Ultimate Guide to Anna Maria Island Beach (in 2023)

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Welcome to Anna Maria Island in Florida, USA.

 

In this blog post, we’ll cover EVERYTHING you need to know about Anna Maria Island Beach (to-do’s, beaches, where to stay…).

 

BONUS: We’ll add some inside tips and Instagrammable spots inside this definitive guide!

 

Let’s get started!

Location

Anna Maria Island is a beautiful island, located off the coast of Florida in Manatee County.

The island is conveniently positioned at the mouth of Tampa Bay to the north and next to Longboat Pass to the south.

 

It’s divided into THREE cities: the city of Anna Maria in the North, Holmes Beach in the Middle, and Bradenton Beach in the South.

 

It’s also just west of downtown Sarasota along the Sarasota Bay, and a mere 20-minute drive from Bradenton. This makes it easily accessible via major roads like US-41 N.

Anna Maria Island Beach
Photo by Nathan Andress on Unsplash

Things To Do

There are many must-do activities we recommend!

 

Below we listed our absolute favorites!

Dolphin Tour in Anna Maria Island
Photo by Noah Boyer on Unsplash

Take a Guided Dolphin Tour

This is one of the BEST ACTIVITIES on Anna Maria Island Beach!

 

We love these tours as they give us a chance to be super close to BOTTLENOSE doplhines. Not something you see every day!

 

What we especially love, is that we also got to experience the surroundings, the views of the island… It’s so much more than just watching dolphins.

 

You can book the lovely activity here.

Anna Maria City Pier
Photo by Paul Crook on Unsplash. Anna Maria City Pier.

Visit Anna Maria City Pier

The Anna Maria City Pier is of course also located on the Island. What’s more, this is a historic site which attracts a lot of visitors!

 

The Pier was built in 1911, and has become an area landmark and a MUST-VISIT location when you’re on the island.

 

The pier is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day and is free to visit.

 

You would be experiencing a local activity as every day there are local fishermen hoping to catch fish such as Redfish, Snook, Spanish Mackerel, Pompano, Sharks, and more.

 

If you’re not into fishing, you can still enjoy the stunning views, especially during SUNSET with views of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge..

 

Apart from the breathtaking views and fishing opportunities, the pier is also home to the Anna Maria City Pier Grille. This small snack bar-style place at the end of the pier offers tasty food and drinks.

 

Lastly, the City Pier Grill often hosts live music events. The vibes are always lovely then!

Kayaking at Anna Maria Island Beach

Go Kayaking or Paddleboarding

Kayaking or paddleboarding at Anna Maria Island is a fantastic way to explore the natural beauty of Southwest Florida.

 

THIS IS A SUPER SPECIAL ACTIVITY:

 

Ever wanted to go kayaking at night with an LED under your kayak with a glass bottom? You can CLEARLY SEE THE OCEAN beneath you.

 

Marine life is more active at night, giving you the chance to see manatees, dolphins, and many more small fish!

Bottom Clear Kayak Tours organizes this activity in Anna Maria Island Beach.

 

You can also do this activity by day!

Bike renting at Island anna maria

Rent a Bike

Renting a bike on Anna Maria Island is a FANTASTIC way to explore the beautiful surroundings at your own pace.

 

Various local businesses offer bike rentals, and many of them even provide delivery and pick-up services for your convenience.

 

Fun and More Rentals has been voted the #1 place for bike rentals in the area. They offer bike rentals for just $5 per day with a week-long rental or longer.

 

AMI Beach Fun Rentals is another great option. They not only rent bikes but also provide eBikes and Scooters for those who want a bit more speed.

 

As for sightseeing, a self-guided bike tour is a fun and flexible way to explore the island.

 

IT GET’S BETTER!

Parasailing at anna maria beach
Photo by Joe deSousa on Unsplash

Try Parasailing

Parasailing in Anna Maria Island provides a THRILLING and UNIQUE perspective of the island’s natural beauty.

 

Several local businesses offer parasailing adventures, and each promises an unforgettable experience. Prices vary between 70-120 dollars for the experience.

 

FlyAmi is one such company that offers scenic parasailing trips. They’re known for providing fun for the whole family.

 

Yolo Parasailing and Island Adventures is another popular choice. Known for their gentle takeoffs, amazing views, and water dips, they promise an experience full of smiles.

