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Summer Rental

Virginia
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Summer Rental

We are planning a family trip the second week in August and hope to rent a house at Sunset Beach. We have never been to this area and we are hoping for recommendations on a good rental agency. We've tried looking at the houses for rent online but we are not sure of the descriptions on location. We would like to be as close to the beach as possible but of course we need to consider cost. Are there reasonable rentals on the beach? Is "2nd row" what it sounds like - one row from beach front? Is East or West better or the same? We have 2 grandparents, 2 parents, a teenager, and a child in the group so we would need a three bedroom house. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

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Charlotte, North...
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for North Carolina
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1. Re: Summer Rental

Sunset Beach is a beautiful beach, and the 2nd week of August is a very popular week, as many families want to hit the beach before kids return to college and schools a week or two later. Overall rental prices run a bit higher at Sunset Beach than other Brunswick Islands and prices will be at their highest for all locations on the island during the 2nd week of August.

One thing you should know about Sunset Beach, second row houses are far from the beach, even oceanfront homes have a good long walk to the beach. There are long boardwalks to the beach, but still the great majority of accesses require some walking through hot, shifting sands. Leaving lots of natural dunes and beach makes the views quite beautiful, but it is more difficult for older and very young people to come and go from the beach...also people like me with bad knees. (Use a close-up Google Maps Satellite view or Google Earth to view Sunset Beach and views of homes and long walks to the beach.) BTW, Sunset doesn't have erosion problems that some other islands have on their East ends, so any part of the island is okay.

Sunset Beach has a lot going for it, close to Calabash, and Myrtle Beach, plus the gorgeous Bird Island is adjacent to Sunset. However, if you think your group would do better with shorter, easier access to the beach, with still a lot of beautiful natural surroundings left, Holden Beach, another Brunswick Island, 30 minutes North of Sunset, is a perfect fit. Dr. Beach has named it "Best Family Beach" in the U.S, and we agree. Overall rental prices are a bit lower than Sunset, and at all locations on the HB island, except the far West end, the walks to the beach from even the 2nd row homes are much closer than the oceanfront walks at Sunset. As much as we've enjoyed Sunset Beach, we've found that for our extended family of all ages, Holden Beach is best for us....plus the island and area surrounding Holden Beach is so much more of an "escape" than Sunset Beach and the rest of the Brunswick Islands. Everything you need, without the traffic/congestion you find just off Sunset and other Brunswick Islands.

Back to Sunset, friends of ours who own an oceanfront home at Sunset have their home listed with Sunset Properties, as owners they seem to be pleased with that agency.

Best Wishes.

Chapel Hill, North...
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2. Re: Summer Rental

Sunset Properties and Sunset Vacations are the two we use.

Sunset is one of the few beaches with rental homes to never have any beach renourishment projects done (where they dredge up sand and pump it onto the beach to extend the beach). It's all natural and has been building up over the years so that the walks to the beach are longer than they used to be. Second row houses are negligibly farther than oceanfront IMO, but they do front the main road, so you have to cross that to get to the beach and you hear some traffic and people walking and biking up and down the road. You'd hear that on the ocean front ones, too, though depending on how close to the road the house is sitting on its lot. Near the pier is the busiest/noisiest. The further away you get from the pier the quieter the homes in general.

If you have folks in your group who have difficulty with stairs several of the boardwalks to the beach are handicap accessible with ramps instead of stairs. This is great for wagons and bikes, too. The rental agency should be able to help you pick a property near one of those accesses. The boardwalks to the beach are part of the charm IMO, but if you want to be able to step out your door onto the beach, this isn't the beach for you. I have often seen deer in the dunes and other wildlife. UNCMickey's suggestion of using google maps satellite view or google earth to check it out is a good one.

Sunset is a fantastic family beach with a really wonderfully wide gentle slope to the ocean. It's great for bike riding, playing frisbee, football, paddle ball, running, kite-flying, all the classic beach time fun. At low tide the beach is easily 100 yards wide. I have read that it has gained more than 150 yards over the years, so my estimate may be way low.

It is a _very_ low key beach. There are no restaurants on the island, but there are a couple just on the other side of the bridge. A full grocery store and more shopping is not far away on the mainland, but on the island there are just a few t-shirt and souvenir shops and a convenience grocery and a slushie stand. If you're looking for sun, sand, and water you'll find plenty of that at Sunset. I know some folks like to have lots of "things to do" at the beach and if that's what you want Sunset might not be the best choice, although it's not far to Myrtle Beach if you want to go there for a day/evening. When we go to Sunset we go for the beach — just water, waves, sun and sand.

