From a Mexican hideaway shaped like two giant seashells to a cave house carved out of a Santorini cliff, these stunning waterfront rentals have us ready to book a trip.

By and Steele Marcoux /
March 03, 2017

This story originally appeared on

Calling all vacation planners (and beach house dreamers): the seaside rental market has just gotten a whole lot sexier. With more searchable databases like Airbnb, Kid & Coe, and HouseTrip entering the market, vacation rental owners have stepped up their game with more luxurious and design-conscious offerings. So say goodbye to surfing through page after page of tired little houses with outdated kitchens and baths or cookie-cutter homes devoid of personality. Here are four seaside AirBNBs that recently caught our eyes.

1. The Fisherman’s Cave House

Santorini, Greece; $279/night

Think all-white walls, polished concrete floors, and minimal accessories are just for urban lofts? Think again. And then step back in time and into the Santorini simplicity of this restored cave house, which is carved right out of a cliff outside the seaside fishing village of Oia. The quaint little hideaway, which sleeps up to five guests in two bedrooms and on a living room sofa bed, is only a 5-10 minute walk from village’s restaurants and bars. But with its private terrace and outdoor Jacuzzi overlooking the Aegean Sea, you may never want to leave.

2. The Beach Lodge

Hollywood Beach, California; $350/night

Call it vintage nautical-meets-boho-chic. From the porthole-inspired windows, brass lighting, and seascape windows to the vintage mid-century furniture, ethnic textiles, and woven accessories, this recently-renovated, 1970s A-frame in Oxnard, California is practically bursting at the exposed beams with super-stylish surf shack design ideas to steal. Two of the three bedrooms on the second level have views of the beach and private balcony access, while the third level living spaces open up to an additional balcony with panoramic ocean views.

3. Casa Caracol, aka The Seashell House

Isla Mujeres, Mexico; $308/night

It just may be the ultimate beachcomber’s fantasy: a private beach home shaped like a giant seashell. Make that two giant seashells—a conch (dubbed “Queen Conch”) and a nautilus (“Moon Shell”)—designed by architect Eduardo Ocampo. This Isla Mujeres retreat sleeps 4 people (with two bedrooms and two and a half baths), features a pool that overlooks the ocean, and is a 15-minute golf cart ride from the beach. Additional shell design details include: swirling shell-shaped “headboards” sculpted right out of the plaster walls, shell-trimmed mirrors, shell-shaped soap dishes, and large shells converted into faucets and shower heads. Really.

4. A Pirate’s Life For Me—Houseboat

Charleston, South Carolina; $259/night

The only thing dreamier than a beach cottage? A beach cottage on the water. Literally. With design details like beaded board paneling, a cheerful turquoise and orange palette, rope detailing, and a painted ceiling, this Charleston, SC houseboat serves up all the charm of a classic beach cottage—plus 360-degree water views (including views of the Charleston Harbor and the Ravenel Bridge). Docked at a private marina slip in downtown Charleston, the gutted and rehabbed boat sleeps 3 (queen size bed in the captain’s quarters and a daybed with a twin mattress in the main cabin living area) and boasts a full bath, heat and AC, and a large deck onboard. Soft wave-lapping sounds and gentle rocking to sleep included.