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In Florida, there are two major attractions. And we know you’re not here for the Magic Kingdom.
If we had to pick just one way to describe Anna Maria Island, we’d say “spectacular beaches.” We’re talking soft white sands that you can’t wait to sink your toes into. Picture-perfect golden beaches that ring our island, promising fantastic shelling, glorious sunbathing, and take-your-breath-away views. Promising day after day of leisure, fun and relaxation.
Because with 1,200 miles of coastline and nearly perfect weather, Florida beaches are forever receiving awards. And yet, even amidst such excellent (and competitive) company, Anna Maria Island is superlative. In fact, Anna Maria Island beaches are so impressive, TripAdvisor named the island America’s #1 Beach Vacation Destination.
Think about that for a moment: the best beach vacation destination in the United States. The same United States that is also home to Hawaii and Puerto Rico, SoCal and even our neighbors, the Florida Keys. And Anna Maria Island is the best. One island to rule them all.
And to think, from our Anna Maria Island condo rental, you’d be just steps away from some of America’s best beaches. You’d be gazing out over the aquamarine Gulf of Mexico. You’d be sniffing the salty deliciousness of the sea breeze, and hearing the methodical lapping of gentle waves on the seashore.
You’d already be in paradise.
Affectionately known as “The Island In The Sun” Anna Maria Island comprises over 150 miles of waterfront, more than 7 ½ miles of powder white sand beaches, Gulf temperatures averaging 84 degrees and more than 361 days of sunshine per year. The surrounding waters of Anna Maria Island are known as the nursery because of the large number of dolphins that raise their young here. Anna Maria Island boasts more sunshine per year than Honolulu and some of the finest beaches in the world.
No need to worry about exclusive resorts staking claim on precious spans of beach. Discover Anna Maria Island and you’ll find that the entire stretch of beach all the way around the island is free to access. You can walk miles from the top of the island to the bottom with your toes in the sand and gentle Gulf surf. This hidden beach destination that people from all over the world escape to, Anna Maria Island has somehow managed to keep condo towers, all-fast-food chains, amusement parks, and glitzy mega-resorts off its shores. In fact, no construction on the this seven-mile long barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast is more than three stories tall and 60 percent of its land is open beach.
“My trip to Anna Maria made me feel in a nostalgic sense what beach vacations must have been like 20 or 30 years ago,” says Tim Leffel, author of “Make Your Travel Dollars Worth A Fortune” who visited the Anna Maria Island with his family. “It has something other destinations have lost. It’s an old-fashioned place where you can just relax and hang out on the beach with your kids, without arcades and other distractions.”
Quaint, according to Webster, means marked by beauty or elegance, unusual or different in character or appearance, pleasingly or strikingly old fashioned. That’s Anna Maria Island, according to the November issue of Islands magazine, which names Anna Maria Island the Best Quaint Island in the world for family vacations. The Island is ranked alongside 13 others exotic locations including Tahiti’s Bora Bora and Hawaii’s Kauai.
While selecting family-friendly island vacation destinations, the magazine considered factors such as opportunities for discovery and family bonding, easy accessibility, fun amenities and roomy accommodations. At the top of its checklist for quaintness is the absence of large resorts and chain restaurants. “Anna Maria Island” Big resorts? No. Chain restaurants? No. Miles-long beaches? Oh yes,” says the Islands magazine article. “All that makes for beautifully charming days on Anna Maria Island, just a drawbridge removed from the Florida mainland.”
Bayfront Park, Anna Maria (Tampa Bay side)
Between Manatee beach and Coquina beach you will find four miles of quieter and secluded private beaches where you will find tourists enjoying the beach directly in-front of their accommodations. Relaxing in a beach chair or walking this vast expanse of white sand beaches, you are likely to see dolphins playing, para-sailors passing by, kids building sand castles, sailboats, jet-skis, people fishing, scuba divers coming out of the Gulf or even a beach wedding.