Edited: 11 March 2014, 15:45
Chapel Hill, North...
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3. Re: Summer Rental

BTW, it's all boardwalks now. You don't walk on the dunes. The boardwalks are there to protect them, so no hot sand to worry about until you're on the beach.

Also, I haven't compared rental prices with Holden or Ocean Isle (we go to Ocean Isle frequently, but with friends who have access to a free place to stay), but I am a big cheapskate and I always manage to find a good deal at Sunset. I do not do ocean front. Not worth it to me. I usually find something for $1000/week or less.

Edited: 11 March 2014, 15:50
Virginia
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4. Re: Summer Rental

Thank you so much for the information. We usually go to Nags Head for the beach but we are trying to meet other family members at a more central location this year. We all thought this might be a good location. I'm not sure a long walk to the beach will suit the parents and teenager. They like to spend a lot of time on the beach. We will certainly look at some of the other beaches in the area.

Charlotte, North...
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5. Re: Summer Rental

To clarify about my earlier "hot shifting sands" comment. I was not referring to the dune system, the great majority of boardwalks on Sunset do cover the dunes...they are long boardwalks. The hot shifting sands are between the boardwalks and the beach area that the tides reach and keep cooler, level and firm. As panchopup mentioned, the Sunset Beach island is building sand, so this area of hot, loose "shifting" sands becomes larger and larger (eventually becoming part of the dune system), and more of a problem for young children, older adults and those with bad knees or other mobility issues. I've watched young kids scream and cry over the hot sands burning their feet, and older adults needing assistance through those areas. Until I tore up my knee several years ago, I never knew how scary and difficult maneuvering that type area can be. Even now, rehabbed, that hot loose sand area is difficult for me. It's one thing to walk a few steps in that type sand, but another to maneuver 25-75+ feet of it....so yes, something to consider.

Also, on the rental prices between Brunswick Islands beaches, though not as marked difference in pricing as in years past, still Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle (and of course, Bald Head Island) are known to be more expensive than Holden Beach and Oak Island. The property values are higher, too..although those too aren't as different as in the past. When we bought, our realtor said much of that is due to proximity to the Myrtle Beach area....historically that was/maybe still is? a plus. ...to me I'm happy begin an hour away from all that! Close enough for a day trip, but away from the crowds and traffic.

Just a quick search on VRBO, canal homes with same # bedrooms/baths, and of similar size, age, amenities, etc. of ours at Holden Beach, at Sunset are renting for $100 to $400 more a week.. I found similar, higher prices at comparable Ocean Isle properties.

Best Wishes.

Chapel Hill, North...
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6. Re: Summer Rental

Sunset is a fantastic beach and the people who like it really, really like it. There are lots of folks who go back year after year after year, but it's not for everyone.

Some place like Topsail would put you right on the beach. It's a more low key environment, too. UNCMickey's google maps suggestion is really right on the money. The satellite view will let you look at how close the houses are to the beach and the street view will let you get a feel for the community.

Again, I'm a bargain hunter. Last year the newly renovated 2nd row house we rented at Sunset was $1050/week and that was a splurge for us. Usually I manage to keep it under $1000.

Virginia
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7. Re: Summer Rental

Again, thank you so much for all your input. With the quiet nature of Sunset Beach and the long walk to the beach I think we have made a decision to look elsewhere. Our little group needs a bit more in the way of activities and food to be content. We are looking at Ocean Isle or Holden Beach. Any input on either of these beaches such as a good realty company and suggested areas would be appreciated.

Chapel Hill, North...
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8. Re: Summer Rental

UNCMickey is the resident expert on Holden.

I have been to Ocean Isle several times and like it. It has more stuff than Sunset, but still is not as commercial as some place like Myrtle (though I think that's a good thing). I can't advise directly on rental companies there because when we go we go with friends who have access to a 4 bedroom condo there (free place to stay!). The beach itself is nice and wide in most places although on either end there is a little bit of erosion. On the east/north end there has been quite a bit of erosion and a few homes have had to be abandoned. In the middle of the island it's a very nice gentle wide beach like on Sunset. Check out google maps to get the lay of the land.

There are more restaurants, shops, mini golf, etc. There's a little museum if you have small kids (would probably be too little for teens).

From any of the Brunswick county beaches a trip from Southport over to Ft Fisher via the ferry (drive your car on, takes 30 minutes) is fun. The NC Aquarium is at Ft Fisher (very nice) and Ft Fisher itself is an interesting historic monument. Southport is a fun village to explore with some great restaurants.

9. Re: Summer Rental

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