Anna Maria Island Travel Guide [y]

[y] Anna Maria Island Visitors Guide

Beautiful white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, fabulous fishing, bird watching, boating, and water sports make Anna Maria Island a true “Paradise”.

Anna Maria, a barrier island located about an hour south of Tampa, is comprised of three small cities,  Anna Maria on the north end, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach to the south. The island is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay, Palma Sola Bay, and is just north of Longboat Key. The history of the island is said to have begun in 1530 when Spanish explorers claimed the area. Until 1920 the only way to the island was by boat. There are now two causeways that connect Anna Maria Island to the mainland.

Located just south of the mouth of Tampa Bay on Florida’s west coast Anna Maria Island is known for its miles of pristine sugar-white sand beaches, warm Gulf waters and quaint business districts. Anna Maria Island and Holmes Beach are 8 miles west of the city of Bradenton, connected by the Manatee and the Cortez bridges. Anna Maria Island is a vacation favorite among Tampa Bay locals, national and international travelers.

Anna Maria island’s three cities, Anna Maria City, mainly residential, Holmes Beach, offering both residential and business areas, and residential and tourist-friendly Bradenton Beach. All three communities are host to spectacular beaches, outdoor activities, an enjoyable selection of shops, restaurants, galleries, and other attractions.

Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island Aerial View

Anna Maria Island is a classic laid back beach community that has that ‘Old Florida’ feel with white sand gulf beaches and only one building over three stories tall. Surrounded by water and less than a mile wide, Anna Maria Island offers views of beautiful Florida sunrises over the bay and spectacular Florida sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico.

A seven-and-a-half mile-long island, Anna Maria Island stretches from Tampa Bay to Longboat Key Pass. On the east, the island overlooks the Florida Coast while on the west the Gulf of Mexico reaches past the horizon. Vacation homes and resort-style accommodation allow visitors to escape to the white sand beaches and the waters of the Gulf. Other than relaxing on the pristine beaches, activities here include all manner of water sports including sailing, fishing, and jet skiing. As well, tours of the island by bicycle take guests past historic buildings and swaying sea oats. Three centers are located on the island-Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach, and Holmes Beach, each offering accommodation, restaurants, and cultural attractions.

Holmes Beach

With gentle breezes, white sandy beaches to the west, and the intercoastal waters of Anna Maria Sound to the east, Holmes Beach, Florida is the largest city on Anna Maria Island. Located at the southern tip of the entrance to Tampa Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, Holmes Beach stretches over 3 mi (4.8 km) and is home to a small population of residents and is a popular holiday getaway offering plenty of vacation home rentals, great dining and plenty of shopping. Getting around Holmes Beach and Anna Maria Island’s shell-lined shores is quite easy on foot or by renting a bicycle, boat or canoe. Explore the area and view the many tropical birds and other island wildlife. Outdoor adventures await in this area known as the Hollywood of the east with its perfect setting for a movie. Spend the day kayaking, scuba diving or parasailing, or spend an afternoon browsing the local art galleries. For those who love basking in the sun, relax and enjoy getting a golden tan on the pristine beach.

This small stretch of beach located at the northern tip of Longboat Key Island near Bradenton, which is part of Anna Maria Island, offers sands so white they are almost blinding to the naked eye. This makes for a beautiful contrast against the crisp turquoise and green colored water that surrounds the small barrier island of Longboat Key.

There are no amenities available at Holmes Beach because of its sits nearby a residential area but there is still room for visitors on this nearly secluded beach. The positive attributes of feeling alone and enjoying the peaceful view surrounded by large enclosing trees and sand dunes definitely overshadow the fact that there are no amenities available. If you are with a large group or small children this may not be the best place for you since there is not much to keep idle an abundance of people entertained, but this is a great place for a quiet afternoon reading a book or for a romantic picnic with a sunset view!

Parking is only available on the side streets in front of Holmes Beach, but there are always spots available and the parked cars do not bother laid-back Holmes Beach residents. There are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby if you get hungry or thirsty during your visit to Holmes Beach, but it is best to bring your own supply of food and beverages, so you can kick back and bask in the sun without any worries.

