An Oceanfront Vacation Rental is the way to go for a fun and frugal family trip to the ocean. My family rented a beach house in Florida over spring break this year. It. Was. The Bomb. We adored it! My family of five had space to spread out because we had multiple bedrooms and two bathrooms. We made most of our own meals. We had our own private beach and yard. My family agrees we would all vote for renting a house on the beach again. There are so many benefits to renting a house on the ocean over staying at a hotel or even a resort. Keep reading to find out what we did, what we loved, why we loved it, and tips for renting a beachfront rental on the Gulf of Mexico.
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Gorgeous View from the beach of the oceanfront vacation rental:
We rented a beach house in Carrabelle, Florida. This town is located on the ocean, on the Gulf of Mexico, south of Tallahassee. We rented the beach house via the Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) website. They offer many different rentals to fit any price range and home size. I would recommend using this site for house rentals for vacation, we’ve used it several times and been happy with our rental house each time.
We loved the low-key atmosphere of renting a beach house for our family vacation. We had a great mixture of both relaxing times and exciting times. My younger two boys loved playing in the sand and making sand sculptures. We would certainly do this again in a heartbeat.
We only found the city of Carrabelle, Florida because we liked the beach house description and photos on the VRBO website. The town was not a super touristy town, which was nice for a change as we often stay in touristy places when we go on vacation. However, there was an island nearby for us to visit called St. George Island where we could get more of that tourist-life flavor when we wanted it, but it was so nice to have our own private beach house and beach right on the ocean.
YES! We had a private beach all to ourselves which was fabulous! We saw only a handful of people walking on the beach and some friendly dogs over the course of the week.
The town of Carrabelle offered a small grocery store where we bought our food for the week. We only had a short drive into town which was very convenient for even last-minute shopping. They had a good variety of food plus wine and beer for sale. I enjoyed having a kitchen to make food because not only was it cheaper to feed the five of us than eating out would have been, but I could make foods I knew my children would eat. that’s a win-win! However, it’s true. It is work to cook on vacation and have all the cleanup, but I chose easy meals and we did a lot of grilling which made it more doable and pleasant.
We found the beach house rental by searching on the VRBO website. The house we stayed in was off Highway 98 which runs right along the shoreline.
The Benefits of Renting a House on the Ocean
The Comforts of Home in an Oceanfront Vacation Rental
As I mentioned above, having space for my family to spread out and enjoy life similar to what we have at home was super huge. I loved it, we all loved it, really! We had three bedrooms so our oldest son took one room, our younger two shared the room with two single beds, then there was a bedroom for my husband and me with an attached bathroom. There was an additional bathroom the kids were able to claim so it worked out great for our family for the bedroom arrangement.
There were two sitting areas, a dining area, and the kitchen. There was additional seating for dining at the kitchen island too with tall stools.
A Full-Size Kitchen
Having a home-sized cooking space to prepare meals that I knew my boys would eat was super important to me. Often, when we are going out to restaurants while on vacation, not only does it get expensive to buy five meals, especially with our older two eating adult-sized meals now, but sometimes my kids don’t even like the food. Since I was able to buy the foods they liked, everyone was happy.
I also loved having a large refrigerator and freezer so we had plenty of room to store food for the week. This is not something I ever get in a hotel room, so I really relished it in the rental.
There were plenty of pots, pans, silverware, and dishes to use as well.
Some Coffee Love!
The beach house had a Keurig coffee pot, and we don’t have one at home so it was a lot of fun for us to use while we stayed at the beach house for the week. The grocery store sold the K cups so this was perfect so we could try out this fun coffee pot. My older two boys love coffee too so pretty much my almost all of my family fell in love with using the Keurig. We are convinced we want one now:)
More Home Rental Tips:
Look at the appliances and search for a rental that provides exactly what you want.
