What’s the Difference Between Beachfront and Seaside?

Whether you're dreaming of sinking your toes into soft sand while you read a book or gazing out at endless waves, understanding the difference between "beachfront" and "seaside" can help refine your search for the perfect coastal vacation home. While both terms evoke images of salty air and stunning scenery, there are subtle distinctions for each which can influence your experience, so it’s best to understand them all so you can book the right type of property.


When it comes to accommodations, nothing quite compares to the magic of a beachfront rental, but what exactly is a beachfront rental, and why should you consider it for your next coastal escape? A beachfront property, also called oceanside, places you literally steps away from the ocean, giving you direct access to paradise. There’s no need to finagle parking, navigate crowded walkways, or haul beach gear here.

Beachfront rentals also offer panoramic vistas of the sea, often visible from spacious balconies or expansive windows. Wake up to breathtaking sunrises, witness the mesmerizing dance of waves throughout the day, and be lulled to sleep by the gentle rhythm of the ocean. While the beach is undoubtedly the star attraction, oceanside rentals can offer more than just sand and surf, some boast private pools, hot tubs, outdoor seating areas perfect for al fresco dining, and even hammocks for ultimate relaxation spots.

Seaside rentals aren't directly on the beach, but they're close enough to feel the ocean's presence, usually within walking distance, typically less than a 10-minute stroll. If you prefer a less intense experience, seaside homes offer a calmer atmosphere tucked away from the main beachfront bustle. Seaside locations often offer a blend of beach life and local vibrancy. Explore boardwalks lined with shops and cafes, indulge in fresh seafood at harborside restaurants, or delve into the rich history and culture of the local community.


Choosing between beachfront, seaside, and oceanside accommodations can be tricky, as they all offer wonderful coastal experiences with subtle differences. In short, if you want to be right on the beach, oceanside or beachfront rentals are what you’re after, otherwise choose something seaside if you don’t need direct beach access and want to explore the community, or want access to amenities like grocery stores and restaurants.

Here's a quick breakdown of the differences to help you decide.

Beachfront Bliss: Imagine stepping directly from your accommodation onto pristine sand. Key benefits include:

  • Direct beach access: Your rental is literally on the beach, with no roads or barriers separating you from the sand and surf. Think waking up to the sound of waves and stepping out for a sunrise stroll.
  • Unobstructed views: Enjoy panoramic vistas of the ocean, often from expansive balconies or windows. Immerse yourself in the ever-changing beauty of the sea, from the mesmerizing rhythm of waves to the vibrant hues of sunrise and sunset.
  • Sound of the waves: Fall asleep to the natural lullaby of the ocean and wake up invigorated by its refreshing energy. The constant presence of the sea creates a unique and immersive coastal experience.
  • Beach activities: Enjoy immediate access to swimming, sunbathing, building sandcastles, or simply relaxing with the sand between your toes. There’s no need to pack up and drive, your beach playground awaits right outside your door.

Seaside Charm: Seaside locations offer a delightful coastal experience, often with stunning views and proximity to the beach, however there are some differences:

  • Proximity to the beach: While you might not be directly on the sand, the beach is still within walking distance. Enjoy easy access without sacrificing convenience or wider area exploration.
  • Varied settings: Seaside accommodations can encompass charming cottages set back from the shore, quaint townhouses with ocean views, or even boutique hotels offering beach access. 
  • Additional amenities: Seaside locations often provide access to town centers, restaurants, shops and other attractions, offering a blend of beach life and local vibrancy. 
  • Quieter ambiance: Seaside locations can offer a calmer atmosphere, especially those tucked away from the main beachfront bustle.

Are you thinking about a Big Island vacation? Expansive mountains, spectacular waterfalls and black lava landscapes define the Mauna Kea Resort and Beach Hotel on the Kohala Coast of Hawai‘i. Want to learn more? Call us at 888.598.6353 or email reservations@eastwest.com for help planning your next beach vacation.