 

Bradenton Beach Parasailing is also a provider worth checking out. They have a boat specially made for parasailing, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.

 

During your parasailing adventure, you’ll likely experience AMAZING panoramic views of the Gulf and Intracoastal waterways. There’s also a chance you might see dolphins, turtles, or stingrays from above.

 

Remember to follow all safety instructions provided by your parasailing operator. This activity is weather-dependent, so it’s always best to check with the company beforehand if there are any concerns about the day’s conditions.

Anna Maria Island beacgh
Photo by Adam Gilley on Unsplash

Visit Local shops

Anna Maria Island, located in Florida, is renowned for its plethora of local shops that offer a variety of unique items. These shops are mostly family-owned and contribute to the charming, small-town vibe of the island.

 

Pine Avenue is one of the most frequently visited areas on Anna Maria Island. It’s well-known as one of the BEST shopping spots in town, easily reachable, and located on the north end of the island. Here, you can find many good restaurants, dessert shops, jewelry stores, and more.

 

The Island Cabana is a popular shop located on Pine Avenue, where you can find all kinds of COASTAL GIFTS and trinkets.

 

Bridge Street is another significant shopping area on the island, home to the Bridge Street Bazaar.

Harbor at anna maria island
Photo by Adam Gilley on Unsplash

Take a Local Walking Tour

Walking tours are a popular way to explore Anna Maria Island, offering an intimate and leisurely way to discover the local history, food, and culture.

 

The Anna Maria Island Historical Society offers brochures for self-guided walking tours. You can download these brochures and explore the historical cities of Anna Maria and Holmes Beach at your own pace.

 

There are several guided walking tours available as well. For instance, Key Culinary Tours offers a culinary tour in Anna Maria Island, which combines exploration with gastronomy. This tour allows you to sample some of the best food on the island while learning about the area.

 

Sarasota Suncoast Tours offers the Wild Women Of Anna Maria Island beach, a historic walking tour that highlights the women who shaped the island’s history.

 

For nature and wildlife enthusiasts, the Anna Maria Island Beach Walk is an 8-mile out-and-back trail near Bradenton Beach, Florida. This easy route is a great way to enjoy the pristine beaches and natural beauty of the island. You can DOWNLOAD THE TRAIL FOR FREE here.

 

Pub Crawl Boat Tour

For a more relaxed/drinking exploration, consider this AMAZING activity!

 

Starting at $295, the Pub Crawl Boat Tour by Island Hoppers Boat Tours offers a unique way to visit the island’s local watering holes.

 

Prime Boat Tours offers full-day boat tours that will take you to local sandbars and beaches where you can snorkel, paddle, or just relax.

Fishing
Photo by James Wheeler on Unsplash

Go Fishing

Anna Maria Island is a HEAVEN for fishing enthusiasts, offering YEAR-ROUND opportunities to catch a variety of fish species.

 

Fishing Locations

INSIDE TIP: The northern side beaches and rocks are a favorite spot for local fishermen as they are often less crowded than the piers. The Rod and Reel Pier is a popular destination for fishing, known not only for its seafood restaurant but also for the fishing opportunities it offers.

 

Types of Fishing

INSHORE FISHING is particularly popular on Anna Maria Island due to the presence of several estuaries brimming with fish. There’s also an option for LINE FISHING, especially during Florida Spiny Lobster Season.

 

Fish Species

Anna Maria Island is home to a variety of fish species. Redfish and Spotted Seatrout are the mainstays of the fishing scene on the island. Other species include Snook, Tarpon, Mackerel, Sheepshead, Bluefish, and Cobia.

Horseback riding
Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

Go Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is a popular outdoor activity in Anna Maria Island, with several companies offering guided tours.

 

Here’s what you NEED TO KNOW:

 

Companies Offering Horseback Riding:
There are three major companies that provide horseback riding experiences on Anna Maria Island: C Ponies, The Real BeachHorses, and Gulf Coast Ponies.

 

C Ponies offers beach horseback rides into the beautiful water at Palma Sola Bay, near Anna Maria Island.

 

The Real BeachHorses started as a local company offering beach horseback riding and has expanded to include other services.