There was also a dishwasher in our rental home, which is a necessity for a family of five. That is an absolute must for me when renting a house. It’s my vacation too so I don’t want to have to handwash everything, neither does anyone else in my family. I did bring my own dish soap and dishwasher detergent as I didn’t know if they would have any.
To see a list of what we packed to bring to the beach house, check out my post in the following link to see my beach house rental packing list.
Make desserts! I made yummy desserts using the oven too. I made a cake for my husband’s birthday and brownies while we were there for the week. It was great to have a full-size oven to use, so I was able to do some easy baking. I kept it easy and used boxed cake and brownie mix.
Be sure to closely review the beach house description when renting so you know what amenities the house you rent provides so you can have a better idea of what to pack.
Having a full kitchen while on vacation is ideal for accommodating allergies within your family as well. Plus, it’s very beneficial if your family requires special diet requirements like my own split table family composed of vegetarian and meat-eaters.
The washer and dryer were located in the bathroom the kids used, so this was perfect for washing beach towels and swimsuits. I did keep up on the washing of clothes a little bit which was nice once we got home because I didn’t have five full suitcases of dirty laundry to do. I also brought laundry detergent and stain remover for our personal use.
We enjoyed hanging out on the deck to have a beverage and take in the gorgeous views.
The river feeds into the ocean in this location so the water is darker which causes the water to look a darker blue rather than the light blue aqua color often seen in the ocean.
Other Beach House Amenities We Loved
We really enjoyed having a bonfire pit on the property. We had bonfires two of the nights and we roasted marshmallows to make S’mores. I had brought our bonfire popcorn popper too, but we never ended up using it as we were too full in the evenings. The kids loved collecting the pinecones to throw in the fire. They burned so pretty.
The beach house provided fishing poles for our use as well as toys, boogie boards, the kayaks I mentioned above, a gas grill, a charcoal grill, and outdoor seating for lounging.
We loved having a large yard as well. We played several rounds of Bocce ball, which we had brought from home.
The tall trees were perfect for hanging my boy’s portable hammocks, so they spent some time lounging in them.
Franklin Sports Intermediate Bocce Set, 100mm
Forbidden Road Hammock Single & Double Camping Portable Parachute Hammock for Outdoor Hiking Travel Backpacking – 210D Nylon Taffeta Hammock Swing (Purple & Blue)
There were many hiking trails in the area as well, but we were unable to walk on them as we had planned because I was in a boot for a sprained leg and ankle. I still had such a wonderful time and it was so relaxing, so I didn’t miss the hiking. Though I kept telling everyone else to go enjoy them without me, but, they never did.
We enjoyed the vegetation of the area which was a mix between palm trees and very tall trees more typical of a forest.
First and Foremost, We Adored Having a Private Beach
We had our very own private beach right outside of the beach house. This was our favorite aspect of the property for sure. It was perfect for relaxing and enjoying the ocean as much and as often as wanted. Plus, I could just look out the window from the beach house and check on the kids when I was back inside for a moment. It was perfect.
My boys had so much fun with the changing landscape of the beach shoreline as the tide went out each morning. Sandbars would appear everywhere so they could walk way out where once there was ocean water. This is also where we saw so many crabs crawling across the sand, my boys loved that!
I had a wonderful relaxing time just lounging and reading on the beach 🙂
It was cloudy this day, but that didn’t stop the kayaking!
Kayaks and Beach Fun!
The beach house we stayed at had five kayaks, which was epic for my boys, and my husband. They were out in those kayaks for hours every day. The ocean was calm at our beach house which was a nice change from the usual huge rolling waves we’ve usually gotten at the ocean (when we wanted huge waves we went to St. George Island though). They paddled the kayaks all around the sandbars and fished from the kayaks too.
I loved relaxing on the beach and reading. My son dug me out a sand chair and I used a rolled up towel for my head. It was divine. A total slice of heaven for me to relax, read, and watch my boys play in the ocean and sand.
My boys brought their skim boards too, so they had fun trying to use them in the ocean.