Manatee Beach

Right down the road to the south is Manatee Beach, the larger public beach that offers amenities. This may be the best bet to enjoy the beautiful northern beaches of Anna Maria Island. Manatee Beach offers parking, year-round lifeguards, picnic benches, concession stands, and a shower and restroom area. The beach here is just as beautiful and serene as Holmes Beach, but may be a bit more crowded than Holmes Beach, although both beaches are always quiet and usually the favorite of only the locals.

It’s easiest to find the two beaches by taking US-41 North from Venice until it ends right past Bradenton. Turn left onto Cortez Road, which will take you out to Longboat Key Island. Take a right in front of Cortez Beach and right up the road, you will run into Manatee Beach at the corner of Manatee Avenue. A few miles north will be Holmes Beach.

Coquina & Cortez Beach, Anna Maria Island, FL

The Bradenton area is known for being quite hip and swanky with many artists and writers choosing Bradenton as a place to visit, and often as a place to call home. The beaches near Bradenton on Anna Maria Island are no different. Both Cortez and Coquina Beach offer a stylish perspective of Sarasota Bay while still offering the same famous untouched beauty of the gulf coast of Florida.

Bradenton Beach

Much of the available beach area surrounding Bradenton has been taken up by condominiums or hotel developments, adding to the enchanted feeling you get on your way out of the city to the keys and Anna Maria Island. Once you arrive on the island there is the feeling of peace and serenity as the local beaches are kept in beautiful conditions. Anna Marie Island is a retreat from the civilized life of Sarasota and Bradenton, but still close enough to allow access to the cultural energy after a hot sizzling afternoon at the beach.

Cortez Beach

Coquina Beach and Cortez Beach, also known as Bradenton Beach, are right next to one another. Cortez is the smaller of both beaches, with no more than 140 feet of the beach area, but this makes for a cozy, quiet afternoon since most beachgoers stay on the Bradenton side or head to the larger Coquina Beach down the road. Cortez Beach is left untouched for those visitors who like nature the way it was meant to be, without many amenities or distractions.

Coquina Beach

My favorite part about Coquina Beach is the expanse of pine trees that surround the park entrance. The pine trees seem surreal so close to the water’s edge and this makes for an even more exciting beach experience. This is also a great place to get a break from the sun’s heat if you aren’t up for taking a dip in the water. At Coquina Beach, you will find a great concession stand area with a variety of snacks, a picnic and barbecue area, playgrounds, volleyball courts, and lifeguards, making this a good place to bring the kids! There is also a place to launch boats or other watercraft. Across the street from Coquina Beach is the Coquina Baywalk or boardwalk, which is a newly restored walkway area surrounding 30 acres of uncultivated landscape and wildlife. If the beach gets too crowded, you can always slip away to view the natural beauty of the Florida gulf coast.

If you are in the Bradenton area, definitely take the opportunity to enjoy these two beautiful beaches and the Sarasota Bay. From the south in Venice, take Tamiami Trail (US-41) all the way through Sarasota, and before Bradenton, you will hit Cortez Road/684. Take a left and head away from the city to Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. You will run right into Cortez Beach from Cortez Road, and just south of this will be Coquina Beach as well.

Anna Maria Island Transportation

Anna Maria Island is serviced by a free trolley-style bus that runs north and south on Gulf Drive. The trolley connects with both the MCAT (Manatee County Area Transit) system serving the greater Bradenton area, and the SCAT (Sarasota County Area Transit) system. The MCAT connects to the trolley at Manatee Public Beach, at the intersection of State Road 789 and State Road 64.[3] The SCAT connects to the trolley at Coquina Beach, at the south end of Anna Maria Island, just before the Longboat Key Bridge[4]. Several local taxi companies serve Anna Maria Island.

Anna Maria Island was only accessible by boat until 1921 when the wooden Cortez Bridge was constructed from the fishing village of Cortez to what is now Bridge Steet in Bradenton Beach. The remaining parts of the Cortez Bridge are used as a fishing pier.

Anna Maria Island Things to Do

Anna Maria Island is a seven-mile-long barrier island near Bradenton has a laid-back ambiance (maximum speed limit is 35 mph). There are no chain lodgings (though there are plenty of strip malls on the busier south end). On the north end, the town of Anna Maria presents a charming throwback to Old Florida. Six miles of walkable beach is wide and lovely, and in many areas, shaded by pines.

Like to fish?