 

Gulf Coast Ponies is another reliable option for horseback riding, but detailed information about their services was not readily available from the sources provided.

 

Types of Rides:
Rides are typically an hour and a half long and are offered to people aged three and up. There are a variety of packages available, including trotting and cantering on the beach and even swimming with horses.

 

Pricing:
Prices range from $60 for a half-hour beach ride to $95 for an hour-and-a-half trail ride. However, pricing can vary, so it’s advisable to check directly with the service providers for the most accurate rates.

 

Experience:
With over a decade of horse handling experience and a fully trained staff, these companies offer unique horseback rides on the beach for individuals of all ages and skill levels

Bean Point Beach
Bean Point Beach. Photo by Paul Crook on Unsplash

Beaches

Below, we list all the Anna Maria Island Beaches, they are all really lovely!

 

1. Bean Point: This beach is located at the northernmost tip of the island and is famous for its serene atmosphere and stunning views of Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway.

 

2. Coquina Beach: Known for its long stretch of white sand and turquoise waters, this beach also has picnic areas, a playground, and a walking trail.

 

3. Bradenton Beach: Famous for its historic fishing pier and Old Florida charm, it’s a great place for fishing, beachcombing, and watching sunsets.

 

4. Manatee Public Beach: This family-friendly beach is known for its amenities, including a playground, volleyball courts, and picnic tables. It’s also home to the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe.

 

5. Holmes Beach: This three-mile stretch of white sandy beach is famous for its laid-back vibe and beautiful sunsets. It’s also the largest beach on the island.

 

6. Palmetto Avenue Beach: Though smaller and less crowded, this beach is loved for its quiet, relaxing environment.

 

7. Cortez Beach: This beach stands out for its old Florida feel with Australian pines providing shade. It’s a perfect spot for those looking for a peaceful beach day.

 

8. Bayfront Park Beach: Located near the City Pier, this beach offers scenic views of the bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Photo by Paul Crook on Unsplash

Best beach on Anna Maria Island

Beach Bean Point, located at the northernmost tip of Anna Maria Island, is often hailed as the best beach on the island for a multitude of reasons.

  1. Natural beauty: Bean Point Beach boasts a beautiful natural setting with powder-soft white sand and sweeping views of Tampa Bay. Its location where the Gulf of Mexico meets the waters of Tampa Bay offers breathtaking views, especially during sunset.
  2. Peaceful and Quiet: Unlike some of the more crowded beaches on the island, Bean Point Beach is known for being one of the quietest and most serene beaches, offering an ideal spot for relaxation.
  3. Historical significance: Bean Point Beach holds historical significance as it was the former home of the island’s first resident, George Emerson Bean.
  4. Unspoiled environment: Unlike other beaches that are packed with amenities, Bean Point Beach remains relatively unspoiled, preserving its natural charm.
  5. Exclusive and private: Over the years, Bean Point has gained a reputation for being an exclusive and private beach area, often described as a hidden gem.
Pub in Anna Maria Island
Photo by Adam Gilley on Unsplash

Transport

There are several transportation options to get to Anna Maria Island, depending on where you’re coming from.

 

By Air
The closest airport to Anna Maria Island is Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport (SRQ). It’s an easy 20-minute drive from the airport to the island. From the airport, you can grab a taxi or use a local resource like AMI Taxi.

You can book your flights here:

By Train, Taxi, Bus, or Car
If you’re already in Florida, you can get to Anna Maria Island by train, taxi, bus, or car.

On the Island
Once you’re on the island, there are plenty of ways to get around. One popular option is the FREE TROLLEY which can easily get you from one end of the island to another. BIKING is another great way to explore the island.

For a more leisurely pace, consider renting a golf cart or a Segway. You can also enjoy the island on foot.

Anna Maria city pier by day
Photo by Paul Crook on Unsplash

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Anna Maria Island is in May!

 

If you’re concerned about the weather, the spring months of March, April, and May are considered comfortable with summer-like conditions towards the end of May. The fall months of September, October, and November also offer pleasant temperatures, with lows staying in the 70s.

 

If you’re looking for the cheapest time to visit, the low season from September to November is ideal. During this time, you’ll find lower prices due to the school term being in session.

 

Do keep in mind that September falls within the height of the HURRICANE SEASON and can be fairly rainy.

