Florida's Best Kept Secret
This perfect picture postcard kind of place moves at a very slow pace. Often know as Florida's best kept secret, Anna Maria Island sits at the southern tip of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and is perched north of Longboat Key. Leave the car at home and travel the island by trolley bus. Cycle or walk to your favorite watering hole to enjoy the sunset. Stay at one of the Anna Maria Island hotels or vacation rental homes scatted around the Island.
There are no high rise buildings in this area, just houses with the “Old Florida” feel, in neighborhoods that are not far from the water’s edge. A kayak or fishing boat is the favored transportation for exploring the inlets and canals that shelter Snook and Redfish beneath age old fishing docks. With and average temperature of 75 degrees, this year round attraction with its laid back feel is the place to relax, soak up the sun and enjoy the delights of some of the award winning restaurants. The beaches of Anna Maria Island are some of the best on the Gulf Coast. Not for just the soft sugar white sands and the rich turquoise blue water but the most incredible sunsets that this part of the world is famous for.
Manatees and Dolphins
Wildlife is in abundance everywhere you look. Stroll the shore and look for the occasional Manatee and Bottlenose Dolphin just beyond the waves. May to July is turtle nesting season so be careful where you walk. Wild Parrots can be heard chattering from the trees or see them fly past in droves searching for a safe place to perch. In the summer months Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. Herons will wait close to the fisherman ready to steal bait from his bucket of pinfish and shiners. Pelicans sit patiently in the Mangroves and perch on the deck post waiting for fish to swim by. Sit for a while in the shade beneath the Australian Pines, sea oats dancing in the wind, Terns and Sandpiper run between the surf, hungry for crabs and crustaceans.
The Areas Most Popular Attractions
Each of the three fishing Piers are places to sit and watch the world go by. Nets in hand, locals cast their weighted mesh on to an approaching shoal of Mullet. If the catch is good, sometimes too heavy to lift back onto the deck. The Rod and Reel Pier offers tremendous views of Egmont and Passage Key whilst the most popular Anna Maria City Pier gives a closer look at the Skyway Bridge just off in the distance. Watch Cruise Ships and Cargo Vessels leave Tampa Bay to destinations unknown delicately sailing beneath its span. Ask the waitress for a window seat at the City Pier Restaurant and observe fisherman reel in a big one. At weekends, as the sun goes down, listen to Howie on the Guitar playing requested songs or talk with Bill the rock guy, who sells his wares, polishing his rocks and fossils outside the restaurant. The ice cream shop at Bayside is popular with young and old and serves up treats late into the evening long past the sunset.
Take the Trolley with its complimentary fare as it travels the full length of this island, 7 miles in length, stopping at popular spots on the way. Picture Galleries display wonderful renderings from local artists. Holmes Beach Captain’s moor their vessels at Catchers Marina and couples walk the plaza shops looking for a souvenir to save the memory.
Anna Maria Island is was only accessible by boat until 1921. Passengers would arrive by steam ferry from the nearby port of Tampa, stepping off the boat at the Anna Maria City Pier. The island Visitors would walk down Pine Ave to the beach and sit on the sugar white sand to watch the Sunset on the Gulf of Mexico. A bridge was eventually built from the village of Cortez on the eastern side of the island across the intra coastal waterway. Parts of the bridge still remain today as the fishing Pier at Bridge Street Pier in the City of Bradenton Beach.
Where is Anna Maria Island?
Directions - Anna Maria Island is 53 miles from Tampa International Airport (a short 1 hour drive).
Take I-275 South from Tampa, across the stunning Skyway Bridge overlooking Tampa Bay. Then follow route 19 to 64 west which takes you to the beaches and Holmes Beach. (Google Map, Tampa Airport)
Sarasota - Bradenton International Airport is a convenient 18 miles away which takes on average 30 mins drive time.
Take route 41 towards Bradenton, Head west on route 70 (Cortez) to 75th St. Take 75th Street North to 64 west (Manatee Ave). Follow 64 to the beaches and Anna Maria Island. (Google Map, Sarasota Airport)
Whether you're planning an island wedding, looking for Anna Maria Island real estate, beach holiday or Anna Maria Island vacation rental from one of the local management companies, use this business directory to find what you need.
Take plenty of pictures when you arrive to share with friends and relatives; we know that you'll be back.