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Escape to Anna Maria Island, Florida

This tiny barrier island proves that smaller is better when it comes to Florida beaches.  If you like to avoid the crowds, catch a glimpse of a dolphin or manatee, dip your toes in perfect white sand, and spend your afternoons biking around town, then Anna Maria Island may become one of your favorite Florida beaches.

Located on a sliver of land about 50 miles south of Tampa, the tiny Gulf Coast Island is known for its laid back style, peaceful (uncrowded) beaches and old-Florida charm.  Sunsets are a big deal on the island which has the benefit of being so narrow that you can see the magical Florida sunsets over the Gulf or Tampa Bay.


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The north side of the island is full of small, quaint shops where you can grab coffee, freshly baked treats, shop for knick knacks or take a long lunch.  You can bike just about anywhere or take the trolley to the beach. Everyone in your family will find something to do on the island.

Here are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling:

Bean Point

Make sure you visit Bean Point for a little slice of Florida beach heaven.  The water is absolutely beautiful and you’ll enjoy amazing views, stunning beach scenery, and one of the best beach walks in a good long time.  Look for the Blue Heron and for the ultimate experience, walk in the morning before anyone get there.  Also a great place to catch the sunset.

bean-point

Rod and Reel Pier

A local favorite and ultra-casual, the Rod and Reel is part of the island’s charm. Wear your flip-flops, don’t worry about your hair, and hang-out sipping the beverage of your choice while you watch dolphins and manatees play in the surf nearby.  Its friendly, old-school charm is refreshing and fun.  Make sure you call ahead, there are only a few tables and it can get really crowded.

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Walk the Island

If you like to get out and do some serious beach walking, try hiking from Coquina Beach all the way to Bean Point and around the corner for a seafood omlette at the Rod and Reel restaurant.  Great way to start the day!

Have you visited Anna Maria Island?  Share your favorite activities or places to eat in the comments below…

Read more:

Best City Beaches

Best Beaches for Adventure

3 Great Beaches for Treasure Hunting

East Coast Beaches with Nearby History

 

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. no way ……….. i grew up there ! and i live on longboat key , 1 island south of anna maria island. it was a great place to grow up and still go to the rod & reel and city pier once a month, not much has changed since the 80’s and that’s fine with me , still has the old florida charm ! thanks for posting
    P.S. you’re awesome 🙂

    1. My husband has been going there since he was 3, he is now 59yrs. My children have been going since they were 1 and 3 and they are now 19 and 22. It has gotten busier but still one of the best places for a family vacation. My kids hope to bring their children some day.

  2. I lived in West Bradenton, FL back in the summer of 2000 and would go to Anna Maria Island most every night to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. During days, it normally wasn’t crowded…only on Memorial Day really. It was a wonderful place that I have always wanted to go back to, but never made it so far….thanks for bring back memories!

  3. I live on Longboat Key also. I am in the water whether its cloudy or not. It’s my life and a must for my soul! With out it I am not whole!

  4. We just returned from our first visit to Anna Maria yesterday. We went for our 43rd anniversary and we loved this island. Trees lined the beach with no condos or high rises. It was wonderful! We loved the funky shop at Ginny’s and Jane’s restaurant. Their sticky buns and cinnamon rolls were awesome! Beaches were fabulous. I loved the landscaping of all the homes. Tropical paradise and we had bay access in our back yard and saw manatees and flying fish daily. Loved this place!

  5. I visited Anna Marie Island in March and already booked a return trip for Oct. Beautiful beaches, fun bars and restaurants and great shops! Can’t wait to go back!

  6. Anna Maria is one of the most beautiful place in the world! We’re here right now for our 4th visit and don’t want to leave!

  7. We go every year and just enjoy everything
    Especially the “ Ugly Grouper “ for AWESOME food!!!♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

  8. About 6 or 7 years ago I randomly picked Anna Maria Island for my husband and I to go to. I wanted to find some place further south than the panhandle. All I can say is I am so happy I did! We love the island. It has beautiful sugar white sand and some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen. There are no big condos, I think the tallest building is maybe four to five stories. Some of the main beaches can be a little crowded but nothing compared to Clearwater or some of the other well known beaches in Florida. One of our favorite pastimes when we are there is just to walk on the beach. Bean Point is a beautiful. When you stand on the beach there you can look to your right and see the Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay and look to your left and there’s the Gulf of Mexico! Anna Maria Island has become our go-to for our yearly vacation.

  9. Hi
    Okay so we’re visiting Anna Maria Island for our first time in Sept 2022. As someone who grew up there tell me something you think we have to do or have to see. Thank you in advance
    Dean in Rhode Island

    1. The south of AMI tends to be less crowded than the north. Coquina beach has lots of free parking, restrooms, changing rooms and a cafe. There are lifeguards on duty. It’s an easy walk around the south end over to Anna Maria Sound, best place to see dolphins. I have seen manatees occasionally. A free trolley bus route runs the length of the island with stops at the beaches with parking and points in between. Plenty of restaurants on the north end, but there is quite a selection on bridge street just south of Cortez Rd. There’s a seafood restaurant directly on the Bridge St pier in the sound. Dolphin tours available at Cortez Rd. A beach market at Coquina Beach twice a week (typically Wed and Sat). Downside is traffic from the mainland onto the island, especially from midday on.

  10. It really is the center of paradise🌴. Favorite things to do…sunrise, beach, sunset.
    Favorite place to eat? Hands down, the Sandbar!

    1. Hello would you mind giving me the names of a few places to stay on Anna Maria? We plan to arrive at the bevy of September 2022! There will be 4 of us! Thank you!

  11. Anna Maria island is my favorite place to go, hands down!!! Last fall I rented a cottage on the beach. It’s sooo serine to be able to get up in the morning, grab your coffee and walk the sandy path to the beach. I love that there is sea grass all around the paths and if you’re lucky, you just might get to see a turtle or two! Walking the beach along the water I often see jelly fish, little crabs and starfish. It’s always so peaceful. There are many restaurants to choose from on the island for breakfast and after looking through the little shops, a cup of lobster bisque really hits the spot! Definitely don’t miss the rod and reel pier. I could sit out there for hours watching the manatees and dolphins play. And don’t miss lying a blanket on the beach to watch the sunset 🌇 It’s a gorgeous place to unwind. Can’t wait to get back there. It never leaves my mind!

  12. this was a rare place! I loved the north beach area and all the quaint shops but it was all amazing..my first trip to the island…I am a beach ⛱️ lover and it was one of the top ones I have ever seen

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