What Is the Difference Between Beachfront & Oceanfront

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Oceanfront doesn't always mean a beach is nearby.
Oceanfront doesn't always mean a beach is nearby. (Image: Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

For those in search of accommodations, vacation homes or even buying a property next to the sea, the words "beachfront" and "oceanfront" might seem interchangeable, but that's not always the case. Depending upon the hotel or real-estate firm describing a particular room or property, the terms can have alternate meanings, so prospective guests and buyers should be familiar with the difference between the two.

Beachfront

In almost all cases, the word "beachfront" describes a property that has some type of ocean view with the additional benefit of immediate access to a sandy beach along the water's edge. In other words, you can step out of the house, hotel or villa and walk either directly onto the beach or have only a short pathway that leads down to the shore. This provides obvious convenience for sunbathers and swimmers, although depending on the type of beach the property is on, the shoreline may be crowded at times and not provide you with as much privacy as desired.

Oceanfront

The term "oceanfront" typically describes a property or accommodation that is directly along the coastline and provides panoramic sea views but does not have direct access to a sandy beach. In other words, the property may lie along a cliff or rocky stretch of coast. An advantage to this type of vacation rental or property is that it might provide more privacy and seclusion because no public beach access is nearby.

Examples and Exceptions

Most rules, of course, have exceptions. Many hotels describing themselves as oceanfront also have direct beach access, such as the Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexico. That resort's Presidential Oceanfront Suite lies directly along a sandy beach. And some hotels have both beachfront and oceanfront rooms with only slightly different meanings. The Tides Hotel in Folly Beach, South Carolina describes beachfront rooms as being on the first floor and having large patios directly off the resort's beachside pool. The Tides' oceanfront rooms are on higher floors and have small balconies with unobstructed ocean views. Similarly, Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach, Oregon, calls its first-floor rooms beachfront because they have eye-level views in which glimpses of the water itself may be limited or blocked. Its oceanfront rooms are on higher floors and have balconies with direct ocean views.

You Make the Call

Remember, short of outright falsehoods, individual hotels, rental companies or real-estate firms are typically left to describe their rooms, villas or homes in the manner that they determine, so the meaning of certain words often vary from property to property. To be sure of what you're getting, always call before booking a room or looking at a home and get a company representative to describe exactly what is meant by the terms "oceanfront" or "beachfront" at that particular location. That way, you shouldn't be surprised upon arrival.

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