Mix up fizzy fruit cocktails in your kitchen, dry wet bathing suits and towels in your private laundry facilities, or watch a movie in the shelter of your waterfront living room when a storm rolls in. Vacation rentals provide amenities that you wouldn't normally find at hotels, from washers and dryers (priceless for families) to umbrellas and towels free of cost. In addition, they offer a cost-effective way to procure a large amount of living space in a beautiful destination.
But thousands of rental listings stand between you and your dream beach house. And there's plenty of competition for the right one. According to research from HomeAway, more than half of Americans stay in rental properties during the summer. The most popular destination is the beach. So how does a peak-season summer renter move to the front of the pack to find his perfect property? Here are seven tips for seeking out a superior seaside rental, including when to book, where to book, and what to look for in a temporary beach home.