15 Jaw-Dropping Homes You Can Only Reach by Boat

Longing for a seaside getaway? These astonishing retreats offer access to pristine wilderness, just a stone’s throw from the water.

A Better Way to Isolate

Houses you can reach by boat

Many folks have had to cancel travel plans these days, staying indoors and away from others. But wouldn’t it be more pleasant to social distance at one of these waterside retreats, where you could swap your city life for daily doses of fresh air, stunning views, swimming, and wildlife encounters? Some of these properties are available to rent, and others to buy. If neither option is a possibility, just sit back, relax, and do a little armchair traveling to these beautiful and remote retreats, from Alaska to Hawaii and beyond.


Shelter in (This) Place

Beach house Shelter Island

Who wouldn’t crave a home on Shelter Island, a natural wonderland that’s less than 10 minutes away from Long Island, New York, by ferry? With its small population (just over 2,000 residents) and plenty of wildlife and historic properties to explore, the picturesque island is the perfect backdrop for this 4,500-square-foot shingle-style vacation home. Recently renovated, it’s equipped for entertaining, with a professional kitchen, pizza oven, Sub-Zero fridge, and walk-in pantry. Go boating from the private dock, and host guests in style in the comfy quarters above the detached garage.

Related: Extreme Social Distance: See Some of the Most Remote Airbnbs in the World

Zillow home in Shelter Island, NY

Urban Escape

Beach house Sayville NY

Get away from the rat race and enjoy a gentler pace less than two hours from New York City. At this bayside house on Fire Island in New York, sunlight streams into the sleek interior, which features neutral colors and floor-to-ceiling windows. But it’s nature that truly deserves the spotlight, enhanced by luxury amenities like a private pool overlooking the bay. With the home’s three bedrooms and four baths, you can welcome friends for a weekend’s revelry, or shut out the world and bask in solitude.

Zillow home in Sayville, NY

Custom-Built Luxury

Beach house Southport NC

Bald Head Island, North Carolina, is known for luxury vacation rentals. But it’s also a good place to drop anchor more permanently—for instance, in this 5,500-square-foot vacation home designed by architect Peter Quinn. Amenities include a recently updated gourmet kitchen as well as a private pool, spa, home gym, and elevator. Breathe easy—the home is equipped with a climate-controlled HVAC system, complete with multiple dehumidifiers. It’s practically move-in ready, just waiting for you to pull into port.

Zillow home in Southport, NC

Classic with a Twist

Beach house Nantucket MA

Nantucket conjures up images of quaint seaside cottages and preppy style. For a luxe, modern take on the archetypical New England experience, look no further than this Cliff Road estate. Stroll down the tree-lined driveway, or lounge on the private porch overlooking Nantucket Sound and the Great Point Light. The white, airy interiors are warmed by six fireplaces, and entertaining is easy, given the wine cellar, gym, and private movie theater. There’s even a separate guest cottage and garage.

Zillow home in Nantucket, MA

Heavenly Hawaii

Beach house Lanai Hawaii

Lanai City, on Hawaii’s sixth largest and least populated island, is a dream getaway. A few lucky souls call it home, and if you purchase this palatial estate, you could too. Set on 1.2 acres with views of Hulopoe Bay, Maui, and Kahoolawe, the carbon-neutral mansion is a spacious 6,000 square feet, complete with saltwater pool, spa, private deck, rain shower, and sauna. In the living room, floor-to-ceiling windows invite the outdoors in, while outside, folks can stroll the tropical gardens and shaded walkways. Why would anyone ever leave this piece of paradise?

Zillow home in Lanai City, HI

Pacific Splendor

Beach house Friday Harbor WA

Off the northwestern tip of the U.S. mainland lie the San Juan Islands, an archipelago that is part of Washington State. This custom-built island retreat sits on the west coast of San Juan Island and is accessible only by waterway. The rugged elegance of the interior, with its reclaimed heartwood lumber and a Montana riverstone fireplace, complements the home’s rustic surroundings. Outside, there are more than 18 private acres to explore, with creature comforts including a deck, fire pit, patio, garden, and fenced orchard.

Zillow home in Friday Harbor, WA

Wilderness Calling

Beach house Alaska

There are cabins, and then there are cabins. This oceanfront log home in Craig, Alaska, sits on 1.45 acres that include a private dock and, of course, breathtaking ocean and mountain views. Inside, the solid log construction creates a snug haven. Dine in the gourmet granite-and-wood kitchen after a day on the water, then sit around the wood-burning stove in the living room, watching TV or playing games. With plenty of space to stretch out and a 36’ x 38’ shop with work areas and a processing kitchen, this “cabin” marries the pleasures of civilization with the joys of self-sufficiency, along with a healthy helping of peace and quiet.

Zillow home in Craig, AK

Family Estate

Beach house Oak Bluffs MA

Martha’s Vineyard has long been known as a vacation spot for the rich and famous. But the Massachusetts island also has deep roots as a family retreat, making it the perfect place for multigenerational gatherings. Any extended family would be delighted to meet up in this cozy yet spacious four-bedroom home off Barnes Road, with welcoming interiors that epitomize New England style. In the open-plan main floor, timber beams show off a light-filled, vaulted ceiling. Outside, clambakes and sunsets beckon, and the deep-water dock means that you’re always ready to set sail.

Zillow home in Oak Bluffs, MA

Houseboat Haven

Houseboat airbnb

In this houseboat docked in a quiet cove in the Florida Keys, you can fall asleep to the lapping waves. The two-bedroom houseboat has enough space to sleep six guests, and it’s air conditioned so you won’t melt on hot afternoons. The owner also provides kayaks, paddle boards, fishing rods, and snorkel gear. For a change of view, come ashore to the private island, where you can sip your morning coffee as you watch dolphins slice through blue waters.

Related: 16 Charming Towns Where You Can Live on a Houseboat


Happy in Chappy

Beach house Edgartown MA

Accessible by ferry, Chappaquiddick Island, referred to by locals as “Chappy,” is known for its rolling hills and sea views—and the fact that it attracts fewer tourists than neighboring Martha’s Vineyard. One of the island’s most prominent estates is now for sale, located on six acres of pastureland and featuring incredible views from the sprawling house at its heart. If you value privacy, you’ll love this property, which is surrounded by 40 acres of unbuildable land. The new owners will never have to worry about construction noise, blocked views, or wild parties.

Zillow home in Edgartown, MA

Cabin in the Woods

Beach cabin airbnb

You don’t need much square footage to get the very best out of life. This getaway cabin has three bedrooms, just enough space for a couple or a small family, although it can sleep up to 10 guests. Set on a private island in Juggler Lake in Minnesota, the A-frame cabin is surrounded by 18 acres of old-growth forest. Renters can enjoy a jetted tub, fully equipped kitchen, grill, fireplace, and three patios. Hike or pick wild strawberries in the woods, then plunge into the clear waters of the lake to cool off.

Related: The Most Incredible Cabins for a Solitary Summer Escape


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