Anna Maria Island is home to three fishing piers which include the Rod and Reel, Anna Maria City Pier and the Bradenton Beach City Pier. All offer visitors the unique dining experience of watching humans and pelicans competing for the fish. There are also a large number of deep-sea fishing charters available.

Fishing is not the only activity. Golf, tennis, and even a dream Beach Wedding can all be found on Anna Maria Island.

Anna Maria Island Historical Complex

402 Pine Ave., Anna Maria
The Anna Maria Historical Museum was built in 1920 as an icehouse features displays of life on a barrier island from 1890 to 1950. Visit the famous old island jail, “no doors, no windows, no roof, no bars” and tour Belle Haven Cottage, a beautifully restored 1920 cracker house filled with period antiques and furnishings. Admission is free

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shore Bird Monitoring

Turtle Watch Environmental Education Center aims to inform visitors of sea turtles and their nesting habits on Anna Maria Island. Through July and August, the Education Center conducts turtle tours and talks. Address: 5408 Marina Dr | Holmes Beach, FL. Telephone: 1 941 778-1435

Anna Maria Island Segway Tours

AMI Segway Tours takes visitors along the Gulf of Mexico and Intracoastal Waterway, exploring Leffis Key Boardwalk, Coquina Beach, Historic Bridge Street, Anna Maria City Pier and more. Tours, which are offered seven days a week, are limited to six guests and start at $30 a person. Ticket includes training, helmet, water and photo opportunities. Reservations required. zegwaybythebay.com

Arts For The Earth

308 Pine Avenue, Anna Maria
Come enjoy yourself amid Positive Impact Art: Glass Works, Furniture, Paintings, Jewelry, Photographs, Ceramics, Metal Works: Re-cycled, Up-cycled, Re-purposed, Re-made: All of our art is Eco-Friendly and Positive Impact!

Captain Kim’s Boat Rides and Charters

dolphin tours, historical tours, bird watching tours, sea shelling tours, hands-on eco-tours, sightseeing rides, sand bar hopping, boat rides, and charters. Hourly rates: $15 per person. For reservations and more information, call.

Dolphin Dreams Charters

Dolphin Dreams Charters offers offshore, bay, flats and backwater charters in the Bradenton, Sarasota, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key area. Anna Maria, FL | 34216. Telephone: 1 941 778-4498

Anna Maria Island Restaurants

Vacations don’t live by sun and sand alone. Food Food and drink are the perfect addition to any visitor’s day. We have listed some of the most popular places to eat and drink in and around Anna Maria Island and on Holmes Beach.

The Waterfront Restaurant

111 South Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, FL 34216
Welcome to The Waterfront Restaurant on Anna Maria Island. We would like to share with you more than an outstanding dining experience; we invite you to escape to a simpler time – tropical, laid-back Florida the way it used to be.

Anna Maria Resorts and Hotels

The Beach Club at Anna Maria

2201 Gulf Dr. N., Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
The Beach Club at Anna Maria – Bradenton Beach

Beachfront homes in Anna Maria.Sunrise Garden Resort – Anna Maria

512 Spring Avenue, Anna Maria, FL 34216
Sunrise Garden Resort Is Located In Anna Maria, Fla., Heated Outdoor Pool, Patio And Barbecue Grill, Laundry Facilities.

Tortuga Inn Beach Resort – Bradenton Beach

1325 Gulf Drive North, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Overlooking The Gulf Of Mexico On Anna Maria Island, Tortuga Inn Beach Resort Offers Old Florida Charm In Bradenton Beach, Fla. Twelve Miles From Sarasota, The Island Is A Slow-paced Community Where Sand-swept Streets And Pastel Cottages Line White-sand Beaches.

Tradewinds Beach Resort – Bradenton Beach

1603 Gulf Drive North, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
Overlooking The Gulf Of Mexico On Anna Maria Island, Resortquest Rentals At Tradewinds Resort Is Located In Bradenton Beach, Florida. Twelve Miles From Sarasota, The Island Is A Slow-paced Community Where Sand Swept Streets And Pastel Cottages Line White-sand Beaches.

Bungalow Beach Resort

2000 Gulf Drive North, Bradenton Beach
This beachfront property has an outdoor pool and free Wi-Fi access. Bradenton Beach is located just over half a mile from the resort.
Reservations through Booking.com