The one thing I really missed when I was making a decision on where to stay in OBX - was a site that gave detailed reviews of rental homes. I ended up renting from Surf or Sound realty and their webpage just gives a 5 star system on a few categories with no option to give detailed comments. So I am going to post comments here.
We stayed at Drifting Dunes at 42205 Greenwood Place in Avon. The location is great. We were oceanfront - only steps away from the beach. We were 1/2 mile from Ace Hardware (we needed another beach umbrella!) and Food Lion which had a great selection of groceries, etc. There were plenty of restaurant choices for us since most of the time we ate our meals at the rental. We went to 4th of July fireworks at the Avon pier - they were really good. We went for daily jogs on the walking/bike path that runs along the main road - NC 12. The beach wasn't crowded so our family could play soccer on the beach or throw a ball without getting in anyone's way. We had a fire on the beach one evening and roasted hot dogs and s'mores - it was easy to get a permit from Surf or Sound for that. We had a few choices of places to use when we decided to rent stand up paddleboards for a few hours on the bay - Ocean Air was a good choice for us. We were easily able to park on the bay side one day and enjoy the beach and shark free bay waters - just south of Avon is a small paved area where you can park for free and relax on the beach. The water is really warm and calm...we walked probably 40 yards out into the bay and at one spot - the water was still only knee deep. It was a good location if you want to try windsurfing too.
I am glad we didn't stay at one of the other smaller beach towns just because it was so convenient to have a Food Lion so close. The drinking water in our rental unit was very poor and we had to run out numerous times just to buy water.
On the first day on the beach our canopy couldn't handle the wind and it folded into itself/broke within 30 minutes of us being on the beach. It was one of those 10 x 10 ft square canopies. We had sand bags to keep it from blowing away, but the wind still collapsed it - the canopy just isn't made well enough to handle the beach wind. So we just bought a regular 9 ft beach umbrella at Ace Hardware and that worked well. We were not the only ones who had a canopy destroyed by the wind - so be warned :)
We spent over $2,600 for the week's rental - for a 4 bedroom ocean front house. We had 8 people in the house so I thought this was a fair price for an ocean front. We rented the house about 3 weeks before leaving for vacation due to a change in our 20 year old daughter's schedule - since Drifting Dunes hadn't been rented as of June - they had discounted our July rental. The one thing to note - is if a house isn't rented - is there a reason why no one wants to rent it during peak season? I would say our rental was just average - especially in terms of value for money. Yes, the location was great, the kitchen was well stocked with dishes and pans, but the house is showing some wear. The furniture was in need of reupholstering or refinishing. The hot tub filter hasn't been changed in a LONG time and so the water was murky. I never used the hot tub. Our kids used the hot tub for a few days, but when the water got murky - they stopped using it. As I mentioned before - the drinking water was very poor. We also had a few other minor maintenance issues with the cable tv not working and the toilet running.
Overall, we enjoyed OBX and would use Surf or Sound realty again, but we wouldn't stay at the same place. For all those looking for a quiet beach vacation - you should give Avon a try - we really did have a good time!