3 Reasons You Should Visit Anna Maria Island


Dunes on Anna Maria Island, Florida

Seeing the words “island” and “Florida” together in a sentence is enough to get you excited. But what if we added the phrases “delicious seafood,” “white sand beaches,” and “kayak with dolphins”?  Yes, these are all things you can see and do on Anna Maria Island.

This seven-mile-long barrier island is located on the Florida coast in Manatee County, about twenty minutes from Bradenton, and about an hour south of Tampa Bay, making it very assessable for a day trip or extended vacation.

#1 The Beaches 

Anna Maria Island is home to six beaches, and each has sugar-white sand and beautiful blue-green water: Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Anna Maria Beach, Coquina Beach, Cortez Beach, and Manatee Beach. 

Anna Maria Beach has gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico, St. Petersburg, and the Skyway Bridge.

Manatee Beach is a large public beach and offers a concession stand, volleyball courts, watersport rentals, and a playground.

Seashell lovers should head to Bradenton Beach, where there are a large variety of shells. It’s also a great place to watch the sunset, and the Bradenton Pier offers beautiful views, as well.

Coquina Beach is also a great beach for shell-lovers and is known for being quieter. Parking for Coquina Beach is also very close to the beach. 

#2 The Vibe

At only seven miles long, north-to-south, Anna Maria Island is small. In fact, many places of interest are close enough to walk or bike, and there is a free public trolley that runs the entire length of the island.

The island’s small size, along with its strict regulations governing what types of businesses and buildings can be on the island, give Anna Maria a very cozy, laidback feel.

Spend the morning at the beach, browse a few specialty shops in the afternoon, and finish the day with a seafood dinner at one of the island’s fantastic restaurants. 

Anna Maria Island’s beaches and quaintness have earned it some big awards. Forbes chose Anna Maria as the “#3 Prettiest City in America” in 2013. The next year, Condé Nast named it one of the “Top 30 Islands in the World.” And in 2015, Condé Nast included it in its “Top 10 Island Beaches for Perfect Sand.” Anna Maria was also a TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Destination Winner in 2013 and 2014. 

#3 Wildlife

In addition to fabulous beaches and charm, Anna Maria Island is home to an amazing ecosystem that includes sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, cranes, herons, pelicans, wild parrots, osprey, and much more. 

In May through October, sea turtles come ashore to nest. The island takes sea turtle protection very seriously, with information and training available to locals and tourists. The whole island is also a bird sanctuary, so you can find a wide variety of birds here. Bottlenose dolphins are found in the Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf, and you sometimes see manatees passing by the beach or in nearby Bimini Bay. 

Take Away

Anna Maria is a small island with a lot to offer, including stunning beaches with soft, white sand, great restaurants, small-town charm, and fantastic wildlife experiences that include sea turtles, dolphins, and manatees.

If you are craving a quiet beach getaway, start planning your trip to Anna Maria Island!

Beth McNabb/BethMcNabbPhotography.com
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