Mainsail Beach Inn
Mainsail Beach Inn

Where To Stay

Don’t know where to stay on the island? We’ve got you covered with 3 AMAZING options!

 

Luxury Option: Mainsail Beach Inn
The Mainsail Beach Inn is a highly-rated luxury option right on the beach. It offers many amenities including a pool, private beach access, and fully equipped kitchens in each unit.

 

Mid-Budget Option: Silver Surf Gulf Beach Resort
Located on the Gulf of Mexico, the Silver Surf Gulf Beach Resort provides a blend of comfort and value. It features a heated outdoor pool, private beach access, and various room options to suit different group sizes.

 

Budget Option: Anna Maria Island Beach Resort
This resort offers budget-friendly options without compromising the quality of your stay. The Anna Maria Island Beach Resort has a variety of rooms and is known for its friendly staff and great location close to the beach.

The Ugly Grouper
The Ugly Grouper

Restaurants

Are you also hungry after a day exploring Anna Maria Island beach?

 

We’ve got you covered!

 

Below, we list our 5 absolute recommendations on the island!

 

1. The Ugly Grouper: Known for its American-style cuisine and bar, The Ugly Grouper is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. It’s not just about the food; this place is famous for its live music and outdoor seating area.

 

2. Ginny’s and Jane E’s Cafe and Coastal Store: This café is a must-visit on any trip to the island. It is renowned for its unique combination of café and coastal store, offering shoppers a chance to browse while enjoying their meal.

 

3. The Waterfront Restaurant – Anna Maria: Located near the beach, this restaurant is known for its amazing VIEWS and delicious food. It serves a variety of cuisines, making it a great choice for diverse tastes.

 

4. The Chateau Anna Maria: This restaurant offers an UPSCALE dining experience with a menu that includes everything from fresh seafood to gourmet pizzas.

 

5. Rod & Reel Pier: If you want to eat like a LOCAL, this is the place to go. Famous for its location on a pier, customers can enjoy their meals with a panoramic view of the ocean.

Photo by Deb Gattas on Unsplash

Final Tips and Tricks

Before we let you go, there are some final tips and tricks we want to give you so you don’t have to think about them!

 

1. Plan for the Beach: Anna Maria Island is known for its many beaches. Pack essentials like sunblock, beach towels, umbrellas, and a picnic lunch.

 

3. Explore Local Cuisine: Anna Maria Island has a rich culinary scene. Make sure to try local seafood at restaurants like The Ugly Grouper or Rod & Reel Pier.

 

4. Engage in Outdoor Activities: Apart from lounging on the beach, there’s plenty to do outdoors. Consider activities like horseback riding, kayaking, or try parasailing.

 

5. Visit Local Attractions: Don’t miss out on local attractions such as the Anna Maria Island Historical Society or the Island Gallery West.

 

6. Use Local Transport: The island offers a free trolley service which can be a convenient way to explore different areas.

 

7. Respect Local Wildlife: The island is home to a variety of wildlife, including nesting sea turtles. Be respectful and keep a safe distance.

 

8. Book Accommodations Early: Anna Maria Island is a popular destination. It’s advisable to book accommodations well in advance to secure your preferred dates and rates.

 

Conclusion

We hope you’ve found our recommendations for visiting Anna Maria Island Beach helpful.

 

We would love to hear about your experience on the island, so leave us a comment!

Keep Planning your trip to the US

FAQ

Yes, all the beaches on Anna Maria Island are public. Some of the main ones include Bean Point Beach, Manatee Public Beach, Coquina Beach, Bayfront Park, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Cortez Beach, and Anna Maria Beach.

 

Yes, swimming is allowed at the beaches on Anna Maria Island. The island’s Gulf Coast location offers calm, warm waters that are perfect for a relaxing swim.

 

Bean Point and Palmetto Avenue Beach are often less crowded than other beaches on the island, offering a more serene and peaceful environment.

 

The crowd level at Anna Maria Beach can vary depending on the time of year. During peak tourist season, it can get quite busy. However, there are quieter spots along the seven miles of coastline if you prefer a less crowded experience.

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Laura & Alexander

Laura & Alexander

We're two full-time Belgian travellers sharing our experience through our blog. Our aim is to inspire your next travel adventure with our best tips and tricks from every country we visit.

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