“Hair Apparent” hair salons. “Legal Grounds” coffee shops. “Dew Drop Inn” motels. America’s business owners can’t seem to resist a good pun. The same goes for vacation homes; a house at the beach without a clever name is a dereliction of duty, making you suspect that the owners are lazy, or worse, unimaginative, letting their chance to plant a flag go by.

 (Wordplay on Tybee Island, Georgia. Photo by Anna Marlis Burgard.)

My notes and photo collections from the Islands of America grand tour are peppered with examples of punny vacation house signage, although the practice seems more common east of the Mississippi. There are cottages named “Heart & Sol” and “Om Sweet Home” on Tybee Island, Georgia and homophones like “Daze Off” and “Pair o’ Dice” on Captiva Island, Florida. Aquidneck Island, Rhode Island has a “Summersalt” with a view of Newport’s famous Cliff Walk mansions. Emerald Isle, North Carolina offers “Vitamin Sea” to its collection, and, courtesy of author David Sedaris and his humorously documented, decades-long wish for a family home there, “Sea Section.”

(More from Tybee Island. Photo by Anna Marlis Burgard.)

My fascination with these names goes back to family vacations in Ocean City, Maryland. Through the dreary days of late winter I’d wait for the Caine Real Estate booklet to arrive; once it finally landed in the mailbox I ran off to pour over the listings. I’d roll the rentals’ names over in my imagination: “Beachcomber,” “The Fins”—and the one that included my name, “Tropicanna.”

Should I ever take the plunge into vacation home possession, I’m all set for the sign maker: “Rest Ashored.” Nothing beats being lulled to sleep by the sound of the surf after a happily exhausting day of sun, wind and waves. As winter persists in much of the country, many of us dream of a welcoming stretch of beach, and indulge the fantasy of owning a piece of it. What will you name yours? 

(Picture above is from a house in Rhode Island. Photo by Anna Marlis Burgard.)

Island hopper Anna Marlis Burgard is the creative force behind hundreds of illustrated books and gift products and is the author and principal photographer for Islands of America: A River, Lake and Sea Odyssey. As part of a monthly “United Islands of America” series, she’s sharing some of the more obscure destinations she’s discovered on her journeys to more than 80 islands in 22 states.