I grew up on Long Island, there is no place in the Northeast you can rent anywhere close to the water for an affordable price, and the beaches are very crowded. You also can't compare a vacation off the beach, with one that is on the beach, not a fair comparison. I am an owner, I can tell you in the past 9 years EVERYTHING has gone up, management fees, utilities, taxes, and insurance. I do not raise my rates every year, but it is hard not to. I am one of those owners that makes upgrades to my house, we try to add/change something every year. not to mention replacing/fixing things from wear and tear. I also need to fix/replace things that are broken or stolen. The majority of renters are very hard on the houses. In addition, having a house near the water means more cost to maintain the exterior, I am constantly fixing/painting/cleaning decks/screens/siding/roofing and I am not even on the ocean, those places take a beating from the weather. In 9 years of ownership, I have never taken a trip to my house without having to do/fix/replace something.
I think the majority of renters would be blown away by how much time and money it takes to maintain a beach property. My house loses money every year, and for many of the owners I know, it's the same story. I am not complaining, I didn't buy my house to make money. I bought it to own my own special piece of paradise, and no matter how much work my house takes, those thoughts are magically erased when I walk down to the beach, watch the sun rise and listen to the waves. For me, there is nothing like the Outer Banks.