All three boys and my husband enjoyed fishing in the ocean. They would either stand on the shore, on the sandbars, or fish from the kayaks. They caught sea trout and whiting. One night my husband prepared a fish fry, and our boys enjoyed the ocean fish they actually caught. It was a fun experience for them.
They also caught a small stingray, but let it go.
We saw multiple species of animals too while we were at the beach house. We saw several stingrays, many jellyfish, a horseshoe crab, hermit crabs (hundreds of them), and many different types of birds. At St. George Island we saw dolphins swimming just off the shore. I loved being able to have my children be exposed to seeing all those wonderful animals, it was just fantastic!
In the early mornings, we would often see hundreds of crabs crawling around the sandbars the low tide created. They left cool little trails in the sand.
We also saw sand fleas too which are good for bait I guess.
And be sure to bring bug spray, there were gnats on the beach.
Human footprints and bird footprints…here’s to hoping we can all coexist peacefully.
St. George Island
We ate out on St. George Island two times. The first time we ate at The Blue Parrot which had amazing food! We sat outside on the patio facing the constantly rolling ocean waves, a sound I never get tired of hearing. The seafood at the restaurant was awesome and we also loved their hush puppies. There is a live video cam of the restaurant so you can text your friends to look up the website and you can wave to them from your table.
The second time we went out to eat we ate at BJ’s pizza which had delicious pizza. We were very happy we stopped in.
St. George Island is dog-friendly!
The island is very dog-friendly so we saw many tourists walking around the island while walking their dogs all over the place. Some of the restaurants are even dog-friendly so if you want to bring your pup on a beach vacation, this might be a good place for you to visit. We had thought about bringing our own dogs on vacation too, but we decided against it because one of our dogs hates car rides. We drove down in a rental car, a Suburban, so we could have brought our dogs along. Many house rentals are also pet-friendly, this is a filter you can add when searching on VRBO for your perfect rental if you’d like to bring your pet on vacation with you.
We loved our calm ocean beach waters, but when we longed to hear the roar of rolling waves we headed over to St. George Island. The St. George Island State Park had amazing white sand beaches that went on and on forever. My kids loved using boogie boards on the large waves. My youngest son said, “I’ve never had so much fun in the ocean ever in my life.” It was a hit!
We also had fun searching for shells on the beaches of the state park. They offered bathrooms and some picnic tables as well for picnic lunches. There was also a campground on the island.
The island outside of the park also had many shops, restaurants, and a lighthouse to explore.
One activity we all thoroughly enjoyed was an airboat tour of the area. This was so much fun to do! The tour guide drove us on his airboat through the Apalachicola Bay and adjacent River/Estuary System. It was gorgeous! He maneuvered us on a ride through the bay and the cypress swamps, he really made it really fun for our kids (and us, I kept smiling).
We were very fortunate to see several wild alligators from a very huge sized animal down to little one-year-olds lurking about the back lake. The biggest alligator we saw was fourteen feet long and about 1,200 pounds and he’d been given the name Brutus. Clearly, his name fits him, he was just a massive alligator. He was a monster of an alligator!
We really enjoyed riding the airboat. Our tour guide was both entertaining and a mountain of knowledge. He was a native to the area, so he was so much fun to listen to. The airboat tour company we used is called the Apalachicola Airboat Excursions. We felt very safe with our captain who was a native to the area, a fourth generation tour guide, and a retired police officer. He was just overflowing loads of experience and knowledge. He taught us and entertained us. I fully recommend his tour.
This boat tour ran out of the town of Apalachicola, which was a very cute town I wished we would have had more time to explore.
I would heartily recommend this type of activity for a family vacation. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend you check out his company and schedule a tour.
Airboat Tour Pictures:
Looking for more family vacation ideas? Check out these ideas:
I hope you enjoyed this post and you found it helpful.
Eat well and enjoy life:)
Copyright © 2019 Julie Hoag writer. All Rights Reserved.
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