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Some parts of the California coast have no hotels (or very few), but can still be base camp for your next vacation. Just book a vacation rental home in one of these communities and kick back and relax.

All of the towns and private communities we have chosen on this list would make a great vacation getaway, however most are not commonly known as such. Most of these are off the beaten path so they offer a quieter experience compared to the large and medium sized coastal destinations. The beaches near these towns tend to be less crowded too!

Vacation rental homes on the bluff in Sea Ranch, CA

If you haven’t stayed in a vacation rental before, you might notice that many are more expensive than a typical hotel room. That is because you get the whole house or condo vs. a hotel room that doesn’t come with a full kitchen, bedrooms, and other homey amenities. The larger homes are big enough to sleep more than just a single family (so bring friends!). Most vacation rentals require a minimum stay of at least 2 or 3 nights so they are best for longer stays. Check the pages for each vacation rental to see their minimum stays and any other requirements. Each of our destinations listed below have a link to VRBO, HomeToGo, or another vacation rental listing company that covers the area well.

Here is our list of the top 15 cities on the California Coast to book a vacation rental.

Hotels on this map

  • Pajaro Dunes Vacation Rentals

    Pajaro Dunes is a rural coastal community on Monterey Bay between Moss Landing and Aptos. Watsonville is just five miles inland and is the closest place for restaurants, stores, and […]

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  • Dillon Beach Vacation Rentals

    Dillon Beach is a quiet housing community hidden away on the northern Marin County shore. It’s not on Highway 1 and it doesn’t have any hotels. Your only options for […]

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  • Seadrift Vacation Rentals

    Seadrift is a private housing community on Bolinas Bay in Stinson Beach, California. It is a popular place to rent vacation rental homes and is just a one hour drive […]

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  • Shelter Cove Vacation Rentals

    The remote town of Shelter Cove has excellent vacation rentals to choose from. Lower Pacific Drive is the waterfront road and the rental homes along that road are the most […]

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  • Solana Beach Vacation Rentals

    Solana Beach is one of those places on the California coast that doesn’t have many hotels, yet it should be a considered for any Southern California vacation. There are several […]

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  • Rancho Palos Verdes Vacation Rentals

    Rancho Palos Verdes has few hotels, but it has many vacation rentals available. Some of these vacation rentals by owner are located inside the Terranea Resort property, but others are […]

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  • Monterey Dunes Vacation Rentals

    Monterey Dunes is a hidden coastal housing development near the center of Monterey Bay where vacation rentals are your only option for lodging. Many of the condo units here are […]

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  • Malibu Vacation Rentals

    Renting a vacation home in Malibu is one of the best ways to stay and enjoy this stretch of the California Coast. There are few hotels in Malibu and they […]

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  • Summerland Vacation Rentals

    Summerland is a quiet community outside of Santa Barbara that few tourists know about. There aren’t any hotels in town, but don’t let that stop you from staying here. Many […]

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  • Muir Beach Vacation Rentals

    Muir Beach is a quaint small town on the coast in Marin County California. The only hotel in town is a good one, Pelican Inn, but it’s small with just seven […]

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  • Bolinas Vacation Rentals

    Bolinas is a unique town filled with proud locals who aren’t too keen on visitors. For this reason, it’s best to blend in if you plan to stay for a […]

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  • Marshall Vacation Rentals

    Marshall is a coastal community along the eastern shore of Tomales Bay in Marin County. You won’t find any hotels in Marshall, but there are other ways to stay here. […]

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  • Sea Ranch Escape Vacation Rentals

    Sea Ranch is a coastal housing community in northern Sonoma County. There are hundreds of houses in this development but only one hotel, the Sea Ranch Lodge. While the lodge […]

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  • Irish Beach Vacation Rentals

    Irish Beach is a little-known private housing community north of Manchester State Beach in Mendocino County. Most tourists driving through this part of the California coast cruise right through without […]

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  • Rio Del Mar Vacation Rentals

    Rio Del Mar and Aptos don’t have many hotel or resort options, yet this is one of the best places on the sandy shores of Monterey Bay. If you plan […]

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