Anna Maria Island: Florida’s Hidden Gem

Anna Maria Island is one of Florida’s most prized vacation havens. Forty miles south of Tampa and seven miles west of Bradenton, it is truly a secluded paradise for vacation home buyers. Surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico to the west, Tampa Bay and Anna Maria Sound to the east and Sarasota Bay to the south, the seven-mile-long tropical island enclosed by white-sand beaches is a hidden gem. For those who long for a sun-soaked oasis away from the real world, Anna Maria Island real estate is the answer.

Anna Maria Island

Thanks to a wave of recent publicity, travel articles and the Internet, the previously little-known paradise in north Sarasota Bay called Anna Maria Island is fast becoming one of the world’s most popular vacation spots.

This hot new travel destination is actually a cool old place: “cool” as in the relaxed, laid-back beach lifestyle and the powdery white sand beaches that never get too hot; and “old” as in the quaint, “old Florida” charm that residents have worked hard to preserve.

Less developed than its island neighbors to the south, Longboat and Siesta Keys, Anna Maria Island has no high-rise buildings or large chain hotels or restaurants. Instead, visitors stay in private beach cottages, motels or villas surrounded by lush tropical landscaping, and they flock to individually owned cafes and eateries for authentic island cuisine. Even residents of Sarasota and Bradenton drive over to Anna Maria Island regularly to enjoy dinner and a sunset over the aqua-blue water at one of the island’s many award-winning restaurants.

Originally settled by Native Americans and then discovered by Spanish explorers in 1530, Anna Maria Island retains its “old Florida” influence. On the north end of the seven-mile-long island, in Anna Maria City, visitors can explore the Historical Complex and old city jail. In the middle of the island is the business center of Holmes Beach, and at the southern end is Bradenton Beach, where historic Bridge Street and its fishing pier have been restored. All three cities offer an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. The art community thrives here, which is no surprise, given all the local beauty and colorful “old Florida” character of Anna Maria Island.

Anna Maria Island Real Estate

Due largely to its optimal location, property on Anna Maria Island is only growing more valuable. In the past year, 71.4% of homes sold for a gain. The current median estimated market value is $546,800, a 12.9% year-over-year increase. The astounding average list price is resting at approximately $1,244,700. While that is only a .2% rise from last year, the median sales price, $558,50, has risen 4.9% since last quarter and 12.3% since last year. These numbers combined with fixed mortgage rates that are lower than the ocean floor make it the perfect time to buy a vacation home on Anna Maria Island, Florida.

Anna Maria Island was originally discovered by the Timucan and Caloocan Native Americans who cultivated the land and resided there for many years. Eventually, it was settled by Spanish explorers and developed into a small town. One of these explorers was none other than Ponce de Leon. Leon named the island after the queen of Spain who sponsored the expedition. Today there are three municipalities on the island: Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach. With a rich cultural history and rare aesthetics, it is no surprise that Anna Maria Island is one of Florida’s most sought-after vacation spots.

This year, real estate on Anna Maria Island has been selling after being on the market for an average of 126 days. Though this is approximately 20 days longer than last year, the total number of properties sold has risen. In the past 30 days, 15 homes were sold, which is a 17% increase from the same period in 2012. This promising data suggests that the sooner you invest in property in southern Florida, the better.

Anna Maria Island’s rich history has helped shape it into the vibrant, thriving community it is today. Such history can be learned about at the historical museum which offers an educational expedition for the whole family. The Coquina Baywalk is a nearby scenic park that houses active wildlife and offers an escape into tropical bliss. After spending time outdoors, many islanders enjoy settling into the community theater to watch a performance by the Island Players. The Spice Sailing Charters offer a variety of boat tours for those who love the wonder of the open sea. When it’s time to unwind before or after a fun-filled day of play, slip off your sandals and enjoy one of the many yoga classes on the beach. What better place is there to own a vacation home of your own than the island so beautiful it’s often dubbed the wedding capital of Florida?

In addition to a flourishing community, Anna Maria Island also sees a great deal of animal activity. Throughout the summer months, sea turtles approach the beach to nest on the white-sandy shores. The whole island acts as a retreat for a diverse selection of birds including pelicans, cranes, herons, wild parrots, sandpipers, and hawks. Dolphins also frequent the Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf. They can be observed easily as they often leap in and out of wakes made by boats.

Since it is clear that real estate in southern Florida isn’t going to depreciate any time soon, those who are savvy should look into buying a vacation home today. In addition to its incredible beauty, Anna Maria Island boasts some of the richest cultures in Florida. With all of this to offer and more, vacation homes here are the complete package.

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