You can also enjoy food and drinks along this stretch of magnificent beach at the “Tiki Hut” and Beach House. Characteristic of this stretch of beach is that the waters are generally warm and calm compared to the east coast beaches and these beaches are family friendly. The visionary statement of these beach communities perfectly describe these beaches. Friendly island community that values the civic pride of both permanent and seasonal residents, maintains its Old Florida charm, and respects its bountiful natural resources. History, hospitality and spirit are the hallmarks of our thriving waterfront, offering ease of mobility by land and sea.
Manatee Beach is a fascinating 900 ft. wide expanse of powder white sand beach located on Holmes Beach directly in the middle of Anna Maria Island. Manatee Beach has picnic tables, grills, public restrooms, a playground on the beach for children, life guard shacks and the newly renovated Café directly on the beach. Enjoy food and cold drinks right on the beach and a lifeguard on duty. Manatee Public Beach is a great place to spend the day playing volleyball, fishing, swimming, or just relaxing in the Florida sun. When you get hungry or feel like a cold drink you don’t even need to leave the beach, take a stroll to the café at Manatee Public Beach, they offer both inside and outside dining areas. You are sure to find a sandwich or a tasty snack to cure your appetite. Next to the café is a gift shop with souvenirs and blow up rafts. Manatee Public Beach also has a small beach bar where you can grab a cold beer and watch the sun slowly slip away into the Gulf Of Mexico.
Coquina Beach is a 96 acre pine shaded oasis located on the south end of Anna Maria Island and is the longest stretch of beach on Anna Maria, with plenty of free parking, lifeguards, concessions, picnic tables, a playground, restrooms and showers. Remnants of old piers jutting out into the water making Coquina Beach a choice spot for surfers. A common scene on Coquina Beach is families building sand castles, throwing a frisbie, snorkeling, soaking up the sun, grilling lunch and enjoying a picnic under the magnificent Australian pine trees. This is a great place to bring kids.
Coquina Beach is named for the tiny colorful clam like creatures that dig into the sand at the shoreline . Coquina Beach has an extended walking path shaded by hundreds of Australian Pines some over 100 feet tall. The most appealing aspect of 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. Swimming is prohibited at the southern tip of the beach at Longboat Pass because of the strong currents…. but you can view the unbelievably crystal clear blue waters!
Bayfront Park is a charming waterfront park on the northern side of Anna Maria Island, with outstanding views of Egmont Key, and the world famous towering Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay. The park is situated between two of the oldest and most active fishing piers in Florida, “The City Pier” and the “Rod and Reel Pier”. These visual elements, combined with the tall shade trees, and the waterfront picnicking, are what give Anna Maria Island Bayfront Park its special feel. This is a delightful family spot, peaceful and unique with scenic qualities. Amenities include a boardwalk, covered tables, grills, public restrooms, and a playground on the beach for children everyone is happy. The Sunshine Skyway to the north is an impressive four mile, cross-bay bridge that soars 250 feet above the bay at its highest point and provides a link to St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
The one topic everyone agrees on: The joy of visiting Anna Maria Island is that a milestone is celebrated every day: the sunsets that are gorgeous enough to inspire spontaneous applause. Watching the sunset is a cherished ritual on this sleepy barrier island. Anna Maria has the best sunsets in the world. Every evening just as twilight starts to dim the bright sun, it seems the whole town heads over to the beach. Visitors and locals alike gather on the beaches to savor the dimming of the day, sipping a glass of wine as the sky turns dusky shades of pink and orange. It only takes about three minutes for the sun to disappear after it touches the horizon, finally fading to a deep and glowing purple. Children run on the sand, honeymooners stroll hand in hand, and local residents take a deep breath and relax. Perhaps nowhere on the planet is that time celebrated with more passion than Anna Maria Island. The sunsets so beautiful this ordinary event becomes extraordinary enough that locals and visitors alike realize how special Anna Maria Island really is.