Port Ludlow.
Seabrook Island is a secluded community steeped in natural beauty and world-class amenities. Guests come to experience the excitement of a beach destination without chaos or crowds, and indulge in high-end to-dos like the local spa and variety of golf clubs. Plus, historic Charleston is about a 45-minute drive — so travelers can feel worlds away while keeping plenty of city attractions conveniently accessible.
Investors in Seabrook Island properties have the opportunity to boost their rental profits with the right at-home touches. Top-performing homes are located in luxury communities with resort-style amenities like beach clubs, fitness centers, golf courses, and business centers. And while they’re not all set on the beach, they are within walking distance.
As you begin your home search, be aware that vacation rentals owners need an off-street parking space (like a driveway or garage) to operate on Seabrook Island — in addition to a standard permit and business license. If that limits the options you’re interested in, nearby Kiawah Island is another desirable beach destination to explore.
With Neahkahnie Mountain on one side and the Pacific shoreline on the other, Rockaway Beach offers the best of land and sea — and in turn ranks as one of the best places to buy a beach house in 2024. Home to astonishing biodiversity and some truly mesmerizing views, vacationers can hike, clam, trout camp, and even fly a kite as part of an annual festival.
Top performers in Rockaway Beach are located within walking distance of the shore and tend to have perks like hot tubs, game rooms, and pet-friendliness. It’s how some Evolve owners manage to pull in more than three times the median rental revenue in this market.
If the upfront price of a beachfront property feels a bit too steep, looking for one with stunning mountain or bay views can help attract guests and offset costs. Investors can also expand their search by looking in Seaside, a nearby resort town known for its excellent surf and oceanfront promenade.
Bonita Springs is a treasure trove of white-sand beaches, picture-perfect bays, and mangrove-lined waterways. Vacationers choose this Gulf Coast city to embrace unspoiled natural beauty, outdoor activities, and always-sunny weather. And while Bonita Springs may not have the name recognition of neighboring Naples or Fort Myers, beach houses in this area have the potential to be incredibly lucrative.
Top-performing Evolve homes are bringing in six-figure revenues — nearly tripling the market median. Owning a shoreline condo is a strong contributor to this kind of performance, but if you can’t find a dream property right on the sand, offering bikes or being near beach shuttle services can help. Providing beach club access and beach gear can also give your rental an edge that translates to better performance.
Even better: our experts say Bonita Springs is one of the least stringent markets in the Sunshine State, making this a great choice for anyone wanting a Florida vacation rental with less red tape. It’s always a good idea to double check with the local government, but you typically only need a permit in this area.
Set on the sandy shores of the Gulf Coast, Galveston is a buzzing island city with no shortage of things to do. Between its rich history, inviting coastal climate, many annual festivals, and sun-soaked shoreline, it’s no surprise Galveston sees over seven million visitors a year. And that’s what makes this market one of the best places to buy a beach house.
Plus, warm weather year-round makes it easy for visitors to plan an escape in any season. This can translate to steady bookings that keep your rental in consistent demand — and boost your long-term profits.
That said, Galveston does have zoning restrictions in place that limit where vacation rentals can operate. While that shouldn’t deter Lone Star State investors, it does mean there’s a little extra homework. Our real estate experts say potential buyers should reach out to the city of Galveston directly to determine whether they qualify for necessary vacation rental permitting in the neighborhoods they like best.
Take a scenic drive over the three-mile bridge at the mouth of Mobile Bay, and you’ll find yourself on peaceful Dauphin Island. With tons of sandy shoreline, history, and wildlife, this barrier island makes it easy to enjoy a quiet retreat. Visitors can kick back on Public Beach, visit the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, or take a tour of Fort Gaines before sampling fresh-caught seafood with water views.
Dauphin Island’s median listing price hovers in the mid-$400,000s, but expect costs to go up the closer you get to the ocean. That said, your profits could increase, too. Our top-performing homes in the area tend to be beachfront properties with private decks facing the waterline, and they offer amenities like outdoor showers or kayaks — helping them earn more than twice the area’s median rental revenue as a result.
Investing in a beach vacation rental is a big decision — and one you shouldn’t have to navigate alone. Our real estate experts can help guide you through the process in any one of the best places to buy a beach house (or another market you’re interested in), so you can grow your business with confidence.
We have the data to contextualize your investment opportunities and define your income goals, preferred local real estate agents who specialize in vacation rental purchases, and property management pros who can help make your beach home a success once you’re ready to hit the ground running.
To kickstart your journey, here are some other resources to help you better understand the potential of investing in a vacation rental property:
Ready to talk about buying your best beach house? Get in touch with our team today.