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These are the most popular Airbnb locations in Tampa Bay

Deirdre Davis rents a A-frame cabin in her family's Hernando County olive groves on Airbnb. (Deirdre Davis, Airbnb)
Published Aug. 7, 2018

They're about as diverse as you can get in Tampa Bay real estate:

A Hernando mobile home near a private entrance to Weeki Wachee River, an Old Seminole Heights house with a window into Tampa-living, a Clearwater suite with an in-ground pool, and a Pasco home near the Gulf of Mexico.

Each locale, however, has vaulted to the top of popular Airbnb locations in Tampa Bay counties — places most often added to visitors' "wish lists" for future stays.

It's not an easy achievement, according to some popular Airbnb hosts.

"There's a common misconception that you put this thing on the web and start making money," said Zach Jacobs, one of Hillsborough County's leading hosts on the app. "If you're not involved, the experience isn't nearly as good."

More than 40,000 Floridians offer their home or vacation rentals on the app and website.

Hosts use a mix of methods to find success at the private properties they rent: seize on their property's proximity to attractions, create getaway themes or offer an authentic slice of city life.

Deirdre Davis is the woman behind some of Hernando County's most sought-after locations. Her "Mermaid and Fisherman" location was the county's most popular in a recent sampling, according to Airbnb.

Davis and her husband bought a trailer a couple years ago to put on her property in Weeki Wachee Hills. She had already successfully rented out an A-frame cabin within her family's olive groves near the Nature Coast.

She has two Weeki Wachee Village properties near a state park and the river — not far from businesses that offer swimming with manatees or visits to the famous mermaids. She gives all her visitors access to private entrance to the river for canoeing and kayaking.

The cabin recently went back online after being off for due to repairs needed following Hurricane Irma last fall.

Related story: Airbnb says it generated more than $45 million in Florida tax revenue last year

"We're always updating them, adding to them," said Davis, who lives in Hernando Beach. "It's fun and the funnest thing is to come up with the themes."

She calls her newest location "Captain Ahab's Weeki Escape."

Pinellas's popular Clearwater location has a Victorian feel that one reviewer said made her and her husband feel like a king and queen.

Pasco's most popular location, in Hudson, offers a dock with canal access and sits a walkable distance from some of the area's most popular waterfront restaurants.

In Seminole Heights — the most popular Hillsborough site — Jacobs tries to give his visitors a taste of what it's like to live in a trendy Tampa neighborhood.

He and his wife used to rent out just the guest house behind their home, but they moved down the street and now rent out the main house on that property, too.

To show visitors what to do during their stay, they even created an Instagram account called @TampaBucketList The account has attracted more than 14,000 followers. Jacobs works from home, so he's always accessible to his renters.

He as special insurance coverage and even ensure the homes are outfitted in a way that's homey, but simple to keep cleaning between guests as easy as possible.

"There's a ton to consider," he said, "and the biggest thing is that it's not as easy as it's portrayed."

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Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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